Africa has alot of countries to its name, but I think you can handle it. Shaped like a soup bowl, this immense
continent is the second largest in the world. The Atlas Mountains form the "bowl's" northwestwestern rim, but in eastern
Africa, mountains extend alongside vast rifts. These form a plateau and wide low plain feature of Africa.
Below the Sahara, or sub-Saharan Africa, are mighty rivers that cross. Many ancient civalizations formed on the edge
of these mayor rivers. For example, the Niger River gave food, water, and transportation so that made it an ideal place
for someone to live there. There are also four very different regions around the Niger River, all of which are very
warm and cool place. The first strip is the northern strip across West Africa called the Sahara. This desert is
the world's largest desert. It has temperatures that can rise up to 120*F and rain is very rare. The next strip
is the seemiarid Sahel. It is fairly dry but some vegetation is found there. The savannah is further south.
Animals are commonly found here. Many different plants live in the next strip of land, rain forests. It gets heavy
Many families belevied that unseen spirits/ancestors stayed nearby. To honor these special visitors, they marked
sacred places by putting specially carved statues there. They even sometimes gave these spirits food. In return,
the spirits hwould protect villages from harm. Another odd religion was animism, the belief of animals, trees, nature
had spirits. In Mansa Musa's power in the Mali empire, he stressed greatly on Mulsim. He wanted Mulsims to be
able to read the Qur'an and write in Arabic. He wanted to spread Islam to all of the world, so he built mosques in Timbuktu,
Djenne, and other cities. Many other people wanted to be like their powerful leader and travel on their hajj.
So they went to Mecca and saw people from all across the globe.
Exactly like Mansa Musa, Askia the Great took his religion very seriousy. He followed
the Islamic way everyday and even went on his hajj after conquering Sunni Baru.
One of the earliest achievements in West African culture was the discovery of meleing rock to form things. With
this idea, they made iron farm tools, iron arrow heads, and spears. This made it possible to gain power from battle
and land. Another way the Africans benifited from this was the idea of the iron blade. The iron blade made it
so that they could chop down trees and liove in areas that are out-of-this-world to them. Because of teh iron tools
made, they West African culture began to thrive and grow.
ancient african blade
Many libraries and universities were set up along the Songhai empire. These taught
about math, science, and all the other stuff you learn about in school. The people of the West African time loved
visual art forms. They made people out of wood, brass, clay, ivory, stone, and other materials. These people would
most likely be their ancestors and they would be made for a religious ceremony of some sort. The visual art of the West
African time period inspired some of the greatest paintings/sculptures in history. Another art that the people made
was theh masks. These masks bore faces of animals and contained fierce faces. Usually these masks were made from
wood. Music and dance were also part of their tradition. Music and/or a dancewas preformed when a king or queen
entered the room or to celebrate special events. This also inspired many forms of danceing and entertainment today.
The West African culture really stepped it up and gave us all the stuff that we really need today. Thanks Africa!
ancient african mask
There are three major factors in the empires plummet in the 1200's. The first factor is invasion. A Muslim
army called the Almoravids attacked Ghanna in the 1060's. They took control, but not for long. They blocked important
trade routes in hope of destroying the empire; they succeeded. Another factor in their fall was the fact of overgrazing.
When the Almoravids conquered Ghana, they brought herds of animals. These animals ate all the greass and left the soil
to harsh winds. The soil was brought up and the land was not able to be farmed. The last factor of Ghana's fall
was internal rebellion. In 1200, the people of Ghana was forced to rebel. Much to the emperors dismay, the people
won this battle but quickly lost Ghana to one of its neighboring countries.
The Collapse of the Mali Empire
When Mansa Musa died, his son, Maghan, took the throne. He was a very weak ruler unlike his father.
People poured into Mali and took control of this vast empire. One of the reasons Mali fell was because of its size.
It had became too big for one goverment to control. Some of the empire detached away. Another reason was because
invaders dispensed into the empire. This weakend it and forced parts of the empire to break away. Soon, Mali was
very very small.
Fall of the Songhai
The empire of Songhai had trouble with their neighbors from the north, the Moroccans. Because these Moroccans wanted
teh salt mines, they invaded Songhia. They brought a new disastorious weapeon- the arquebus, an early form of the gun.
They attacked Timbuktu and Gao but didn't push forward. They decided that the damage was done. Songhai never fully
recovered from this devestating blow. This also affected trade too. Nobody wanted to trade with those darn Mulsims
anymore. So all in all, the invasion of the Moroccans led to the destruction of the Songhai empire.
