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North Africa: ° Algeria ° Egypt ° Libya ° Morocco ° Sudan
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Little is known of the earliest history of Nigeria. By c. 2000 B.C.E. most of the country was sparsely inhabited by persons who had a rudimentary knowledge of raising domesticated food plants and of herding animals.

From c. 800 B.C.E. to c. A.D. 200 the neolithic Nok culture (named for the town where archaeological findings first were made) flourished on the Jos Plateau. The Nok were an extremely advanced society, with one of the most complex judicial systems of the time, and the earliest producers of fine life-sized terracotta in the Sub-Sahara.

Their work has been decribed as "extraordinary, astonishing, ageless, timeless, and almost exterterrestrial."

Ancient Nok Art Culture of Nigeria.

The figures, which date back to at least 500 BC, are almost always people with large, mostly elongated heads with almond-shaped hollow looking eyes are parted lips. These unusual features are particularly perplexing considering that the statues have been constructed accurately with relative proportions of the head, body and feet, leading some to use the term "extraterrestrial-looking" when describing them. Archaeologists have also found stone tools, rock paintings and iron implements, including fearsome spear points, bracelets, and small knives.

The construction of life-sized statues isn t the only evidence of the advancement of their society. Research has revealed that the Nok people had a highly developed system of administration to ensure law and order.

Virtually all the native races of Africa are represented in Nigeria.

It was in Nigeria that the Bantu and Semi-Bantu, migrating from southern and central Africa, intermingled with the Sudanese. Later, other groups such as Shuwa-Arabs, the Tuaregs, and the Fulanis, who are concentrated in the far north, entered northern Nigeria in migratory waves across the Sahara Desert. The earliest occupants of Nigeria settled in the forest belt and in the Niger Delta region.

Today there are estimated to be more than 250 ethnic groups in Nigeria.

Major internal changes occurred in Nigeria in the 19th century. In 1804, Usuman dan Fodio (1754 1817), a Fulani and a pious Muslim, began a holy war to reform the practice of Islam in the north. He soon conquered the Hausa city-states, but Bornu, led by Muhammad al-Kanemi (also a Muslim reformer) until 1835, maintained its independence. In 1817, Usuman dan Fodio's son, Muhammad Bello (d.1837) established a state centered a Sokoto, which controlled most of Nigeria until the coming of the British (1900 1906). Under both Usuman dan Fodio and Muhammad Bello, Muslim culture, and also trade, flourished in the Fulani empire. In Bornu, Muhammad al-Kanemi was succeeded by Umar (reigned 1835 80), under whom the empire disintegrated.

In 1807, Great Britain abandoned the slave trade; however, other countries continued it until about 1875. Meanwhile, many African middlemen turned to selling palm products, which were Nigeria's chief export by the middle of the century. In 1817 a long series of civil wars began in the Oyo Empire; they lasted until 1893 (when Britain intervened), by which time the empire had disintegrated completely.

Africa. Mapmaker: Johnson. 1862.

In order to stop the slave trade there, Britain annexed Lagos in 1861. In 1879, Sir George Goldie gained control of all the British firms trading on the Niger, and in the 1880s he took over two French companies active there and signed treaties with numerous African leaders.

The British established their rule in SW Nigeria, partly by signing treaties (as in the Lagos hinterland) and partly by using force (as at Benin in 1897). Goldie's firm, given (1886) a British royal charter, as the Royal Niger Company, to administer the Niger River and N Nigeria, antagonized Europeans and Africans alike by its monopoly of trade on the Niger.

Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther. 1806-1891.

Ajayi was born in a little town called Osogun in Yorubaland around the year 1810. Osogun was said to be four miles in circumference with about 3,000 inhabitants.

