AHC/WI: Seafaring west African empire secures regular trade between Africa and America

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by zeppelinair, Feb 11, 2018.

  1. zeppelinair これ以上の詳細は略する

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  2. Revachah ::purveyor of side-eye and teeth sucking:::

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    I said this in another thread involving him and proto-Malagasy influence
     
  3. twovultures Best leagues are NFL, FIFA, and Shmalkaldic

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    Got to be honest, I am one of those hard-nosed historians. Apparently the best evidence we have of him discovering the Americas is that the Griots *don't* talk about him? Seems like a case of all hoofbeats sounding like unicorns when you really want to find a unicorn. Still, it is an interesting idea.

    More institutionalized trade centuries before the European contact results in a population explosion in Africa. Maize is the most productive grain per calorie under the right conditions; where conditions are not right for maize or almost anything else, cassava can thrive. These two crops combined will see populations grow very high in Africa.

    The Native Americans will find African crops useful but not necessarily transformative, though bananas will be very useful. Livestock will be a real game-changer, while not all tribes will adopt livestock initially those that do will benefit from increased labor power and more convenient access to meat. From West Africa after 1000 AD the horse could be introduced, and while I don't see the conditions of West-African/Coastal Brazilian contact producing a horse culture initially, it does lay the ground for an earlier horse-culture rise elsewhere.

    Longer and wider contact between Brazil and Africa introduces diseases early-yellow fever, malaria, and smallpox. These 3 diseases play off each other to spread; with populations dying off from smallpox, there's less people using fire to manage the environment which creates better breeding grounds for mosquitoes, and forested areas for monkeys which serve as hosts for yellow fever. How well and quickly the Native Americans bounce back depends on the nature of their contact with Africans. Violence, whether from direct conquest or a knock-off effect from slave trading, will prevent populations from rebounding; peaceful contact will allow the Native American populations to grow, although with malaria and yellow fever to contend with we may not see the densely populated Amazonian communities the Spanish and Portuguese initially witnessed in the 16th century. If they can pick up variolation from the Africans though, we may see coastal Native American communities grow quite healthily.
     
  4. leopard9 Well-Known Member

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    The falciparum strain of malaria that West Africans would bring to the Americas could virtually depopulate swampy areas of the Americas. Apparently, this strain was deadlier to the natives than the Eurasian variant and they found it hard to live next to Africans because of this. As @twovultures said, the Native Americans probably won't find African crops that useful as they're used to grow in marginal habitats and the fact that Africans stopped largely using them as soon as the efficacy of the New World staples became apparent. However, Native Americans could certainly benefit from a technological sense from them. Horses, cattle, guinea fowl, iron-working, and even better shipbuilding techniques could lead to a massive transformation of the natives' lifestyles. West Africa would go through a massive population boom because of the introduction of New World crops, especially maize and cassava, but depending on when they get these crops, this might hurt them. After about 1100 CE, Sub-Saharan Africa went through a desiccation period compared to the last 700 years of relatively wet years. If Africans get maize and cassava before 1100 CE, they'll plant maize and establish large populations in wet areas that may desiccate in the coming years and cassava won't be able to support those numbers anymore. That will lead to population pressures, warfare, and slaving. Or that would be what typically happens in such a situation. But with knowledge of the Americas by this time widespread in the region, perhaps rulers would rather send the poor and slaves to the New World as a way of population control? Depending on how much technology has been shared with the Native Americans, the results of attempted African colonization, probably started with the Brazil area of South America, would be very interesting.
     
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  5. Marc reformed polymath... Donor

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    Broadly, a sustained contact as described not only rewrites the history of the Western Hemisphere, it also massively changes in progressive waves the history of Africa and then Eurasia. It is such an extreme departure from real history, that past the first few centuries, speculation becomes just about useless.
    Just the simplest riff: No Atlantic Europe conquest of the Western Hemisphere, which means no rise of the great European empires that start dominating the world after circa 1500 and no Shakespeare, Cervantes, et al (to mention a couple of people that really matter in the long run).
     
