ANKH: Egyptologie et Civilisations Africaines
 Egyptologie, histoire de l'Afrique et sciences exactes
 Egyptology, Africa History and Sciences



by Louise-Marie DIOP-MAES






1-    A few witnesses

2-    Appreciation of these sources




1-    Research of a rough estimate of the population in the 19th century

2-    Research of a rough estimate of the population in the 16th century

    a) Several observations

    b) A significant comparison

    c) Data and method of evaluation

Chart: Approximative evolution of Black African Population




1-    These densities agree with those brought to light by Archaeology

2-    These densities agree with the results of simulated numerical conditions

3-     A comparison with India






Abstract EVOLUTION OF THE BLACK AFRICA POPULATION FROM NEOLITHIC TO THE MIDDLE OF THE 20th CENTURY During the entire period of prehistory, Black Africa, the cradle of humanity, maintained a relatively large population. The natural conditions are comparable to those of South Asia. Human inhabitation increased during Antiquity, especially in the Middle Nile region. From the 8th to the 17th century, various testimonies related to population density are similar and have been progressively confirmed as accurate by archaeological findings.From the results of the 1948-49 census, the population of Black Africa in 1930 can be put at 125/130 million. An analysis of historical facts shows that the population had decreased in population by more than one third of its people between 1870 and 1930. We can thus infer that in 1850-1870, the population of Sub-Saharan Africa was approximatively 200 million.

Between 1550 and 1850, the Portuguese and Moroccan attacks afterwards the different slave trades added have produced effects similar to those which the One Hundred Years War and the Thirty Years War had on Europe. In comparing the settlements of the 19th century to those of the 15th/16th centuries, it appears that the population in the 19th century is the three or the four times inferior. It is therefore plausible to assume that Black Africa most likely had a population of between 600 and 800 million, around 1500/1550, that is to say, 30 to 40 inhabitants per km2.

Numerical simulations based on known numbers of exported slaves refutes the previously accepted hypothesis of 4 to 5 inhabitants per km2 during the 16th century, and confirms the above figures.


zimbabw_fort1.gif (115715 octets)

Great-Zimbabwe : L' "Ellipse" et les ruines voisines — Bâtiment en forme d'Ellipse ; dimensions : length : 90 m, width : 65 m, height and wall thickness : 9 m et 6 m


I. Introduction


This article quotes the numerous and various data at our disposal concerning the quantitative evolution of the population in Black Africa since Prehistory until the first coordinated census of population in 1948/1949.

After a short statement of our knowledge on the population of Africa during Prehistory and Antiquity followed by a few remarks concerning natural conditions , the following subjects will be here after examined:

- The record of population between the 8th and the 17th century according to witnessses and to Archaeology.

- A method of evaluation of the Subsaharian African population in the 15th / 16th centuries..

- The arguments and calculations corroborating this evaluation



II. Prehistory - Antiquity and natural conditions

The Homo sapiens sapiens or Modern Men , are present in Africa at least as early as 130,000 years BC. [1] They increased in number and improved the lithic industries. The microlithism inaugurating the Upper Paleolithic develops there between 50,000 and 40,000 B.C., that is to say earlier than in Europe and rock art is earlier there as well [2].


According to WENDORF and SCHILD (USA), barley was precultivated in the Nile valley, in Upper Egypt around 13,000 B.C [3].West of Abou Simbel (Nubia), domesticated cattle have been dated back to the 9th millenium B.C. The archeologists F.WENDORF, A.CLOSE, A.GAUTIER and R.SCHILD conclude that they are fairly more ancient than those of Eurasia [4]. In the same region, the remains of a city dating from around 7000 B.C. have recently been brought to light (Site of Nabta) [5]. From the Tropic to the edge of the forest neolithic sites are to be found everywhere from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red sea, " by thousands surely " [6].


A " watery " civilisation blossomed from 8,000 6,000 over a boundless area from Tanzania to the high lands of the Sahara and in Niger [7]. The black populations spread over Sahara and Egypt, but at that period in Egypt , the river Nile was much wider than nowadays.


Around 8,000 B.C., polished stone tools start appearing in the Nachikoufian, in Northern Zambia [8] and pottery is attested around 7,500 BC. in the massive of Aïr [9].During the fifth and the fourth millenium, the predynastic civilisaton stradddles Nubia and Upper Egypt. In Iwo Eleru (Nigeria), food production starts around 4,000 B.C.[10] The civilisation of Nok, in Nigeria as well, lasted from 3,500 B.C. (?) until our era.[11] Ancient Egypt was quite numerously populated as regards the period: between 5 and 10 million inhabitants, depending on the periods.[12].And so was Nubia , if we take into consideration the walls,. the Egyptian texts and the archeological excavations . In The General History of Africa (vol2, chap.11), A.HAKEM J.HRBEK and J.VERCOUTTER remark that Meroe, at its peak, was " an enormous city ", equiped with all the elements linked to urban life :palaces, thermae, temples, cimeteries...(p.335), strenthening Herodote's witness, according to which, in the 5th century B C , Meroe already was a large city.


The dates indicating the beginning of the Iron Age, in Black Africa, are situated between 1,200 and 2,900 BC.[13][14][15] in places as different from one another as the Termit massive (between Lake Chad and Aïr), the region of Kaolack in Senegal , the western and southwestern shores of Lake Victoria Nyanza, Egypt and probably , the region of Nok. All this implicates densities of population significantly higher than those usually given to Africa during Antiquity. Trade networks are attested as well, in particular by the expeditions of the Egyptian Herkouf in the 24th century before Christ, whereas China only emerged from Neolitic in the 18th century B.C. The archeologist P.VIDAL estimates that on the central Africa territory population reached at least one inhabitant per km² in the middle of the first millenium before Christ [16];The works of S.and R.MAC INTOSH revealed the existance of a city dating of the 3rd century B.C. just next to the actual Djenné, that is to say as ancient as the first urban agglomerations in Ethiopia.[17]. And D.W.PHILIPSON remarks that stone building was a common habit in the region of Zimbabwé as early as the first centuries of our era [18].


Despite of all these data, many people still believe that the natural environment of intertropical Africa unfavourable to men. Actually, the natural conditons are quite similar to those of Southern Asia .So as to be convinced of it, one may consult in particular the works of J.RICHARD-MOLARD, P.KALCK,P.GOUROU (1982) [19][20][21] and L.M.DIOP-MAES [22].Any historian and geograph, free of prejudices, will be able to admit it when establishing a systematical comparison.



III. State of the population between the 8th century and the 17th century according to witnesses and Archaeology


1. A few witnesses


CA DA MOSTO(1457) speaks of the black people of Mali transporting salt " along a long track with so many pedestrians that they look like an exercite ( that is to say an army)" and he adds a little further, " it is up to you to imagine what multitude of people is required to carry this salt and how numerous are those who use it "[23]. FERNANDES reports during the first years of the 16th century the witness of Joao RODRIGUEZ:" To the gyloffo (woloff) people is to be added, or adjoined a nation called the Terucooes (Tekrour)... And it is an enormous multitude ". " in the banks of the river of Gambia end the Gyloffos ..They have a very large and populated land and here along the coast as well as inland, there are numerous villages all over. In these countries, (Mandingues) there are a lot inhabited places with 5,000, 10,000 inhabitants or more " [24]


According to DAPPER, one finds in Benin " an infinity of villages "(p.308) ; the province of Dingi is a large country with numerous boroughs and villages "(p.324);the prince of Bamba rules over " many a village "(p. 342) ; the kingdom of Ngola (Angola) had "Eight main provinces each of them " was "divided into several seigniories: Lovando has 39,Llamba 42, Massingan 12, Cambanda 60, and Embacco just as much " (p.361) and , in the province of Sinfo(North of Lowando) a village is to be found every 3 lieues (p.362) and " 32 seigniories " were established there [25]. From the number of houses, schools, pupils, tailors, mentioned in the Sudanese chronicas, it has been possible to restore in its entirety the rough estimate of the populations of Timbuktoo and Gao before 1591 ([L.M DIOP MAES [26].)


