West African Culture
and Daily Life
7th Grade World History
Geography
• Four major vegetation zones:
Desert, sahel, savannah, rain forest
• Niger River
 grow food
 route for trade, transportation, and
communication.
Trade
• West African kingdoms grew through trade
• Gold & Salt Trade:
– West Africa received salt
– North Africa received gold
• Kings gained control of the trading
systems,
– Develop strong empires
The Camel
• Made trans-Saharan trade possible (trade
across the Sahara desert).
Village Life and Family
• Life centered around the village
– where a clan lived.
• Kinship groups
– formed the government of many African societies
• Labor specialization
– Some people focused on specific types of work
– very diverse economy
West African Religion
• Ancestor worship
– celebratory masks, music, dance, food, and
stories.
• Animism
– all things in nature have spirits.
Influence of Islam
• Berber traders
– introduced Arabic and Islam to West Africa
– Islam blended with traditional West African beliefs.
Oral Tradition
• History and cultural values passed on
through oral stories
• Storytellers were called griots.
– educated the clan about their history,
– communicate with past ancestors
– entertained people.
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African Focus Notes_Short