- from Africa
In the late 15th century, African society, especially in West Africa, was highly developed and complex. There were powerful kingdoms and complicated trade relations.
There was sophisticated art, enormous wealth, and places of advanced learning. In some societies, democratic principles of government were in use, like councils of elders or other age- or kinship-based bodies.
In 1550, a Spanish official described the city of Timbuktu, in Mali, this way: “There you will find many judges, professors and devout men, all handsomely maintained by the king, who holds scholars in much honor. There, too, they sell many handwritten North African books, and more profit is to be made there from the sale of books than from any other branch of trade.”
This is the world the Europeans encountered when they arrived. It would never be the same.