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.

23 comments

    • 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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      • The Black Nation Lies Politics And Religion In The 21st Century A book by Christopher Matthias coming soon published by Alkebooks.

        It’s time we for change

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  1. 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

    • 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.

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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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  2. 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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  3. 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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  4. 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

  5. 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 3 people

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