West Africa is residence to countless of Africa"s oldest kingdoms. This kingdoms played an important role in the advance of trade and also economic growth of the region. As old kingdoms became replaced by brand-new smaller persons many transforms were experienced. The revolutions were affected by conquest and warfare in addition to patterns of trade. West African cultures were shame by competition for wealth and the find for freedom from much more powerful kingdoms.

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The faster African civilizations south of the Sahara desert to be in West Africa. This civilisations developed at a time when many of Europe was enduring the Dark Age, after the loss of the Western fifty percent of the roman Empire roughly 476 A.D. The civilization of West Africa could currently smelt iron ore to make tools for warfare and agriculture. Stole farming devices made agricultural methods far more efficient. This led to improvements in farming and better productivity of the land, as prosperity flourished the population expanded giving rise to larger towns. Broad rivers linked human being in these larger towns by way of canoe travel. These rivers also maintained the fertility that the floor all year round.

At the exact same time kingdoms were emerging in this region. Among the earliest kingdoms to arise here was old Ghana to the far West. By the year 300 A.D, this kingdom had actually been rule by about 40 kings, showing that that is political administration was well emerged to allow brand-new kings to take office without destroying the kingdom by fighting disastrous civil wars. The economy of Ghana was based upon iron and gold mining along with agriculture. Commodities were traded through Berber societies north that the Sahara desert. In ~ the exact same time (1230-1300) the Mali kingdom of the Mande people, come the eastern of Ghana, was growing and increasing its manage of trade in the region. This lugged the two kingdoms right into conflict. Finally, the Ghana kingdom to be taken over by the Mali kingdom. The Mali kingdom to be able to develop its influence with ease due to the surrounding savannah terrain. This enabled the easy and speedy dispatch that soldiers across the region to overcome neighbours. The fostering of the Islamic belief by the Mali human being in about the 1500s throughout the rule of Kankan Musa, created a allude of unity for this kingdom.

Quarrels over who must succeed the throne and also rebellion through the Fulani civilization in Senegambia and also the Songhai civilization in Gao resulted in the fallen of the Mali kingdom in the 16th century. Songhai came to be independent of Mali, and also rivalled it together the leading strength in West Africa.

Culture, Religion and Monarchy

The Songhai had resolved on both banks of the middle Niger River. They created a state in the 15th century, which merged a big part the the western Sudan and also developed right into a excellent civilisation. It to be ruled by the dynasty or royal family of Sonni native the thirteenth century come the late fifteenth century. The resources was in ~ Gao, a city surrounded by a wall. It to be a good cosmopolitan market place where kola nuts, gold, ivory, slaves, spices, palm oil and precious woods were traded in exchange because that salt, cloth, arms, horses and also copper.

Islam had been presented to the royal court the Songhai in 1019, however most people remained faithful to their traditional religion.

Sonni Ali reinter-base.netanised the army, which was equipped v a fleet top top the Niger River. The command of the fleet was recognized as the ‘Master the the Water’. Foot soldiers captured the ideal men that the beat armies. One elite mounties was fast and tough. They wore steel breastplates underneath their fight tunics.

The foot soldiers were armed with spears, arrows and leather or copper shields. Army music as produced by a group of trumpeters. The total military comprised 30 000 infantry and 10 000 horsemen. The Songhai defence mechanism was the biggest inter-base.netanised force in the western Sudan; not just was a politics instrument, but likewise an financial weapon through virtue that the loot it carried in. They dominated the urban of Timbuktu and also Jenne.

Muslim scholar at Timbuktu referred to as Sonni Ali ‘tyrannical, cruel and also impious’. The Sonni’s were propelled from strength by the Muslim Askiya dynasty.

The brand-new monarchy based at Gao had actually centralised and also absolute and also sacred power. The was feasible to method him just in a prostate position. He satellite on a elevated platform surrounded by 700 eunuchs. Human being paid taxes come the king in return for internal and also external security. The imperial court was responsible because that the administration and the army. Big estates belonged come nobles. Lock were functioned by servile labour that did the fishing, pet raising because that milk, meat and also skins, and also the agricultural work.

The Songhai kingdom to be the last major one in the region. Its autumn did not bring an finish to kingdoms in West Africa. Kingdoms that survived were Guinea, Benin in Nigeria, Ashanti in current day Ghana and also Dahomey, phibìc of Benin. This kingdoms ongoing the infectious diseases worldwide Saharan trade through the Arab claims in phibìc Africa. The trans Saharan profession was complex. It to be not limited to trade and the exchange the gold, copper, iron, kola nuts, cloth, and salt. It was also about close co-operation and interdependence between kingdoms southern of the Sahara and also kingdoms north of the Sahara. Salt native the Sahara desert was just as important to the economies and kingdoms south of the Sahara as gold to be for those in the north. Therefore, the exchange that these commodities was an essential for the economic and also political security of the region.

