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General History/historical development of sub-Saharan Africa


I've always wondered why there was comparatively so little development in sub-Saharan Africa historically. My understanding is that until the last few hundred years they even lacked written languages.

For instance after seeking literature out of Sub-Saharan Africa I could find not a single written work prior to say the 1800s if not much later. I searched out the different indigenous languages of West and Sub-Saharan African nations, and upon reading about them they all said they were translated into written form using the Latin alphabet (sometimes Arabic script) in the 20th century.

There is so much literature, architecture, and invention in Europe that date back 100s if not 1000s of years, and even in Asia , but as far as I know sub-Saharan Africa lacked any of this. (I'm not speaking to north Africa as the people there seem to be more Arab than black Africans, and were influenced by the middle east, Islam, etc.)

What is it about sub-Saharan Africa, or the sub-Saharan Africans themselves that accounts for such dramatic lack or invention, written language, etc. relative to the rest of the world?

It appears you have done a lot more research in this area than I have.  My thought would be a lack of need for writing much like the North American Indians or the Australian aborigines.  Perhaps the following may provide more insight:

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