West Africa in Prehistory

The myth of the “Dark Continent” has recently been exploded by archaeologists. A rich indigenous culture was established long before the coming of the white man. The memorials that it left behind are here described and appraised by Robert A. Kennedy.

The prehistory of western Africa, especially from about 1000 B.C. onwards, is still rather conjectural. The evidence is fragmentary and widely dispersed. Nevertheless, a broad outline can be sketched which will show that we are dealing with no isolated and backward area of the so-called “Dark Continent,” but with one of the greatest interest and importance.

The Negro—who had arrived on the Nile from an unknown source some three or four millennia before—was well established westwards, right across the continent, roughly between latitudes 20° and 10° north, and certainly penetrating farther south, absorbing or driving before him into the coastal regions and into the forests the earlier, lighter-skinned populations of Capsian1 (Mediterranean) and of Bushman type.

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