The oldest human civilization known to date was the Zingh civilization in central Africa, which apparently began around 15,000 BC as a bunch of tribes. It became a powerful civilization around 10,000 BC and declined into exinction around 7300 BC. Zingh is a documented civilization, though next to nothing is known about it other than the possible range of time it existed: http://www.authorhouse.com/BookStore/ItemDetail~bookid~7283.aspx
Ghana's earliest roots began in the region of Mauritania about fifteen thousand years ago. New information (see Mobetter News, South Holland, Illinois, Vol. VIII, #2, "Introduction to the Background and History of the African Flag (Blisschords Communications Network), places a civilization called the Zingh Empire in the region at this very ancient period. During more recent times (between 10,000 B.C. to 3,000 B.C.), the Mende agricultural complex and the Niger-Congo language family developed. This development was followed soon afterwards by the Nok Civilization which placed an emphasis on highly technical and fine works of terracotta art, iron ware, weapons and utensils, cotton cloth and textiles, gold and gold ornaments, weapons and currency. Civilization in this region continued into the renaissance phase of the Ghana Civilization, which was perhaps between 400 B.C. to 1000 AD, a very long period. Nigerian officials have dated some of the ancient terracotta artwork of the Nok region, which spread its influence all over Western Africa, to about 2700 B.C., according to the book, A General History of Africa, Vol. II (UNESCO, Paris, 1990, p.330) (5)
It was around what's now modern-day Mauritania and Mali.
Here are some helpful links on African history:http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/africa/features/storyofafrica/ http://www.princetonol.com/groups/iad/lessons/middle/history1.htm http://web.cocc.edu/cagatucci/classes/hum211/timelines/htimeline.htm
You should also know that the Nubians were the first people to invent the blast furnace somewhere between 780-550 BCE in the ancient city of Napata in their move to Meroe. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kush#Move_to_Mero.C3.AB
It is clear from various historical records that Aspelta's successors, moved their capital to MeroÃ«, considerably farther south than Napata. The exact date this change was made is uncertain but some historians believe it was during Aspelta's reign, in response to the Egyptian invasion of Lower Nubia. Other historians believe it was the attraction of iron working that drove the kingdom south: around MeroÃ«, unlike Napata, there were large forests that could fire the blast furnaces. The arrival of Greek merchants throughout the region also meant that Kush was no longer dependent on trade along the Nile; rather, it could export its goods east to the Red Sea and the Greek trading colonies there.
The Sumerians were likely Black and later Altaic. The Sumerians called themselves "Sag-Gi-Ga" which means "the black-headed people". It's unlikely that it was a reference to their black hair color beecause almost everyone in the region had black hair. Thus referring to themselves as "black-headed" due to hair would be odd. http://www.cwo.com/~lucumi/iraq.html
Nubia (or Kush or Aksum) was one of the most (if not the most) powerful civilizations in Africa and was at times more powerful than Egypt. In fact the earliest Egyptians were Nubian immigrants who migrated further north. Early Egypt could basically be considered "the North Nubian Empire".
The Nubians conquered Egypt between 1080-650 BCE and were later conquered by the Egyptians in the Meroeic period: http://www.numibia.net/nubia/25th.htm
The Swahili regions of Africa (centraleastern and southeastern Africa) traded HEAVILY with the Persians and Central Asia. Swahili African civilization is heavily influenced by Persian, Hun and Arabic culture. http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/africa/features/story...index_section5.shtml
Ancient to medieval Arabs had well-established trade routes with southerneast Africa. They noted East Africa's copious technology, science and math. Most famously Arabic Islamic scholar and traveler ibn Battuta from the 14th century wrote about his travels to Mombasa (which is in modern Kenya), Kilwa and Mogadishu: http://www.utalii.com/Off_the_normal_path/kilwa.htm http://gozips.uakron.edu/~amartin/global/Ibn_Battuta.htm
Ibn Battuta sails along the east coast of Africa pp. 110-112
I took ship at Aden, and after four days at sea reached Zayla [Zeila, on the African coast], the town of the Berberah, who are a negro people. Their land is a desert extending for two months' journey from Zayla to Maqdashaw [Mogadishu]. Zayla is a large city with a great bazaar, but it is the dirtiest, most abominable, and most stinking town in the world. The reason for the stench is the quantity of its fish and the blood of the camels that they slaughter in the streets. When we got there, we chose to spend the night at sea, in spite of its extreme roughness, rather than in the town, because of its filth.
