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.