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Transcript of Africa
General family lifestyle and groups of the people, the distribution/specialization of work, and effected West African society (early villages). Loyalty to family was extremely important in not just society, but also in culture and religion. Trade also played a part in the society of the African people by helping people to get together to form cities and states instead of just villages. Camp 4 There are not many written records about Mali's beginnings or rise to power, so most of the little bit known is according to legends. According to legends, however, Mali was conquered by a cruel king and then won independence again. The person said to win back his country's independence was named Sundiata. He was the son of a previous king of Mali and won his country's independence by creating a huge army. After helping his country, he conquered Ghana and other nearby kingdoms. Camp 3 Ghana Introduction Camp 5 Africa By Sarah Garner Period 5 Journey through Medieval West Camp 1 You are 5,000 feet above the base of the mountain when you reach the first camp. At this camp, a guild walked up to you and told you to master the following information if you are to proceed.
Africa is the second largest continent in the world and has many landforms and a large variety of climates. The climates and landforms all affected the history and settlement of people in Africa. In this case the land form that had a great effect on two civilizations (Ghana and Mali) was the Niger River. As civilizations arose in Africa, trade became important in the development and strength of those civilizations or empires. The following paragraphs will tell you how the Niger River, climate, and trade effected the "growth" of Ghana and Mali. The Niger River One landmark called the Niger River played a role in establishing some major civilizations in Medieval Africa; the Mali and Ghana Empires. The Niger River provided for the people and allowed for many people to live in the area by being a source of water, providing food, and by providing another way of transportation. Water was not just mainly for drinking, but also for agriculture, especially considering the fact that early Africans mainly ate a vegetarian diet. The Niger River provides food by attracting animals in search of water and by being plentiful with fish. Niger River Climates and Resources Africa has mainly five different climates. These climate zones are almost stacked horizontally on top each other like "layers" (please refer to the map- lower right). The five climates are Mediterranean, desert, Semiarid (called the Sahel), savannah, and rainforest. The three main climates are desert, savannah, and rainforest. The climate or common weather conditions affected/s the area's types of plants and animals that live there. Along with the many plants and animals, climate zones also provided certain resources the Africans needed and that were valuable for trade. The desert climate is a very hot and dry area where there is very little rainfall, which results in a very small amount of vegetation that can survive there. In fact, the only source of water in this climate is found in oasis. In oasis, some agriculture could be grown, such as dates. Deserts (makes up most of desert climate) can be described as dry barren wastelands consisting mostly of sand and sand dunes. Although desert climates don't have the potential to provide a great quantity of agricultural resources, it was a provider of the resource salt. Salt was mined from ancient dried up lakes in the Sahara Desert. It was then used in food for nutrition, for flavor, for trade and for money! In early villages in West Africa society, a typical family consisted of a child, his/her parents, his/her siblings, and other close relatives, all living in the same household. The importance of family and loyalty to family was greatly emphasized during those times. There were some beliefs that showed the importance of family. One belief was that their ancestors spirits stayed close to them. To honor the spirits, Africans would mark a "sacred place". They would do this by putting a carved statue there. They would also offer the spirits food to try to make them happy.
In return for pleasing their ancestors' spirits, they believed their ancestors would protect their village. They would also sometimes go to these sacred places to talk to their ancestors about news and problems. Introduction Early Africa/Village Life The Importance of Family Ghana, originally was mostly agricultural. Therefore, many of the people there were farmers. However, it was situated in a perfect area for controlling trade. Ghana Lied between the Sahara Desert and the southern forest; the locations of two of the most valuable resources/trading items...gold and salt. Trade routes took these items from place to place. At the time of Ghana's beginnings, however, West Africans didn't make very much money from these trade routes and such trade. Instead, trade was mostly controlled by a Northern African group called the Berbers. Later, that was to change as Ghana over trade and rose to power (made a profit off the trade). You are 12,000 ft in elevation when you reached the second camp. The paths were beginning to get extremely cold and icy. You plan to stay inside at the warm camp for the night which gives you plenty of time to learn more of what you need to know about medieval West Africa...well if you are to proceed on your life changing journey. You huddle next to a fire and read on.
As more and more civilizations arose, trade began to expand in Africa. As trade became more and more important to satisfy the needs of groups of people, it also was important in the up bringing and power of one of the most powerful civilizations of West Africa; Ghana.
