The Kingdoms of West Africa I Am Me Creativity Inc.
Trading Gold And SaltDominating Sahara Trade Neolithic farmers grew beans, melons, and cereal grains Villagers traded any surplus food they made. Atrade network linked the savanna to forest lands in the south then across the Sahara to civilizations along the Mediterranean and in the Middle East. A lot of gold in present-day Ghana, Nigeria, and Senegal. Gold bearing soil was dug by men and women then washed the soil to take out the gold dust. The precious metal was then stuffed into hollow feather quills for safe travel to the markets of Europe and North Africa. In return, West Africa received salt, an equally important commodity. Salt is needed to prevent dehydration, especially in hot, tropical areas. At Taghaza, in the central Sahara, people used salt blocks to build homes.
Gold Wealth of Ghana The rulers of the Soninke people united many farming villages to create the kingdom of Ghana, by A.D 800. Ghana was located in the broad “V” made by the Senegal and Niger rivers. The king controlled gold-salt trade across West Africa were the Two trade streams met in the marketplaces of Ghana, where the king collected tolls on all goods entering or leaving his land. KumbiSaleh was the capitol of Ghana Made up of two separate, walled towns, nearly six miles apart. The king of Ghana presided over elaborate ceremonies and to the people, he was a semi divine figure who dispensed justice and kept order.
Islamic Influence Gold wealth in Ghana lured Muslim merchants to help make KumbiSalen a center of trade. Brought their Islamic faith to Ghana employed as counselors and officials. People gradually absorbed Muslim military technology and ideas in government. Most Soninke people stayed with their own traditional beliefs Dwellers adopted Islam Muslims introduced their written language, coinage, business methods and architecture styles. About 1050 Almoravids tried to spread their form of Islam but were overwhelmed by Ghana and were unable to gain control.
The Kingdom of Mali Sumangururuled in Western Africa in early 1200s. According to legend, he feared the Mandinka ruling family and killed all but one son who was sick and seemed to be near his demise soon. Sundiata, the spared son, survived and recruited army that defeated Sumanguru in 1235 Persuaded the other chiefs to surrender and let him rul. Founded the Mali. Mansasexpanded influence over gold-mining region to the south and Tagnaza salt supplies.
Great Emperor Mansa Musa Came to the throne around 1312. Expanded Mali’s borders westward to the Atlantic Ocean conquered many northern cities Worked to ensure peace and order in his empire. Converted to Islam and based justice system on the Quran. In 1324, he fulfilled one of the five pillars by making the pilgrimage to Mecca. Made new diplomatic and economic ties to other Muslim states. Movement of wealthy people and ideas increased Mali’s popularity By the 1400s, Timbuktu became a popular learning center
A New Empire in Songhai In the 1400s the empire shriveled as disputes over succession weakened Mali. Goa emerged as capital of Songhai, the new West African kingdom. Two great Leaders Sonni-Ali used powerful army to create the biggest state ever to exist in the West Africa, between 1464-1492. Took control of trade routes and he, unlike the rest rulers of Mali, followed traditional religious beliefs. AskiaMuhammad set up a Muslim dynasty and expanded Songhai territory and improved government. He set up a bureaucracy with separate departments for the army, farming, and treasury. He also made a pilgrimage to Mecca, increasing ties with the Muslim world. Built mosques and opened schools in towns and cities across Songhai. Invaders from the North Songhai prospered until disputes over succession led to civil war around 1586. The ruler of Morocco sent armies to defeat the disunited forces of Songhai to seize the West African gold mine using gun powder weapons. Just like the almoravids, they were unable to control an empire across the Sahara.
Other Kingdoms of West Africa The people of Hausa were in the fertile northern lands of modern-day Nigeria. Were successful at both farming and trading. Cotton weavers, and dyers, leatherworkers, and other artisans produced goods for sale as the independent city-states expanded into commercial centers. Kano was the most prosperous Hausa city-state. Populations of more than 30,000 people were protected by walls 14 miles in circumference. Its greatest king, Muhammad Rumfa, was a Muslim like many officials and merchants. Hausa developed an Arabic based written language Many rulers were women. Amina of the city state Zaria. Conquered Kano and expanded Zahria’s boundary to as far as the Niger River. Hausa started to dominate many Saharan trade routes under her rule.
The Forest kingdom of Benin Began its rise in the rain forests of the Guinea coast. People made farming villages and traded ivory, pepper and later they traded slaves to their neighbors in the savanna. Kingdoms were organized in the 1300s. An oba, or king, was a religious and political leader. Much of the power was spread among other figures, including the queen mother and a council of heredity chiefs. Benin City, the capital, was surrounded by a tree-mile-long wall. The palace was decorated with elaborate brass plaque and sculptures. Tradition says that Ife artisans, an earlier forest society, taught the Benin people how to cast brass and bronze. Benin sculptors developed a unique style for representing the human form. Works depicted warriors armed for battle, queen mothers with unswept hairstyles and the Oba himself.