  6. RogueTraderEnthusiast Winner: WillamOfOckham "Most AH.com Title" 2018

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    To achieve this (with a few centuries of time before it would happen IOTL), I would recommend and aggressively colonised Vinland - i.e. for whatever reason there is a strong European presence that is exploring the coasts and setting up trade networks anyway.

    This will then lead to someone taking advantage of the Atlantic currents and then the Canary Current - which brings Africa in. I feel I should explain why Africa isn't doing this - a lack of incentive. There is no known incentive I can see in them trading by sea - in fact their vested interests and powers are invested in Saharan trade. Unless you have a PoD that leads to a stronger coastal presence, I can't see them being interested.

    With an established trade network Africa is in a good position a few centuries earlier. They can get involved in the trade, leading to the aforementioned coastal presence to set itself up - and importing a fortune and crashing most non-Mesoamerican economies.

    You've got a mess of impacts - you've got first the impact of a Vinlandic trade, then followed by Mesoamerican gold flooding Europe and the Atlantic trade network, only to be hit again when West Africa gets involved. Europe will be completely and utterly shook economically. Making it drastically changed even before we introduce West Africa to this network.

    The interesting aspect of this is that despite the knowledge of their trade partners, fewer players are in a position to exert force on each other, but knowledge can move. Coastal nations will become increasingly powerful.
     
  7. Revachah ::purveyor of side-eye and teeth sucking:::

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    You aren't contextualizing any OTL Zambo/Indian interactions.

    It seems like you are under the illusion of a sort of European style of technology dispersal but looking at the Zambo/Cafuzo populations they are rather culturally conservative, ethno-centric and tended to rule over unmixed populations of indigenous peoples.

    Also I'm surprised rice isn't mentioned or cotton, indigo, smithery all of which would radically shift the semi-arid Northeast Brazil region and lead to a completely culturally predominate dominate Malian region in the New World.

    Having a full awareness of Berbers and Europeans via Jewish populations of Bilad El, literacy, smithery and salt/natron would lead to a very strong trading relationship with the densely populated regions of the amazon.
     
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  8. twovultures Best leagues are NFL, FIFA, and Shmalkaldic

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    That's because this isn't that context. African seafarers reaching the Americas on their own terms and without competition from Europeans or Asians are going to be approaching their interactions with the natives entirely differently than the mixed-race descendants of escaped or freed slaves IOTL. Peoples like the Miskito were, in a lot of ways, under seige from the more powerful slaveholding societies around them (though the Miskito managed to overcome this somewhat by playing the British against the Spanish). Without that pressure, interactions between Africans and Native Americans will be vastly different than IOTL.
     
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  9. Revachah ::purveyor of side-eye and teeth sucking:::

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    I think it's best you spend a few days reading into social stratification and ethno-cultural assimilation of prestige groups before being so bold.

    The foundation of Zambo/Indian interaction is rooted not within the pressures of European domination alone, that is a eurocentric take that strips cultural continuity, agency and technological/environmental advantage away from enslaved African people's in the new world.

    Secondly Miskitu Zambu are one of many populations.
     
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  10. Byron Well-Known Member

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    As has been mentioned, Africa is as dramatically changed by New World Contact as the Americas. Long and short of it is, West Africa probably gets many of the benefits of New World Explotation that Europe did historically. Also not mentioned is, besides traditional African religion, Islam was a relatively early influence in West Africa. Depending on how things play out, i.e. which West African states propser most from the trade, you could end up with an Islamic Americas. Frankly, the strongest West African states were often the most islamacised ones. (Even if that meant only partially)This could spiral in a East-West contact scenario.
     
  11. John7755 يوحنا Lightweight Faqih

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    Quality post and agreed. The zambo element is something that will need to be explored in this scenario.
     
