Examples of pre-colonial African literature are numerous. Oral literature of west Africa includes the "Epic of Sundiata" composed in medieval Mali, and the older "Epic of Dinga" from the old Ghana Empire. In Ethiopia, there is a substantial literature written in Ge'ez going back at least to the 4th century AD; the best-known work in this tradition is the Kebra Negast, or "Book of Kings." One popular form of traditional African folktale is the "trickster" story, where a small animal uses its wits to survive encounters with larger creatures. Examples of animal tricksters include Anansi, aspider in the folklore of the Ashanti people of Ghana; Ijàpá, a tortoise in Yoruba folklore of Nigeria; and Sungura, a hare found in central and East African folklore. Other works in written form are abundant, namely in north Africa, the Sahel regions of west Africa and on the Swahili coast. From Timbuktu alone, there are an estimated 300,000 or more manuscripts tucked away in various libraries and private collections, mostly written in Arabic but some in the native languages (namely Fula and Songhai). Many were written at the famous University of Timbuktu. The material covers a wide array of topics, including Astronomy, Poetry, Law, History, Faith, Politics, and Philosophy among other subjects. Swahili literature similarly, draws inspiration from Islamic teachings but developed under indigenous circumstances. One of the most renowned and earliest pieces of Swahili literature being Utendi wa Tambuka or "The Story of Tambuka". In Islamic times, North Africans such as ibn Khaldun attained great distinction within Arabic literature. Medieval north Africa boasted universities such as those of Fes and Cairo, with copious amounts of literature to supplement them.
The African works best known in the West from the period of colonization and the slave trade are primarily slave narratives, such as Olaudah Equiano's The Interesting Narrative of the Life of