As to Gao and Kano, it is possible to get a fairly precise idea of their numerical importance thanks to this very curious and very interesting anecdote reported by KATI [27], "People from Sudan [a country East of Nigeria, that is to say Haoussa] had a discussion with the people of Gao, the Sudanese saying that Kano was more important than Gao quivering with impatience some young men from Timbuktoo and a few inhabitants of Gao intervened and taking some paper , some ink and some quills entered the town of Gao and started counting the block of houses starting by the fist dwelling in the Western part of the town and writing down one after the other :house of so and so, house of so and so, untill they reached the last buildings on the Eastern side . The process lasted three days and 7, 626 houses were thus counted, without taking into account the staw huts". The event takes place around the end of the 16th century, under the reign of one of the sons of Askia DAOUD.


R.MAUNY [28] proposes 75,000 inhabitants for Gao, a figure he judges " enormous " but that he has been led to take into consideration when comparing the 13,000 souls numbered by BARTH in Timbuktoo in 1854 for " 980 houses and a few hundred strawhuts " from the 7626 houses in the census taken by the Sudanese in Gao before 1591. An extremely interesting comparison indeed: let us use the " rule of three " we then obtain a total of 101,000 inhabitantsx/7,626 = 13,000/980 .The population of Gao must actually have been by far superior to these 100,000 people.


1) Because BARTH himself adds that during the period of intense traffic ( November January) the population of Timbuktoo increases from 18,000 to 23,000 inhabitants ["the floating population may amount.... to 5,000.... to as many as 10,000 "[29].


2)Because during a peaceful and prosperous period, the strawhut suburbs spread and that the coefficient of occupation of the dwellings is perhaps also higher. When counting 18,000 inhabitants in Timbucktoo for 980 houses one obtains 140,000 inhabitants for Gao around 1580 .


A eyewitness tells KATI he has numbered in Timbuktoo 150 or 180 schools where " young boys were taught Koran " Presumably, these were 6 to15 years old boys. One of these schools visited at random had 123 pupils. When choosing the average number of 165 schools , the number of 6 to 15 years old pupils must have been of approximatly 165 x 120 = 19,800, lets say in between 18,000 and 20,000 .Supposing all the young boys of this town attended this teaching - which certainly was not the case- this bracket of population including the girls would consist of 36,000 to 40,000 children .In a total population of the ancient type , the pyramid-shaped diagram representing population by age-groups has a wide basis and the 0 to 6 years old bracket is more or less equal to 63% or 64% of that of the 6 to 15 years old one, which would then represent 24,000 small children. Assuming that, as we are considering a urban population , the children under 15 only represent 36 or 37% of the population instead of the average 39% , we obtain the population of Timbuktoo in the 16th century by the following operation (24,000+ 38,000)x100,/36.5= 170,000 inhabitants aproximately. The result is 159,000 if the young people under 15 years old stand for 39% of the population.


2. Appreciation of these sources


The preliminary critical analysis of that period describing " the black country " has been done by historians. For example M MOLLAT [30] writes this about narrators: " in the first rank among them , because of the richness and the quality of his informations comes CADAMOSTO (p.155).. Vanity being set apart, CADAMOSTO aims at sincerity and objectivity (p56) [he is] the most exact of portraitists (p.178) BATOUTAH despite his adversion for the Blacks, aknowledges the existence of states and of a, besides ancient, urban life , for example in Mali (p.214)This clever story teller suffers confrontation with some irrefutable witnesses . Despite his frequent partiality, he reveals himself as an attentive observer...[he] speaks of Gao,as a large city, among the prettiest., the largest and the richest of Sudan ". In his History of Congo M SORET [31] mentions that DAPPER is " the characteristical compiler who has read all that was possible to read at his period " and that his" work may be considered as the basis of our documentation ". He adds that LABAT is more complete than DAPPER, but less reliable than him. Theodore MONOD remarks that the indications fournished by Joa RODRIGUEZ to Valentin FERNANDES often are firsthand, and that many details, some of them already checked since, establish the quality of his witness [24] ( introductory text to the translation).We can remark together with, the German ethnologue FROBENIUS :" What these ancient captains have told us..... such as D 'EBLEE, DES MARCHAIS, PIGAFETTA and all the others, what they have told is true, one may control it "[32].


Thousands of references have been established for The general History of Africa published by UNESCO. Thus sources are not so scarce, and their fiability comes from their confrontation, their analysis and their verifying by Archaeology.


For example, what was discovered when excavating at Koumbi- Saleh and elsewhere was in concordance with the description of the Empire of Ghana by EL BEKRI. As to Benin, the number of streets mentionned by one corresponds with the number of quarters mentionned by the other, the perimeter evaluated by the third one to the length of the main street given by the first one, all of this unabling us to suppose that the witness according to which the palace of the king counted 10.000 to 15.000 people is by no means exagerated.

The cicumstances of the counting of the houses in Gao, the precise number of 7626, leave no opportunity to doubt so as to its value. The millions of boats moored in this town,(according to the Tarikhs) the comparison with Kano, the witness of LEON L'AFRICAIN confirms the important number of inhabitants of this town, moreover capital town of a large Empire.


As to the region of Djenne , let us note that S.K. and R.J. MAC INTOSH [17] proceeded to an archeologic investigation by aerial photograhy completed by a prospection on the spot and datations. The first town of Djenne dated back to the third century before our era. The region is in full extension since the end of the first millenium B.C. which is exactly what ES SA'DI said in Tarikh es-Soudan according to which New Djenné was founded in the second century of Hegire.


The authors remark that the expansion is not due to the trans-saharian trading , but actually to " The internal development of a commercial network "every day more complex. Thus is confirmed by Archaeology the description made by ES SA'DI of the territory surrounding Djenné ( more than 7000 villages) A comparison can be established with the witness of LEON L'AFRICAIN concerning (Gobir or Gober): in this town, " There is a great number of weavers and coblers, making fashionable shoes... many of which are transported to Tombut and to Cago "( that is to say Timbuktoo and Gao; p.301-302). And, Gober is situated at about 1000 km from the bend of river Niger. This sentence of LEON L'AFRICAIN [33] clearly shows the importance of crafts, of the population and of inter African trade before the Portuguese and Morrocan attacks. In Engarouka, 6,800 houses stand there.(The hypothesis of HAMO SASSOON is examined critically by L M DIOP [34]). According to LEON L'AFRICAIN in Gober and in the capital town of Mali, 6,000 and in .Dongola there were 10,000 homesteads.


Moreover, let us point out, that if the navigators speak of a million warmen in Angola (LOPES[35] LINSCHOTEN[36]), it is surely because this army had seemed extremely numerous to the Europeans who saw it, even though we cannot take such a total, literally.


All over Eastern and Southern Africa many remains of buildings and stoned built cities have been discovered, as well as terraces, irrigation works, wells, roads and above all mines and furnaces [37].On the coast, the remains of harbour towns, overgrown with vegetation, are still visible and G.MATHEW shows that they actually were black African cities [38].


The population does not seem deficient except in the North (Oualata) on the borders of the desert and in the South West where DAPPER only enumerates half a million families, as well as in some other regions ( the Tago and Majumba countries in Congo, the land situated between the kingdom of Sofala and Cape of the streams on the Eastern coast etc.[25]).


One can visualize the socioeconomic and politicoadministrative life of Black Africa during that period when studying the texts of the Arabic travellers, the Sudanese writers (internal sources) the tales of the first European navigators and also according to the archeologic remains(C.A. DIOP [39] L.M.DIOP [40],[41], [42], [43] DAVIDSON [11], P.MERCIER [44] J.HURAULT [45] G.CONNAH [46] as well as Books III and IV of General History of Africa published by UNESCO)


The life style in the straw huts seemed mediocre or miserable to various witnesses but, all agree on the abundance of the population, as well as of the supplies, the productions and the handcraft (textile, metallurgy...) which is confirmed by the density of remains of furnaces-except in some regions that the authors of the same period have also indicated. The analysis of these various sources lead us to state as quite likely, the hypothesis of a relatively numerous population in black Africa, in the 15th and 16th centuries. Towns of 6,000 to 7,000 people, important dwellings, without counting all the surrounding huts and numerous villages of various dimensions, existed in the main regions of Intertropical Africa :Agriculture, handcraft and trade were prosperous within large and rather stable states, and , as remarked the German ethnologist FROBENIUS,[47] ordered " in the slightest details " opposite to what is generally still believed. The fact that, at the end of the 15th century some African towns were really important, is nowadays starting to be admitted: in L'Etat du Monde en 1492 ( a collective work)[48], the number of 140,000 inhabitants is accepted for Gao. Now as specialists of historical demography know quite well, this implies a numerous population around. Benin was even more populated. In the early 16th century, the population of the towns in Western Europe was less numerous [49].


