Back when Ancient Egypt's military and engineering achievements left the rest of the world in awe. But Africa has always been diverse, and Ancient Africa was no different. Other sophisticated and literate empires on the continent, such as Kush, Axum, and Meroë, were also flourishing. In fact, Kush actually spread beyond the Sudanese Nile and conquered and ruled Egypt for about a century (ca. 734-664 B.C.).
How have others seen Ancient Africa? When the Ancient Greeks referred to Africa they tended to focus on Egypt or Ethiopia as mystical, exotic civilizations. In Ethiopia, Axum quickly rose from city-state to empire. In the third century Persia, Axum was named as one of the great four empires that dominated ancient Eurasia and Africa.note More modern depictions in Western fiction may not differentiate between modern and ancient tribal Africa. Depictions may also reference African Mythology.
In reality, Africa has a history as stocked full of rising and falling empires, artists, intrepid merchants, heroes, power-mad lunatics and wars as anywhere else in the world.
Works set in this time period are:
- One Hellboy story features a retelling of the story of ancient West-African Culture Hero Makoma, a superhuman guy with a hammer who perishes after a Double KO with a 7-headed monster.
- The backstory of Hillbilly involves an alliance between the hill folk (a Fantasy Counterpart Culture to rural Appalachia) and the people from "the land across the sea", which appears to be a High Fantasy utopian take on Ancient Africa. James Stoneturner, one of the main characters of the comic, is descended from a powerful wizardess from across the sea who decided to stay in the hill country long ago.
- The opening narration of Black Panther tells how the fictional country of Wakanda was empowered with the Vibranium brought on Earth by a meteor in ancient times and went to hide itself from the world, and how the nation's protector, the Black Panther, came to be.
- One of the The Royal Diaries was set in Angola; supposed to be a diary of a young Queen Nzingha (of Ndongo and Matamba), it is truly quite lacking in stereotypes about Africa and presents an interesting picture of the continent during the 1500s (colonization and the slave trade), particularly for a book written for a YA audience.
- Lots of Robert E. Howard stories are set here, with visits by characters such as Conan the Barbarian or Solomon Kane typically involving Eldritch Abominations terrorizing the countryside.
- In the middle of the futuristic Zimbabwe of The Ear, the Eye and the Arm is Resthaven, a sacred country where the old ways note are preserved — "the spiritual heart of Africa." Even airplanes aren't allowed to fly overhead, and the people who live inside of it have only the vaguest notion of the outside world — most of them.
- Axum in the Belisarius Series is a subversion. While its warriors bear a resemblance to the ones in Zulu they are also capable of building palaces, ships, and cities, forming an elaborate system of political checks and balances, dominating the trade in the Indian Ocean, and negotiating as equals with great empires. In the altered timeline of the series, Axum ends up a key ally to a resurgent Byzantine Empire and expands across the Red Sea into Arabia.
- Wilbur Smith's The Sunbird is partially set in a lost kingdom in the area of modern Botswana, and partially set in the present day, following the archaeologists who are beginning to uncover its remains.
- The kingdom of Great Olorum, City and Nation, in the novellas The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps and A Taste of Honey sounds a lot like a fantastic mix of ancient African kingdoms such as Kush.
- Imaro is kind of an Africanized version of the aforementioned Conan the Barbarian, taking place in a Constructed World called Nyumbani that is heavily modeled on various ancient African cultures and empires.
- Shaka Zulu
- Roots (1977) chronicles the author's family line, beginning with his ancestor Kunta Kinte who was taken from his village and made a slave.
- On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The first Vampire Slayer was an ancient African girl with face-paint and dreadlocks, given powers by a group of misogynist shamans.
- The Twilight Histories episode "The Blood Ape" takes place in a world where human civilization first developed in East Africa 200,000 years ago.
- The Third Party D20 setting Nyambe is based on ancient and pre-colonial Africa, and is clearly designed to be easily importable into your Forgotten Realms campaign alongside that setting's other Fantasy Counterpart Cultures.
- The Mwangi Expanse is the Pathfinder equivalent of Nyambe, being based heavily around the Congo and other Central African rainforest/jungle cultures.
- Civilization has accumulated an impressive array of African civs over the series, some of them quite obscure:
- The Zulu have been playable since the very first game, and tend to be a military powerhouse due to both Impi spam and advanced military organization.
- Ethiopia is a religious empire that in Civ V is also particularly hard for a larger empire to colonize, due to a special ability that gives all Ethiopian units a combat bonus against a foe that controls more cities than them.
- Mali is an economic powerhouse thanks to Mansa Musa's leader traits and special Mint building, which given gold's importance in Civ IV lets Mali afford to maximize its research and support a huge army.
- Songhai can be thought of a weird hybrid of the above civs, and has an improved mosque for its unique building, a unique unit that's better at attacking cities than a normal knight, and a special ability that lets them get more gold from pillaging barbarian camps or rival cities. Also, war canoes.
- Kongo is a weird type of religious civ in that it can't found its own religion, but it gets the full benefit from any foreign religion introduced to its cities, and get various bonuses from having religious relics in their empire.
- Nubia is an industrial civ that gets extra production out of mines and builds city districts faster, and can also churn out a swarm of dangerous archers to defend their lands or raid their rivals.
- Empire Earth II's expansion featured the Zulu and Maasai civilizations, though they only appeared as enemy African mercenaries in the Egyptian campaign. The Maasai do have a campaign, but it's set in the 21st century as a Wakanda expy.
- Europa Universalis and its sequels, which let you play as an African empire even if your usual fate is to get invaded.
- On the other hand, a HUGE part of inland Africa is inaccessible to anyone.
- Guild Wars Nightfall features Elona, a Fantasy Counterpart Culture to Africa (especially the North).
- The Settlers II had Nubians as one of the four playable civilizations. Of course, since the game has Cosmetically Different Sides (and that only for the buildings. The workers all have the same (Caucasian) sprite no matter the civilization), the Nubians civilization is exactly as developed and complex as the Roman, Viking or Japanese — up to and including sophisticated ship-building and ironworking techniques.
- Wizard 101 does this with the world of Zafaria. However, instead of a Bulungi, certain specific cultures are represented by the different species of Beastmen.