Read further to learn more about riches trade, and Ghana's fall! Basic Storyline: Hello fellow adventurers! Are you ready? -Because you have been selected to embark on a journey of a lifetime...a journey climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro! Mt. Kilimanjaro is not just any mountain, but the tallest mountain in Africa and one of the tallest mountains in the world. Along the way you will stop at camps where you will learn about and take a journey through, mentally, Medieval West Africa. The catch is that you must learn the criteria at each camp before you can proceed on your journey. Good luck fellow adventurer! A rainforest climate is a place with heavy seasonal rain, lots of trees, lots of plants, and a large variety of animals. This climate was a source of both agriculture, such as kola nuts and gold. Gold was mined from the southern forest of this climate and was used for jewelry, coins, and as a valuable trade item. As time passed in West Africa, two major civilizations arose; Ghana and Mali. Both shared lots of the same factors in their "growth" or expansion as in area or power. They both shared the fact that they expanded around the Nile River. The Nile was a factor in the growth of both empires because it provided valuable resources and was a valuable source of transportation.
They also basically shared the same climates. Certain resources could be found in certain climates. For example, you probably wouldn't find a watermelon growing out in the middle of the desert. That would play a role in what they could trade. Climates also played a role in what they needed. For example, if you lived in a savannah climate, so you had only the food resources for a predominately vegetarian diet, they would need to trade with people living in The Sahara Desert for salt. Luckily, there is a large variety of climates, which allowed a large variety of resources (food).
The last contributor or factor in Ghana and Mali's "growth" was trade, or more precisely, the control of trade. They were able to trade their many resources to many people and profit from it. The Savannah climate is mostly grasslands with some scrubs and scattered trees. The grasslands allowed for them to have grazing animals there and some agriculture, especially if there was a river nearby. Some crops grown in the savannah included millet and sorghum. It was common for Africans to even trade other Africans as slaves! The slaves were taken from other countries and empires within the continent of Africa than the place the empire or country they were taken to. Trade in salt and gold not only brought new things to Ghana that the empire needed, but made the empire rich, or at least the rulers. At first merchants controlled the trade routes, but as the rulers of Ghana gained power, they began to control those routes themselves. This made them very rich; the rulers would tax the traders when they entered Ghana for the goods they carried. The rulers of Ghana didn't just make money through traders, but also by taxing the people of Ghana and conquered tribes. The rulers would use that money to support Ghana's growing army which protected not just the people of Ghana, but all the traders from bandits. Even in a way, Ghana's army made the rulers rich.
Ghana's army was also used to conquer new lands. Many of those lands became "centers for trade", hence making the rulers even more rich. But that is not all...you really didn't think Ghana's rulers would trade all that gold away, did you?
For many reasons Ghana's rulers became rich off of the gold. The first reason was that all the gold was officially property of the king. This meant that the rulers could keep large amounts of the gold for themselves, and they did. They also made sure that they were comparatively rich amongst all the people by banning people from owning gold nuggets; the common people could only own gold dust. The people of Ghana wanted to get what the needed and make money through trading. However, they also needed a way to avoid certain problems. They wanted to ensure business was done peacefully. If they were trading gold, they also didn't want the people they were trading with to know where their gold mines were. Another issue may have been that they didn't speak the same language as the traders they were doing business with.
Luckily, there was a solution. To trade, they might silent barter, or "exchange goods without ever contacting each other." To explain how they would do this, I'll use trader "A" and trader "B". First, trader A would drop off his trade item at a certain spot, beat a drum, and back off several miles from the area. After hearing the drum, trader B would arrive, take what trader A left, and leave what they thought was a fair exchange of their trade item. Then they would back off several miles. Then, trader A would arrive again and see what trader B left his. If he was satisfied with the quantity, he would band his drum again, and if not, the trading would continue. Although Ghana was a very powerful empire in West Africa, within 200 years it went from extremely powerful to collapsed. The factors for this "decline" were invasion, overgrazing, internal grazing.
Ghana was invaded by the Almoravids; a muslim group determined to convert all of Ghana's leaders to muslim. The results or resulting damage? They destroyed the city of Koumbi Saleh, cut off lots of trade routes through Ghana, and traded with Muslim leader instead. The real damage was that they could no longer trade with that group of people, so therefore, they could no longer support their own empire.
Although overgrazing is considered a separate factor in Ghana's decline, you could group it with the invasion of the Almoravids. When the Almoravids invaded Ghana, they brought along grazing animals that ate up all the grass, leaving the soil vulnerable towards the desert heat and wind. As the soil was dried and blown away, the land became useless for farming and agriculture, thus leaving farmers of that area jobless. They would have to travel to somewhere else to live and work (farm).