The elements passed in review show that Inter tropical Africa was well populated, but can we put a figure to it ?



IV. Method of evaluation of the population of subsaharian Africa in the 15th and 16th centuries


The method we propose to evaluate the black African population at the end of the 15th or in the early 16th century consists in doing a backward calculation in two stages from the first figures obtained by the first coordinated census of population in 1948-1849, taking into account the elements of asessment at our disposal :

- first stage : evaluation of black Africa's population in the 19th century in comparison with the approximative figures resulting from the census of population of 1948-1849, that is to say, 140 to 150 million after correcting ;

- second stage : evaluation of black Africa's population before the slave trade using the data in relation with the direct and indirect effects of the different slave trades.


1. Research of a rough estimate of the population of Black Africa in the 19th century


In the usually admitted hypothesis of some 90 or 95 million inhabitants in the middle of the 19th century, the general increase of the population of Black Africa from 1850 to 1948 would have been of 50 to 60 million that is to say of about 60%. All over Eastern and Southern Africa man Black Africa with a rate of increase of, 0.7 to 0.8 % per year [40]. It appears on the other hand that a decrease took place from 1880 untill 1930 because of the military penetration (conquest of the inside of the continent) and of a very harsh colonial exploitation during the first 25 to 30 years which results from the elements hereafter enumerated.


One must remember that the European artillery pulverized the " compact groups " of warriors armed with African rifle-trade rifles that resistances formely minimized , arose nearly in all regions, in many different ways and often desperate ones (suicidal defences); migrations and intra African wars broke out in great disorder throughout the continent , massive slaughters were committed by either one or the other (Germans, English, French, Belgian, Boers, RABAH, SENOUSSI, BANGASSOU, the agents of TIPPU TIP and others..); food shortages famines were rampant everywhere cultures, crops, food reserves were burnt, abandoned or ruined.Moreover, as the colonizer enroled the Africans from already defeated countries to conquer some others , one must almost add the killed combatants of both camps. Then rebellions arose nearly everywhere, nearly each year untill 1930 [50] There were usually quelled in blood and burned down [51] At the same time the first stage of the colonial exploitation turned out into portages and the endlessly demanded paddlings, requisitions and confiscations of all sorts, excessive taxes and war fines, various compulsory works for the railways, for the plantations and the crops intended to exportation, for the forest logging ; food shortages and famines went on and turned out even worse in many places for example in the French zone (Gabon 1924-1927); seven regions during the 1929-1930 crisis [52][53].


The medical substructures remained poor or missing untill around 1930.; to these must be added the mass exodus of the active male population (up to 60% of the 15 to 45 years old men) towards the mines, the building sites, the towns and the colonizing armies, which provoked a dispersal of the families in the villages.The slavery and the famous" villages of liberty " , actually real misery camps, were only very progressively abolished after 1905 , in French Black Africa. Moreover let us once more remember that, in order to obtain the indispensable carriers and the payment of the taxes, women and children were taken as hostages by tens , locked up in strawhuts and deliberately starved untill men surrended. Some of these hostages died in their" In between the extension of imported diseases and the recession of fevers, intestinal illnesses, leprosi and cholera " the scales remains uncertain, remark M.REINHARD and A. ARMENGAUD [49]. The same authors quote the following remark: " Africa was able to survive to three centuries of slavery but is likely to succumb to one century of colonisation ".


To intend putting a figure to the demographic recession generated by the accumulation of the historical facts mentionned above,it is possible to quote a certain number of totals:


-In Chad , according to A.LEBEUF (1959), the urban area of Logone Birni in the Kotoko country, had 12,000 inhabitants when NACHTIGAL went across it in 1872 and only just one million in the 1950s.The author, points out that this country was then " infinitely more inhabited than nowadays ";" the smallest village had 3,000 to 6,000 souls ". She even remarks that the capital town of Baguirmi could have gone down from 25,000 inhabitants in 1850, according to BARTH, to 10,000 in 1900 and to about one million when she was there [54].


- In Sudan, according to K. J. KROTKI [545 , the population could have gone down from 9 million inhabitants in 1882 to 2,165 million in 1903.


- In Kenya M. DAWSON considers that the Kikuyu population had notably decreased between 1890 and 1925 [56].


-In Zaire, according to Hannah ARENDT, using the works of several authors , the agents of LEOPOLD II reduced the population by more than half [57].


-In Tanzania and in Namibia, Germans are said to have suppressed about 120,000 Massi-Massis and Ngonis, 75% to 80% Hereroes (this fact has been confirmed), 50% of the other Namibians [53].


-The Massaï country lost half of its population because of an epidemic of smallpox after1897 [53].


- In the general group made of Gabon, Congo,Oubangi-Chari, C. COQUERY-VIDROVITCH estimates that the population has diminished by one third, during the first stage of the colonial domination [58] and even much more in some districts according to J. SURET-CANALE .


Concerning an area in the region of Gribingui, the local chief wrote in his report: " A few more months... and it will become but a desert dotted with a few ruined villages and devasted plantations. No more food nor manpower, the region is ruined ". Three years earlier , Captain JULIEN makes some similar remarks on a region near Kotto:.. " not one standing house 25 km along, the ripe mil has been cut and carried away by BANGASSOU." The town of Said Baldas, in the Kreich country, had more than 5,000 inhabitants in 1901.It was destructed from top to bottom by SENOUSSI in 1902 [59] Rev. P.DAIGRE (1947) writes that even night work was imposed for the gathering of rubber, that the starved and exhausted workers were dying like flies, and that the Bandas were dying by thousands from oedema in the concentration camps (pp.113 to116, quoted by SURET-CANALE [50] who notes that these conditions added to the forced seperation of men from women, made even the procreation itself impossible) As to the works, the demograghs M.REINHARD and A.ARMENGAUD note that they have " emptied whole regions:such as the construction of the Congo-Ocean line which required between 1920 and 1940 about 20,000 to 30, 000 workers " As many workers were necessary in the costal region of The Gabon for lumbering where mortality was very high:17% of the number of workers during only one month in Oyem in 1922. " As they usually only enrolled 20 to 40 years old men, an important part of the male population being able to procreate was lost " [60]. To sum it up an extremely high total mortality during half a century, and without hardly a despite. Anne RETEL-LAURENTIN underlines moreover the high percentages of sterility due to imported venerial diseases and notably within the Nzakaras [61].


-In Southern Africa, The English and The Boers are known to have waged deadly wars against Bantous and Hottentots.


-In Western Africa, A.DEMAISON estimates to 30,000 the number of killed in eight months during the conflicts with EL-HADJ OMAR (quoted by Oumar BA [62]). This author signals that the battle of Diaty in Senegal made many victims. Sikasso had 40,000 inhabitants : after shelling " everything was either caught or killed " (witness quoted by VIGNE D'OCTON and SURET-CANALE). The passing of the VOULET-CHANOINE column distinguished itself by many a hanging and heaps of dead bodies. Sixteen Dogon villages were conquered one by one thanks to many reinforced artillery guns. The Coniagui villages were burned down, in French Western Africa, where The Abés, The Kissis,The Tomas, The Sombas, The Bobos, The Baoulés, The Gouros, The Dans , The Lobis, The Bétés also rebelled. The general uprising of the Ashantis was crushed by the English, they also sacked Benin and quelled the Temne and Mende rebellions in Sierra Leone.


-In Cameroun, J.HURAULT signals that the Peul invasion in Adamaoua highly reduced the population and that " the surrounding walls of the town of Banyo, built around 1880 corresponds to a population ten times higher than that of the census taken in 1954 " [63].


