African Empires

By Caeden H. and John D.

How and in what ways does trade influence Empires?

Western Empires

Ghana Empire: One of the first known empires in west Africa was the Ghana empire. The Ghana empire was primarily made up of the Soninke. The Soninke where a group of Mande speaking people who lived near the southern border of the Sahara. The religion of the empire was islam. This is where we first see islam in africa. This empire lasted from about 750 A.D. to 1200 A.D. The Ghana Empire started to fall around 1075, when they were invaded by the Almoravids.

Malian Empire: The Malian Empire came to power around 1200 A.D. and lasted until 1500 A.D. It surrounded a great deal of West Africa. One important figure of this empire was Mansa Musa and brought the name "land of gold" to the emipre. He was the one who was responsible for uniting the Malian empire and major factor in the spread of islam in africa. Around the late 1400's the Malian empire began to decline due to the loss of leadership as there was a lot of fighting for power and control as well as a loss of religious identity in the empire.

Songhai Empire: When the Songhai empire first started to rise to power it was under the control of Malian empire. It wasn’t until around 1350 A.D. that they began to break away and establish itself as its own empire. Songhai was located along the Niger river. The empire started to fall around around 1600 A.D due to over expansion and civil wars fought over religion inside of the empire.

Mansa Musa

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West African Trade

Read this article about west African trade and consider the question below

How did the African empires influence trade from the Nile to expanding trade around the world?

Spread of Islam through West Africa  

The spread of islam was mainly due to the trade going on in west africa and Mansa Musa. Pastoral north africans called berbers long traded with west africans trading salt in exchange for gold. These where some of the first people outside of west africa to convert to islam and islam spread through other trade routes from north to west africa. Traders also quickly converted to islam because they benefited from having religious and commercial connections with their trading partners. The rulers would follow the traders because sharing the religion of more established kingdoms gave them access to scholars who could help them gain power. Eventually islam became the religion of most powerful kings and they tried to spread their rule over large non muslim populations and have them be converted to islam. The first known empire to practice islam was Ghana. But they fell to the mali who was ruled by Mansa Musa. Mansa Musa tried to increase the knowledge and practice through out the empire. When Mansa Musa made his pilgrimage to mecca he spread islam as well. When we returned from the pilgrimage he brought back scholars and architects to help build mosks like the one shown below.    

Check out this timeline about the spread of Islam through africa

Swahili Civilization

Watch this quick video about the Swahili Civilization

How and in what ways does trade influence Empires?


MacDonald, Kevin C. "Mali Empire." World Book Advanced. World Book, 2014. Web. 15 Dec. 2014.

Hill, Margari. "The Spread of Islam in West Africa: Containment, Mixing, and Reform from the Eighth to the Twentieth Century." FSI. Stanford University, 7 Jan. 2009. Web. 17 Dec. 2014.

MacDonald, Kevin C. "Ghana Empire." World Book Advanced. World Book, 2014. Web. 17 Dec. 2014.

Department of AAOA. "The Trans-Saharan Gold Trade (7th–14th century)". In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, October 2000, Web. 14 Dec.

MacDonald, Kevin C. "Songhai." World Book Advanced. World Book, 2014. Web. 16 Dec. 2014.

"TimeMaps." Atlas of World History. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Dec. 2014.

MacDonald, Kevin C. "Mansa Musa." World Book Advanced. World Book, 2014. Web. 18 Dec. 2014.

Green, John. "Mansa Musa and Islam in Africa: Crash Course World History #16." YouTube. YouTube/ Crash Course, 10 May 2012. Web. 18 Dec. 2014.

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