The town of Mogadishu in Somalia
On leaving Zayla we sailed for fifteen days and came to Maqdasha [Mogadishu], which is an enormous town. Its inhabitants are merchants and have many camels, of which they slaughter hundreds every day [for food]. When a vessel reaches the port, it is met by sumbuqs, which are small boats, in each of which are a number of young men, each carrying a covered dish containing food. He presents this to one of the merchants on the ship saying "This is my guest," and all the others do the same. Each merchant on disembarking goes only to the house of the young man who is his host, except those who have made frequent journeys to the town and know its people well; these live where they please. The host then sells his goods for him and buys for him, and if anyone buys anything from him at too low a price, or sells to him in the absence of his host, the sale is regarded by them as invalid. This practice is of great advantage to them.
We stayed there [in Mogadishu] three days, food being brought to us three times a day, and on the fourth, a Friday, the qadi and one of the wazirs brought me a set of garments. We then went to the mosque and prayed behind the [sultan's] screen. When the Shaykh came out I greeted him and he bade me welcome. He put on his sandals, ordering the qadi and myself to do the same, and set out for his palace on foot. All the other people walked barefooted. Over his head were carried four canopies of coloured silk, each surmounted by a golden bird. After the palace ceremonies were over, all those present saluted and retired.
Ibn Battuta sails to Mombasa pp. 112-113.
I embarked at Maqdashaw [Mogadishu] for the Sawahil [Swahili] country, with the object of visiting the town of Kulwa [Kilwa, Quiloa] in the land of the Zanj.
We came to Mambasa [Mombasa], a large island two days' journey by sea from the Sawihil country. It possesses no territory on the mainland. They have fruit trees on the island, but no cereals, which have to be brought to them from the Sawahil. Their food consists chiefly of bananas and fish.The inhabitants are pious, honourable, and upright, and they have well-built wooden mosques.
Kulwa on the African mainland
We stayed one night in this island [Mombasa], and then pursued our journey to Kulwa, which is a large town on the coast. The majority of its inhabitants are Zanj, jet-black in colour, and with tattoo marks on their faces. I was told by a merchant that the town of Sufala lies a fortnight's journey [south] from Kulwa and that gold dust is brought to Sufala from Yufi in the country of the Limis, which is a month's journey distant from it. Kulwa is a very fine and substantially built town, and all its buildings are of wood. Its inhabitants are constantly engaged in military expeditions, for their country is contiguous to the heathen Zanj.
The sultan at the time of my visit was Abu'l-Muzaffar Hasan, who was noted for his gifts and generosity. He used to devote the fifth part of the booty made on his expeditions to pious and charitable purposes, as is prescribed in the Koran, and I have seen him give the clothes off his back to a mendicant who asked him for them. When this liberal and virtuous sultan died, he was succeeded by his brother Dawud, who was at the opposite pole from him in this respect. Whenever a petitioner came to him, he would say, "He who gave is dead, and left nothing behind him to be given." Visitors would stay at his court for months on end, and finally he would make them some small gift, so that at last people gave up going to his gate.
Ibn Battuta returns to Yemen pp. 113-115.
From Kulwa we sailed to Dhafari [Dhofar], at the extremity of Yemen [near the border with Oman]. Thoroughbred horses are exported from here to India, the passage taking a month with a favouring wind. Dhafari is a month's journey from 'Aden across the desert, and is situated in a desolate locality without villages or dependencies. Its market is one of the dirtiest in the world and the most pestered by flies because of the quantity of fruit and fish sold there. Most of the fish are of the kind called sardines, which are extremely fat in that country. A curious fact is that these sardines are the sole food of their beasts and flocks, a thing which I have seen nowhere else. Most of the sellers [in the market] are female slaves, who wear black garments. The inhabitants cultivate millet and irrigate it from very deep wells, the water from which is raised in a large bucket drawn up by a number of ropes attached to the waists of slaves. Their principal food is rice imported from India.
The Chinese traveler Zheng He came along about 100 years or so later in the same area, probably closer to Mombasa.