In 800 A.D., Ghana was created out of many villages that the Soninke rulers united. Ghana was located by the Niger and Senegal Rivers. There was a king who controlled the trade routes, and the people were mostly Soninke people. Their capital in the 4th century, Kumbi Saleh, was the largest city in the south Sahara. The capital was split into two separate towns that had walls around them. The first one, was taken over by the Royal Palace. The king hosted the ceremonies, and the people viewed him as semi divine. The second town consisted of Muslim merchants that lived in stone buildings. They were attracted to Ghana because of the wealth and gold. They were helpful to the city because they were able to help create the center of trade.
Ghana was located southward of the Sahara and was thought to have sat on a gold mine. The men would dig it up and the women would wash it and prepare it to be sent to other countries. This was the main trade product that helped them get necessities they needed to be successful. The rivers they were around helped goods be imported and exported. They were also surrounded by many other countries/empires, therefore they had many alliances with people for resources.
When the Muslim merchants made their way over to Ghana, they brought the Islam faith with them. It spread very slowly at first. The king of Ghana used the Muslims in his court as officials, counselors, and treasures. Because there were so many Muslims in the government, the king began to get influenced by their ideas. Such as, military, languages, money systems, business methods, architecture and technical. At this time, the people started to catch onto the Islamic religion. These people worship God through their holy book the Quran, prayer, Ramadan (where they have to fast on the ninth month of the Islamic calendar), charity, and at their holy place, a mosque.
Art in Ghana was not very popular because the people spent most of their time working with the gold. When they did do art, it was shown through weaving, jewelry, and woodworking. The weavers would sew together cotton fabrics and would sometimes paint on them for designs. But, because of the hot climates, people would wear little to no clothing at all, although nudity was illegal to the Islam belief. Jewelry was mostly made for kings or higher classed people and made out of gold. The people also many little sculptors. Important leaders were made out of wood, but other people and animals were made out of clay. Art illustrates their culture because it tells us who was the leaders were, what they looked like, and what they wore. Art also shows us what kind of materials they had to work with, and how creative they were because creative carries over to other things like architecture.
The music in Ghana all began with drums. For example, the Ewe drum is a popular hand drum and is taught how to play in universities. The people played box pianos that had about five keys, which is way different to the ones today that have about eighty-eight. Music was also a way of communication in their languages. The instruments are able to imitate different pitches for different words. Music was played at ceremonies, celebrations, and even funerals. They even used music to worship, they would translate christian hymns into their own languages. Just like today, music was a hobby, a way of life, and a way to happiness.