The increase of population in many protected or spared places under the living and hygienic conditions we know , could not compensate the drastic cuts.The gap remains enormous.

All that has been listed above leads us to believe that on average, including the tragical effects of the continuing of the Eastern slavery untill the beginning of the 20th century,Subsaharian Africa must have lost at least one third of its inhabitants between 1880 and 1930.


In order to obtain a rough estimate of Black Africa 's population, around 1850/1970 we must first substract from the number accepted in 1948/1949 (140 to 150 million). The demographic increase registered between 1930 and 1948 (about 0.7 to 0.8% per year): we obtain about 127 million inhabitants in 1930 . In agreement with all that has been written above , these 127 million represent about the 2/3 of the approximative total population of Subsaharian Africa around 1850/1870. We thus obtain a rough estimate of this population: 200 million inhabitants in Subsaharian Africa.



2. Research of a rough estimate of the population of Black Africa in the 16th century


What happened in between the 16th and the 19 th century ?


a) Several observations

At the international colloquium in Haiti (1978) [64] and later at the one held in Nantes (1985) [65] the rechearchers endeavoured to study the effects of the different slavery trades, and, more particularly within Black Africa itself. According to last the clarifications 22 to 26 million individuals at least, have left Subsaharian Africa in between 1550 to 1900 , either across The Atlantic (for more than half of them) , or across Sahara, The Red Sea and The Indian Ocean .But the losses are far from reflecting the whole of the demographicic effects on the large subsaharian triangle. Even before, the settling up of the slavery trade on a large scale, the Portugueses, the Arabs and Moroccans (1591) provoked many killed and mass destructions. This point is too often forgotten.During the following decades, " The economic context of slave trade has greatly determined the bursting out of internal conflicts and civil wars, as well as the multiplication of country people's fleecing ". Which is what C.BECKER and V.MARTIN observed in Senegambia [66].


The rich towns on the Eastern coast, which remains are still visible , have been destructed, Mozambic and Zambezia, have been ruined, as well as Kongo, Angola, and by other means , the loop of the Niger. The ancient kingdoms and the Empires broke up. Slave trade caused at the same period many shifts in population which did not take place without clashes.During about three centuries , by force of circumstances, nearly all the kingdoms, reduced to the size of principalities, accumulated slaver prisoners of war to be given in exchange with firearms and diverse European or Arabic goods. In Congo, in Dahomey, in Senegal, some kings tried to rebel against slave exportation, but it was in vain.[67] The system was the strongest. The percentage of slaves in the population became enormous(nearly half of it). " The birth rate of a servile population is often low " [68][69]. The slaves were distributed among marketplaces, slaveries,slave/reserve villages, under the prince's authority and lastly notables and individuals.C.BECKER notes in Senegambia the depopulation of the border regions in between the kingdoms; these areas are reconquered by the bush or the forest " although they were densively populated areas " [70].


Similar phenomenons are observed in almost all regions:(Fuuta Jallon, Benin,Oyo, Dahomey, (cf. the paper given by B.BARRY and that of J.E.INIKORI at the colloquium in Nantes). In Kongo and in Angola it was even worse.W.G.L.RANDLES reports, according to the Portuguese archives, that thousands of warriers were killed and a vast crowd of slaves were captured in Angola by the Portugueses themselves. The inland population, had " seriously decreased " because of the internal wars, of the plunders to capture slaves and the results of smallpox, as Manuel FERNANDES puts it himself (1670). The region of Ambacca had lost in 1782, the 2/3 of its inhabitants [71].


Indeed there has been the building up of new harbour-towns along the Atlantic coast, but also, at some certain variable distances around and specially inland, the emptying of people from plundering, burning down, and stealing," carrying away to slavery all those they possibly could ". The cultures, he writes, were abandonned, famine settled down for good." One witnessed a dreadfull decline of the Negro civilisation... the warrior becoming thereafter the unique master.

The Pax maliana was but a vague remembrance of the golden age of Sudan ".The villages settle on easily defendable but difficult to cultivate high points,autochthonous arts and crafts are withering so is the inter regional trade of local goods (which was, and we have proofs of it, very busy before).


Basil DAVIDSON [67] remarks that " At the peak of the slave trade in the 18th century in Birmingham, the gunsmiths alone ,exported towards Africa, each year, between 100,000 and 150,000 muskets " and that " enormous quantities of firearms were unloaded unto Western Africa during the major part of the slave trade " (pp.220).


b) Significant comparison

In a study entitled Ecological conditions and slave trade in Senegambia [73].C.BECKER underlines that in the 18th century, subsistence crisis grow in number, new sanitary problems appear and epidemics -such as yellow fever- tend to become endemic.


Here is an extract from a letter written by R.C.GEOFFROYde VILLENEUVE, who was a doctor, collaborator of Knight de BOUFFLERS in Senegal just before the French revolution, quoted by F.THESEE [74]" One sees in the island of Biffeche many depopulated villages, and there are no less in Oualo. There is not one single creek nor hidden recess that has not been ravaged. Almost all villages have been troubled and alarmed by these human beeing stealers. These unfortunate inhabitants no longer know what they are to become . Neither the Lord of Biffeche nor the King of the Oualo have power to protect them because the former is a triburitory of the latter, himself being dependant on the Moors. During the seed time and the harvest periods , they are obliged to remain in their villages, close to their agricultural work and to secure their crop. They have then some sort of shelter and a hiding place thanks to the height of the grass at the harvest period. But after this period they have no hope of hiding, but to take up their dwellings near the forests (underlined by myself) That is why the inhabitants of these regions join two or three villages together to make one to be able to resist the incursions of the Moors. When it is the seed time or the havest season , they go back to their lands, but they live there in a permanent state of anxiety and fear. One is unable to describe all the dreadfull ravages the Moors commit ".


Let us compare with the description of rural France during the Hundred years war by G. DUBY and al:" The calamities that shake up the foundations of French peasantry... are actually of different origins and various natures .They are not thus independant from one another. The soldiers, as well as the traders, spread the diseases... Undernourishment, and malnutrition resulting of a series of lost or poor harvests , create a favourable breeding ground for the progress and the geographical spreading of contagious diseases. So, more than an accumulation of unconnected factors operating one by one , it concerns a thick web of complex interactions not always easy to disentangle ".[75] Exactly as plague in France, various illnesses" settle down " (cholera, dysentery...)," draw attention here and there or " spread out in wide waves ", become endemic; " unsettling because of a sucession of jolts the delicate mechanism of the economic machine" (id p.44)..." return during a food shortage " (p.47)" fiercely going at children, creating thus the outcoming twenty years later of depleted groups ... The recurrent drastic cuts , the differential action on the age brackets lead up to an irreparable decline of populations, reinforced by imigration (id)..." As plague does, military campains proceed by waves.. provinces are differently attacked " (p.48)" The mere threathening of the rerturn of military troups , even if it does not take place, is sufficent to paralyse activity" (p.50)" at the same time consequence and reason of difficulties, robbery proliferates " (p.54)" Peasants resort to an an old place of refuge, the forest (underlined by myself) They hide there. From there they have an eye on the movements of armed troops,... food, as precarious as it might be , it never completly lacking in the undergrowth; when it happens to be lacking a raid against murder."(p.70).


This is more or less what Mungo PARK (1795/1797) relates with a supplementary element:" The caravan of slaves ". From the account of his journey emerges a picture coming in opposition in every detail with that drawn by the Arabic travellers from the 10th untill the 16th century as well as that of the first navigators.No better than during the Hundred years War a " rising birth rate " could " compensate " the accumulated losses all the more since the raids were practiced with the weapons of the Thirty years War, and later with those of the 18th and 19th centuries.


P.KALCK shows that the Atlantic slave trade also affected the Central African territory and that it is could but come from the nearest hinterland on the coast. Out of many relations of the 16th and 17 th wrongly that one tries to minimise the ravages of the Atlantic slave trade claiming that the sold slaves centuries, and from many other recordings , the conclusion emerges that some slaves coming from the borders of Nubia or Chad were led to The Congo or to the Guinean coasts because of " the trade from one tribe to another, based on the selling of men" [76].


