Africa is the continent where the oldest fossils of human race were discovered, suggesting that the first humans and civilizations originated here. This is why the continent is also known as the Cradle of Humankind. The early known history of the continent includes the Nile Valley region, where the famous Egyptian Civilization prospered. The Egyptians had well-planned cities and a developed culture; they had also evolved a system of writing, known as Hieroglyphs, which records the daily life and events of those times. This happened around 3,000 BC.
For much of the time, Africa was a collection of kingdoms where the native tribes lived and spoke indigenous languages. Even today, this stark difference in culture is apparent.
After the death of Prophet Mohammed, the Islamic warriors raided the continent in several waves, conquering much of North Africa by AD 711. Then came a time of infighting, when there was disagreement over the choice of the Prophet's successor. This led to frequent power struggles, because of which different parts of Africa were ruled by different rulers at different times. By the 11th century, Islam had spread to the southern parts of the continent as well, ultimately resulting in one-third of the population turning Muslim.
Contact with Europe
During the 19th century, the various African kingdoms started to come in contact with Europe. This was when colonization of Africa saw a marked increase, and slaves from various African regions were taken to work in colonies and plantations overseas, for instance, in the Americas. But most of the European control was along the coasts. In the inner parts of the continent, the Islamic and local rulers held control.
The people of Africa served in both the World Wars. Following the Second World War, the European powers grew weak and the colonies in Africa began to demand freedom. A strong catalyst in this was India's successful struggle for independence. But even after the many nations saw freedom, greater challenges awaited them in the form of famines, civil wars, diseases, and political instability. Even today, the African countries are grappling with these.