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West African Empires-Assessment Activity

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Yi-Ann Li

on 5 November 2014

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Transcript of West African Empires-Assessment Activity

West African Empires
Rise & Power
•Niger River
•Fertile land
•Iron Tools
•Stronger, Longer-lasting
•Neighbors still used wood clubs
•Advance in their time
•Lots of gold
•Needed salt
•Traded with North Africans
•Silent barter
•Controlled gold supply
•Created revenue-> Wealthy rulers

•Gold/Salt Trade
•Silent Barter
•Firm trading empire
•Taxes on traders
•Control over gold supply
•Successful farming led to labor specialization
•Provided tools
Wealth & Culture
•Soninke kings, Sumanguru
•"twin cities" (king/royalty side & traders' side)
•traditional West African
•Gold/Salt -> Extremely wealthy
•Silent Barter
•King's Wealth
•Lots of gold
•Taxes on traders
•Controlled gold supply (so value would not drop)
Rise & Power
• "Sorcerer King" believed to have many magical powers
• Cruel to his people
•Killed 11 of 12 king's sons except for a crippled one called Sundiata
• "Hungering lion" smart and ambitious, taught himself to walk with a cane, the without one
•People saw him as the one who would free them from Sumanguru
•Clashed with Sumanguru in great battle
•Sumanguru disappeared when Sundiata shot him with a magic feather arrow
•Established empire of Mali
Wealth & Culture
•Mansa Musa
•Brother went on journey with fleet of 2,000 ships, never came back
•Pilgrimage (Hajj) to Mecca
•Generous, Handed out lots of gold
•Famous, put Mali on maps
•Mansa Musa brought back many scholars, artists, etc. to Mali with him
•Built great mosques
•Turned Mali into center of learning and scholarship
•Religion (Islam Commitment)
•Conversion to Islam
•Wore clean white shirt every Friday, even the poorest
•Zeal for learning Qur'an by heart
•Qadi chained his children up, will not release them until they learn the Qur'an by heart
•King's Wealth
•Sundiata defeated Sumanguru, expanded empire, restored trade routes
•Kings became wealthy from trading with Egypt, North Africa, southern Europe
Rise & Power
•Sunni Ali Ber
•Mali weakens, Sunni Ali Ber takes over
•Sunni Ali Ber "Ali the Great"
• "tyrant"
•Ali Ber Conquests
•Captured Timbuktu, cruel to captives
•Siege on Djenne, respectful towards conquered people
•After capture of Djenne, Songhai dominated trans-Sahara trading routes
•Eventually became largest of West Africa trade empires

•Sunni Ali Ber
•Good miltary campaign
•Swift horsemen (land)
•War canoe fleets (Niger R.)
•Expanded Songhai along Great Bend
•Askia Muhammad (devout Muslim)
•Great pilgrimage (similar to Mansa Musa)
•Empire Expansion
•Attack on Mossi people
•Valiant effort
•Not much land gained in Mossi attack
•Islam judges, laws
•Arabic--common language
•donate money/gifts to support Islamic studies

•Niger River
•Fertile land for farming
•Water Supply
•Transportation by boat
•Gold, diamonds, copper, and iron
•traded for salt

By: Emily Tme & Yi-Ann Li
•Plants in environment
•Fertile land
Wealth & Culture
•The Beginning
•Sundiata's big triumph
•National hero of Mali
•Mali's Fame
•Known for its enormous amount of gold (Mansa Musa)
•Mali was put on maps
•Became a center of learning
•Gold-producing regions
•Restored trade routes
•Gold, iron, diamond, and copper
•Mansa Musa handed out large amounts of gold (generosity)
•Trade (had gold, needed salt)
•Niger River
•Fertile land
•Sundiata encouraged farming
•Good for fishing
•Transportation by boat
•Islam--not so important under Sunni Ali Ber, but strengthened by Askia Muhammad
•Capital: Gao
•Nile River provided fertile farming land, fishing (like the other empires)
•Sunnia Ali Ber
•Military campaign
•Timbuktu-cruel to captives
•Siege of Djenne--held out for 7 years, 7 months, 7 days; respectful of captives
•Conquered trans-Sahara trading routes
•Became largest of West Africa's trading empires
•Askia Muhammad
•Hajj--took lots of gold and gave much away (like Mansa Musa)
•Attack on Mossi
•Valiant effort, but did not gain much land
•Law/Scholarship (Askia Muhammad)
•Islamic judges
•Laws based on Qur'an
•Donated money and gifts to suport Islamic studies
•Arabic became a common language among business as well
•Finally able to keep written records
•King's Wealth
•Sunni Ali Ber became wealthy from military conquest and the expansion of Songhai's land
•Askia Muhammad became wealthy through establishing firm Islamic laws and turning Timbuktu (Songhai) into a center of scholarship
•Both grew rich from the gold/salt trade, since there was plenty of gold in West Africa

