Alkebu-lan: If Africa Was Never Colonized By Europe

Alkebu-lan 1260 AH, by Nikolaj Cyon
Alkebu-lan 1260 AH, by Nikolaj Cyon

Alkebu-lan is the oldest name for Africa. In Arabic, it means “The Land of the Blacks.”

Hi, my name is Nikolaj Cyon and I am an artist from Sweden who has worked with precolonial Africa as a theme in my art for over a year. I have, as a mind experiment, made a map of what Africa could have looked like in the mid 19th century if Europe had never  become a colonizing world power. In order to do this I have tried to construct an alternative historical time-line in which Europe was much harder struck by the plague in the 1350’s and never recovered. Therefore  African nations would have gotten the opportunity to flourish unhindered.

But the project is really about real historical precolonial African nations, and I have tried to form a map of the most prominent of those that existed between the 15th and mid 19th century, by looking at historical maps like the one found in UNESCO’s “A General History of Africa”, linguistic regions and natural boundaries.

I have also made a Prezi presentation in which I explain the map and some historical facts, and also the process of making it. This can be seen here.

The map was recently mentioned in The Washington Post, as number 23 out of 40 interesting maps.

For more versions of the map and details about price, shipping and to order one, click here.

36 comments

  1. “Jealous Europeans invaded Africa, stole all their advanced inventions and culture, and destroyed all evidence of their kingdoms.”

    If Africans were so completely dominant, it should have been easy for them to ward off a few primitive cave persons invading – on foot – from the south (beings how Africa is on top of the world, according to ancient African globes, unfortunately all destroyed by said cave persons).

    Blacks need to push the narrative that they were a peace-loving, kind and affectionate, unified people, to the extent that they lacked any weapons, as they never fought among themselves, ergo:

    “There were no words in the African language for ‘war’ or ‘death’, only ‘peace’ and ‘love’. And anyone who disagrees is a racist white colonialist.”

    “Whites bred black slaves to be strong, which is why blacks totally dominate in all sports”

    This doesn’t explain why so many black women are morbidly obese. They should all be “gazelles” in, say, USA, not “pearls” , but they aren’t.

    “Whites are afraid of strong black women, so they force-feed them fried foods, to keep them down’

    Human evolution and culture are tricky things. Dynasties and kingdoms come and go, even pop idols die. It would appear that humans must adapt to survive as their technology becomes ever more complex and invasive. On the other hand, those who sit around and watch the world go by seem to survive best, all thing considered. Those who don’t contribute to anything have nothing to lose.
    Content to live among themselves in modest surroundings, to save energy by moving as little as possible, but to procreate as much as they can, will assure that their culture will survive even under the most dire, adverse circumstances. Sure, there will be many casualties and gnashing of teeth; there will be jealousy, strife, violence among themselves, but in the end, they have done as there ancestors did and have the same, exact story to tell: “We didn’t evolve, we have nothing to show for our efforts, but we survived, and that’s all that matters.”

    That nagging term “civilization” just might be overrated.

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  2. Leaving aside the fact that, as an Arabic speaker, ‘Alkebu-Lan’ doesn’t sound similar to any Arabic word I know (certainly not for ‘land of the blacks’), Arabic isn’t native to Africa either (North Africa had different languages: Berber, Coptic, etc.). It only arrived later through the Arab empire – also a foreign power. So this isn’t reallu ‘uncolonized’, just ‘minus Europe’.

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    • Maktab al-qabul means “office of admissions”. The suffix “-an” places some noun or adjective in the accusative case. I would reckon the term is probably Arabic in origin. Al-Qebulan, then would mean, “The place of admittance/entry. Not a native speaker… Muqaddimah may also be useful in charting the travels of Ibn Khaldun, who in my humble opinion gives credibility to my up-vote for Arabic origin.

      Cheers!

