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CHAPTER 15 - Societies and Empires of Africa (800-1500) - World History: Patterns of Interaction (Atlas by Rand McNally 2009)

CHAPTER 15 - Societies and Empires of Africa (800-1500) - World History: Patterns of Interaction (Atlas by Rand McNally 2009)

CHAPTER 15.1: North and Central African Societies

  • Hunting-gathering societies began in Africa and still exist today
  • The Efe are one of several hunting-gathering societies in Africa
    • They live in the Ituri Forest in the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) 
    • Modern-day Efe live in small groups between 10-100 members, all of whom are related 
    • Each family occupies its own grass/brush shelter within a camp but their homes are rarely permanent 
    • The Efe collect few possessions and move to new camps as they use up the resources in the surrounding area
    • Women are gatherers and walk through the forest to forage roots, yams, mushrooms, and wild seeds
    • Efe men/older boys do the hunting
    • They add to their diet by trading honey, wild game, and other forest products for crops grown by farmers in nearby villages
  • A respected older male serves as group leader
    • Although members of the group listen to/value the man's opinion, he doesn't give orders or act as chief
  • Each family makes its own decisions/is free to come and go
  • Group members settle arguments through long discussions
    • If they can't be settled by talking, a group member may decide to move to a different hunting band
  • Daily Efe life is not governed by formal written laws
  • Family organization is central to African society
  • In many African families, families are organized in lineages, in which members believe that they are descendants of a common ancestor 
    • Besides its living members, a lineage includes past generations (spirits of ancestors) and future generations (unborn children)
    • Members feel strong loyalty to one another
  • South of the Sahara, many African groups developed systems of governing based on lineages
  • In some African societies, lineage groups took place of rulers
    • These societies became known as stateless societies and did not have a centralized system of power
    • Instead, authority was balanced among lineages of equal power so that no one family had too much control 
  • The Igbo people (also called Ibo) of southern Nigeria lived in a stateless society as early as the 9th century 
  • When a dispute arose within an Igbo village, respected elders from different lineages settled the problem
  • Igbos later encountered challenges from 19th-century European colonizers who expected one single leader to rule over society
  •  The way an African society traces lineage determines how possessions and property are passed on and what groups individuals belong to
  • Members of a patrilineal society trace their ancestors through their fathers; inheritance passes from father to son
    • When a son marries, he, his wife, and children remain part of his father's extended family
  • In matrilineal societies, children trace their ancestors through their mothers
    • Young men from a matrilineal culture inherit land and wealth from their mother's family
    • Even in matrilineal societies, men usually hold positions of authority 
  • In many African societies, young people form close ties to individuals outside their lineage through the age-set system
    • An age-set system consists of young people within a region who are born during a certain time period
    • Each age set passes together through clearly identified life stages, such as warrior or elder
    • Ceremonies mark the passage to each new stage
    • Men/women have different life stages, with each stage having its own duties/importance
  • Societies like the Igbo use this system to teach discipline, community, service, and leadership skills to the young
  • Islam played a vital role in North Africa
  • Muslims swept across the northwest part of the continent after Muhammad died in 632
  • Many were converted by both sword and through pacifist means
  • By 670, Muslims ruled Egypt and entered the Maghrib, the part of North Africa that is today the Mediterranean coast of Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco
  • Some African rulers converted to Islam and then based their government on Islamic law
  • Muslims believe that God’s law is a higher authority than any human law, which resulted in Muslim rulers often relying on religious scholars as government advisers
  • Following the law is a religious obligation in Islam, there is no separation from personal and religious life
    • Islamic law regulates almost all areas of human life 
  • Islamic law helped bring order to Muslim states
  • Various Muslim states had ethnic/cultural differences
