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West African Empires - Songhai

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Matthew Oyales

on 21 May 2015

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Transcript of West African Empires - Songhai

The leaders of the Kingdom of Songhai were Mohammed Askia or his birth name, Muḥammad ibn Abī Bakr Ture. The other one was Sonni Ali.

Mohammed Askia contributed by creating a stable government and alliances with its bordering kingdoms.

Sonni Ali followed in his footsteps and created a very prestigious empire. However, his attitude towards other countries and areas caused for many trading issues. This was the reason for non alliances and hatred towards the Songhai Kingdom.
The Leaders of Songhai
Location of Songhai
-The Songhai Empire took over Mali in 1375

-Songhai was the center of Islamic and Arabic teachings and trade

-This very historic trading kingdom ruled until 1591

-Songhai was in present day Mali, Burkina Faso, and parts of Senegal

Time Period and Location
Millet, a staple of the Songhai diet
Since the locals will likely look at you funny if you ask if there's a McDonald's nearby, we would like to guide you through the local cuisine. After all, you can't say you've gone to a place without trying the local food!
A Meal in the Kingdom
West African Empires - Songhai
By the executives of the time traveling vacation company of McFly & Brown:
Nick Cormier, Matthew Oyales, Dylan Pompeo, & Nolan Stephens

Market in Timbuktu
Looking to take back some souvenirs? Then you should be informed of what you need to purchase all your vacation related memorabilia.
Trade In Songhai
Life in the City
Top: Timbuktu, present-day Mali
Bottom: Gao, Songhai capital
Ancient West Africa was actually a very urbanized region with Mali’s Middle Niger region had an indigenous urbanism as dense and expansive as those of Ancient Egypt and Ancient Iraq.
You couldn't possibly visit another empire in another period of time without understanding the culture and customs! Don't panic, we're here to guide you.
Culture & Customs
You look like you could use a vacation...

Thank you for selecting the time traveling vacation company of McFly and Brown for all of your blast in the the past adventures. Before we begin, we have one question: Are you feeling adventurous?

Hopefully you are, as this month's travel package special is a splendid adventure to the West African Songhai Empire in it's capital, Gao, during the 1400's: the "Golden Age" of the empire.* Marvel in the various landscapes from the arid Sahara Desert to the dense forest lands as this trip escorts you throughout the entire empire; a grand feat as this was the largest empire in African history. But before we whisk you away to the past in one of our company's luxurious DeLoreans, here's some information on your destination as follows:
*Please note this vacation package is not recommended for those who don't enjoy deserts, consuming meat derived from rats, or receiving a very nasty sunburn. If any of these apply, we recommend our 1970's Disco Era vacation package instead (afro included).
Your Journey Starts Here
Historical and Geographical Background
Empire Leaders
A Meal in the Kingdom
Life in the City
Culture and Customs
Sonni Ali
-Songhai collapsed due to internal political struggles
Niger River
African Savannah
In order to adapt to the environment the citizens of the Songhai Empire resided in, many traded with others to obtain much needed supplies.
Trade routes to Arabic North Africa in the Sahara helped the empire grow prosperous. The Arabs brought things such as scholarship and Islam to this region.
Items traded between the regions were salt (highly valuable) and gold.
Long distance trading grew as a result of small marketplaces along trade routes that would provide locally procured food and shelter for people taking large treks. These long distance traders usually travel in groups, in what is called a caravan.
Cowrie shells, a common form of currency
Start stuffing shells in your wallet as gold coins were not utilized as a currency. Seashells, primarily cowrie shells as shown below were a widely accepted form of payment.
Cowrie Shell Prices
Sheep: 10-16 cowries
Goat: 8-12 cowries
Chicken: 4-6 cowries
Camel: 30-60 cowries
Boy Slave: 172 cowries
Food selections are localized based off of the local environment.
Millet, as shown to the left is a dietary staple in the Songhai Empire. It can be made into various forms such as a pancake or a paste covered in meatless sauces, which is consumed for every meal. In fact, if you are a guest at a meal, rejecting this paste is impolite!
Dairy Products
Bush Meats (antelope, cane rat, and monkeys)
The Songhai capital of Gao rose to become a wealthy and powerful city as trade helped the empire prosper.
In the 15th and 16th Centuries, Gao became a center for Islamic studies, thanks to the Arabs bring scholarship to the region.
The busy marketplaces, which still exist in cities such as Timbuktu possess goods to be traded from various regions such as gold, salt, ivory, and copper.
Since the Songhai empire was a follower of Islam, mosques made of local materals (mud) were constructed and can still be seen in the present day.
Mud mosque in modern day Mali
While most of the population followed Islam, there were in addition faiths carried on from times before the rise of the African empires.
Songhai observes major Islamic holidays such as Muhammad's birthday, Ramadan, and Eid al-Adha (aka
), where they roast one or two sheep to symbolize Abraham's holy sacrifice of a ram.
When people greet each other, they ask questions regarding a person's health and wish the others peace in the same greeting.
Even with the provision of schools from the Arabs, education in the empire involved learning practical skills for everyday life such as farming, fishing, and hunting.
People of the Songhai Empire enjoy sports such as soccer (as shown above) and horse racing.
Note: Clean drinking water is sparse, so many people in this region drink a weak beer made from millet and honey.
Cowries are imported from the Indian Ocean, which is about 4,000 miles away from the empire. Only perfect shells are accepted as payment. Broken ones are worthless.
Enjoy your Trip!
From the McFly and Brown time traveling vacation company wishing you safe travels!
You're good to go. Hopefully you are anticipating the mud-based architecture, busy markets with lots to offer, and cusine from local sources! Let your sense of adventure guide you through the rest!
Full transcript