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      • This whole article needs to be seriously fact-checked. “Aswad” is “Black” in Arabic. Ardh Essudan, is “Land of the
        Blacks”. Correct me if I’m wrong…

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    • I salute anyone helping to remove the label and African slogan from our people it’s time we took giant steps towards freeing ourselves from the euro trance we are in and reclaimed our true identity in my forthcoming book I explain all this and much more its time for change

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  3. Wow, look how incredibly divisive Africa would be. No wonder they were 15,000 years behind before Arabic and European colonization. Most of Africa by the 1800s still hadn’t developed the wheel, or agriculture, or fixed settlements. The only remotely advanced states in Africa at the dawn of European colonization were those that had been colonized by Arabic states.

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    • As an African living in Africa, I can tell you first-hand that the careless merging of a lot of these civilisations by colonisers is one of the main reasons we have problems today on the continent e.g. tribalism and nepotism. I recommend you watch the PBS documentary series ‘Africa’s Great Civilizations’. The documentary debunks a lot of theories about Africa being less developed than Europe and Asia. Have a great day.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Since the albinos begin to conquer an genocide the humans beings of akelbulan the albinos came to destroyed your existstance change the name of your land an destroyed your history are an uou have gaul to trust the the albino.WAKE UP THE FIRST 100 PERCENT HUMAN BEINGS. ALL OTHERS ARE MUTATION.WAKE UP MELANATED LIFE

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    • ure sadly mistaken…we had civilisation n lots of mineral wealth by the time colonised came into play…there was egypt…and Mali ruled over by great kings n queens …in bunyoro down in uganda we had invented the csection n all this knowledge n artifacts were taken as long as the people into slavery…only the weak were left behind …

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    • This is not true, where are you getting your facts from? What do you know about The Great Benin Empire? May be this may throw some light to your ignorance and help you see Alkebulan aka Africa in a different light.

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    • You sir, are so sadly misguided about African History that it is deplorable. There were some greatest Kingdoms that every existed on the planet that predate European Kingdoms by hundreds of years in Africa. The First know university was in Timbuktu. So, you need to stop getting your information from Tarzan Movies. Since you obviously won’t ever pick up a book and read about it, here is a youtube video that should help you https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mpz8h_MFkWg

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    • I would like to make a few changes.I am an African girl born and raised, specifically East African. What the people of today won’t tell you is that ancient Africans were actually developed. We had horse carriages, though they didn’t look quite like the European version, we actually developed the wheel. We used horse and donkey carriages, and where i’m from, donkey carriages are still popularly used since they are widely available. In West Africa, horse carriages were used by royals and in East Africa, donkey carriages were used in transporting people and goods by commoners especially in long distance trading, you didn’t think the people walked all the way, now did you? Another device that was very popular (and still is now) is the cart. This is mostly used to carry goods and rarely used to carry people. We also built permanent settlements. In fact, very few tribes were nomadic whereby they had temporary settlements which they built out of convenient materials such as strong sticks and dry leaves so that it was easily torn down in case they needed to move to another region. They only moved when it was necessary such as searching for pasture, looking for water and if there was a case of pests and diseases that they needed to evade. Furthermore, I would like you to take a closer look at the palaces built in West Africa and the houses built by the Shona people. They show that their houses were built of stone when many other tribes’ houses were built with mud, cow dung, clay among others. Lastly, we were very much involved in agriculture to the point whereby we had systems of farming as well as gender roles on who should do what in farm work. In fact, we tracked time with seasons and livestock keeping as well as crop growing was our way of life. To add onto that, a man who was always seen in the farm was seen as a hard working person and was very much respected. Agriculture was also used to pay bride price as in many cultures you shall find out that they either asked for cattle or sacs of maize, beans or whatever staple food was valued by that community. I just wanted to cancel out the many prejudiced statements out there claiming that were only rescued by the colonizers. I really do feel offended sometimes not because I am against anyone or any ethnic group whatsoever but just because they hid the truth so that we look like we had no civilization until we were saved from “savageness”. This is not a joke, this is my home.

