Western African Civilizations: Ghana, Mali, & Songhai



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Western African Civilizations: Ghana, Mali, & Songhai

Bantu

  • Group of people who originally live in West Africa
    • Migrated in search of fertile land
    • Spread their knowledge of farming, ironworking, & LANGAUGE across the continent
    • Today almost 1/3 of Africans speak a language derived from the Bantu

Ghana

  • The first of the West African trading kingdoms

Ghana

  • Gold Salt Trade
    • Location! Location! Location!
      • Ghana was located in the midway between Saharan salt mines and tropical gold mines
    • Caravans of Muslim merchants brought goods, which Ghanaian people exchanged for gold
      • Trade conducted via the silent trade
      • Muslims brought their religion to the people of Ghana

Mali

  • Mansa Musa
    • Devout Muslim king
      • Bases legal and justice system on the Qur’an
    • Makes hajj to Mecca, but stops in Egypt first
      • Gives Egypt so much gold that the value of gold declines for 10 straight years
      • Traveled with 12,000 servants each wearing silk & carrying gold bars, which were given to the poor

Mali

  • Mansa Musa
    • Brings back Islamic scholars and architects to Mali
    • Has Timbuktu built
    • Timbuktu
      • Center of learning and art
      • Increased Islamic influence in West Africa
        • Use of credit
        • Written contracts
        • Education for many classes

Timbuktu

Timbuktu

Ibn Battuta

  • Moroccan born traveler and explorer
    • Travel the Islamic world from North Africa to China
    • Spent 30 years traveling
    • His primary source writings inform historians about the Muslim world in Africa

Songhai

  • The largest of the 3 major West African kingdoms
  • Took control of Timbuktu
  • Expanded trade to Europe and Asia
    • Time of great cultural diffusion
  • Askia Muhammad sets up high functioning bureaucracy
    • 5 provinces each with
      • A governor
      • Tax collector
      • Judges (Like Mansa Musa, had laws based on Qur’an)
      • Trade inspectors

The East African Kingdoms: The Shona of Great Zimbabwe & Axum

Axum (Aksum)

  • Religions
    • Christianity made the official religion after shipwrecked Syrians introduced it
    • However…
      • Both Axumites & Egyptians viewed Jesus differently than Rome
        • Jesus was completely divine. Not human; 100% godly
        • Started a new Christian Church  THE COPTIC CHURCH

Axum

  • Religions
    • Muslim merchants brought trade and Islam
      • Christian and Muslim merchants fought over control of trade routes
    • In order to ensure Islam did not spread into Axum
      • Government reorganized to extend into outlying areas
      • Monasteries built to teach the Coptic Christian faith
      • Built churches
        • More churches per square mile in Ethiopia than any other country in the world today

Axum

  • Architecture
    • Used stone instead of mud bricks to construct buildings (unique for this part of the world)
    • Stelae  obelisk shaped pillars built to celebrate king’s conquests and Axum’s greatness

Axum

The Shona of Great Zimbabwe

  • Rise to Power
    • Originally derived wealth from herds of cattle
      • Then found gold in central part of kingdom
    • Location, Location, Location
      • Like Ghana located between trading posts, but on Indian Ocean
      • Evidence of trade with Syria, and Persia

The Shona of Great Zimbabwe

  • The Great Enclosure
    • Massive wall 4-stories high and 15 feet thick
    • Protected the king
    • Stonework so precise that no mortar was needed

The Shona of Great Zimbabwe

  • Cities
    • Consisted of two parts
      • Residences for the elite
      • Residences for the commoners
        • Homes made of mud and thatch

The Shona & Great Zimbabwe

  • Disappearance
    • Left the Great Enclosure for reasons unknown
      • Historians best guess…
        • Cattle overgrazed and the Shona need to find new land to feed it’s people


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