  12. leopard9 Well-Known Member

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    But why? Even if European interference wasn't the direct cause of Zambo society, the threat of enslavement and ostracism from the European society would be a large influencing factor in how the society formed. This scenario would be very different in that there would be only Africans settling the region, there wouldn't be a threat of racially motivated enslavement they'd have to deal with, and there would be the power of the state behind them. Yes, contact with Amerindians with a male African trading crew would result in many biracial offspring that Africans might then prefer to do business with, but if colonization with families of Africans occurs, who knows what may happen?

    There might not be racial discrimination, but a recognizable OTL Zambo society may not form.
     
  13. St. Just STOP BUMPING STOP BUMPING STOP BUMPING THREADS

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    >implying Abubakari II did any of this

    The entire Sahelian civilizational complex centered on cities and states many, many miles inland. The Wolof states and the Nigerian statelets were not, by and large, maritime powers -- certainly not on the level of the Portuguese, or even the Maghrebis. The South Atlantic trade network was fundamentally a Portuguese creation, molded to the economic prerogatives of early Portuguese imperialism from the outset -- native trade, from Kongo to the Bight of Biafra to the Wolof, extended inland, whether it was to Mali or the Lunda and the Luba.

    Even if we presume that one of West Africa's states had the capability to have trade with South America, there is still the matter of incentive. Portugal's explorations were essentially a huge gamble, from the risks of trying to go past Cape Bojador to even their tenative efforts in the Atlantic (essentially sailing into a blue terra nullis, with no guarantee that these explorers or their ships would return). Portugal was incentivized to gamble because they were reliant on Italian middlemen to access the eastern trade, and because they had finished Reconquista in the mid-13th century.

    Compare this to the West African statelets of the period. They too have various middlemen, but they are also not far away and locked out of markets the way Portugal was. Nothing was blocking the Wolof from trading with Mali, or the Ashanti with Mali, or the Nigerian statelets with the Hausa city-states. Given that this was before the rise of the Imbangala, Kongo also had relatively easy access to trade with their own interior, and the Lunda and Luba beyond. Why would they build ships (presuming that any of them had access to Arab shipbuilding techniques the way Iberia did) and sail into the void when the entire engine of trade lies in the interior?
     
  14. DarkKayder Well-Known Member

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    If you want enough deviation from OTL for this to happen, you need a very different West Africa. Maybe an early introduction of the camel could lead to the establishment of high volume trans-saharan trade centuries before OTL, resulting in a struggle for gold and other resources valued in the Mediterranean.

    The incentive for maritime trade was, in my opinion, already existed: moving large quantities of goods in a cheaper and quicker way than by Oasis hopping and without the need for camels. The problem rather was that the concept of large trading seacraft capable of such feat was largely a foreign concept for the West African states. If you can fix that in some way, that would allow a viable POD.
     
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  15. twovultures Best leagues are NFL, FIFA, and Shmalkaldic

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    I've always thought that a surviving Carthage could see this as a butterfly effect. In what would IOTL be the early centuries AD, you see the more maritime and trade focused Carthaginians start sailing along the Atlantic coast of Africa, and setting up trade with west Africa. Over the next few centuries, West African nations start to spring up as an elite class rises focused on controlling trade rises, perhaps in tandem with the rise of inland trade empires influenced by camels.

    By 1000 AD, you have multiple kingdoms on the coast of West Africa stretching from what's about now Senegal all the way to what's about Benin and Togo, some with heavy maritime focus and access to sailing technology-a perfect recipe for an African "Vinland" type encounter to start and spark something.
     
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  16. Revachah ::purveyor of side-eye and teeth sucking:::

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    I really just think a malagasy maritime exchange would be the easiest way to create the conditions for this.

    The Swahili and Maldivians show quite clearly the influence of southeast Asia design and terminology for ocean going vessels.

    The challenge is going to be getting people here to understand inter-group dynamics in Africa (Supra and Sub Saharan) and that's a long shot.

    I mean there are blacksmith castes that have been genetically isolated/bottlenecked for 1000+ years in some cases yet maintain close social ties with non-blacksmith populations of the same "ethnic group" daily.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2018
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