West Africa Similarities

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The societies of West Africa, Europe, and North America exhibited similarities and differences in their religious beliefs, values, and government systems. These contrasts and similarities were further made apparent during European expansion across the Atlantic and the subsequent new cross cultural interactions that were created. One way in which the societies of West Africa, Europe, and North America diverged was in their belief systems. Unlike Europe and North America, West Africa gradually adopted Islam in addition to its traditional religions. Islam diffused through the trans-Saharan trade with North Africa and by the 1200’s was assimilated into the Mali and Songhai Empire. The major benefit of taking up Islam was that it allowed for more…show more content…
For instance, North America and West Africa shared some of their traditional religious beliefs. These beliefs included spirits inhabiting the natural world and a single creator god. The belief in spirits, or polytheism, and a supreme creator god would fuel cultural conflicts with monotheistic traditions like Christianity and Islam. Although it has to be noted that that North American religion did not only believe in spirits and a creator god but that the religions also reflected the tribe’s lifestyle and priorities. For example, the Green Corn Ritual practiced along the Mississippi reflected the agricultural societies present. Leaders claiming authority from God or religion is another common theme in European, North American, and West African society. In Europe the Crusades shifted the power dynamics away from the papacy paving the way for absolute monarchy in England, France, and Spain. Absolute monarchy centered on the premise that the ruler was granted a divine right to rule (“1450-1750 Absolute Monarchy”). Similarly, West African leaders, like the ruler of the Ife kingdom, claimed descent from…show more content…
Both Europe and West Africa followed a system of centralized rule. In West Africa the kingdoms of Mali, Songhai, and Kongo had centralized governments capable of collecting taxes, regulating commerce, and mobilizing armies. For instance, the kingdom of Kongo consisted of smaller kingdoms that were ruled by the Manikongo. In Europe, absolute monarchs held power over provinces. In North America, on the other hand, chiefdoms became more prevalent during the Mississippi tradition. Chiefdoms are characterized by hereditary rule and people are ranked according to the family they belong to. Alternatively, North America also had tribal societies that were governed by consensus and tribal councils during the Woodland
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