The last factor in Ghana's fall was internal rebellion, or rebellion within the empire. In other words, people belonging to your empire "betray" or go against another group of people in the empire. In this case, a group of conquered people "rebelled" and took over the entire empire. The the people of these West African villages all had a specific job to do. It was through work specialization that the large load of work that needed to be done was distributed. Loyalty to family also helped people work together. The men had the job of farming and hunting. This included raising and caring for animals. The women farmed, ground grain, collected firewood, carried water, and cared for the children. The children on the other hand, were taught by their elders family traditions, the communities values, and the communities history. The elders taught those things to the children through dances, songs, and stories. The children also were to work along other older members of their family as soon as they were able to. Trade didn't just play an important role in enriching and the growth or empires. It also played a role in the development of states and cities. As salt and gold were traded across the desert, trading places were established. As more and more people came to those trading places, they eventually developed into cities. Eventually, as many cities arise and become strengthened by trade, states can be formed. Improvements in Mali are are said to have been the work of a ruler named Sundiata. He started by taking over Ghana's salt and gold trade. Next, he improved agriculture by having some farmlands cleared for beans, rice, onions, etc. Another improvement is said to be responsible for was introducing cotton to Mali. Cotton was then used for clothing and as another valuable trade item. Lastly, he focused on feeding the people. He sent some soldiers to work in the fields with the slaves. The soldiers weren't in demand anyways because all of Mali's enemies had been defeated. Sundiata Improves Mali The Rise of Mali One important ruler of Mali was Mansa Musa. This muslim ruler ruled Mali at its height, expanded/encouraged Islam, and supported education. He also interested the rest of the world in Mali and made Mali well known. He attracted the attention of the rest of the world to Mali by going to Mecca on a haji, and by giving out an incredible amount of gold there. Mansa Musa supported education (and religion) by stressing the importance of reading and writing the Arabic language. His goal was to have everyone to be able to read the Qur'an; the main holy book in the Islam religion. He also had schools built for the purpose of studying the Qur'an throughout his empire. Eventually, a city named Timbuktu became known for its schools. Being a faithful and supportive Muslim toward his religion, Islam, Mansa Musa had architects from muslim countries build mosques (muslim places of worship) throughout his empire. In this way, he supported, and attempted to spread Islam. Did is plan work? It is a fact that during the time he ruled Islam was a very popular religion. Some people began to go on hajis, or religious journeys to Mecca, because they were inspire by Mansa Musa. Meanwhile, Muslims from many places would visit Mali. The travels of both Mali's people and people from foreign lands made Mali rich. Although Mali was an extremely powerful empire, like Ghana, it had to come to an end. Unlike Ghana, however, Mali's reasons for its fall slightly different. The first reason for the empire's fall was that the empire was too big to control. This lead parts of the empire to separate from the empire and form their own independent nations.
There also were weak rulers that contributed to Mali's fall. The last reason for Mali's fall was invasions or invaders. Slowly, the people of Mali "broke away" from the empire and created their own independent places. Desert Savannah The Niger River- Map West Africa's Major Empires Ghana's Rise to Power Silent Bartering Rulers & Their Riches The Fall of Ghana Selected Jobs From Villages to Cities and States Mansa Musa Learning and Religion at Mali's Height You now reached have camp 5 and 15,000 feet in elevation. The air at this elevation is so thin that while you were climbing, you'd been having to take frequent breaths out of your oxygen supply. The icy wind and abrasive snow had brushed your face as the stormy winds blew, but you were contently warm in your special snow jacket. It had been hard to see even 10 feet in front of you through the blinding snow, but now and then you were able to see the beautiful and majestic African landscape spreading out for miles below you. There was no going back now. You quickly went to the computer screen inside the camp building to start on your mental adventure of medieval West Africa.
This time, you are to mainly learn about the important and powerful empire called Mali. Introduction Like Mali rose out of Ghana, an empire called Songhai rise out of Mali. A strong muslim ruler there called Askia the Great, in many ways ruled in Mansa Musa's footsteps. He too, went on a haji, or pilgrimage to Mecca. In this way, he supported his religion, just as Mansa Musa did. Also like Mansa Musa, he supported education. Askia also made the city called Timbuktu prosper again as it had under Mansa Musa's rule; the city was once again known for its schools and mosques. People from all over West Africa went to universities to learn about many subjects. At one university, found out that malaria was spread by mosquitos and were able preform sugery on eyes! In many ways, the great ruler Askia the Great was like the other great ruler; Mansa Musa. Historical Connection The Fall of Mali African Climates Note: A steppe climate is practically the same as a semiarid climate.