The same author quotes a well-read Tunisan, EL TOUNSY who travelled North East of the CentreAfrican territory from 1803 until 1813:" 80 ravages swooped down unto this region each year, captives died by" " thousands on the way to slavery ". He gives the example of a group of 20 slaves amoung which only 2 or 3 reached Darfour, and notes that " many epidemics broke out in the caravans ". Similar expeditions decimated the Saras .The raids of slaves , which traditionally only happened once a year according to Leon L'AFRICAIN[33] .had thus reached a frequency of 80 per year in the early 19th century.


J. E. SUTTON reports about a town in Ghana (the present one) which had : 77 streets :" It was reduced to nothing in 1679 plus or minus two years " [77]. The authors of the History of rural France write a little further :" All departure of inhabitants, even though partial, always brings an under- exploitation of the land "(p.71)" Badly hupkept, the land immediatly looses 50% if not more of its yield " (p.72) In the end they conclude by a rough estimation of the depopulation in France during that period, saying :" The comparison of the homesteads , real ones called " kindlling hearths "(and not fiscal ones)... remains a source of information:thanks to it one may delemit the extent of the disaster. In spite of the rate of uncertainty which concerns the number of people in each homestead and the fluctuation of this number... From the beginning of the 14th century untill the middle of the 15th century, the number of homesteads decreases by half, this proportion is amply overstepped in the more severily concerned regions... The rural depopulation , which is a ensemble mouvement, breaks up into a coloured pattern of local evolutions, which have a varied magnitude and different chronology "(pp. 72,74,75) .


The incertainties and the regional disparities do not forbid to suggest a rough estimate of the decrease of the population as a whole:" at least diminished by half " for the French population in between 1340 and 1450. By how much has the population of Subsaharian Africa diminished in between 1550 and 1850 ?


c) Data and method of evaluation


The advocated method of evaluation is the same as the one G.DUBY uses to mesure the demographic results of the Hundred Years War in France: compare the number of real homesteads before and after the considered period. The network of towns and villages reflect the state of economy.


In the 16th century, large towns such as Gao, Timbucktoo, Kano, approxematly had, from 140,000 to 170,000 inhabitants. In the 19th century, Timbucktoo only had from 13,000 to 23,000 inhabitants left, according to BARTH and LENZ's witnesses (average 18,000). But the largest urban areas of the 19th century reached from thirty to forty thousand inhabitants (Segou).CLAPPERTON, in 1824, allocates exactly the same margin.The average ratio of the urban population between the 16th and the 19th century to be taken into consideration is thus 150,0000 : 35,000 = 4.29 and no longer 150,000 : 18, 000.


In the same way, concerning the villages, Valentim FERNANDES (end of the 15th century:/ end of the 16th century) tells us that, in the Empire of Mali, they often reached "5,000, 10,000 inhabitants and more ", whereas, the largest villages that René CAILLE (1824-1828) came across, had only just1,000 inhabitants.


In Western Africa, the population would thus, have been, about four times more numerous in the 16 th century than it was in the 19th century.And this is, without taking into account , in this estimation, the fact that the number of urban areas has also decreased during that period(cf above J.E.G. SUTTON [77]).


Lastly , according to the texts of two different periods, it appears that the number of combatants that a prince could gather was also much more numerous in the 16th century than in the 19th century.The ratio is again of about 4 or 5 to 1.

Is the rough estimate ratio of 4 to 1 , observed in Western Africa representative of the decrease of the total population of Black Africa between the 16th and the 19th century ?


From Cape of the Palms to South Angola, the losses were more important .Gwato, the harbour of Benin, had 2,000 homesteads when the Portuguese arrived there and only but 20 or30 left when the first explorators of the 19th century did..[78] The various witnesses indicate that Congo and Angola had a fairly dense population at then beginning of the16th century. W.G..RANDLES in his paper shows how in Angola this numerous population had been reduced to less than 200,000 inhabitants according to the census of population carried out by the Portuguese in 1819 [71].


On the other hand, in Chad, in the Kotoko country, as we have just seen,the villages which NACHTIGAL came accross, on his way, had 3,000 to 6,000 souls in 1872 . In 1850 Baguirmi is still highly populated, according to the witness of BARTH. And, according to CLAPPERTON, in the beginning of the 19th century, the capital town of Bornou, was the meeting place of at least a hundred million people in the season of the great cereal and vegetables market [79]. These regions will start being decimated in 1890. In Soudan, depopulation starts in 1820, after its conquest by Méhemet ALI. K. J. KROTKI remarks that for " BAKER, travelling between Berber and Khartoum, in 1862, the villages formely inhabited, had entirely disappeared, the population was gone, the irrigation had stopped " [55]. Early in the beginning of the 16th century, the coasts of Eastern Africa were ruined by the Portuguese, so was a part of Zambezia. Data concerning this region should be searched for. As to South Africa, we know about the wars against the " Cafres ", the undertakings of TCHAKA at the turning point between the 18th and the 19 th century, the hustle of peoples, the move of the Boers provoked, early in the middle of the 19th century, and in the descriptions of LIVINGSTONE (1840/1864) and others.


It appears that, on a whole, the proportions noted down in Western Africa can be representative of the average decrease of the global total population of Subsaharian Africa from the 16th until the middle of the 19 th century. But, because of the figures given by BARTH and by NACHTIGAL in Chad and in Barguirmi, as well as most probably the remaining of rather dense populations in some regions of the high plateaux of Eastern Africa, and this mainly during the first half of the 19th century, it seems will remain sensible to consider that the population of Subsaharian Africa in the 16th century, was three or four times more numerous than what of it in the middle of the 19th century.


In other words, as we have considered a rough estimate of 200 millions inhabitants around 1860 (cf.above p.8.),The volume of the population of Subsaharian Africa in the 16th century should stand in between 600 and 800 millions inhabitants, so to say a rough estimate average density of 30 to 40 by km². Let us insist on the fact that most regions of Black Africa have known during more than two centuries a situation similar to that of France during the Hundred Years War with the weapons of the Thirty Years War (this war has reduced by half the population of the german Empire within 30 years, between 1618 and 1648) and this relentlessly.



V. Argument and calculations corroborating this evaluation

1. These densities agree with the archeologic researches:


In such a region as Yatenga, subject of fight between Mali and Songhai on one hand and Mossi on the other, that is to say a region of considerable unsecurity and instability, on a sample of 1862 km², the ancient population has been estimated by J.Y MARCHAL to 26,560 inhabitants, so an average density of 14.3 by km².And still, one must take into account that this average is lowered by the low density of 4.8, of one unique space amoung the fifteen spaces studied; all the other densities are comprised in between 8.4 and 25.2 .over 1770 km ² [80].At the same time , in his paper at the Talks of Malher held in Paris in October 1985 J.HURAULT showed that in Adamaoua, in Cameroun, before the arrival of the Foulbés, the densities of population,although low in one unique region (the plain of Gashaka) were in the five others comprised in between 10 and 250/ km², depending on the bioclimatic conditions. He evaluates aproximatly to 30 inhabitants by km², the average density in the 15th century, in the area of Adamaoua which he studied [81].


Let us recall once more, that in Engarouka, the 6,800 ruined houses are directly visible and that strawhuts disappear as quickly as they are built. As to Senegal between the 8th and 12th century, one must refer to the researches of Ch.BECKER and V.MARTIN [82] that lead us to suppose that, already at that period,the average population densities were in the region of 9 to 10 inhabitants by square kilometres.Ethiopia and Nubia ( today's Sudan) have numerous more or less preserved or excavated monuments . In Eastern and Western Africa millions of remaining walls and mines have been discovered (JASPAN [83], Basil DAVIDSON [84]) and more precisely, between Zambezi and Limpopo, the cyclopean ruins of Zimbabwe, as well as those of the harbour towns spaced out along the coast of the Indian Ocean and studied by Rev Father G. MATHEW.In Western Africa each town had one or even several mosques of typical Soudaneese type , and the capital town of the Empire, had a palace.