    • These states also sometimes had differing interpretations and schools of Islamic law
  • Berbers also converted to Islam
    • They were original inhabitants of North Africa
    • Berbers accepted Islam as their faith, but many maintained their Berber identities/loyalties
  • Two Berber groups: the Almoravids/Almohads, founded empires that united the Maghrib under Muslim rule 
  • 11th century: Muslim reformers founded the Almoravid Empire
    • The members came from a Berber group living in the western Sahara in present-day Mauritania
    • The movement began after Berber muslims made a hajj (pilgrimage) to Mecca
    • They convinced a Muslim scholar from Morocco (Abd Allah Ibn Yasin) to return with them to teach their people about Islam
  • Ibn Yasin's teachings attracted followers and he founded a strict religious brotherhood (the Almoravids) 
  • 1050s: Ibn Yasin led the Almoravids in an effort to spread Islam through conquest
  • 1059: Ibn Yasin dies
    • The Almoravids went on to take Morocco and found Marrakech, which became their capital
    • They overran Ghana by 1076 and also captured parts of southern Spain, where they were called Moors
  • Mid-1100s: the Almohads, another group of Berber Muslim reformers, seized power from the Almoravids
    • They began as a religious movement in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco 
  • The Almohads followed the teachings of Ibn Tumart
  • After a pilgrimage to Mecca, Ibn Tumart criticized later Almoravid rulers for straying from the traditional practice of Islam
  • He urged his followers to strictly obey the Qur'an/Islamic law
  • The Almohads, led by Abd al-Mumin, fought to overthrow the Almoravids and remain true to their view of traditional Islamic beliefs
  • By 1148, the Almohads controlled most of Morocco and ended Almoravid rule
  • They kept the capital at Marrakech
  • By the end of the 12th century, they conquered much of southern Spain
  • In Africa, their territory stretched from Marrakech to Tripoli and Tunis on the Mediterranean
  • The Almohad Empire broke up into individual Muslim dynasties 
  • The Almohad Empire united Maghrib under one rule for the first time even though it only lasted just over 100 years


CHAPTER 15.2: West African Civilizations

  • By 200 AD, trade across the Sahara existed for centuries but was infrequent/irregular because of harsh desert conditions
  • Most pack animals couldn't travel very far in in the Sahara without rest or water
  • 3rd century AD: Berber nomads began using camels
    • Camels could steadily travel much longer distances (60 miles in a day)
    • They could also travel more than ten days without water, which is twice as long as most pack animals 
  • The introduction of the camel allowed for nomads to travel new desert routes and increase trade
  • Trade routes crossed through the region farmed by the Soninke people
    • They called their ruled ghana or war chief
  • By the 700s, Ghana was a kingdom and its rulers were growing rich by taxing goods that traders carried through their territory
  • The two most important trade items were gold and salt
    • Gold came from a forest region south of the savanna between the Niger and Senegal rivers
    • Some sources estimate that until about 1350, at least 2/3 of the world’s supply of gold came from West Africa
  • Even though West Africa was rich in gold, their forests and savanna lacked salt
    • The Sahara contained salt deposits
  • Arab and Berber traders crossed the desert with camel caravans loaded down with salt 
    • They also carried cloth, weapons, and manufactured goods from ports on the Mediterranean
  • African traders brought gold north from the forest regions
  • Merchants met in trading cities and exchanged goods under the supervision of the king's tax collector
  • Royal officials also made sure that all traders weighed goods fairly and did business according to law
  • Royal guards also provided protection against bandits
  • By 800, Ghana became an empire
  • Because Ghana’s king controlled trade and commanded a large army, he could demand taxes and gifts from the chiefs of surrounding lands
  • As long as chiefs made their payments, the king left them alone to rule their own people 
  • The king stored gold nuggets and slabs of salt (collected as taxes) in his royal palace
    • Only the king had the right to own gold nuggets, although gold dust freely circulated in the marketplace
    • The king limited the supply of gold and kept its price from falling
  • Ghana’s African ruler acted as a religious leader, chief judge, and military commander 
    • He headed a large bureaucracy and could call up a huge army
  • Islam spread through North Africa by conquest and South Africa by trade
  • Muslim merchants/teachers settled in the states south of the Sahara and introduced their faiths
