Throughout its recent history, Africa has been the sight of many terrible events and happenings, such as war, genocide, starvation, and poverty. Depicted as a poor and corrupt continent filled with decease, the entire place has fallen short in nearly every category, save perhaps war, which it exceeds all other regions on Earth. However, things were not always like this. Africa had been the home of many wondrous and powerful empires. The Mali Empire was the wealthiest nation on Earth, so much gold that its monarch gave it away during his pilgrimage to Mecca, both as a sign of wealth and power. The Kingdom of Axum was one of the four superpowers of the world when Rome was at the apex of its strength, and fielded an army of one million men against the Kingdom of Israel in the Bible. And mighty Egypt was renowned for its military prowess and many mysterious gods, as well as being the first world power in history. Well in this alternate timeline, you will see something different. A timeline in which we shall revisit and sustain those ancient empires. To be more specific: What if civilization arose in Africa first, and continued to thrive down to the modern day?
Map of the World
Points of Divergence
In this timeline, Egypt extends further south into Sudan and the Ethiopian Highlands, give the tribal groups there a kick-start on state-building. The Persians after destroying Babylon as they did in OTL turn their eyes to Africa, and invade Egypt. A small Egyptian state survives the attack in the Sudanese south, which for the Persians; unaccustomed to the lethal diseases there, are incapable of pursuing the Egyptians. After some time passes, Persia weakens, and taking the initiative, Egypt reconquers their lands via Upper Egypt. In Greece, Persia invades and destroys the Greek forces, and over in Italy, Rome is subdued by the Gauls. The Romans take a tad bit too long to get themselves right to be of any threat at this time. Over at the Greek colonies in the west, Carthage overruns their possessions, and those Greeks smart enough to do so get out of the region while the getting is good. However, in Greece, while the Greeks manage to throw off the Persian shackles, they find themselves invaded yet again, this time by the Scythians.
This invasion is caused by a different history in the Orient. A less than successful unification of China, a series of sloppy civil wars, and an extended period of fragmentation leaves China open for the inevitable Hunnic invasion and conquest of much of the region. The tribes get uppity and turn their greedy eyes to Europe, and invade that area too. Eastern Europe gets throttled by the Huns during the Middles Ages, and its development is retarded. It such be noted that while there are no more Greeks in Greece, there are plenty left in Asia Minor. Carthage never conquers all of Iberia due in part to the Roman Menace, the Gauls now benefiting from the Roman perks they would have had OTL. The Carthaginians thus use the extra manpower to consolidate their claims in North Africa, and even take over Egypt for some time. They invade and force the Gauls out of Italy, but kept their distance from Northern Europe for the time being.
Using the new skills learned in Italy, the Gauls manage to stay the Germanic invasions, and divert the German onslaught elsewhere, namely Italy and the Balkans. The stepped invasions only make matters in Europe worse. Over some time, Carthage manages to last, and makes contact with several Sub-Saharan kingdoms, exchanging knowledge and goods over the next couple of decades, giving that region a jump-start on the way to state-building as well. Because of this, Carthage beats the Arabs to West Africa, sooner than the Arabs would have in OTL. Writing reaches the Sahel by the OTL 3rd century.
The Current State of the ATL
Fast forward a couple centuries. It is the year 1972, and Africa is the center of world civilization. A post-Carthaginian Moorish/Berber state, a commerce-minded West African federation, an autocratic Ethiopian empire, the ancient realm of Egypt, and a sophisticated Sahelian kingdom with amazing irrigation and dryland farming techniques are the world's major colonial powers. Though the Celts had some vast empires during the Middle Ages, they fell prey to divisions and religious warfare (such as the "burning people in a wicker man" become a topic of heated debate, too heated). With that and the typical selling captured enemies to African slave-traders, pretty much all of Europe north of the Alps the time of the modern day. Plus, the very "unique" religions of the region didn't do much to prove the people modern to the rest of the world. Thus, the nations of Africa thought they were doing a good thing in bringing the blessings of civilization to the cold lands of Europe, at the point of a gun. Generally, it became what many referred to as "the Black Man's Burden".
Only the Svealanders of the northern lands, who's navigators managed to gain a foothold on the western continents of the Americas, before Gilden of Emazhigen got to it later on, were aware of the Africans through their role as slave trader middlemen, were quick enough and adaptive enough to avoid colonization or puppetization. Sveland and its American possessions are still very poor and backwards by African standards, but they are considered more or less civilized people. Most of the Americas were colonized by Africans, and long enough to have become independent by now. The Native Americans in the Andes preserved more of their culture than in OTL; though the Altiplano was considered even less appealing by the Africans than the Spaniards, and the Oyo less interested in converts. The Jews, a scattered diaspora in OTL, managed to raise the funds to pursade the Oyo to establish a few colonies for themselves in South America, since Khemet had no plans of leaving Israel anytime soon. Fifty years later, the Jews successfully broke away as an independent state with the aid of the Mandinka.