In the Yoruba country , FROBENIUS described the palace of The Oni of Ifé" a solemn building made of genuine enamelled bricks ..." As to the palace of the king of Benin , that impressed the Dutch people so much, it comprised numerous appartments and pleasant galeries " as wide"as those of the Stock Exchange in Amsterdam sustained by wood pilars covered with plates of bronze riveted to oneanother, or made of copper, all over which their victories are painted ". " The courtroom was large .. with a large impluvium in the center itself sustained by about a hundred pilars ". And there were as many palaces as kings that had reigned .G.CONNAH has demonstrated the large population of Benin [85].


2. These densities agree with the results of simulated.numerical calculations


In his paper at the Colloquium in Edimbourgh, J.THORNTON (University of Zambia), proposes a pattern which great quality is , although it may be subject to debate, to be more specific about the minimal necessary densities ,in coastal regions, to supply the exportations of slaves , particularly in between 1700 and 1750 [86].


He pairs an area of hinterland with the corresponding portion of coast, thus exploiting many sources of informations that allows him to calculate the number of slaves removed from a region per km²; He considers that the factors limitating the population increase , generated by circumstances, have reduced the demographic annual increase down to 0.2%. When using the data on the exported age groups and respectively on the percentages of exported men and women , he calculates that in order to export 1,000 slaves, a population of 368,000 inhabitants was necessary, at the period when they were exported. From this he deduces the average minimal densities in the studied regions in he 18th century those corresponding to the higher numbers of exported people.


For our study, we extract from his two tables (p.710 and 711) the significant totals that is to say. His model shows in fact that over extended areas of Black Africa densities of population must have been contained in 11.7 to 40.6 at least, between 1700 and 1750. reinforcing thus, the evaluations put forward above. The low density of Senegal (5.2) only means that the number of exported slaves during the considered period was notably lower there than in the region bounded by Guinea and Angola.


With a calculation carried out with the data provided by W.G.RANDLES,and when proceeding as follows, one can determine the minimal populations of Angola in the 16th century when using the (well known by demographs) following relation (1) :


P(t) = b+(P(t0) - b) (1+a)(t-t0)

Where :

P(t) :population at period t ( expressed in number of years)

P(t0) : population at period t0 previous to period t(expressed in number of years)

a : average annual rate of increase of population

b : is the following ratio :


            number of slaves that left per year

b =      --------------------------------------------------

                annual rate of increase


This mathematical expression gives the population P(t), at any instant t when knowing population, P( t ), at a previous period ( t ), as well as the average annual increase of population a , and the average annual number of slaves taken away from this population. Inversely, when knowing P( t ) at period ( t ) one may deduct P( t0 ) using the same relation (1).

So as to Angola we are trying to find, the population P( t0 ) in the, hereafter precised, case t0 = 1575, t = 1819, t-t0 = 244 years and P( t ) = 198, 415, which is the average number of slaves exported each year = 12,300.

P( t0) is calculated for two values of the average annual positive rate of increase respectively a = 0.15% and a = 0.35% , in five different cases modifying from 0 to 4 the number of dead men necessary for one slave leaving Angola alive. We obtain the following table :




  0 pour 1    1 pour 1    2 pour 1 3 pour 1 4 pour 1
0,15 % 2 647 700 5 157 700 7 667 700 10 647 700 12 688 000
0,35 % 2 100 500 4 116 200 6 132 200 8 148 100 10 164 000

Table: Population of Angola in 1575 calculated in ten different hypothesis ( I thank Cheikh M'Backé DIOP and Samory Candace DIOP for doing these calculations as well as those below)


W.G.L. RANDLES makes it quite clear, that these are official figures which let me underline it,do not take into account smuggling. The number of slaves shipped was surely superior to this annual average number of 12,300. In reality, things happened differently.As soon as the end of the 16th century, the Portuguese, had been waging terribly deadly wars which had already sharply eliminated an important part of the population. Internal wars, raids,smallpox epedemics,flight of inhabitants took place during the 17th century. In the 18tth century, the average number of exported people lowered , and the slaves were brought along from inland , from the kingdom of Lunda.


But the interest of this table is to show the minimal number of inhabitants to be figured out in the 16 th century, in this region, to furnish a regular yearly average exportation of 12 ,300 slaves.

When one knows that this number is inferior to the actual number, and that the well known historical facts allow to certify that in this country, the number of dead and missing men was probably higher than 4 out of 1, one may mesure the importance of the population that one should rationally credit. Angola with in the16 th century, and also, note, that the visual witnesses of that period were not wrong and told the truth.


If one considers the lowest accepted figure , for the population of Subsaharian Africa in the 16th century, that is to say 600 million and that one compares it with the 200 million calculated for the middle of the 19 th century, the difference is of 400 million, corresponding to about 22 to 26 million exported slaves. This means: about 16 individuals lost because of indirect effects (insecurity, diseases...) as well as because of the immediate effects of slave trade, for each single captive who left Africa alive, and also that,the rate of the decrease of population adds up to an average of 0.36 % per year .However high the rates of births might have been, they were unable to compensate the immediate losses in addition to a permanent exceedingly high mortality and to serious loss in births.


The calculation allows us to see how important is the underestimation of the hypothesis of a population of 95 million inhabitants around 1730 in Black Africa. Let us suppose that there only were 4 missing men for one single exported slave, that the increase rate remained positive to 0.14% on average (rate choosen by C.CLARK and J.N.BIRABEN for the period between the 11th and the16th century), and that 140,000 slaves per year (adding up all slavetrades together) have been exported untill 1830. At that date, only 34 million inhabitants would remain [when using the same relation (1) with a = 0.14% ? T° = 1730, P(t°) = 95 million , annual drawn out effectives : 140,000 +(140,000 x 4)].


3. A comparison with India


As to Subsaharian Africa, specialists of historical demography have neglected to take into consideration the texts of the different ages ( various Arabic and European sources, internal sources, that is to say the autochonous chronicles, the former confirming the later), whereas Jacques HOUDAILLE writes [87] " The reading of the ancient litterature supplies precious information. It allows us to estimate the population in India, 3,000 years B.C. ". In order to compare, let us remember that India, in 1500, was by no means that of today! BABER, grandson of TIMOUR le BOITEUX," wonders at the unstable nature of the towns and villages that spring up and die out suddently " he notes that in the region of Malabar," the countrymen usually go along naked [49].


Many monuments have been built after this date.In L 'Etat du Monde in 1492 , Marc GABORIAU remarks that " no Indian town is as monumental as the capital town of Angkor ", that the Indian are then in blooming ", that the harbours, " in activity along all the coasts, do not usually lead to the springing out of very large towns, except in Gujarat and in Bengali " the large towns are the towns of the Princes, and the other administrative inland towns ". The author quotes " Bidar, capital town of the Bahmani sultans of Deccan "..... now, the walls surrounding the city are 4 km long "... Let us not forget that the walls surrounding Benin were 30 km long, according to DAPPER, and could shelter more than 200,000 inhabitants , just as the capital town of Bengale in the early 16th century (p.78) Geneviève BOUCHON points out (p.81) that the remains of Vijayanagar (a town in the centre of Deccan) reveal that " ancient clusters of buildings, alternate with agricultural areas " the whole of it spreading over "more than thirty square kilometres "; this corresponds to a diameter of about 6 km. The main street in Benin was about 5 or 7 km long.


It is admitted, that the population of the Indian peninsula, at that same period, was of 110 or 150 million souls although its area was 4.6 times smaller .If one multiplies 110 or150 million by 4.6, the rough estimate is then 500 or 700 million. But the population in India went on increasing during the three centuries during which Africa was emptying and ruining itself more deeply [88].



