Civilization in West Africa 500-1450

Civilization in West Africa
Stateless Societies
 Family organization central to African society
 Families organized into lineages
 Lineage groups took the place of rulers, so
these are called stateless societies (no
centralized government)
Muslim States in North Africa
 By 670 Muslims ruled Egypt and had enter
the Maghreb (Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria)
 As Islam spread, African rulers converted
 Islamic law helped unify Muslim world
 Berbers in North Africa converted to Islam
 Almoravids
 Almohads
 Establish empires that unite people under
Islamic rule in the Maghreb
 Almoravids
 Took Morocco and founded Marrakech,
which became their capital
 By 1076 they had overrun Ghana
 Almohads
 Took power from the Almoravids
 Began as a militant religious group
 By 12th century had conquered much of
southern Spain
 Didn’t last long but did unite the Maghreb
under one ruler
Ghana: Land of Gold
 Trans-Saharan trade had existed for
 Mid-3rd century the camel is introduced,
which increased trade tremendously
 New trade routes crossed the savanna ,
farmed by the Soninke people
 Their ruler was called Ghana- war chief
 By 700s Soninke rulers of the kingdom of
Ghana were growing rich from taxing
goods in their territory
Gold Salt Trade
 Gold came from a forest region south of
the savanna
 Until 1350 2/3 of the world’s gold came
from this region
 Savanna lacked salt, which the Sahara
contained in abundance
 Merchants met in trading cities to
exchange these items
 Royal guards protected the merchants,
as did laws
 Royal officials taxed trade
Empire of Ghana
 King of Ghana kept gold and controlled
the price of gold
 Ruler was a religious leader, chief judge,
and military commander
 Large bureaucracy and army
 By 800 Ghana became an empire, which
exacted tribute from conquered lands
Islamic Influences
 Ghana’s rulers eventually adopt Islam
through contact with merchants along the
trade routes
 By 11th century there were Muslim advisors to
the king
 Much of the population never converted
 Upper class who did convert encouraged
the spread of literacy (a requirement if the
faithful were to read the Qur’an)
 1076 Almoravids invade Ghana
 Even though the Almoravids withdraw,
Ghana never regains its power
Empire of Mali
 By 1235 kingdom of Mali emerged
 Malinke people south of Ghana
 Wealth based on gold
Sundiata Conquers an Empire
 Mali’s first great leader came to power by
getting rid of an unpopular leader
 He was Mali’s mansa- emperor
 Took over Ghana
 Period of peace and prosperity ensued
 Promoted agriculture and trade
Mansa Musa Expands Mali
 Sundiata died in 1255
 Some of Mali’s rulers became Muslim and spread
Islam, built mosques
 Mansa Musa was a skilled military leader
 Expanded the empire to twice the size of Ghana
 To govern he divided it into provinces and
appointed governors
 1324 Mansa Musa goes on the hajj
 He distributes the wealth of Mali along the way
 When he returns he builds mosques at Timbuktu
and Jenne
Travels of Ibn Battuta
 Historian from North Africa who traveled
for 27 years visiting the Islamic world
Empire of Songhai
 As Mali declined in the 1400s the Songhai
people began an empire
 Sunni Ali was a military leader who began
to rule in 1464
 1468 captured Timbuktu
 Five years later to took Djenne
Askia Muhammad Governs Well
 1492 Sunni Ali died and he son succeeded
 Askia Muhammad drove him from power
because he was not a devout Muslim
 Tax system
 Appointed officials in a centralized
 But Songhai lacked modern weapons and
Moroccan troops will invade in 1591
 Hausa people emerged 1000-1200
 Organized in city-states
 Built walled cities for their capitals
 Cities had populations of 50,000 and governed
nearby villages
 Kano and Katsina became major trading statessalt, grain, cotton, dyed cloth, leather goods
 Zazau traded in slaves
 City-states were organized in similar way
 Rulers had a lot of power
 Ministers and advisors checked that power
 Had an army
 Contestant fighting between city-states meant
that they never developed an empire
Yoruba Kings and Artists
 Yoruba spoke common language
 Localized Yoruba kingdoms
 Yoruba kings were divine- religious and
political leaders
 Each king had a royal court and bodyguards
 Ife and Oyo were the largest Yoruba
 Ife- 1100- 1600
 Gifted artists who carved in wood and ivory
 Terra-cotta sculptures and cast in bronze
 Rulers probably supported artists
 Large city state of the Edo peoples formed
sometime in the 14th century
 By 16th century- city of great population and broad
avenues and artwork
 Power of the ruler demonstrated in much of the art