A Time Line of Africa

4 m.y.a. Australopithecines (early hominids) live in northern Rift Valley (Ethiopia, Kenya).

2.5 m.y.a. Early Stone Age; Homo habilis appears (Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania).

1.5 m.y.a.– 150,000 B.C. Homo erectus appears.

240,000– 40,000 B.C. Middle Stone Age.

80,000– 20,000 B.C. Late Stone Age.

20,000– 10,000 B.C. Farming introduced in lower Nile Valley.

10,000– 6000 B.C. Cattle domesticated in northern Africa. Millet and sorghum grown in western Africa.

6000– 5000 B.C. Khoisan hunters of southern Africa create rock paintings.

3000 B.C. King Menes unifies Lower Egypt and Upper Egypt. Agriculture develops in Ethiopian highlands.

2000–1000 B.C. Horses introduced in Sahara region. Bananas grown in central Africa.

332 B.C. Greeks occupy Egypt.

200 B.C. Romans gain control of Carthage.

32 B.C. Royal city of Meroe flourishes in what is now Sudan.

A.D. 300s Aksum invades Meroe; Aksum king adopts Coptic Christianity.

530s Byzantine empire takes Mediterranean ports.

600s Muslim Arabs invade North Africa.

ca. 1000 Shona begin building Great Zimbabwe.

1200s Portuguese voyage to northwest coast of Africa. Sundjata Keita founds Mali kingdom.

1312–1337 Mansa Musa rules Mali and makes pilgrimage to Mecca.

1400s Benin kingdom flourishes.

1498 Vasco da Gama sails around the southern and eastern coasts of Africa on the way to India.

1505–1510 Portuguese seize Swahili towns in eastern Africa and fortify MozambiqueKongo king Afonso I converts to Christianity.

1517 Ottoman Turks conquer Egypt and port towns along the Mediterranean.

1578 Moroccans defeat Portuguese, remaining free of colonial control.

1591 Al-Mansur invades Songhai.

1600s French, English, and Dutch establish trading posts along western coasts to export gold, ivory, and slaves. Akan state emerges.

1650s Dutch settle at Cape of Good Hope in southern Africa. Arab traders settle on East African coast.

1700s French and British establish network for slave trade in Central Africa. Zanzibar prospers as Arab trading center.

1721 French colonize Mauritius.

1787 British missionaries found Sierra Leone.

1795 British seize Cape Colony from Dutch.

1798 Napoleon leads French invasion of Egypt.

1805 Muhammad Ali takes power in Egypt, breaking free of Ottoman control.

1807 Britain and the United States abolish slave trade.

1817 Shaka emerges at head of Zulu kingdom in southern Africa.

1821 Freed slaves from the United States settle in what is now Liberia.

1828 Queen Ranavalona takes throne in Madagascar.

1830s French rule proclaimed in Algeria. Slave trade continues in western Africa.

1835 Dutch settlers in southern Africa head north in “Great Trek.”

1840s–1880s Slave trade flourishes in East Africa.

1847 Republic of Liberia is established.

1852–1873 David Livingstone explores Central and East Africa.

1858 Portuguese abolish slavery in Central Africa.

1855–1868 Emperor Tewodros rules Ethiopia.

1859–1869 Suez Canal is built.

1869 Diamonds are discovered at Kimberley in northern Cape Colony.

1880–1881 Afrikaners rebel against Britain in the First Anglo-Boer War, and British withdraw from Transvaal in southern Africa.

1885 Mahdist forces capture Khartoum.

1880s–early European powers colonize most of Africa (present-day names of countries 1900s listed):
Belgians in Congo (Kinshasa); British in Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, the Gambia, Uganda, Kenya, Somalia, Mauritius, Seychelles, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, BotswanaLesotho, and Swaziland; French in Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, Algeria, TunisiaMorocco, Senegal, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Benin, Central African RepublicGabon, Congo (Brazzaville), Chad, Djibouti, Madagascar, Reunion, and the Comoro Islands; Germans in Togo, Cameroon, Namibia, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi; Portuguese in Guinea-Bissau, Sao Tome and Principe, Cape VerdeAngola, and Mozambique; Spanish in Western Sahara and Equatorial Guinea.

