Militaries of pre colonial africa

Nov 2018
84
West Covina
#1
Post what every intresting info can find be it battles conflicts tactics or intresting weapons/Armor

First pic is. Sudanese tribesmen

Second a Somali spear men

Third two northern nigerian foot soldiers

And last foot soldiers from Western sahel

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Jan 2016
583
United States, MO
#2
Thanks for sharing! I do have a question though, what are those large objects in the last picture which cover the lower half of some the people in the image? are they a type of shield or something like a pavise?
 
Nov 2018
84
West Covina
#3
Thanks for sharing! I do have a question though, what are those large objects in the last picture which cover the lower half of some the people in the image? are they a type of shield or something like a pavise?
Yes there hide shields made from ether rhino elephant hippo or cattle hide
 
Last edited:
Nov 2018
84
West Covina
#4
Francisco de Almeida served as the viceroy to the Portuguese State of India from 1505 to 1509. Upon his successor taking over he sailed back to his homeland with a fleet of three ships – Garcia, Belèm and Santa Cruz. In late February he dropped anchor near the Cape of Good Hope to replenish water.

De Almeida and his men then traded with Khoikhoi who lived in the area. By all accounts these initial trades were cordial and both sides were satisfied. The Khoikhoi received iron in exchange for cattle. This cordiality came to an end though when approximately 12 of the Portuguese sailors visited the Khoikhoi village and attempted to steal a number of cattle. The upset villagers then chased the sailors back to their ships.

Upon reaching the safety of their ships the sailors begged Almeida to take revenge upon the villagers who had defended their cattle. Even though Almeida admitted that his men were likely to blame for what had occurred he led a party of 150 men armed with swords, lances and crossbows to enact an unwarranted revenge.

When they reached the village the raiders seized a number of children and cattle. Approximately 170 Khoikhoi warriors fought back with stones and assegais. Using their cattle as shields they routed the raiders killing 64 of them including Almeida and 11 of his captains.

This devastating defeat put pause to Portugal’s run of victories in Africa and Asia.
 
Nov 2018
84
West Covina
#5
The Ajuran State had a strong standing and professionally organized army with which the Garen imams and the governors ruled and protected their subjects. The bulk of the army consisted of mamluke soldiers,[57] who did not have any loyalties to the traditional Somali clan system, thereby making them more reliable. The soldiers were recruited from the inter-riverine area; other recruits came from the surrounding nomadic region. The main corps of the Ajuran army was divided into several sections such as Infantry, consisting of swordsmen, archers and lancers with their light harden steel shield making the Ajuran infantry flexible and swift which easily overwhelmed and destroyed their enemies. The Ajuran cavalry consisted of two sections which were used for different purposes and for different tactics such as light cavalrywhich depended on high speed rather than heavy armour and using swords, spears and bows with their fast Somali horses. The cuirassier were another Ajuran cavalry equipped with heavy armour and firearms. The Ajuran Kingdom had the largest and most advanced navy in Africa where they would do naval expedition as far as Southeast Asia with their Ottoman allies.[58]

In the early Ajuran period, the army's weapons consisted of traditional Somali weapons such as swords, daggers, spears, battle axe, shield, and bows. The Sultanate received assistance from its close ally the Ottoman Empire, and with the import of firearms through the Muzzaffar port of Mogadishu, the army began acquiring muskets and cannons. The Ottomans would also remain a key ally during the Ajuran-Portuguese wars. Horses used for military purposes were also raised in the interior, and numerous stone fortifications were erected to provide shelter for the army in the interior and coastal districts.[59] In each province, the soldiers were under the supervision of a military commander known as an emir,[57] and the coastal areas and the Indian ocean trade were protected by a navy.[60]


The Ajuran army was among the most advanced fighting force in Africa, being one of the first Africans to use muskets and cannons. The Ajuran soldier would be recruited at a young age of 8 and sent to Afgooye where they would be eminently trained and educated for 10 years in practising the art of fighting, warfare and bravery. They would have a strict diet which made the them very strong and healthy. After their graduation, they would become fearless efficient ruthless professional killing machines. The Ajuran soldier would wear protective helmets and advanced steelarmour that covered their body. The Ajuran army would also be paid decently which was enough to financially suppprt their family and house, and during their retirement for serving the kingdom for 25 years would receive large acers of farmland and pension with plenty of livestock animals as a reward for their honourable loyalty for serving and protecting their kingdom.[61][62]
 
Nov 2018
84
West Covina
#7
In Yorubaland, war expeditions were sent out once per year by the king of Oyo normally against the Gbe peoples. Normally to acquire spoils rather than captives or conquest. The winners rarely pursued the losers and those who ran off or hid were normally safe. After conquest, the shade trees of the main market were chopped down to signal victory. In the age of Oyo, slave raiding was virtually unknown. Sieges did not occur either. Standing armies didn’t exist except in Ibadan where the rulers created a class of trained slave-soldiers. Young boys were often brought along to war campaigns, not for combat but as attendants to the warriors. And to teach them the horror of war. All men of fighting age were expected to participate in wars, but it was not enforceable except among men of status. At the end of battle, all men simply went back home to their farms.

Prior to the introduction of firearms, the main yoruba weapons were poisoned arrows, short cutlass-like swords called “Jomo”, and heavy cutlass-like swords called “Ogbo”.

