AHC: Europe And Africas Fates Reversed/Flipped

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by RayRiceBurroughs, Feb 16, 2019.

  1. RayRiceBurroughs Well-Known Member

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    Africa these days, is a complicated and messy place to say the least. Home to many civil wars, disease outbreaks, ethnic tensions, a history of exploitation by western powers, and depressing cases of starvation and malnourishment caused by all of the aforementioned. Even a person more ignorant of African politics is at least aware in broad strokes of the Rwandan Genocide and the legacy of Belgium In The Congo. Certainly this preconception lots of people have of Africa isn't true across the board, as there are exceptions and certain parts of Africa today are just as developed as anywhere in the west. But it's hard to ignore the harsh realities plaguing the continent and the many people who live there.

    I recently rewatched OSP's video on Africa to refresh my memory about some of the misconceptions people have about Africa for the fandom thread post, and this in addition to the current cultural zeitgeist surrounding a certain Marvel Movie got me thinking. Was this always going to be Africas fate? Exploited by colonial powers for it's resources and plagued by disease and war? Is there any way it could have been the other way around? An African nation being the dominant colonial power while Europe is the one plagued by such things?

    Is it at all plausible or even possible for there to be an Sub-Saharan African Colonial power on par with the British/Spanish?

    I asked about this question on Discord and someone said he/she thought the best candidate for an African Nation becoming a colonial power was the Ashanti/Ghana people on the west coast of Africa as they actually had a prosperous empire while Europe was going through the dark ages. But he also thought that them being a colonial power would be short lived, short of the Europeans being stalled in the age of colonialism somewhat.

    So I considered deeply. In order for a Sub Saharan African colonial power to rise. Europe would likely have to suffer the fate Africa did OTL. But is that even possible given differences in geography in weather patterns?
     
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  2. Odinson Plus Ultra!

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    Morocco has long been a prosperous nation in Africa. It was a Center of Trade. Morocco has a decent-sized coastline on the Atlantic side, as well as some Mediterranean ports. If Morocco better develops their Naval capabilities, it might not be too much of a stretch to say that they could at least get some islands in the Caribbean. Especially if it's Northern neighbor Spain never manages to unify.
     
  3. Planet of Hats Mad Prophet of Doom Donor

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    Sub-Saharan Africa is really hard to get up and rolling, largely because of our old friend the tsetse. One of the big-ticket items the region loses out on is animal power. It's hard to have a whole lot of animals when you're in THE TSETSE ZONE and your beasts of burden and meat animals keep dying of the sleeping sickness. There's a pretty good reason, basically, why the more complex sub-Saharan empires usually collected along the edge of the jungles. You'd need to somehow get rid of the tsetse in antiquity, and I'm not sure anyone even has the ability to do that outside of ASBs. So long as they're there, they're a huge brake on state-building. You can still do it, but you're swimming against the current. The tsetse current.

    Northern Africa is not too hard to keep on par with Europe, though. Start by averting the Banu Hilal and the massive impact they had on agricultural and urban society in Ifriqiya and the Maghreb.



    If you want a late POD that'll help Africa: Avert the rinderpest epizootic of the late 1800s.
     
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  4. Ivan Lupo Well-Known Member

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    Aksum might have been able to have had a good go at it, and for awhile, Aksum controlled territory on both sides of the Red Sea. The geography wasn't super great for them, as it's apparently difficult to expand west or south because of the harsh terrain, while there were usually other sovereign states downriver and along the coast towards the Horn of Africa. But if say something happened where coffee was turned into a cash crop in the Ethiopian Highlands before it's fully utilized in the Middle East, a state from there could have done exceptionally well.
     
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  5. Atterdag Well-Known Member

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    While the Tsetse argument probably has some merit, we shouldn't forget that some very big and sophisticated empires did arise in areas that didn't have draught animals, i.e the Americas.
     
  6. Revachah ::purveyor of side-eye and teeth sucking:::

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    The Incas had pack animals and the Aztecs while truly a feat of an empire had a lake civilization with one of the most calorically dense crops around (corn). The olmecs and Maya had cassava ehich is amongst the greatest starch crops on the planet.

    Those two crops radically altered African societies due to the increased population density on a given piece of land.

    All the above mentioned groups lacked the diseases and stressors of Africa from quelea birds stripping crops to malaria to the dearth of crops that could compete with mesoamerican standards.

    Not to mention an Arab slave trade, the civilization shifts of the horse and ever present reality of Ebola, yellow fever, smallpox, etc... Plus things like swine fever, cowpox, avian flu like diseases that inhibited most protein sources.
     
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  7. Byzantine fanatic Scholar of the West and East

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    @RayRiceBurroughs I think the role of disease and geography is very important to understand Africa.

    Anopheles is a genus of mosquito first described and named by J. W. Meigen in 1818. About 460 species are recognised; while over 100 can transmit human malaria, only 30–40 commonly transmit parasites of the genus Plasmodium, which cause malaria in humans in endemic areas. Anopheles gambiae is one of the best known, because of its predominant role in the transmission of the most dangerous malaria parasite species (to humans) – Plasmodium falciparum.

