West African Kingdoms

West African Kingdoms
Coach Parrish
Chapter 11, Section 2
King of Mali
Soldiers whose swords hung from gold chains
rode horses decorated with gold. Thousands of
slaves, each carrying a gold staff, marched
along side the soldiers. The procession,
60,000 strong, included dozens of camels each
loaded with many pounds of gold.
This was the caravan of Mansa Musa – king of
Mali, in West Africa.
Mansa Musa
Kingdoms of the Savanna
Mansa Musa ruled Mali – rich kingdom of the
West African savanna. The kingdoms of the
savanna controlled trade routes through the
Traders had to pay taxes when passing, and
these taxes made the kingdoms rich.
African Civilizations
Ghana, Kingdom of Trade
Salt and gold were the basis of West African
trade. Salt was very valuable because of its
many uses.
Salt was scarce in the rain forest, so the people
of the rain forest traded gold for salt.
Ghana – first West African kingdom to grow
rich from the salt and gold trade.
The Fall of Ghana
By 1000 AD, Ghana’s capital was divided into
two cities. Power began to weaken and
invaders from the north overran the capital
By the 1200s AD, Ghana had broken into
smaller city-states and was overthrown by
Powerful Kingdom of Mali
Under the leadership of Sundiata, Mali took
control of the salt and gold trade in 1230 AD.
In 1255 when Sundiata died, Mali was
considered the most powerful kingdom in
In 1312, Mansa Musa became ruler of Mali.
Mansa Musa introduced Islam to the region.
The Fall of Mali
During his 25 year rule, Mansa Musa used his
ties to Islam to make Mali a center for
learning. Scholars taught mathematics,
religion, medicine and law.
After Mansa Musa died, raiders attacked from
the north and divided Mali into provinces.
One province, Songhai, became an empire.
Rise and Fall of Songhai
Songhai – leading kingdom of the West Africa
savanna during the 1400s. Songhai’s leaders
controlled trade routes and participated in the
salt and gold trade.
In less than 100 years, however, Songhai
began to lose power. In the late 1500s, the
people of Songhai began fighting themselves.
It fell when Morocco invaded with guns and
Songhai Empire
Kingdoms of the Forest
Two of the most important kingdoms of the
West African forests were located in the cities
of Ile-IFe and Benin.
Each city grew rich from trade and was
Ile-Ife: Center of Culture and Trade
About 1000 AD, Ile-Ife became a major
cultural and trading center. Their leaders were
called onis.
Historians know little about Ile-Ife because the
modern city of Ife is built on top of the ancient
city and it is also thickly forested and damp.
Also, old mud buildings have washed away.
The most important artifacts that scientists
have found are life-like sculptures.
Ile-Ife Statue
Benin Rules an Empire
Benin dates to the 1200s. Workers in Benin
mined copper, iron, and gold. Benin’s leaders,
called obas, also sold slaves to African traders.
By the 1500s, Benin reached its greatest
strength. The oba controlled the army, priests,
government and chiefs. The city controlled
trade routes along the rivers and became rich.
Like Ile-Ife, Benin became a center of art. The
obas hired artisans to make beautiful objects.
Benin Sculpture
Benin Warrior Sculpture