1893–1895 Africans in King Leopold’s Congo revolt.

1895 France forms federation of colonies that becomes French West Africa.

1896 Ethiopian emperor Menilek defeats Italians, maintaining country’s independence.

1899–1902 Afrikaners defeated by British in Second Anglo-Boer war.

1910 Union of South Africa formed.

1914–1918 World War I: French and British capture German Togo; Africans fight on
the side of various colonial powers in Africa.

1922 Egypt gains its independence.

1930 Haile Selassie I crowned emperor of Ethiopia.

1935 Italians invade Ethiopia.

1936 Union party in South Africa revokes voting rights of blacks.

1939–1945 World War II: many major battles fought in North Africa; Africans in French and British colonies drafted to fight in Europe and Asia.

1940s First nationalist political parties are formed in western Africa.

1944 William Tubman becomes president of Liberia.

1945 Arab League, an organization of Arab states, is founded in Cairo. Ethiopia regains its independence.

1948 Policy of apartheid introduced in South Africa.

1950s Several independence movements against colonial rule develop.

1951 Libya declared an independent monarchy under King Idris I.

1952 Gamal Abdel Nasser seizes power in Egypt.

1953 Northern Rhodesia (Zambia), Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), and Nyasaland (Malawi) join to form the Central African Federation.

1954 War breaks out in Algeria.

1956 Sudan, Morocco, and Tunisia become independent.

1957 Ghana achieves independence, with Kwame Nkrumah as president.

1958 Guinea, under Sekou Toure, becomes independent.

1960 Independence achieved in Cameroon (French Cameroun), Chad, Congo (Brazzaville), Congo (Kinshasa), Dahomey (Benin), Gabon, Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, Togo, and Upper Volta (Burkina Faso).

1961 Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Tanganyika become independent.

1962 Independence achieved in Algeria, Burundi, and Uganda.

1963 Kenya (under Jomo Kenyatta) and Zanzibar become independent. Central African Federation ends. Organization of African Unity is founded. FRELIMO begins armed struggle for liberation of Mozambique.

1964 In South Africa, Nelson Mandela stands trial and is jailed. Tanganyika and Zanzibar join to form Tanzania. Malawi and Zambia become independent. Hutu overthrow Tutsi rule in Burundi.

1965 Rhodesia declares independence under Ian Smith. Mobutu Sese Seko takes power in Congo (Kinshasa) and renames it Zaire. King Hassan restores monarchy in Morocco. The Gambia gains independence.

1966 Independence achieved in Lesotho and Botswana.

1967–1970 Biafra attempts to secede from Nigeria.

1968 Swaziland becomes independent.

1969 Muammar al-Qaddafi seizes power in Libya.

1970 Egypt/Sudan: Aswan Dam is completed.

1974 Guinea attains independence.

1975 Cape Verde and Angola become independent. FRELIMO government gains independence in Mozambique.

1976 Spain withdraws from Western Sahara; Morocco and Mauritania fight over territory. Residents of Soweto and other South African townships begin violent protests.

1970s–1990s War erupts across the continent within the countries of Angola, Chad, Congo (Brazzaville), Congo (Kinshasa), Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, and Western Sahara, and between the nations of Ethiopia and Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia, and Sudan and Uganda.

1980 Zimbabwe becomes independent.

1990 Nelson Mandela released from prison. Namibia becomes independent.

1993 Apartheid ends in South Africa. Eritrea gains independence from Ethiopia.

1994 Rwandan and Burundi presidents assassinated; ethnic violence between Hutu and Tutsi continues. Nelson Mandela becomes first black president of South Africa.

1995 Outbreak of deadly Ebola virus in Congo (Kinshasa).

1997 Laurent Kabila takes power in Zaire and renames it Democratic Republic of the Congo (Kinshasa).

1999 Libya hands over two suspects in 1986 airplane bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland.

2000 Ghana chooses president John Kufuor in free elections. Paul Kagame is the first Tutsi to become president in Rwanda.

2001 Congo (Kinshasa) leader, Kabila, is assassinated; Kabila’s son, Joseph,
succeeds him as president.