These stateless societies had a legitimate, informal government but, had no official bureaucratic system. During the early Post-Classical era, Ghana played an important part in West African society because even though they had limited connections to outside kingdoms, they still traded with neighboring societies. Gold and salt were two of the major commodities that helped grow these small stateless societies into large and prospering empires. With trade increasing throughout the Saharan, the amount of gold and salt that was able to reach this region was able to increase, which allowed for both the resources and the incentive to build a larger empire. Between the years 700-1450 CE, elaborate court life, degrees of admission and military forces were created as a result of the increased trade through the Saharan.
Did you know that Mansa Musa, the emperor of Mali may have been the wealthiest man alive? The Empire of Mali was a place of great cultural exchange where ideas and cultures were spread from person to person. How Mali became this way was because of their main natural resource which was gold. People came from places like North and West Africa because Mali was said to be a place of gold, and everyone wanted gold for themselves. It also became a place of lots of cultures because of people called Berbers who went to Mali to trade salt for gold.
However, European states are largely blamed for the slave trade, because of the large implications it had on Africa. African kingdoms were exploited for slaves in return for weapons, gunpowder and gold, which doesn’t compare to the millions of people that have been forcibly relocated to work as slaves. In the BBC News article by Will Ross, it is stated that “There has also been an impact on African culture”. With the loss of millions of people, African states had slowly lost their ability to gain economic, social and cultural independence, because as soon as slavery was abolished, European states immediately returned to colonise most of the continent. Ghana is a prime example of a country that had to deal with the burden of the slave trade where “the scene in many rural areas appears to have changed little with grass thatched mud-walled huts”, this is inadvertently caused by the transatlantic slave trade.
Did you know that West Africa used to be home to one of the most powerful empires in the 14th century? This empire was known as the empire of Mali, which lasted from 1230 to 1670. Mali’s power in the world led it to become a site of cultural exchange. Mali’s exchanges truly took off because Mali’s wealth from gold and salt, Mali had inventions that no other country had, and Mali’s education was very advanced in the 14th century. The very first reason why Mali’s cultural exchanges erupted was because of the wealth Mali got from trading gold and salt.
The Early African Kingdoms of Ghana, Mali, and Songhai were established sufficiently and later met their demise. The Early African Kingdoms were able to progress in economy and political structure by the actions of their leaders, location, religious influences, and geographical features. Religion influenced the African economy, political structure, and cultural practices. All Early African Kingdoms took advantage of the gold and salt trade and used it to hike in power. Sundiata Keita, Mansa Musa, Sunni Ali, and Askia the Great abetted their kingdoms, economy, and society.
The Ghana were able to control the route and tax people as they passed, allowing them to build up a revenue. The Ghana were often referred to as the “Land of Gold” since being extremely wealthy. The exchange of gold nuggets for protection allowed the trade of gold dust to arise since the gold nuggets themselves would be in the kingdom with the king. The Mali Empire had gold and salt mines within their empire as well, allowing them to trade with other civilizations. Gold in the empire was seen as a trade item and a source of currency, and much like the Ghana only gold dust was used in trade as the nuggets themselves would be placed in the kingdom.
Mali was a western African empire that began around 1,235 C.E. The empire was well known for trading gold and has so much of it that people called it the land of gold. Their whole city was mainly in the scorching hot desert which sometimes made it difficult to trade with others. The route they used was very dangerous with bandits and sand storms. They had to travel on camels because they carry very heavy loads and could last a long time without water.
The difference between the trade systems, however, were the way the goods were traded. Along the Indian Ocean, ships were used to carry bulk goods as well as luxury goods along a more relay-based route. Along the Trans-Saharan route, traders used camel caravans to carry mostly luxury goods to their trading destination. There were not many cities along the Trans-Saharan, so they never really did the relay-style trading.
One of the main themes of Worlds Together Worlds Apart is no matter what culture a group of people is a part of each community has the goal of expanding their wealth through trade. This desire for wealth and exotic goods has led multiple civilizations to carry out atrocities against other people just to satisfy their lust for riches. One of the most common ways dominant civilizations would oppress the unfortunate was through slavery. As populations grew from the late sixteenth to the nineteenth century demand for more goods increased which meant there needed to be more cheap labor. This cheap labor was found in Africa and resulted in the transportation of around 12 million Africans from their home land to the Americas.
The Portuguese found the west African coast which helped produce better tide calendars and books or maps for sailing directions. As people wanted to sail to find new lands, they developed a new boat early in the 1400s, it was a 65-foot ship, it could easily be maneuvered (pg. 443). Christopher Columbus was inspired by the Portuguese and is known for opening an entirely different area of land. As other countries in Europe began to explore new lands, slavery began to become more popular. The selling of slaves brought money to the traders or families who might need money (pg. 444).
One way to recognize a thriving kingdom is to look at its trade and economy. Africa’s empires had a trade system that allowed their economy to flourish. “Ancient Ghana was an extremely complex empire. It possessed many of the characteristics of powerful nations today...wealth based off trade” (Document 3). The trade system relied on key trading centers, such as Aksum (present-day Ethiopia), “Aksum reached its height between 325 and 360” (Doc 1).
In 1441, Prince Henry, who was Portuguese, ordered an expedition to Africa. The expedition was to simply explore the continent. Its intentions were not to necessarily harm its people. However, by 1444, 235 Africans had been brought back to Portugal.1 They were used as slaves. Soon enough, the Portuguese realized they could buy and trade for slaves, instead of capturing them.
Consequently, coastal towns became wealthy from their control of certain parts of the network allowed them to tax merchants for sailing there and from the various goods entering the growing market. Additionally, the Delphi Sultanate controlled a trade network linking together India, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and China, where different goods like spices entered the economy (OI). As a result, people’s cultures changed as new goods that entered empires
Africa is known as the origin of the human race. Since that is the case, Africa has had the most opportunities to impress the modern world. Africa has done just that. Africa had three major kingdoms, each of which were major successes. Throughout history, Africa’s kingdoms have utilized their natural resources to become some of the most prosperous kingdoms the world has ever seen.
The African Kingdoms had many achievements before the Europeans arrived around 1500. The three major kingdoms were Ghana, Mali, and Songhai. These kingdoms focused mainly on trading with surrounding kingdoms, and because of this they were considered very successful. Many therefore call the consider the achievements of the African Trading Kingdoms to be a major success. Some major achievements of these kingdoms are forming a trading web, creating an advanced economical and social structure, and forming a way of communication with other groups that speak other languages.