VI. Conclusion

According to our argument, the actual population would not have yet quite reached the numbers corresponding to the period when the autochthonous farmers or craftsmen, were exploiting the intertropical environment within an intra African economy, caracterized by a dwarfish concentration (workshops gathering 50 to 100 tailors) [39][34][89]. Unfortunatly, the repopulation, takes place in bad economical , political and social conditions, as well as in a very unbalanced way, whereas in the old times the land was scattered over by networks of villages and medium size towns. Moreover, dry Tropical Africa,spreads itself at the expense of wet Africa usually more favoured.But, the knowledge of the demographic and economical past of Black Africa, before the colonisation allows us to understand better the present situation and to elaborate in a better way the construction of the development and of the future within the so called post industrial society which is starting to settle down.


benin_cour.gif (161102 octets)


· The town of Benin : Gravure publiée à Amsterdam, en 1686, dans la "Description de l'Afrique" de DAPPER (Cf. K. Onwonwu DIKE, "Dès le Moyen Age existait en Nigéria un royaume prestigieux : Bénin", in Le Courrier de l'UNESCO, octobre 1959, pp. 12-19.


Notes and references

[1] Skull of the fossil "Omo 1" found in situ in South Ethiopia, not far away from the Keynian frontier .cf. in a more general study , the works of the German paleoanthropologist Gunter BRAUERsummerized and updated in the review ANKH ,3,1994, Khepera, Gif sur Yvette.France.

[2] VAN NOTEN F., in General History of Africa, Vol. 1, Methodology and Prehistory, Paris, UNESCO, 1980, p. 593 and 595 (édition française). LEAKEY R., La naissance de l'homme Paris Editions du Fanal, 1981.

[3]WENDORF F., and SCHILD R., Prehistory of the Nile Valley, Academic Press, New-York, 1976, p.404; "Use of barley in the Egytian Late Paleolithic", in Science, n° 4413, 1979, pp. 1341-1347.

[4]WENDORF F., CLOSE A., GAUTIER A., and SCHILD R.,"Les débuts du pastoralisme en Egypte" in La Recherche, vol.21, n° 220, April 1990, pp. 436-445.

[5] B.I.A , n°5, January-June 92 , p.63, Publication of the IFAO, (Institut Français d'Archéologie Orientale) Cairo.

[6]MUZZOLINI A., "La Néolithisation du Nord de l'Afrique, et ses causes" in Neolithisations, Archeological Series, n°5, B A R Internatonal Series 516, 1989, p 170.

[7]SUTTON J.E.G., "Préhistoire de l'Afrique Orientale", in General History of Africa, I, chap. 19 Paris, Jeune Afrique/ UNESCO, 1980, p.522.(édition française).

.[8]VAN NOTEN F., General History of Africa, Vol.2, L'Afrique ancienne, p.676.

[9]ROSET J. P. , FAIRHALL A. W., in La Recherche n° 148., Oct. 1983, p.1248.

[10]WAI ANDAH B., "L'Afrique de l'Ouest avant le 7°siècle" in, General History of Africa, Vol.2,Chap.24, Paris, UNESCO, 1980.(édition française):

[11]DAVIDSON B., "L'Afrique avant les Blancs" Paris , PUF, 1962, p. 56 DIOP C. A., "Vers une remise en question de l'Age du Fer en Afrique", in Notes africaines, n° 152, 1976, Dakar, IFAN.

[12]DIOP L.M., "Le Sous-peuplement de l'Afrique noire"in Bulletin de l'IFAN,1978, n°4,volume 40, ser. B, p.784-786 and ANKH n° 2, 1993, p.168.

[13]QUECHON .G., PARIS Fr.,PERSON A., SALIEGE J.F, "Les débuts de la métallurgie au Niger Septentrional, Air , Azagawach Ighazer, Termit" in Journal des Africanistes, 62, 2,1992, pp 55 -68.

[14] DIOP C. A., "cf.[11] in Notes Africaines 1976, n°152, pp.93-95 . The same sample coming from N' Dalane in Senegal was dated independently first by . DIOP C.A, in the laboratory of Radiocarbone of Dakar, then by . DELIBRIAS G., in the laboratory of Gif:/Yvette in France, and gave the same result : sample Dak. 110 Result :2861 + 137 BC ; sample Gif 2508 Result 2829+ 115 BC

[15]VAN GRUNDERBEEK M. C.,. ROCHE E., DOUTRELEPONT H., 1983, " La métallurgie ancienne " in "Journées de Paléométallurgie" in Actes du Colloque de Compiègne 22-23 Février 1983 ,pp.407-423, and "Le premier Age du Fer au Rwanda et au Burundi Archéologie et Environnement" in Journal des Africanistes,1982 n°52 -1-2 Paris.The earliest date obtained is 1470 B.C. in Kataruka, South West shore of Lake Victoria.

[16]VIDAL P., "Archéologie du terrain centrafricain: une approche réaliste de l'histoire précoloniale et ancienne (ébauche d'une synthèse) in Recherches Centrafricaines,Recherches et Documents"n°18, Aix -en-Provence, 1984,pp.5-45. And a paper in Archéologie au Cameroun, by ESSOMBA J.M., Internatonal Coloquium held in Yaoudé, January 6th-9th 1992,Paris,Karthala, pp.133-178.

[17]MAC INTOSH S. K. and R. J., "Prehistoric investigations at Djenné, Mali",in British Archaeol Report, Inter.Ser.89, Oxford, G.B., 1980.

[18]PHILLIPSON D.W.., "The Early Iron Age in Southern Africa", in General History of Africa Vol.2, chap.27 Paris UNESCO, 1980, pp.735,749, particularly pp.735,739,748.(version française).

[19]RICHARD-MOLARD J.,-1951- "Les terroirs tropicaux d'Afrique", in Annales deGéographie, n°322, p.349-368.

[20]KALCK P." Histoire de la République centrafricaine", Paris, Berger-Levrault, 1974.

[21]GOUROU P."Terres de Bonnne Espérance- Le monde tropical ,1982, Paris, Plon.

[22]DIOP MAES L.M., "Le milieu végétal intertropical africain est-il favorable ou défavorable à l'homme?"Compte-rendu des séances de la Société de Biogéographie,quartely review, séance du 16 mai 1991, vol.67, n°3, p.155-166, Paris , Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle .

[23]CA DA MOSTO A., Relations des voyages à la côte occidentale d'Afrique , translation Ch. SCHEFFER, Paris, Leroux, 1895.

[24]FERNANDES V., Description de la côte occidentale de l'Afrique a translation MONOD and al.,1951,Bissau, Centro de Estudo de Guiné Portuguèsa , mem.n° 11.

[25]DAPPER O., Description de l'Afrique (translated from flemish into French) Amsterdam, Z. Wolfgang & al.,1686.p. 369.

[26]DIOP L.M.,"Essai d'évaluation de la Population d'Afrique noire aux 15°et16° siècles,in the review Population, 1985, Paris, INED, p. 855-885.

[27]KATI M., Tarich et Fettach, transl.Houdas et Delafosse,1964, Paris,Maisonneuve.

[28]MAUNY R. Tableau géographique de l'Ouest africain au Moyen-Age, Dakar, Memoire de L'IFAN 1961.

[29]BARTH H.,Travel and Discoveries in North and Central Africa in the years 1849-1855 in Vol IV, London, 1958, Longman, p.482.

[30]MOLLAT M., Les explorateurs du 13° au16° siècle, 1984, Paris, J.C. Lattes.

[31]SORET M.,Histoire de Congo, 1978, Paris, Berger-Levrault.

[32]FROBENIUS L., Histoire de la Civilisation africaine, transl. Bach et Ermont, 1952, Paris,Gallimard, N R F.

[33]LEON L'AFRICAIN, Description de l'Afrique , transl;. A.Epaulard, Adrien Maisonneuve, 1956,

[34]DIOP-MAES L M., "Afrique noire, Démographie, Sol et Histoire" 1996, Paris , Présence Africaine et Khepera, pp.137-142.

[35]PIGAFETTA F.,LOPES D., Relatione del realme di Congo,1591, Rome, transl. from Latin by W. BAL. , Louvain, Paris, 1963.

[36]LINSCHOTEN VAN J.H., Histoire de la navigation.La description de la Guinée,du Congo, de l'Angola,1638, Amsterdam, Cloppenburck.

[37]DAVIDSON B., L'Afrique avant les Blancs, Paris, P U F , p.204,see also JASPAN M. A. in Science and Society , Vol XIX, n°3 and General History of Africa, Paris Jeune Afrique (UNESCO)

[38]MATHEW G. "l'Océan Indien baigne des villes mortes in "Le Courrier de l'UNESCO" October.1959.