Ghana was the earliest West African Empire of all three empires. The tribe of Africans who would soon form the Ghana empire, the Soninke, developed ironworking technology which gave them an advantage in weaponry over their neighbors. As iron tools made work and agriculture easier for people, not everyone in Ghana had to work at growing food--people could specialize in other kinds of jobs. This led to the beginning of labor specialization. Different clans worked and specialized in certain crafts or trade. Ghana also had a mineral that many North Africans wanted--gold. At the same time, Ghana desperately lacked and needed salt--something the North Africans did have. This began silent barter of the trans-Saharan trade. As the demand for gold grew and grew, the kings of Ghana grew rich from revenue--taxes on traders and the kings' control of the gold supply. Rulers knew if gold was too available, its value would drop; so only rulers were allowed to own nuggest and chunks of gold. This kept the price and value of gold high, which maintained Ghana's great wealth. Then, in 1050, a group of Muslims called Almoravids attacked all non-Muslims, including Ghana. The leaders of Ghana converted to Islam, but the empire never recovered its prosperity.
Songhai was the last of the three trading empires. As Mali weakened, Sunni Ali Ber took over the empire and named it Songhai. Sunni Ali Ber was a great military leader. He expanded the empire to Timbuktu, where he ruled harshly. His cruel leadership led to people calling him a tyrant. He also conquered Djenné after they held together from a siege for 7 years, 7 months, and 7 days. Oddly, he treated these people with great respect. With the capture of Djenné, Songhai dominated the trans-Saharan trading routes, and eventually became the largest of West Africa's trading empires. Later, a devout Muslim named Askia Muhammad took over Songhai. Askia Muhammad was more of a culture-based ruler. He, like Mansa Musa, went on a grand hajj where he handed out lots of gold. When he returned, Askia Muhammad launched an attack on the Mossi people, in an effort to expand Songhai's borders. However, the attack for the most part had failed, and Songhai did not gain much land from this attack. Askia Muhammad appointed Islamic judges to enforce laws based on the Qur'an. He also donated money and gifts to support Islamic scholarship. With Askia Muhammad's help, Timbuktu once again became a leading center of Islamic learning. Arabic eventually became a common language used in both business and religion. It also provided a common language among traders, and for once, West Africa had a way of keeping written records. In 1591, soldiers from Morocco invaded Songhai. The soldiers had a key weapon that Songhai lacked--guns--which led to the downfal of the third West African trading empire of Songhai.

After Ghana weakened, a leader named Sumanguru took over the leftovers of Ghana. He was called the "Sorcerer King" because he was said to have magical powers. Sumaguru was cruel to his subjects and people. He killed anyone who challenged his authority. After he conquered the Malinke people, Sumanguru killed all the king's sons (12) except for one--the youngest and crippled one, called Sundiata. As Sundiata grew up, he became very smart and ambitious. His name means "hungering lion." Many people believed Sundiata would be the person who would free them from the evil Sumanguru. In 1235, Sundiata and Sumanguru clashed in battle. Stories say that when Sundiata shot Sumanguru with a magic feathered arrow, Sumanguru disappeared! Sumanguru's defeat and Sundiata's victory marked the beginning of an empire called Mali. Sundiata reconquered all the gold producing regions and restored all the trade routes. He also encouraged farming. Sundiata became known as Mali's national hero. Another ruler, Mali's most famous Muslim king, was called Mansa Musa. In 1324, Mansa Musa made his pilgrimage to Mecca very royally. He travelled with 80 camels carrying bags of gold, and gave much of it away. This brought much fame to Mansa Musa and Mali. When he returned from his hajj, Mansa Musa brought back many Islam scholars and artisans with him to enhance Islam culture in Mali. During Mansa Musa's rule, Timbuktu became established as an Islamic center of scholarship and he expanded Mali territories north and west. One Moroccan diplomat, named Ibn Battuta, described Mali as peaceful and devout Muslim country when he visited. He recorded that the people of Mali were very committed to Islam.
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