Alkebu-lan 1260 AH

Alkebu-lan 1260 AH
The second wave of the Black Death in 754 AH (after the Hijra of Muḥammad or in 1353 Anno
Domini) took four out of five lives in the infidel Frangistan. The forces of al-Magrib could
therefore easily consolidate their domains in al-Andalus. The Sublime Port and the establishment
of the Northern Alkebu-lan now dominated the al-Baḥr al-Abyaḍ al-Mutawassiṭ (The White
Middle Sea) and grew prosperous from the trade with silk and spices.
Al-Magrib - strengthened by their victories in the north - launched an assault on the Songhai
Empire in 990 AH (1582 AD) , but Songhai prevailed. Their land had grown strong owing to
expeditions across the Great Western Ocean and the endless supplies of gold they acquired from the
trade with Mexica Tenochca. The contact with the New World also led to cultivation of new crops
such as maize, which made the fertile lands of the neighbouring Afshanti Empire a granary of the
The general increase of wealth in Western Alkebu-lan even strengthened the east coast and the
Swahili Trade Federation. Their dhows still dominated the Al-Muhit al-Hindi (The Indian Ocean)
from Great Qing to the Mughal Empire and the Southern Alkebu-lan. The increasing confidence
of Alkebu-lan led to regulations that prohibited the Arabs from taking slaves in the lands of
Alkeku-lan, but instead they had to be content with the Siqlabis (white slaves). The regions of Miṣr,
Barqah and Ṭarābulus also declared themselves independent of the Sublime Port.
Wars in the north created a rise in the demand for iron and clothes. This united the Luba and
Lunda Empires with the Kazembe Lunda and Bemba kingdoms and together they formed the
Untied Kingdoms of Katanga - an economic superpower that, except for its copper and iron fields,
also has some of the most fertile soil in Alkebu-lan. The raffia cloth production in the Congo
Empire exploded and led to the use of large manufactures and innovations such as steam power.
Western Alkebu-lan cotton manufactures followed and in the Miṣr Sultanate steam is now used to
power merchant ships traveling upstream on the Nile. The steamships also expanded the trade on
the Niger River and enriched the Benin, Oyo, Dahomey and Afshanti Empires.
In the beginning of the 13th century AH (end of the 18 th centuary AD) , the great leader Shaka
Zulu united the Zulu people and founded the aggressive Wene wa Zulu. Together with their
seceding states Gaza and Mthwakazi they became the regional superpower of the south with great
wealth regarding cattle and abundant assets of coal.
Now the entire Alkebu-lan stood stronger than ever before, but the ever-expanding industries were
thirsting for inexpensive raw materials and for new market. The overseas plantations were in
demand of slaves, and the great warriors were longing to prove their bravery on the battlefield. The
eyes are now turning towards Frangistan...
Mohammed Bagayogo Es Sudane Al Wangari Al Timbukti
- Professor at the Department of History at the Sankoré Madrasah
6 Safar 1260 AH, Tumbutu
(26th of February 1844 Anno Domini)
Why make a map of Africa?
Maps shape the world they depict. At the Congo Conference in 1884, imperialists decided “which
regions of Africa each European power had the right to 'pursue' the legal ownership of land, free
from interference by any others”1 by drawing straight lines with rulers. The map was drawn
BEFORE the Europeans had taken the actual control of the lands, but a "Principle of Effectivity"
was also agreed upon – a promise to actually put their flags on the ground, send soldiers and write
contracts with local leaders; otherwise some other European country had the right to do it instead.
My art work Alkebu-lan 1260 AH is a map portraying Africa (Alkebu-lan), Middle East and
Europe upside down, with today's straight-edged African borders replaced by borders following
historical African kingdoms, natural boundaries such as rivers and mountains and linguistic
boundaries. The project touches a complexity of different aspects, such as racism, imperialism and
civilizations as well as cartography and the tradition of alternative history.
The making of the piece has been preceded by more than six months of research. My main sources
have been Vol. IV, V and VI of General History of Africa – the eight Vol. series published by
UNESCO (Vol. I 1981 – Vol. VIII 1999.) and The Destruction of Black Civilization (1971) by
Chancellor Williams. I have also used Wikipedia. The ideas put forward in Guns, Germs, and
Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond have also been helpful in my research.
My map is set in an alternative universe in 1844 AD (1260 in the Islamic calendar) where the Black
Death in the 14th century AD killed 4/5 of Europe's population instead of the estimated 1/3. The idea
to use the Black Death as my POD (alternative history abbreviation for point of divergence) comes
from the novel The Years of Rice and Salt (2002) by Kim Stanley Robinson, where 95% of
Europe's population is wiped out, and the world is dominated by China and the Muslims. As far as
possible I have given the countries and cities their native names, or otherwise I have used Swahili,
which has been the prevailing language in Southern Africa. In Northern Africa Arabic is used for all
locations. I have chosen to use a Lambert azimuthal equal-area projection, which shows the size
ratio between Africa and Europe correctly instead of the standard Mercator projection. Even
aspects such as where the zero meridian is drawn reflects history; on my map it passes through the
Medieval University of Sankoré in Tumbutu instead of the University of Greenwich.
My original idea for the project emerged from reading the short story Infrakolonialismen (Galago
No. 95 - 2009) by the Swedish writer and comic artist Joakim Pirinen – an aggressive and catchy
description of how the mighty warriors of Africa conquer Sweden. I was also inspired by the two
alternative historical novels Lions Blood and Zulu Heart by Steven Barnes.
I gave a lecture at S:t Eskils Gymnasium in October 2010 for the third grade about my project and
medieval African history. They – as the only upper secondary school in Sweden – study medieval
Western African history from a Western African perspective. My ambition is also to popularize the
project by making a board game based on the map, where players control African powers that
divide and conquer Europe.
The crimes of colonialism and the horrors of slavery are quite well known but the awareness of
what existed before is still unknown. The way the world turned out was not inevitable, history could
have taken another turn. African people have created great civilizations. It is important that they
will not be forgotten.
1 Olusoga, David; Erichsen, Casper W. (2010). The Kaiser’s Holocaust: Germany's Forgotten Genocide and the
Colonial Roots of Nazism.