[39]DIOP C. A., L'Afrique noire précoloniale, Paris, Presence Africaine, 1960, (2° édition 1987)

[40]DIOP L.M., "Le souspeuplement de l'Afrique noire", in Bulletin de l'IFAN,1978, n°4,volume 40, serie B, p.719-862.

[41]DIOP L.M, "Recherches sur la population de l'Afrique noire", Higher Doctoral Thesis University of Paris I, Sorbonne,1983, 1st part.

[42]DIOP L.M cf.[26].

[43]DIOP L.M., "Réponse au commentaire critique de J.N. BIRABEN Africa Zamani, Revue d'Histoire Africaine n°18-19, University of Yaoundé, 1987, p.50-56.

[44]MERCIER P., Civilisation du Benin, Societé continentale d'éditions modernes, Paris, 1962

[45]HURAULT J., "Les anciens peuplements des cultivateurs de l'Adamaoua Occidental, Méthodologie d'une approche spatiale" Cahiers ORSTROM Series Human sciences Vol 22, 1986, n°1, pp. 115-145.

[46]see note [25] and CONNAH G., The Archaeology of Benin-Excavations and other researches in and around Benin city, Nigeria, Clarendon Press Oxford, 1975, pp. 247-253 and "African civilisations" Cambridge University Press, 1987.

[47]FROBENIUS L cf. [32].

[48]"Etat du Monde en 1492" Editions la Découverte, Paris, 1992.a collective work.

[49] REINHARD M.and ARMENGAUD A., Histoire Générale de la population mondiale",Paris, Montchrestien 1961, pp.365-366 and p.476.

[50]SURET- CANALE J.,"L'Ere coloniale", Editions sociales, 1964, precisely pp. 182 to194 and p.281.

[51]Général MANGIN, Souvenirs d'Afrique(Lettres et carnets de route),Paris Denoel et Steel, 1936 , Book I, quoted by SURET-CANALE J in Afrique Noire,L'Ere coloniale, Paris Editions 1962, p. 43.

[52]COQUERY-VIDROVITCH C., Le Congo au temps des grandes compagnies,1899-1930, Paris-La Haye, Mouton, 1972, pp.494 to 503.

[53]COQUERY-VIDROVITCH C.and MONIOT, L'Afrique noire de 1800 à nos jours , PUF, New collect Clio, 1974, pp. 156 to 212.

[54] LEBEUF A., Les populations duTchad, 1959, Paris, P U F.

[55]KROTKI J., "La Population du Soudan au 19° siècle et au début du 20° ", in Annales de démographie historique, Paris, 1979, pp. 165 to193, more precisely Table II.

[56]DAWSON M H. ," Disease and Populaton decline of the Kikuyu of Kenya, 1890-1925", African Historical Demography, 1981, University of Edimburgh, pp. 121 to135

[57]ARENDT H , L'Imperalisme, 1982, Fayard, pp. 111 -112

[58]COQUERY-VIDROVITCH C. , in African Historical Demography, 1981, University of Edimburgh, pp. 121 to 135.

[59]see note [20] p.181, p..176 and seq.

[60]see note [49] p. 477.

[61]RETEL - LAURENTIN A., Infécondité en Afrique , maladies et conséquences sociales, Paris, Masson, 1974.Un pays à la dérive, une société en régression, le Nzakara,. Paris, J.P. Delarge, 1979.

[62]BA O., "La pénétration française au Cayor" Dakar, recueil n° 2 , Book 1 of unpublished documents , Dakar , 1976.

[63]HURAULT J., "Eleveurs et cultivateurs des hauts plateaux du Cameroun, la Population du Lamidat de Banyo" in Population, Paris, INED, 1969, n °5.

[64]Reports published by UNESCO, Etudes et Documents pour l'Histoire générale de l'Afrique,1979,1985.

[65]Reports published under the title De la traite à l'esclavage CHMA et Société Française d'Histoire D'Outre Mer, Paris, 1988.

[66]BECKER C. and MARTIN V., La traite des Noirs par l'Atlantique, Paris, Société Française d'Histoire d'Outre Mer et Geuthner,1976, p. 283.

[67]DAVIDSON B. , Mère Afrique, Paris, PUF, 1965, pp.217 and following.

[68]RENAULT F. and DAGET S. , Les traites négrières ,Paris, Karthala,1985.

[69]MEILLASSOUX Cl. editor ., L'Esclavage en Afrique précoloniale, Paris , Maspéro, 1975.

[70]BECKER C.,"De la traite à l'esclavage", Paris,1988, CRH du Monde Atlantique et Société Fançaise d'Histoire d'Outre Mer, papers given at the colloquium held in Nantes , Documents Book 2, pp.71-110.

[71]RANDLES W.G.L., "De la traite à la colonisation, Les Portuguais en Angola"in Annales Economies, Sociétés, Civilisations, Paris mars-avril 1969, p.289 to 305.

[72]MAUNY R., Les siècles obscurs de l'Afrique, Paris, Fayard, 1970, pp. 238-239 and p.246.

[73]BECKER C."Conditions écologiques et traite des esclaves en Sénégambie" African Economic History , 14, 1985, pp. 161-216.

[74].THESEE F., "De la traite à l'esclavage", Paris, 1988, (cf: [70]) Book I, p.223 to 245

[75]DUBY G. and WALLON A. Histoire de la France rurale,Paris, Seuil, 1975, p.41.

[76]KALCK P. cf [20] and DAPPER note [33].

[77]SUTTON J.E.G.African Historical Demography, vol.II, 1981, Edimburgh, p; 635; J.E.

INKORI's communication tends to the same conclusion (p.283 to 314).

[78]PACHECO PEREIRA Duarte (around 1506-1508) Esmeraldo de situ orbis, Côte Occidentale d'Afrique, du Sud Marocain au Gabon, translated R.MAUNY, Bissau 1956, Centro de estudos da Guiné Portuguesa, n°19, p.135 and 190 , note 276.note 64).

[79]CLAPPERTON H., Journal of a second expedition into the interior of Africa, 1829, London, Murray.

[80]MARCHAL J.Y.; "Vestiges d'occupation ancienne au Yatenga (Haute Volta) Une reconnaissance du pays Kigba", in Cahiers de l'ORSTOM series Sciences Humaines, Vol.25 , 1978, n°4 , pp. 449-484.

[81]personnal paper.

[82]MARTIN et BECKER , Annales de Démographie Historique, Société de Démographie Historique, Paris, 1974.

[83] JASPAN M.A., in Science and Society, voXIX, n° 3, transl.Thomas DIOP1955.La culture noire en Afrique du Sud avant la conquète européenne , Présence Africaine,1968, pp. 143-165.

[84]DAVIDSON [37] L'Afrique avant les Blancs, Paris , 1962, P U F.

[85]CONNAH G. African Civilizations.Precolonial Cities and States in Tropical Africa, 1987, Cambridge University Press.

[86]THORNTON J. "The Demographic effect of the slave trade on Western Africa 1500-1850", in African Historical demography, University of Edimburgh, 1981, p. 691-720.

[87]HOUDAILLE J., in the review Population,1985, n°6, Paris, INED, p. 996.

[88]in L'Etat du monde en 1492, Editions La Découverte, Paris,1992,"Villes et réseaux urbains en Inde",p.78.

[89]As J.C. CALDWELL also remarked in General History of Africa, UNESCO, Vol.VII, Chap.18 p. 496-499: the former estimations of the population of Black Africa rely on no study.The more recent ones, herafter quoted, do not either.Neither the various written sources nor Archaeology are taken into account .None of the known equations of the demographs has been used to check the mathematical possibility of the suggested data DURAND J. Historical estimate of world population-An evaluation,Philadelphia, Population studies Center 1974, p.9 chart II Mac EVEDY C., JONES R

Atlas of world population history, Harmonds worth, Middlesex, England, Penguin Books, 1978, BIRABEN J.N."An essay on the evolution of the number of men" Paris, Population 1979, n°1, p. 15.

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