  • Ghana's rulers eventually converted to Islam
  • By the end of the 11th century, Muslim advisers were helping to run the kingdom
  • While Ghana’s African rulers accepted Islam, many people in the empire clung to their animistic beliefs and practices 
    • Animism = the belief that spirits living animals, plants, and natural forces play an important role in daily life
    • Much of the population never converted
    • Those who converted kept many of their former beliefs which they observed along with Islam
  • In the upper-class, Islam's growth encouraged literacy
  • Converts to Islam had to learn Arabic to study the Qur'an
  • 1067: Muslim Almoravids of North Africa completed their conquest of Ghana 
  • The Almoravids eventually withdrew from Ghana, but the war badly disrupted the gold-salt trade
  • Ghana never regained its power as a result
  • By 1235, the kingdom of Mali emerged
    • Its founders were Mande-speaking people, who lived south of Ghana 
  • Mali's wealth was also built on gold 
  • As Ghana remained weak, people who had been under its control began to act independently
  • Miners also found new gold deposits farther east, which led the most important trade routes to shift eastward
    • This made the people of Mali wealthy and enabled them to seize power
  • Sundiata, Mali's first great leader came to power by crushing a cruel/unpopular leader
    • Sundiata became Mali's mansa or emperor
  • Through a series of military victories, he took over the kingdom of Ghana/the trading cities of Kumbi/Walata
  •  Sundiata put able administrators in charge of Mali's finances, defense, and foreign affairs
  • He also promoted agriculture/re-established the gold-salt trade through his capital at Niani
    • Niani became an important center of commerce and trade
  • 1255: Sundiata dies
  • Some of Mali’s next rulers became Muslims 
    • They built mosques, attended public prayers, and supported the preaching of Muslim holy men
  • The most famous of them is Mansa Musa (r. 1312-1332)
  • Mali experienced turmoil between Sundiata and Mansa Musa's reign
  • There were 7 different rulers in roughly 50 years
  • Mansa Musa was also a skilled military leader who exercised royal control over the gold-salt trad/squashed every rebellion
  • Under Mansa Musa, the empire expanded to roughly twice the size of the empire of Ghana
  • Mansa Musa divided it into provinces and appointed governors to govern his far-reaching empire
  • Mansa Musa was a devout Muslim and went on a hajj to Mecca (1324-1325)
  • When he returned, he ordered the building of new mosques at the trading cities of Timbuktu/Gao
  • Timbuktu became one of the most important cities of the empire
    • It attracted Muslim judges, doctors, religious leaders, and scholars from far and wide 
      • They attended Timbuktu's mosques/universities
  • 1352: One of Mansa Musa’s successors prepared to receive a traveler and historian (Ibn Battuta)
    • Ibn Battuta had traveled for 27 years, visiting most of the countries in the Islamic world
  • Ibn Battuta visited Timbuktu and other cities in Mali after leaving the royal palace
    • As a devout Muslim, he praised the people for their study of the Qur’an but criticized them for not strictly practicing Islam's moral code
    • Mali's justice system greatly impressed him
  • 1353: Ibn Battuta left Mali
  • Within 50 years, the empire began to weaken  
  • Most of Mansa Musa’s successors lacked his ability to govern well
  • The gold trade shifted eastward as new goldfields were developed elsewhere
  • As Mali declined in the 1400s, people who had been under its control began to break away 
  • This included the Songhai people to the east
    • They built up an army/extended their territory to the large bend in the Niger River near Gao (their capital)
    •  They gained control of the all-important trade routes
  • The Songhai had 2 rulers, both of whom were Muslims:
    • One of them was Sunni Ali, who built a vast empire by military conquest
      • His rule began in 1464 and lasted nearly 30 years
      • He built a professional army that had a riverboat fleet of war canoes and a mobile fighting force on horseback
      • He expanded Songhai into an empire through his skill as a military commander/aggressive leadership
      • 1468: Sunni Ali achieved his 1st major military triumph by capturing Timbuktu
      • 5 years later, he took Djenne, a trade city that had a university 
      • He surrounded the city with his army 7 years before it fell in 1473 
      • Sunni Ali completed the takeover of Djenne by marrying its queen
    • Sunni Ali dies in 1492, his son succeeded him as ruler
      • Almost at once, the son faced a major revolt by Muslims who were angry that he did not practice their religion faithfully
        • The leader of the revolt was a devout Muslim (Askia Muhammad)