The United Electorates, a former collection of Mandinka colonies, have been independent for nearly a century and a half, and are one of the current world powers, on par with th United States OTL. The European Celts and Slavs, and from some parts of the east, Asians, were slaves as recently as 60 years back, and are still regarded as second-class citizens. The Germanic Cimbilanders of south Italy picked up their religion from the Berbers, and are very similar to OTL Ethiopia, that is, a "barbarian" nation that still has enough civilized habits to avoid outright colonization. Though oddly enough, the Ethiopian Emperor is the Cimbiilanders' Mussolini. The Perunikzhi Khanate was too large and too cold for the African nations to occupy, so they settled for simply dividing it up into spheres of influence, much like what the European nations did to the Qing Empire in the late-19th century in OTL. The Svealanders feel cheated for being excluded for getting a piece of the Khanate.
The minor and backwards nations of Northeast Asia were brought underneath the thumb of the African colonial powers. Japan has been numerous times, and the despotisms of what OTL would be in northern China, have been completely different cultural mentors than the Chinese Empires of OTL. The state of southern China stands in stark contrast to the north. A millienial conflict generally based around religion and culture, have kept the armies of the region experienced fighters with plenty of weapons to bear. Northern China, Xiognyu that, has a racial caste system in which Turkic groups are priests and rulers, Han Chinese are peasants, and other groups fill the gap in between. It has harsh religiosity and a backwards agrarian economy, and is definitely a "barbarian state", though it is currently being nipped away around the edges.
Southern China, namely Huaxia, is a commercially minded bureaucratic empire, tolerant of various beliefs and generally a Han China reconstituted in an almost ethnically non-Han south. It is somewhat semi-civilized, and has managed to impress the Africans by borrowed techniques and technology to give the Xiongyu a military beating and occupying much of the southern parts of the nation. Arabia is very much like in OTL, had a period of swift expansion, and went so far as to have its own missionary religion with a trinary God, a holy book, and generally the works, but was far less successful than in OTL. That faith is generally confined to the lands east of Khemet, and south of the Perunikzhi Khanate, although off-shoots of the religion have come to dominate south India and Indonesia, though northern India is Buddhist, though it is so similar to Hinduism, that a follower of belief in OTL would not recognize it.
Most of South India has been colonized by the Africans, although more centralized and stable kingdoms are located in the north, of north is the Goldern Empire of Vanga, and it armies, worshippers of Buddha in his hostile form, have avoided an all out conquest by th Africans, though much of their economy is controlled by them. Persia never truly recovered from is defeats during the Middle Ages at the hands of the Magyars, and is generally regarded as a semi-civilized power. The only major Arab nation of any note is that of Babylon the Fertile (Babiel-an-il-Iraq), which is still quite resentful that its efforts to unite all of eastern Arabia under one banner was stopped by the combined might of the Council of African Nations, an organization very similar to the OTL League of Nations. Generally, the Africans believed that the Great King of Babylon had too much oil as it was already.
Most of the African nations follow a derivative of the Egyptian/Khemeti faith, with many powerful gods, but one "supreme" god to whom all veneration truly goes. However, versions of the Axumite faith are followed southern Africa, different enough to be counted as separate religions. The faith's lesser emphasis on eternal damnation (compared to OTL Islam and Christianity), has lead to far more infrequent persecution against other faiths, though it still exists. Religious minorities such as pagans, Jews and Trinitarians are quite numerous in bigger nations such as Axum and Khemet. The Union of 100 Cities (OTL Congo), sticks closely and somewhat perversely (from the point of view of the other African nations), to its own syncreatic pagan beliefs. The Zanj faith is carefully balanced in the Arabian trinitarians, Olde Pagans, and followers of the Axumite rites.
The Egyptians are the oldest and most prestigious nation on the continent, and the people of Khemet completely agree with that assesment. However, despite the occupation of their lands by the Persians, Carthaginians, and the Axumites, and a major change to their religion, the Egyptian people claim they have managed to maintain the cultural continuity of Old Egypt for some 5000 years. Though most of the other African nations think the Egyptians are inflating their importance, as the most technologically sophisticated and wealthiest nation in Africa and by far the world, it is generally considered only sensible to put up a polite front.
The Moorish Emazigheni were the first African people to colonize the America, and were the most involved in European affairs for centuries. Recently, they have been on the decline, suffering from political troubles between the great merchant families, the laboring populations, and the nobility that run the nation. The Mandinka Kingdom, something of a "constitutional monarchy", the distribution of power is not the same as an OTL European monarchy (as starting point being the three different legislative branches of the kingdom). Being an arid nation, the kingdom is world renowned for its dreams and long struggles to green and irrigate the Sahel, using vast walls of vegetation to hold back the sands of the north, and the masterful intricacies of its massive underground irrigation systems. Also, the kingdom is well known for the energy with which its citizens migrate to other nations seeking wealth and cheaper water.
Determined to replace Khemet as the reigning power in Africa, the totalitarian Axumite Empire seeks to strengthen itself be way of less admirable and far more inhuman ways, and continues to look toward the "Oil Emirates", Mandinkan India, and the generally weak and backwards nations of western and central Africa with hungry eyes and an open mouth. Axum maintains a close alliance with the Nguni Empire to the south, recently form through blood, sweat, and tears, though it was formed far too late into the colonial games to gain anything more than a few unsavory scarps. Both Axum and the Nguni Empire are unhappy with their positions, and both believe they have the industrial and military power to change that, hopefully into their favor. In Khemet, however, its scientists have been puzzling about the atom for some time...