Post Oyo supremacy, sieges were conducted during the dry season. Dry season was the more common time to engage in warfare in west africa. Rations were composed of parched beans and a hard chunk of cornbread called Akara-kuru. Foraging for food was allowed during military campaigns, however. Ibadan being more concerned with bellicose matters had the tendency to start farming the area around their military camps during long sieges.

There were two grades in the military: Junior and Senior. The senior “Balogun” was the commander-in-chief supported by his lieutenants “Otun” of the right and “Osi” of the left. Ranked below them in order were the Ekerin, Ekarun and Ekefa i.e. the fourth, fifth and sixth.
These men commanded the veterans.

The commander of the junior grades was called the Seriki. And under him were a lesser degree version of the Otun, Osi, Ekerin, Ekarun, and Ekefa. These men commanded the younger warriors.

They also commanded any men not attached to a senior warchief. A Sarumi was the cavalry chief and they formed their own separate branch of the military. Below him was a Balogun and so forth. The chief of a city state and the council members allowed to speak & vote would confer these titles on their soldiers.

In battle, the Asanju was the leader of the vanguard who provokes skirmishes with the enemy. He was supported by the “Badas” who were something like medieval knights. They were expected to own 2 war steeds and followers in battle. Badas fought on horseback using lances and swords. Seriki comes after the Badas along with his lieutenants and their soldiers while the Balogun with his veterans kept the rear. Cavalry attempted to break the ranks of the enemy when they could, and a favorite tactic to demoralize the enemy was to dash into their midst and kidnap a lieutenant right in front of everyone and take him away in shame.

War became a profession after the Fulani sacked Illorin during the great jihad and sent the rest of the Yoruba tribes into a panic. It was because of this that Ibadan gained it’s reputation for glory in war. Adventurers, mercenaries, and others from different tribes seeking combat traveled to join the people of Ibadan.

War was often declared in the name of the Alaafin of Oyo and his permission was required before a campaign. The leader of a town and his council assembled with the warchiefs and discussed the nature of the campaign. When it was decided, the Balogun would stand outside before the army and finish his speech by proclaiming “X town is at your mercy!”. The assembled force would cheer and march out. The Balogun would take the war staff with him. The war staff was a 4 foot bamboo pole covered in charms and amulets with a round head about the size of a coconut. They were created in the holy city of Ile-Ife and given with the blessing of the Ooni (basically the yoruba pope). They were sacred to the god of war.
 
Nov 2018
84
West Covina
#8
Tuaregs were recruited to:
- Control specific zones or to spy on neighboring countries that posed a threat to the Empire, and that was the role Sonni Ali Kolon assigned to them.
- Supervise specific military posts to control the movement of goods and people in the Sahara and to collect taxes for the emperor. This was the role that Askya Mohammed I assigned to them among others.
- Attack neighboring countries that posed a threat. This was the role Issihack II (whose mother was Tuareg) assigned to them when the Sultan of Morocco claimed the salt mines of Teghâza. In fact, Issihack II sent a punitive expedition of Tuaregs to ransack southern Morocco. This was the beginning of hostilities between Gao and the Sultan of Morocco, the result of which irrupted in the Moroccan invasion of 1591. 13-591834.jpg touaregs_telek.jpg 13-591844.jpg
 

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
5,361
Portugal
#10
Francisco de Almeida served as the viceroy to the Portuguese State of India from 1505 to 1509. Upon his successor taking over he sailed back to his homeland with a fleet of three ships – Garcia, Belèm and Santa Cruz. In late February he dropped anchor near the Cape of Good Hope to replenish water.

De Almeida and his men then traded with Khoikhoi who lived in the area. By all accounts these initial trades were cordial and both sides were satisfied. The Khoikhoi received iron in exchange for cattle. This cordiality came to an end though when approximately 12 of the Portuguese sailors visited the Khoikhoi village and attempted to steal a number of cattle. The upset villagers then chased the sailors back to their ships.

Upon reaching the safety of their ships the sailors begged Almeida to take revenge upon the villagers who had defended their cattle. Even though Almeida admitted that his men were likely to blame for what had occurred he led a party of 150 men armed with swords, lances and crossbows to enact an unwarranted revenge.

When they reached the village the raiders seized a number of children and cattle. Approximately 170 Khoikhoi warriors fought back with stones and assegais. Using their cattle as shields they routed the raiders killing 64 of them including Almeida and 11 of his captains.

This devastating defeat put pause to Portugal’s run of victories in Africa and Asia.
Your post is mostly correct, but the last sentence is a total nonsense!

You mention the skirmish where Francisco de Almeida died when he was no longer the Vice-king, he was already returning to Portugal. And looking to the history of the Portuguese in Africa and Asia you can find an almost infinite list of similar events. The ones in Portugal in the 16th century that constantly criticized the continuous annual departing of fleets to the East as a bleeding of men where mostly right on that criticism.

Anyway Portugal’s peak of power both in Africa and Asia was quite after that skirmish. If you want to pick a Portuguese defeat that puts and end to the Portuguese advance in Africa, more specifically in Morocco, it was the one in 1515, with the disaster in Mamora (Mehdya, Morocco - Wikipedia) that put to the end of the Portuguese dream to control the South of Morocco. Even if the Portuguese defeat at Alcácer Quibir in 1578 had worst dynastical consequences, it was the defeat in 1515 that really ended the Portuguese possibilities in Morocco.
 

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