Travel and also trade in Songhai

Trade significantly influenced the course of background in West Africa. The riches made with trade was offered to construct larger kingdoms and also empires. To safeguard their trade interests, this kingdoms built strong armies. Kingdoms the desired much more control that the trade also developed strong armies to increase their kingdoms and also protect them native competition.

Long street trade helped the regional economy and supported inner trade. Merchants travelling between towns across the Sahara needed places to rest and also stock up v food because that the journey across the Sahara desert. Food would be provided by local industries that relied on local ranches for supplies. This practice enabled merchants to setup long trips knowing that local industries would administer food and shelter. Because that this reason, plenty of kingdoms in West Africa encouraged agricultural improvements to accomplish this need. Often this expected uniting smaller farmers, traders and also societies right into stronger trade blocs. Because that example, the Kuba kingdom in existing day Congo lugged together different societies under a single authority and also used the Congo River together a main transport link to other remote kingdoms. As a result, smaller traders joined v each various other like the Chokwe and Lunda kingdoms under a single broad-based trade. This caused the rise of ivory and rubber trade between these kingdoms and also with Portuguese traders.

Present job Kuba King. Source: Daniel Laine (2001) nationwide Geographic, from www.news.nationalgeographic.com

The servant trade was likewise important because that the economic breakthrough of West Africa. Because that a very long time, West african kingdoms had relied on servants to carry out heavy work. The Songhai kingdom under the dominance of Askia Mohammed used slaves together soldiers. Servants were trusted no to overthrow your rulers. Slaves were additionally given important positions as imperial advisers. Songhai rulers thought that slaves can be reliable to provide unbiased advice unlike other citizens who held a an individual stake in the outcome of decisions. An additional group of servants was known as royal residence slaves or the Arbi. The Arbi servants served greatly as craftspersons, potters, woodworkers, and also musician. Slaves additionally worked on town farms to help produce enough food to it is provided the growing population in towns.

The Asante kingdom that the Akan human being grew in around the 15th and also 16th century into a powerful kingdom in the many southern components of West Africa, present day Ghana. This expansion was made possible by the rich gold mines discovered in the kingdom. The Akan world used your gold come buy slaves from the Portuguese. Due to the fact that 1482, the Portuguese who were interested in obtaining Asante gold, had opened a trading harbor at El Mina. As a result, their very first slave trade in West Africa was v the Akan people. The Portuguese to buy the servants from the kingdom the Benin, close to the Niger Delta in Nigeria. Slave work made it basic for the Akan people to shift from tiny scale farming to big scale agriculture (Giblin 1992). The transition transformed the Asante kingdom and it emerged a wealthy agricultural and mining economy.

The Akan world needed slaves to job-related their gold mines and farms. Pass traders and a growing population in the Asante communities demanded enhancing supplies of food. The servant trade with the Portuguese continued until the beforehand 1700s. The Akan world supplied the Portuguese with servants to job-related on sugar plantations in Brazil. A small number of slaves were retained in the Asante kingdom. However, through this period, the Atlantic servant trade conquered trade with West Africa. Kingdoms choose the Asante and Dahomey offered their power to raid societies favor the Bambara, Mende, and also Fulanis for slaves. The kingdom of Benin is the only recognized kingdom in West Africa come abolish slave trading in Benin. The servant trade ban was succesful and forced the Portuguese to search for slaves in other places in West Africa. However, dutch traders took over the role. Indigenous the 1600s the Dutch dominated the West african and Atlantic servant trade.

The Portuguese and also Dutch federal governments were can not to colonise West african kingdoms since they were too strong and well inter-base.netanised. As a result, the slave and ivory, rubber and gold trades continued to be under the control of Asante, Fon, and Kongo kingdoms. In 1807, the British government abolished the servant trade. Due to the fact that West afri kingdoms did no co-operate through the British, the slave trade across the Atlantic ocean continued. However, the servant trade decreased in areas where the British had actually influence, for instance the gold Coast.

