Black Studies Part II: Black Life In The Green Sahara

As we make our way from the untold Black history of Mitochondrial Eve and the mathematical genius of the Black people of Ishago. I thought it would be appropriate to briefly mention how life in Africa was back during a time that’s never discussed in today’s classroom.

There’s a common misconception that Africa has no rich history of her own and that if she did, it only happened on her bourders under the heavy influence of non-Africans. It’s because of this bull shit I find it imperative to talk about how expansive civilization was all throughout African regardless of the point in time.

We Were The First to Explore the World

Africa’s Great Rift Valley

In our first lesson, we learned that the first homo sapiens to walk the Earth came out of Central & Southeast Africa (Africa’s Great Rift Valley). Of course, this means the first variations of modern-day men were black-skinned folks… Which without a doubt makes any history they left behind on this Earth, Black history.

We also learned that Homo sapiens eventually migrated across the African continent around 120,000 years ago. In fact, it is only between 80,000 and 50,000 years ago that some common ancestors began to leave the continent entirely. So yes this means the first people to “colonize” or “discover” any land inside and outside of Africa were indeed Black people.

We were the first to explore the world…

As our ancestors migrated throughout Africa it’s important to mention that the landscape of Africa was much different than it is today. That includes the land in Northern Africa known as the Sahara desert.

View of the Great Sand Sea of Egypt from the Gilf Kebir Plateau. This was a good place to live 8000 years ago.

The African Sahara is the largest hot desert in the world, and the third-largest desert overall after Antarctica and the Arctic. Its area of 9,200,000 square kilometers is comparable in size to the entire country of China or the United States. Living in the African Sahra is practically impossible, let alone fucking insane due to its extreme climate. But the Sahra wasn’t always like this….

What is now known as the hottest place on Earth used to be a green oasis that once housed a high-class civilization that has been erased from most history books.

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The Green Sahara

There is a shit ton of evidence from Palaeobotanic and Palaeoclimatic reconstructions that tell us that during early and mid-Holocene, between some 11,700 years (in some regions, a few thousand years earlier) and 4,200 years ago, subtropical North Africa was much more humid and greener than it is today. According to Climate Science, This African Humid Period (AHP) was triggered by changes in the orbital forcing, with the climatic precession as the dominant pacemaker.

African Humid Period |

The African humid period (AHP) is a climate period in Africa (during the Holocene) in which northern Africa was much wetter than today. This change in the climate replaced the Sahara desert with grasses, trees, and lakes.

At the end of the last Ice Age, the Sahara Desert was just as dry and uninviting as it is today. But sandwiched between two periods of extreme dryness were a few millennia of plentiful rainfall and lush vegetation.

Holocene |

(Geologic time period) The Holocene is the current geological epoch. It began approximately 11,650 cal years before the present, after the last glacial period, which concluded with the Holocene glacial retreat. The Holocene and the preceding Pleistocene together form the Quaternary period.

Vegetation in Africa at 6,000 years ago and today from Hoelzmann et al. (1998). Prior to about 5,000 years ago, vegetation had expanded across what is now the Sahara desert (

During these few thousand years, our ancestors left parts of the Nile Valley and Africa’s Great Rift Valley to establish settlements around rain pools, green valleys, and rivers.

What’s great about this time period is, like always, our ancestors left beautiful images of themselves and what Black life looked like in the Green Sahara.

These images, better known as Rock Art, can be found in caves all over the Sahara. However, some of the most known locations are; Tassili n’Ajjer, Messak, Tadrat, Tibesti, Ennedi, and Sabu-Jaddi. Some of these images are over 8,000 years old.

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Black Life in the Green Sahara

Prehistoric_Rock_Paintings_at_Manda_Guéli_Cave_in_the_Ennedi_Mountains_-_northeastern_Chad_2015 (1)
Prehistoric Rock Paintings at Manda Guéli Cave in the Ennedi Mountains
Prehistoric Rock Art in Tassili n’Ajjer
Prehistoric Rock Art of Tassili N’Ajjer, Algeria (Possible horned Goddess)
Prehistoric Rock Art of Tassili N’Ajjer, Algeria (This helps support the idea of domesticated livestock)
Prehistoric Rock Art of Tassili N’Ajjer, Algeria (hunters using the longbow which was the weapon of choice for the Ancient Nubians) 
Prehistoric Rock Art of Tassili N’Ajjer, Algeria (proof Africans were the first, if  not one of the first,  to domesticate horses while also creating the worlds first chariots)

I wanted to keep this lesson brief, so instead of going into further details, I’m going to leave you with a high-level timeline of Sahara occupation provided by our friends at Live Science;

  • 22,000 to 10,500 years ago: The Sahara was devoid of any human occupation outside the Nile Valley and extended 250 miles further south than it does today.
  • 10,500 to 9,000 years ago: Monsoon rains begin sweeping into the Sahara, transforming the region into a habitable area swiftly settled by our ancestors from the Nile Valley.
  • 9,000 to 7,300 years ago: Continued rains, vegetation growth, and animal migrations lead to well established human settlements, including the introduction of domesticated livestock such as sheep and goats, as well as the use of advanced tool construction such as plows and chariots.
  • 7,300 to 5,500 years ago: Retreating monsoonal rains initiate desiccation in the Egyptian Sahara, prompting humans to move to remaining habitable niches in Sudanese Sahara towards ancient Nubia.

Below is a small clip that helps sheds light on what life in the Green Sahra looked like. The clip also includes images and video footage of cave paints that you don’t want to mess. Especially if you’re still not sold that this is Black history.


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