    Anopheles mosquitoes kill about 440,000 people each year because of malaria.

    Aedes aegypti, the yellow fever mosquito, is a mosquito that can spread dengue fever, chikungunya, Zika fever, Mayaro and yellow fever viruses, and other disease agents. The mosquito can be recognized by white markings on its legs and a marking in the form of a lyre on the upper surface of its thorax. This mosquito originated in Africa, but is now found in tropical, subtropical and temperate regions throughout the world.

    Based on the above, I submit that only the North African powers had the best chance of forming a great civilisation. And we see that three countries in North Africa have been the seat of great empires: Egypt, from 3,200BC to their conquest by the Ottomans in the 15th century; Tunisia, with the rise of ancient Carthage up to 146BC; and Morocco, as the home of successive empires which at various points conquered much of the Iberian peninsula after 711 CE and which remained one of the last independent nations in Africa, right up to 1912.
     
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  8. Revachah ::purveyor of side-eye and teeth sucking:::

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    I mean I was in the process of making 3 TLs based in Africa.

    A sericulture centered around Chufa in the Southern Mali escarpment, expanding along the ripirian corridors.

    A ensete and giant forest hog culture that centers around mining and smelting based society of in essence pygmies from the albertine rift montane forests to the malarial lowlands

    And a maritime whaling and trading society along the Namib coast that expands in time to the whole cape and even beyond.

    All these things could be done within the realm of possibility, I've put in the work and research for some of these for years even but it's not possible to put Europe in the situation of modern Africa.

    The reason why Africa is Africa is due the the entire Homo lineage being there forever and nature being well adapted to fucking up humanity.
     
  9. funnyhat Well-Known Member

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    OTL Ethiopia to some extent fits this description. It expanded over the years to conquer lands to the south and east with very different cultures.
     
  10. manitobot Well-Known Member

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    Along with the other replies talking about the tsetse fly, the Sahara provided a tough barrier for trade or contact to flow through to Sub-Saharan Africa and out towards the rest of Eurasia.

    It also should be mentioned that a lot of Africa was depopulated during the era of the Slave Trade, and that the end of the Slave Trade additionally cost a collapse of a lot of West African empires.
     
  11. stevej713 Well-Known Member

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    Even during the "Dark Ages" (which is such an anachronistic term that I sincerely wish people would stop using), Sub-Saharan Africa was not producing civilizations on the level of Europe and Asia. Blaming Africa's ills on colonialism is convenient but not entirely convincing when you look at the history of pre-colonial Africa in relation to the rest of the world, including North Africa.

    The simple fact is that Europe, North Africa, and most of Asia are more habitable places than Sub-Saharan Africa. The foundations of civilization are cereal-based agriculture and effective transportation - both are rarities in Africa. Ethiopia, South Africa, and West Africa possess a decent set of natural resources, but vast distances between them and other habitable areas make foreign exchange difficult. To put Europe in Africa's position would require ASB-level changes, like a change in climate or geography.
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2019
  12. Odinson Plus Ultra!

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    I've been thinking: what if the Frank's fail to unify under Clovis? Europe is slower to pull together, more divided. Christianity fails to become a major European religion.

    A North African nation (Egypt maybe?) grows in power and makes some way into Italy. The other kingdoms do the same and start taking bits of the coastal southern Europe.
     
  13. NiGHTS SEELE-14

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    Read this. It's about comparing separate civilizations to others and why it's wrong.
     
  14. Dr. Doom Well-Known Member

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    For true colonial powers, a luckier Oman-Zanzibar or Morocco are probably your best bets (particularly the former, which will basically end up as a sub-Saharan African empire if its holdings in Tanzania get big enough). If you want to limit it to sub-Saharan Africa, then things get a lot trickier...tbh it's very difficult to see that region producing a maritime empire.

    Though it did produce strong land-based imperial powers, if you count those as "colonial."
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2019
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  15. Odinson Plus Ultra!

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    Russia's holdings in Siberia were considered as colonial holdings in OTL
     
  16. Nothing Exists! Member

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    Sub-Saharan civilization is going to be a real problem, excepting a few coastal areas, for several reasons.
    1. Africa is a vast plateau. Rivers usually have cataracts and waterfalls. This makes trade very difficult.
    2. As mentioned previously, the Tsetse fly, and all the problems it brings.
    3. Few cereal crops, and less land to grow them on. European colonization found this difficult too. Sub-Saharan soils (there are exceptions) are not friendly for cereal crops. (Or so I've read.)
    4. Even the temperature of Sub-Saharan Africa is likely a difficulty for civilized life.
    5. Where are the great quarries in Sub-Saharan Africa? Eurasian Civilizations all built in stone. Where can you do this in Sub-Saharan Africa?
    But if you carefully pick your spots on the west or east coasts, I think you can make a go of it.
    Good luck!
     
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  17. Chungus Maximus Well-Known Member

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    You would need either

    1) a divergence in the BC era for Africa to be anywhere near powerful and developed enough to take on Europe and win
    2) a worse Black Death that kills almost everyone in Europe, leaving them unable to resist. (What happened to Native American Indians in real life...they had no immunity to our diseases, so 90% or so died from European diseases)