        • He drove Sunni Ali's son from power and replaced him
    • Aska Muhammad set up an efficient tax system/chose able officials
    • He appointed officials to serve as ministers of the treasury, army, navy, and agriculture
    • The well-governed empire thrived under his rule
  • The Songhai Empire lacked modern weapons
  • The Chinese invented gunpowder in the 9th century
  • Around 1304, Arabs developed the first gun, which shot arrows 
  • 1591: a Moroccan fighting force of several thousand men equipped w/ gunpowder/cannons crossed the Sahara/invaded and defeated Songhai warriors that were only armed with swords/spears
  • The collapse of the Songhai empire ended a 1,000 year period in which powerful kingdoms/empires ruled the central region of West Africa
  • City-states developed in other parts of West Africa
  • Muslim traditions influenced some of these city-states while others held to their traditional African beliefs
  • The Hausa were a group of people named after the language they spoke. 
    • They first emerged b/t the years 1000-1200 in the savanna area east of Mali/Songhai in present-day northern Nigeria
  • Songhai briefly ruled the Hausa city-states, but they soon regained their independence
  • In city-states such as Kano, Katsina, and Zazzau, local rulers built walled cities for their capitals
    • Hausa rulers governed the farming villages outside the city walls from their capitals
  • Each ruler depended on the crops of the farmers and on a thriving trade in salt, grain, and cotton cloth made by urban weavers
  • Because they were located on trade routes that linked other West African states with the Mediterranean, Kano and Katsina became major trading states
    • They profited greatly from supplying the needs of caravans 
  • Zazzau, the southernmost state, conducted a vigorous trade in enslaved persons
    • Zazzau’s traders raided an area south of the city/sold their captives to traders in other Hausa states, who then sold them to other North or West African societies in exchange for horses, harnesses, and guns
  • The Hausa kept some slaves to build and repair city walls and grow food for the cities
  • All the Hausa city-states had similar forms of government
    • Rulers held great power over their subjects, but ministers and other officials acted to check this power
    • For protection, each city-state raised an army of mounted horsemen
    • Although rulers often schemed/fought to gain control over their neighbors, none succeeded for long
    • The constant fighting among city-states prevented any one of them from building a Hausa empire  
  • The Yoruba also all spoke a common language
    • Originally the Yoruba-speaking people belonged to a number of small city-states in the forests in present-day Benin and southwestern Nigeria
  • Most people farmed
  • Over time, some of these smaller communities joined together under strong leaders, leading to the creation of several Yoruba kingdoms
  • Yoruba kings were considered divine and served as the most important religious/political leaders in their kingdoms
  • All Yoruba chiefs traced their descent from the first ruler of Ife
    • According to legend, the creator sent this first ruler down to earth at Ife, where he founded the first Yoruba state
  • All Yoruba chiefs regarded the king of Ife as their highest spiritual authority
  • A secret society of religious and political leaders limited the king’s rule by reviewing the decisions he made
  • Ife and Oyo were the two largest Yoruba kingdoms
  • Ife was developed by 1100 and was the most powerful Yoruba kingdom until the late 1600s, when Oyo became more prosperous
  • Both Ife and Oyo had high walls surrounding them 
  • Most rural farms in the surrounding areas produced surplus food, which was sent to cities
    • This enabled city dwellers to become traders/craftspeople
  • According to tradition, Benin artists learned their craft from an Ife artist brought to Benin by the oba to teach them
  • 1480s: Portuguese trading ships began to sail into Benin’s port at Gwatto 
  • The Portuguese traded with Benin merchants for pepper, leopard skins, ivory, and enslaved persons
  • This began several centuries of European interference in Africa, during which they enslaved Africans and seized African territories for colonies 


CHAPTER 15.3: The Eastern City-States and Southern Empires

  • Villages along the east coast began to develop into important trade cities
  • By 1100, many Bantu-speaking people had migrated across central Africa to the east coast
  • They established farming/fishing villages
  • The existing coastal villages gradually grew into bustling seaports built on trade b/t East African merchants and traders from Arabia, Persia, and India
  • As trade increased, many Muslim Arab/Persian traders settled in the port cities.
