How Widespread Was The Use Of Steel In Pre-Colonial Sub-Saharan Africa?

Ighayere

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
2,513
Benin City, Nigeria
#21
Some references to steel in historical descriptions. I will post more of these as I remember them or find them.


In Gustav Nachtigal's Sahara and Sudan, an important late nineteenth century description, the author mentions the use of steel battle axes by the royal horsemen in the kingdom of Darfur in the southern part of the modern day country of Sudan. Nachtigal wrote of these horsemen that in addition to lances, swords and a few guns, "many had steel battle-axes, damascened and here and there decorated with gold or a few precious stones." [Allan G.B. Fisher and Humphrey J. Fisher's 1971 translation.]

Nachtigal also mentions the use of steel armor by the horsemen of Wadai. Wadai was an important Sahelian kingdom located in what is now Chad and the Central African Republic:





(Nachtigal notes that they had no real "soldiers" because they lacked a standing, professional army and instead seemed to rely on levies, but the details of his own description suggest that there were certain permanent military positions, so it is probable that certain individuals held those fixed positions permanently while also holding whatever civilian rank or position they had in peacetime.)

The excerpts above are from pp. 183-184 of the fourth volume of Allan G.B. Fisher and Humphrey J. Fisher's translation of Nachtigal's book Sahara and Sudan.
 
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Ighayere

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
2,513
Benin City, Nigeria
#22
In the book Narrative of travels and discoveries in Northern and Central Africa: in the years 1822, 1823, and 1824 by Dixon Denham, Hugh Clapperton, and Walter Oudney, some of Bornu's soldiers are described as having "steel jackets" and one as having a "skull-cap" (a helmet) of steel.
 
Jun 2015
5,571
UK
#24
Sad in 2018 that 19th century notions still hold.

This is why the British themselves were impressed with the Asante governance system and Benin City construction....the same racist white supremacists who conquered Africa.
 

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