Because of trade, the empire of Ghana grew and was firmly in control of many lands. One of these lands were the
West African trade routes. Ghana served as protection to all the traders so more and more people came and traded in
Ghana. Trade increased and their influence grew as well. The people had to pay special taxes on their food items.
With this money, the army grew and conquered new lands. They allowed the conquered tribes to keep their king to act
as governors of their tribes, but they had to get orders from Ghana's king. Tunka Manin helped Ghana reach thier height.
He had a superb court and people.
After Ghana fell, an emperor named Sundiata helped the empire of Mali rise to power in 1300.
Sundiata was both a strong leader and a magicain. When he was a little youngster, he wanted to destroy the person who
was making his life miserable. So when he reached adulthood, he gathered a huge army and took control of Mali and neighboring
empires, like Ghana. Once Sundiata was in control, he took over valuable trade routes, like the salt and gold trade
routes. He made improvements in agriculture in his empire. He made it that they had crops of beans, onions, rice,
cotton, and other crops. Sundiata took the title of mansa, great ruler. He gained even moer power in the empire
after this, until he died in 1255. His son Mansa Musa took the throne after his death. Mansa Musa was a powerful
ruler and strong Mulsim. With his efforts, Mali reached its height in the 1300's. He captured Timbuktu, Gao, and
Djenne in his 25 years at the throne. He also was very important in the expansion of Islam in West Africa. Because
Mansa Musa was such a great Muslim, he made his way on a hajj in 1324. He stopped in Egypt and gave out almost 30 pounds
of gold. So gold lost its value and many traders went out of business.
While the Mali empire reached its height, the empire of Songhai started to develop. Mali's
rulers sent out troops to take control of Songhai's empire. They succeeded but Songhai soon rebelled and regained their
freedom. Sunni Ali helped spread this new culture to everywhere. But thats not all he did; he unified, strengthened,
and helped his empire take control of their rightful lands. He conquered much of Mali. Ali brought peace and stability
to Songhai because he encouraged his empire to work together and he participated in both Muslim and local religions.
His son rose to power when he died in 1492. Sunni Baru was his name and not psracticing Islam was his game. He
didn't participate in the religoin of Islam so people rebelled in fear of loosing trade with other countries. Muhammad
Ture led his rebells into victory, and was then on known as Askia the Great. Askia the Great set up five provinces to
help maintain order in his kingdom. He removed local leaders and replaced them with governors that he greatly trusted.
He also created departments for government offices.
Askia the Great
The trade of the period began to start commence when they started the culture. But it wasn't until AD 200
that the trading really picked up. Before that time, they used horses to trade, so they got tired and didn't go very
far. After, they used camels. These puppies could go for a very long period of time. Berbers led the traders
and teh camels into the Sahara so tehy could do their business. Gold and Salt became very valuable to the traders of
this time. Salt was carried from the north to the south, and gold was carried from the south to the north.Timbuktu was
a town that people gathered to talk, trade and rest. Gold was wanted for its beauty, while salt was wanted to preserve
food and make food more tasty.Silent barter was used to trade these valuable items. They used this method to kkep the
trading peaceful and keep it secret to other people. People came to Koumbi Saleh, Ghana's capital, to take a breather
and trade more items. Trade made the empire of Ghana very rich and very powerful. The traders that passed through
Ghana didn't get on a free ride, they had to pay taxes on the goods that they carried. But the people of Ghana and the
conquered tribes also had to pay. This money was used to support the troops. Gold also made them rich.
Gold mines produced large amounts of gold to trade to countries all across teh world. To ensure that the king was richer
than any of his subjects, the emperor of Ghana made sure that he was the only one to carry gold.
people going along the Sahara in search for gold and salt
Muslim traders came to the center of trading in the empire of Songhai, they came to
Timbuktu and Djenne and Gao. These traders ingluenced the empire greatly.
The typical family of the West African culture was an extended family. Everyone had to be loyal to their extended
family members. But that wasn't the only thing in the West African culture, there were also age-sets. In an age-set,
men had to take care of men and woman had to take care of woman. These families and age-sets helped the people of a
village work together to make the villlage click. For example, men had to hunt and farm while woman cared for children
adn did house stuff. The elders taught family's traditions through songs, stories, and dances. Chldren didn't
do much of anything until they reached the working age. Another highly respected person in its community was a griot.
They were resposible to pass down oral history to their children and their children. They also recited proverbs to teach
a lesson or show a moral. These griots had to memorize thousands up on thousands of names and exents. Still the
griot is still highly respected today.
families were the basic group of village society
extended amilies included grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and their families
extended families often had a male leader who served as a village chief
Council of Elders
Sometimes, village chiefs formed a council of elders that led the village