West Africa Compare And Contrast Essay

947 Words4 Pages
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 wide ranging trade contacts with the non-African Muslim world as well as North Africa (“Pre-colonial African Religion”). On the other hand, Europe was the only society with Catholicism and Protestantism as its major religions after the Protestant Reformation. In other words, Europe was strictly monotheistic whereas West Africa combined Islam and traditional religions based on…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
Open Document