      Thank you for your time.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Kwasea kwa! Please, make your comments with a clear mind. The history of the children of the sun was deliberately wiped off, and I can see why, but that is another story. It is just false information to state that most of Africa by the 1800s still hadn’t developed the wheel, or agriculture, or fixed settlements. This is not any different from saying Colombus discovered America. There are paintings and writings describing what some of the “African kingdoms” looked like when the Europeans arrived. I think your mind will be blown when you see some of them. There are nuggets of histories going back to 1100 and such, that you may find if you look a bit harder.

      For those that looked like wanderers, my gut feeling tells me they must have been offsprings of offsprings of some of those who might have survived after their kingdoms/cities was destroyed.

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    • Your lack intelligence will be your undoing. Kindly go to your museums and see precious art work stolen from palaces and homes of African during their devilish rule over Africa. They stole and learnt from Africa. Please don’t come expose you racist view here.

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    • If Portugal and Spain are colonized and occupied, then so is the whole of Northern Africa. More so, since the “colonizers” of Spain and Portugal were the former inhabitants before they reconquered Spain and Portugal.

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  4. this map is a commendable effort but is problematic. the western concept of borders aside, many of the ‘countries’ wouldn’t have existed without the pressure of colonialism. the british helped establish Umbuso weSwatini (Swaziland), and the Lesotho analogue (Basuto) in your map was established as a direct result of Zulu expansionism, which itself was partially effected by British and Boer activity in the region. also, it’s unlikely that the Khoe would have been interested in founding Hoeri Kwaggo (Cape Town) – the very idea of sedentary populations was anathema to their mode of production – or that they would even have survived Nguni aggression for much longer.

    i do love these kinds of maps though and would love to see increasingly accurate representations of what might have been. they fire the imagination and offer us a glimpse of how we might be able to resolve some of the colonial-legacy border issues in Africa.

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  5. Why does a map of what is supposed to be Africa without colonies has Spain and Sicily under Arab rule and the Ottomans still controlling the Balkans? Do you consider these lands to be somehow colonized by Europeans?

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      • Wow, this article has a lot of errors and falsehoods in it. Stop reporting on AlKebulan unless you do it correctly. It means GARDEN OF EDEN. Who cares what Arabs think or their language. The very history white men tried to hide. Alkebulan people are great people …that is why colonizers steal from it and try to keep it ignorant. But….. We are waking up to deception and lies and realizing that our riches are coveted. When we were loving life and living freely. They sought to take the precious gems from the land. We understood loving people…they understood how to take our resouces for monetary gain and riches…..No MORE!

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        • Apologies in advance. I doubt very seriously that the term means, GARDEN OF EDEN. Where does that particular etymology originate and what historical precedence has been established to bolster that particular translation/interpretation? The justification for utilizing Arabic to explain the term, in my opinion, is because it is the simplest explanation. My conclusion is that the term is medieval in origin. The term “Al-Wajh Al-Qibli” is a term that designates “Upper Egypt”. Take a look at, Hans-Wehr p.740, bottom right column, under the heading QBL. This in no way gives Arabs any priority except to say some Arab travelled there and coined a phrase to describe it. I cannot, however verify that Ibn Khaldun is the individual who coined the term, just that it seems to be in accord with medieval usage.

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  6. This is a good post until you consider that all life originated from africa….with that being said.
    ..how could the Arab language dictate anything coming from africa….when there language was not even considered to years after the first known language…..never forget the first man on earth was black….even Laura Croft knew that
    .

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Thanks Nikolaj Cyon for your sterling efforts at presenting an arguably post-Western and alternative view of Afrika (as seen from the ‘inside-out’).

    An intellectual and philosophical narrative that presents a continent with a rich and rounded history is refreshing and worthy of support and wider diffusion – I will do my bit to popularise this notion…

    MKM.

    Liked by 4 people

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