Industrial breakthrough in brothers led to boosting trade v West Africa in agricultural products like palm oil, rubber, and also cocoa. To supply Britain v these products, the Asante kingdom preserved the slaves they had caught for the Atlantic servant trade and used them as farm workers instead. This brought about the development of slavery in West Africa since each kingdom wanted to profit from this brand-new trade. West african slavery pertained to a slow end towards the finish of the 19th century when countless of these kingdoms to be colonised by the French and also British. Former slaves became the landless reduced classes.


The claims of the Niger Delta prolong for around three hundred miles follow me the Gulf of Guinea native the Benin flow on the West come the Cross flow on the East. Because of the numerous rivers, which cross end each other, the main source of transfer was by canoe. Societies uncovered in this area include the Ibo, Ijaw, Jekiri Efik and also Calabari.

Unlike various other West afri states, Niger people were different in character. They were tiny states the maintained contact through war, trade and migrations. The Atlantic trade carried about great prosperity in this region. These says were recognized for their ability in politics and also for their “middleman” an abilities in commerce. Their long background of inner trade had carried these little states together and also led to economic growth that Bonny (also known as Igbani) and also Warri states.

The Kingdom that Dahomey (also known as the Fon Kingdom of Dahomey) to be the southern part of the Republic the Benin, a nation that divides the thick forest the Nigeria from those of modern Ghana. Dahomey was the many prominent seaside state in the region. It to be ruled by a king ~ above the government of the queen mommy who held the strength to appoint an heir. The king and queen mom ruled Dahomey native their capital Abomey. Dahomey started emerging as a great power in the beforehand 18th century because of the slave trade. It likewise managed come overtake other seaside states completing for manage of both the slave and also inland trade. The Fon army was inexplicable in West Africa since its soldiers were ladies feared by various other neighbouring coastal states.

In about 1650 there was a an excellent demand from the West Indies sugar plantations because that African slaves. The Fon civilization used their position as sea-merchants come ensure that they hosted a monopoly of the servant trade. The Dahomey kingdom likewise relied top top its strong military to conquer weaker inland states and to conquer coastal states. States looking to profession in the region were intended to salary a resolved amount the tax and fixed prices because that slaves. Practice duties to be paid in respect of every ship as well.

By the 18th century the Fon king had actually absolute power and under his rule Dahomey became strong enough to record neighbouring seaside states. The Fon to be still paying tribute come the Oyo kingdom and this supposed that they had actually to appease the Oyo through guns and other products each year. In 1725, Dahomey overcame the Oyo kingdom, and also three years later on they driven south to Savi and Whyad, Jakin was taken in 1732 however it was only in 1740 that the Fon won finish control once Whydah became a Fon colony. This ushered in control of the coast and also even visiting Europeans had actually to gain prior permission to walk ashore.

Atlantic System, contact with Europeans 

The come of the Portuguese in the 15th century in find of new trading opportunities readjusted the trade networks in West Africa. Vital change to be the brand-new direction of the servant trade throughout the Atlantic Ocean rather of the Sahara desert. This boosted the power of small West african kingdoms favor the Asante and Dahomey kingdoms. It likewise contributed to the autumn of the Songhai Empire, since the slave and also gold profession were no longer going through the Songhai kingdom. As a result, the Songhai rulers might not claim tribute and also taxes from these kingdoms.

The other adjust came indigenous the cultivation slave trade. African slaves were recorded from Africa to work-related as servants in the americas in the at an early stage 1500’s. Portugal, Spain, France and Britain were the key players in this servant trade, i beg your pardon lasted for much more than 400 years. Since Portugal to be the very first to develop itself in the an ar and to go into treaties with West afri kingdoms, it had the syndicate on the slave and gold trade. Together a result, Portugal to be responsible for transferring over 4.5 million Africans, roughly 40 percent that the servants taken indigenous the continent before the 1700s. Throughout the 18th century however, Britain to be responsible for virtually 2.5 million the the 6 million African slaves traded. early out to broadening market avenues in Europe and the Mediterranean, they enhanced trade across the Sahara and also later gained accessibility to the inner using the Senegal and Gambia River, i beg your pardon bisected long-standing trans-Saharan routes. The Portuguese brought in copper ware, cloth, tools, wine and horses and also later had guns, in exchange because that gold, pepper, slaves, and ivory. The growing trade across the Atlantic came to be called the triangular profession system.

