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Aim: Why was Trade
Important in the East and
West African Kingdoms?
Do NowBased on past lessons, how was trade orchestrated and done
in Africa? What kind of items were traded?
I. Western African Kingdoms and Trade in the West
 Strong African leaders created powerful kingdoms
by gaining control over most of the profitable trade
routes.
 Three trading kingdoms of West Africa were:
Ghana
Mali
Songhai
Ghana
 Around 800 CE, the rulers of many farming
villages united to create the kingdom of Ghana.

Ghana had a powerful king. Income from the gold
trade helped him maintain a large army of foot and
cavalry soldiers  Led to further expansion

Muslim merchants brought their religion with
them when they settled in the kingdom of Ghana.
Mali
 Ruled by powerful Kings called Mansas
 Mansa Musa ( c. 1280-1337 )
 Under Mansa Musa, the most powerful ruler, Mali
extended its borders and dominated West Africa. Mansa
Musa’s large army kept order in the empire and
protected it from attack.

Mansa Musa ran an efficient government, appointing
governors to rule particular areas.
 Based his system of justice on the Qur’an, the Muslim
Holy Book.
Songhai
 Like Ghana and Mali, Songhai depended on a
strong army to control trade routes.

The emperor Sunni Ali built Songhai into the
largest state that had ever existed in West Africa.
 Established a bureaucratic government Trade
spread to Europe and Asia.

Songhai prospered until the late 1500s when civil
war broke out and caused the downfall of the
kingdom.
II. Eastern African
Kingdoms
 The Mediterranean and Red Seas linked Africa to the
Middle East and Europe. The Indian Ocean also linked
east Africa to India and other Asian lands

Axum was located on the Red Sea. It was a trading
kingdom that merged Jewish and Christian traditions. It
eventually became present day Ethiopia.

In the 1300s the Hausa people built city-states in what
became present-day Nigeria. They were cotton weavers
and leatherworkers who traveled on caravans across the
Sahara and as far as Europe.
 Benin was located in the rain forests of the Guinea coast,
traded ivory, pepper, and also slaves. The people of
Benin also learned how to cast bronze and brass.
Group Activity
 Each table will receive an excerpt from the same
article regarding Ghana, Mali or Songhai.
 Complete the graphic organizer AS A GROUP
which means that you share information with
EACHOTHER
 We will come back and share once everyone is done
EXIT SLIP
 What African Kingdom would you like to live in?
Eastern or Western region. Explain why you chose
this kingdom in 2-4 sentences.
HOMEWORK
 A. Summarize what you learned about one
Western African Kingdom and one Eastern African
Kingdom
 B. Do a Venn Diagram comparing and contrasting
Eastern and Western Empires of Africa
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