But there are cultures in Afrika where fishing is a primary economic activity. And those societies are located where according to anthropological studies, a neolithic “aquatic civilization” existed some thousands of years ago. This civilization was in the present Sahara-Sahel region, and extended down to the Ituri forest of central Afrika. Some Afrikan historians, particularly the "old scrappers," have pointed out that this area is identical to the "Middle Afrikan" civilization known as the Zingh or Zingh Empire, which extended from Senegal to India. (The UNIA borrowed the red, black, and green liberation colors from the Zingh Empire.) Is this aquatic civilization the legendary Zingh Empire?
During the period from about 7500–7000 BCE to about 3500–3000 BCE, wet and rainy conditions existed in what is the present-day Sahara. This period also known as the Neolithic Subpluvial, was the most recent of a number of periods of "Wet Sahara" or "Green Sahara," during which the region was more moist and supported a richer flora and fauna, and human population than the present-day desert. Large areas of North, West, Central, and East Afrika had hydrographic profiles significantly different from today. (Only West Afrika continues to have the biodiversity from this period.) Existing lakes had surfaces tens of meters higher than today, sometimes with alternative drainages: Lake Turkana, in present-day Kenya, drained into the Nile River basin. Lake Chad reached a maximum extent of some 400,000 square kilometers in surface area, larger than the modern Caspian Sea, with a surface level about 30 meters (100 feet) higher than its twentieth-century average. Some shallower lakes and river systems existed in the subpluvial era that later disappeared entirely, and are detectable today only by way of radar and satellite imagery.
As a result of the increase moisture and water, there was an increased abundance of fish, waterfowl, freshwater mollusks, rodents, hippopotami and crocodiles. The riches of this increased aquatic biomass were exploited by humans with rafts, boats, weirs, traps, harpoons, nets, hooks, lines and sinkers. This was a period before the advent of agriculture. Therefore, the people involved in these early societies must have belonged to hunting cultures. But as populations increased, since this "riparian" (river) way of life could support much larger communities than hunting bands, a new societal formation took place. Two technological developments occurred as well: the development of the bone harpoon and pottery whose design motif was characterized by “wavy lines.” (This result in dietary or nutritional changes as soup, fish stew and porridge consumption increased.) Hunting cultures were therefore transformed into aquatic or fishing cultures.
Apart from Afrikan oral traditions, evidence for the existence of this aquatic civilization comes from Western sources. One source is British archeologist Anthony Arkell, who after WWII did studies in the Sudan. He discovered that a Late Stone Age settlement existed on a sandbank of the Blue Nile (which was then about 3.7 m higher than its present flood stage). The countryside was clearly savanna, not the present-day desert, as evidenced by the bones of the most common species found in the middens — antelope, which require large expanses of seed-bearing grasses. But Arkell concluded that the people of this period probably lived mainly on fish, based on the totality of the evidence, and that rainfall at the time was at least three times that of today. The physical characteristics derived from skeletal remains suggested that these people were related to modern Nilotic peoples, such as the Nuer and Dinka. Subsequent radiocarbon dating firmly established Arkell's site to be between 9000 and 7000 years old. Based on common patterns at this site and at French-excavated sites already reported from Chad, Mali and Niger (e.g., bone harpoons and a characteristic "wavy line" pottery), Arkell inferred that a common hunting and fishing culture was spread by Afrikan people right across the continent at about the latitude of Khartoum. In the 1960s, the archeologist Gabriel Camps investigated the remains of a hunting and fishing community dating from about 6700 BCE in southern Algeria. Camps argued that these pottery-making people (the "wavy line" motif again) were Afrikan rather than present “Mediterranean” types that inhabit the area. In this area Camps found definite signs of deliberate cultivation of grain crops as opposed to simply the gathering of wild grains. Perhaps this was the transition from vegeculture to agriculture, as later studies at the site have shown that this was a hunting culture and not farmers. This was determined based on the fact that all the grains were morphologically wild, and the society was nomadic or at least not sedentary. A third source is based on the work of Professor Paul Sereno and his team, working in Niger. Human remains were found there in 2000 at a site known as Gobero in the Ténéré Desert of northeastern Niger. The Gobero finds represent a uniquely preserved record of human habitation and burials from what is now called the Kiffian (7700 to 6200 B.C.) and the Tenerian (5200 to 2500 B.C.) cultures. Again we see evidence of a decidedly aquatic economy and culture.
From our sources it appears that a vast expanse of territory existed some 10,000 years ago where a uniformed way of life developed. From these settlements archaeologists have recovered bones of fish and aquatic animals that served as a food supply. Also there existed common cultural features and implements. Most prominent were the distinctive harpoon-heads carved from bone and pottery bearing a unique decoration executed with fish-bones and water-shells, made in imitation of (fishing-) baskets. These and other artifacts are suggestive of boating and associated activities. These harpoons date back to at least 9000 years ago; the pottery appeared some time later. One of the primary animals hunted with the harpoons was the hippopotamus. Amazingly, in this same region, the Songhai today, continue to hunt hippopotami with harpoons.
This aquatic civilization was immense and its greatest extent was achieved during the wettest times of the seventh millennium B.C. It expanded continent-wide across the savanna belt. While little is known about this civilization, it might have served as the transition from hunting to farming cultures, with fishing providing an intermediary stage. I had argued earlier that the societal transition was from hunting to herding to farming; however, it would appear that fishing cultures developed before herding or farming cultures. This Middle Afrikan cultural complex that consisted largely of hunting cultures apparently segued into fishing, which initially was a hunting-fishing synergy that actually hunted aquatic animals, such as large catfish, crocodiles, and hippopotami. If the initial flowering of the “Zingh Empire” was based on the abundance of waterways and aquatic life, then its demise or interruption was triggered by the coming of drier conditions in the late sixth and fifth millennia B.C. With the coming of drier times, the abundance of wild flora, would stifle the vegeculture industry, leading to the conscious development of specific flora or plants. This may be what in fact gave birth to agriculture. Around Lake Victoria remnants of fishing culture(s) survived until the eve of Bantu expansion about two thousand years ago; however, the viability of an aquatic way of life was undermined by the second millennium B.C. as other cultural formations arose.
The San, who demonstrate the oldest, most varied DNA followed by the Mbuti/Twa/Mbenga group, have a DNA presence in the northeastern quadrant of the continent. The !Kung, in particular, share a most ancient haplotype with sub-populations from Ethiopia and the Sudan, suggesting they are parts of an ancient widespread population later divided by the Bantu expansion. According to an overall survey of genetic research by Sarah Tishkoff of the University of Maryland, the most deeply ancestral known human DNA lineages may be those of East Africans, such as the Sandawe, who share many phenotypic features and a click language with the !Kung. This suggests southern Khoisan-speaking (San) peoples originated in East Africa. Therefore, this aquatic civilization included these traditional Afrikan hunters in addition to the Mbuti/Mbenga/Twa people. But the Katanda archaeologic site coincides with the range of the BaMbuti (Efé). Then it is safe to conclude, using the terminology of Western anthropology, that the Zingh Empire was a "Negritic civilization composed of Pgymies."