His parents gave him the name Ajayi as a symbol of importance. They also consulted the Ifa Oracle to find out which of the four hundred traditional Yoruba deities he would grow up to worship. The Ifa priest was said to have warned them against dedicating him to any idol having foreseen that he would worship the Almighty God. Ajayi's father was a farmer and a weaver. From him, little Ajayi learned how to farm and shepherd domestic animals. He was noted for his courage and patience. He demonstrated this courage when he saved, at the risk of his life, his father's idols when their house was being destroyed in a conflagration.

The Journey of the First Black Bishop.

The alarm was sounded when enemies were seen approaching. It was at first mistaken for the slave raiders who usually passed by Osogun. Within a short time, the town was surrounded by the Foulahs, the "Yoruba Mohammedans" and the slaves who had run away from their masters. It was estimated that they numbered about 2,000 on strong swift horses. The enemies came at a time when most of the able men and women of the town had gone on their daily rounds of work and those left at home could not cope with the task of beating back the enemies. Houses were ruthlessly set on fire and the inhabitants fled for their lives.

Ajayi's father seeing that it was a situation beyond his control, entered the house after ordering all his people to flee and he was never seen again. The whole town was in flames. Ajayi, his mother and two sisters, ran into the hands of two of the raiders, who put nooses round their necks. They were led away to join thousands of others under the same affliction. They were later marched to Iseyin where Ajayi was exchanged for a horse.

He unsuccessfully attempted to commit suicide by strangling himself when he became fed up with the perpetual misery of slavery. In exchange for tobacco leaves and English wine, he was given to an Ijebu trader. He had suffered so much that in desperation he adjusted to slavery and was ready to accept any condition.

When Ajayi passed from the hand of the Ijebu man to the Lagos slave market and from there to the Portuguese traders, he thought his end had come. The Portuguese traders put him on a ship him with other slaves and set out to sea. Fortunately the British anti-slavery warship, theMyrmidon attacked the Portuguese schooner and destroyed it at sea. Ajayi himself later reported that 102 out of the 189 slaves on board the Portuguese schooner perished in the resultant shipwreck.

Thus rescued, he travelled in the Myrmidon with all perseverance. He did not understand the language of the crew, which was English. He later discovered that the English masters were friendly. When they landed in Sierra Leone, rather than being treated as a slave, Ajayi was shown tremendous freedom and kindness. He was placed in a C.M.S. school where he was taught to read and write the word of God in the New Testament. Ajayi was a keenly watchful young man, who was very willing to learn. Within six months of his arrival in Sierra Leone, he had sufficiently applied himself to his studies that not only could he read the New Testament, he was also appointed a pupil teacher in a local school earning seven and half pence a month.

On the 11th of December 1825, he had a rebirth by baptism and he named himself after the vicar of Christ's Church, Newgate, London - Samuel Crowther, who was one of the pioneers of the C.M.S. Samuel Ajayi made his first visit to London in 1826 and this left a wonderful impression on him. On getting back to Sierra Leone, he was employed by the government as a teacher.

Mr. Samuel Ajayi Crowther's baptism by the Rev. J. C. Raban in 1825, his journey to England with the Rev. and Mrs. Davey in 1826 and the few months' stay in the Parish School in Islington in 1827 prepared him for the life ahead. He assisted Rev. Raban in collecting the vocabularies of the Yoruba language in addition to his study of Temne, a local language. Ajayi quickly acquired a considerable measure of importance and prestige . . . He showed the required leadership in progressive matters and faced practical evangelism seriously. He lived a blameless life both at home and in public.

The Dictionary of African Christian Biography:

European Quarter in Lagos, Nigeria, 1887

European Quarter.

Édouard Riou was a French painter and illustrator who illustrated six novels by Jules Verne, including "Journey" and "Twenty Leagues Under the Sea." For Jules Verne's 1867 edition of "Journey," Riou produced 56 illustrations.

