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Wooden carving of a king of the Kuba Kingdom in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Exhibited in the Ethnographic Collections at the National Museum.


Africa is the earth’s second largest continent and where the earliest humans appeared hundreds of thousands of years ago. Africa’s story includes accounts of great empires and kingdoms.

Around 6000 years ago, the beginnings of the Egyptian civilization emerged in the Nile valley. In the Middle Ages reports reached Europe of the powerful empires of Ghana and Mali, which later gave their names to modern African nation states.

War and migration have created complicated population patterns. In some cases the indigenous inhabitants have been driven out and forced to live in inaccessible areas. In other cases societies have emerged in which the individual communities have fulfilled various roles, functioning as rulers, soldiers, traders and craftsmen.

The African collections are displayed in the exhibitions Peoples of the Earth and Ethnographical Treasure Rooms at the National Museum. There are clothes, jewellery, stools, chairs and objects made of raffia, as well as weapons such as axes, throwing knives, swords, spears and shields from all over the continent. Musical instruments, masks, figures, ceramics, baskets and bowls are also displayed.