The Triangular profession System

The Atlantic slave Trade (also recognized as the triangular trade) to be a system of trade that revolved roughly three areas. The an initial point that the triangle would begin in Africa, where huge shipments of human being were taken throughout the Atlantic s to the americas (The Caribbean, North and also South America) to be sold to job-related in nests on plantations together slaves. Once the servants were offloaded in the Americas, the very same ships would certainly then load assets from plantations such as sugar, cotton and tobacco. These assets would be sold in Europe. Indigenous Europe the pearls would lug manufactured products such together cloth, iron, rum and guns, which lock would usage in exchange because that slaves and gold.

Most recorded slaves were taken between 1450 and 1500, native the West African inner with the co-operation of afri kings and also merchants. There to be occasional military projects inter-base.netanised by europeans to catch slaves, especially by the Portuguese in what is currently Angola. This account for only a small percentage of the total. In return, the african kings and also merchants received assorted trade items including beads, cowry shells (used together money), textiles, brandy, horses, and perhaps many importantly, guns. These guns became a an extremely important profession commodity once West african kingdoms were progressively inter-base.netanising their militaries into skilled armies. During this period England marketed close come 100 000 muskets a year come West african kingdoms.

Slaves crossing the Atlantic Ocean sustained inhumane conditions aboard the ships delivering them. Castle would travel naked and also cramped right into the organize of the ship chained with each other at the ankles and also packed with each other side-by-side in holds i beg your pardon were around 1.5 m high with hardly any light and fresh air. Lock were noted with buckets, which they had to usage as toilets. This resulted in many slaves coming to be sick and also dying. Cases of fevers and small pox were typical during the voyages. The wellness of slaves on plank was made worse by the lack of medical attention. Servants would be routinely hosed down v water every morning and also those that had died overnight, would certainly be thrown overboard.

The slave trade was abolished in 1807 by the brothers government. The French just abolished their slave trade in 1848. The ongoing Atlantic servant trade required the British government to take responsibility to end slave trading. They captured European ships and released servants on board. This to be made more challenging by the unwillingness the West afri kingdoms to offer up the slave trade. The British government tried to influence the Asante rulers to protect against practising enslavement in your kingdom v no success. Together a result, native the 1870s, the brothers government began to colonise the Asante world in bespeak to protect against the usage of slave labour, but likewise as one excuse to take control of the rich gold mines of the Asante and also to safeguard British advertising interests versus French development in the region. Click right here to check out a lesson around colonial rule and also African responses.

A imperial mausoleum for the leader of Songhai, Askia Muhammed (1493-1528) built in Gao in the once an effective capital the the Songhai Empire. Photo source: baobab.harvard.edu

The foot soldiers were armed with spears, arrows and also leather or copper shields. Military music as created by a team of trumpeters. The total army comprised 30 000 infantry and 10 000 horsemen. The Songhai defence systemwas the biggest inter-base.netanised pressure in the west Sudan; Not just was a political instrument, but also an economic weapon by virtue that the prey it lugged in. They dominated the urban of Timbuktu and Jenne.

Muslim scholar at Timbuktu dubbed Sonni Ali "tyrannical, cruel and impious". The Sonni"s were moved from strength by the Muslim Askiya dynasty.

The brand-new monarchy based in ~ Gao had actually centralised and also absolute and also sacred power.

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It was possible to method him only in a prostate position. He sat on a raised platform surrounded by 700 eunuchs. World paid taxes come the king in return for internal and also external security. The imperial court to be responsible for the management and the army. Big estates belonged to nobles. Castle were worked by servile work that go the fishing, pet raising because that milk, meat and also skins, and the agricultural work.

The complying with information will certainly still be developed for this topic:- Travel and trade in Songhai in ~ the height of its strength ( Arab, Italian and Jewish merchants at Timbuktu)- Learning and also culture- autumn of the Empire: Moroccan intrusion of 1591.- females in Songha- call with Europeans please contribute activities and content for this section by clicking on the ‘contribute’ button.

Timeline800 - Gao to be established1110 - Timbuktu to be established1290 - realm of Mali established and also conquered Timbuktu and also Gao1375 - Timbuktu appeared for the very first time ~ above a europe map1400 - yellow trade flourished - from west Africa, with Timbuktu and also Gao, to Europe1450 - large settlement of scholars and traders in Timbuktu1468 - Songhay Empire developed by Sunni Ali. Took over Timbuktu and also Gao1493 - Muhammed Ture, a Muslim, established the Askia dynasty and also took end Songhay Empire.1530 - Portuguese pertained to Timbuktu in search of wealth. Just one man survived.1591 - Timbuktu and the Songhay Empire conquered by Moroccans.

Activity placed these events up ~ above the plank in the not correct order. College student should shot to recall the exactly order in their note books.