The Diary of Antera Duke: An Eighteenth-Century African Slave TraderAfrican Slave Trader.
TheDiary of Antera Duke.Stephen D. Behrendt, A. J. H. Lathma, David Northrup
In his diary, Antera Duke (ca.1735-ca.1809) wrote the only surviving eyewitness account of the slave trade by an African merchant. A leader in late eighteenth-century Old Calabar, a cluster of Efik-speaking communities in the Cross River region, he resided in Duke Town, forty-five miles from the Atlantic Ocean in what is now southeast Nigeria. His diary, written in trade English from 1785 to 1788, is a candid account of daily life in an African community at the height of Calabar's overseas commerce. It provides valuable information on Old Calabar's economic activity both with other African businessmen and with European ship captains who arrived to trade for slaves, produce, and provisions.

Basil Davidson states that by examining three important areas of Africa in the history of slavery against a general background of their time and circumstance he was taking "a fresh look at the oversea slave trade, the steady year-by-year export of African labour to the West Indies and the Americas that marked the era of forced migration." (Africans were joined by abused laborers from China, "indentured servants" from Ireland, and Britain's hideous prison hulks.)

The Middle Passage: White Ships/ Black CargoWhite Ships, Black Cargo.
Tom Feelings
Alex Haley's Roots awakened many Americans to the cruelty of slavery. The Middle Passage focuses attention on the torturous journey which brought slaves from Africa to the Americas, allowing readers to bear witness to the sufferings of an entire people. 64 paintings.

The Counter-Revolution of 1776:
Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America
Slave Resistance.
Gerald Home
The successful 1776 revolt against British rule in North America has been hailed almost universally as a great step forward for humanity. But the Africans then residing in the colonies overwhelmingly sided with London. In this trailblazing book, Gerald Horne complements his earlier celebrated Negro Comrades of the Crown, by showing that in the prelude to 1776, the abolition of slavery seemed all but inevitable in London, delighting Africans as much as it outraged slaveholders, and sparking the colonial revolt.

Middle Passages: African American Journeys to Africa, 1787-2005Middle Passages: African American Journeys to Africa.
James T. Campbell
Many works of history deal with the journeys of blacks in bondage from Africa to the United States along the middle passage, but there is also a rich and little examined history of African Americans traveling in the opposite direction. In Middle Passages, award-winning historian James T. Campbell recounts more than two centuries of African American journeys to Africa, including the experiences of such extraordinary figures as Langston Hughes, W.E.B. DuBois, Richard Wright, Malcolm X, and Maya Angelou. This series is under presiding editor Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.

1899. World's Fleet. Boston Daily Globe

Lloyds Register of Shipping gives the entire fleet of the world as 28,180 steamers and sailing vessels, with a total tonnage of 27,673,628, of which 39 perent are British.

Great Britain10,990 vessels, total tonnage of 10,792,714
United States 3,010 vessels, total tonnage of 2,405,887
Norway 2,528 vessels, tonnage of 1,604,230
Germany 1,676 vessels, with a tonnage of 2,453,334, in which are included her particularly large ships.
Sweden 1,408 vessels with a tonnage of 643, 527
Italy1,150 vessels
France 1,182 vessels

For Historical Comparison
Top 10 Maritime Nations Ranked by Value (2017)

  Country # of Vessels







1 Greece 4,453 206.47 $88.0
2 Japan 4,317 150.26 $79.8
3 China 4,938 159.71 $71.7
4 USA 2,399 55.92 $46.5
5 Singapore 2,662 64.03 $41.7
6 Norway 1,668 39.68 $41.1
7 Germany 2,923 81.17 $30.3
8 UK 883 28.78 $24.3
9 Denmark 1,040 36.17 $23.4
10 South Korea 1,484 49.88 $20.1
Total 26,767 87.21 $466.9

The Project

Maritime Nations, Ships, Sea Captains, Merchants, Merchandise, Ship Passengers and VIPs sailing into San Francisco during the 1800s.



Merchant Shipping

Merchant Shipping.Merchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.  
History of Merchant Shipping and Ancient CommerceMerchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.
W. S. Lindsay

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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; CDNC: California Digital Newspaper Collection; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; and Maritime Museums and Collections in Australia, China, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, etc.

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