10 Jul 23
There is a fantastic new book on the kingdoms of Ancient Africa, including Egypt, Nubia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Yoruba, Asante, Kongo, Buganda and Zulu. “Great Kingdoms of Africa” begins with a very important premise. States were often coercive, so should not be celebrated as more ‘advanced civilisations’. I think this is a really important mentality. While grandiose palaces are aesthetically impressive, surplus was usually extracted from labourers who lived in squalor. This is a useful corrective to narratives that dismiss or denigrate small-scale societies, as well as to those who defensively hype-up small kingdoms.