  • Arabic blended with the Bantu language to create the Swahili language
  • Persian traders moved south from the Horn of Africa
  • They brought Asian manufactured goods to Africa/African raw materials to Asia  
  • In the coastal markets, Arab traders sold porcelain bowls from China and jewels/cotton cloth from India
  •  They bought African ivory, gold, tortoiseshell, ambergris, leopard skins, and rhinoceros horns to carry to Arabia
  • By 1300, more than 35 trading cities were created along the coast from Mogadishu in the north to Kilwa/Sofala in the south
    • They grew wealthy by controlling all incoming/outgoing trade
    • Some cities also manufactured trade goods
  • 1331: Ibn Battuta visited Kilwa
    • Rich families lived in fine houses of coral and stone
    • They slept in beds inlaid with ivory and their meals were served on porcelain
    • Wealthy Muslim women wore silk robes and gold and silver bracelets 
    • Kilwa grew rich because it was as far south on the coast as a ship from India could sail in one monsoon season
      • Trade goods from southerly regions had to funnel into Kilwa so Asian merchants could buy them
  • In the late 1200s, Kilwa seized the port of Sofala (a trading center for gold mined inland)
    • Controlling Sofala allowed Kilwa to be able to control overseas trade of gold from southern Africa
    • Kilwa became the wealthiest, most powerful coastal state
  • 1488: the first Portuguese ships rounded the southern tip of Africa/sailed north, looking for a sea route to India 
    • They wanted to gain profits from the Asian trade in spices, perfumes, and silks
    • When the Portuguese saw the wealth of the East African city-states, they decided to conquer them and take over trade themselves
  • Using their shipboard cannon, the Portuguese took Sofala, Kilwa, and Mombasa
  • The Portuguese kept their ports and cities on the East African coast for the next two centuries
  • Muslim traders introduced Islam to the East African coast/the growth of commerce caused the religion to spread 
  • A Muslim sultan, or ruler, governed most cities
    • Most government officials and wealthy merchants were Muslims
    • However, the vast majority of people along the East African coast held on to their traditional religious beliefs, which also applied to those who lived in inland villages
  • Arab Muslim traders exported enslaved people from the East African coast
  • Traders sent Africans acquired through kidnapping to markets in Arabia, Persia, and Iraq 
    • Wealthy people often bought slaves to do domestic tasks
  • Muslim traders shipped enslaved Africans across the Indian Ocean to India, where Indian rulers employed them as soldiers
  • Enslaved Africans also worked on docks and ships at Muslim-controlled ports and as household servants in China
  • Even though Muslim traders enslaved East Africans/sold them overseas since the 9th century, the numbers remained small and did not increase dramatically until the 1700s
  • Gold/ivory that helped the coastal city-states grow wealthy came from the interior of southern Africa
  • The Shona people established Great Zimbabwe in southeastern Africa
  • By 1000, the Shona people settled between the Zambezi/Limpopo rivers in modern Zimbabwe
  • The area was well suited to farming/cattle raising
  • Its location had economic advantages 
    •  Great Zimbabwe stood near an important trade route linking the goldfields w/ the coastal trading city of Sofala
    • Great Zimbabwe gained control of these trade routes sometime after 1000
  • 1200s-1400s: It became the capital of a thriving state
  • Its leaders taxed the traders who traveled these routes/demanded payments from less powerful chiefs
  •  Great Zimbabwe became the economic, political, and religious center of its empire
  • By 1450, Great Zimbabwe was mysteriously abandoned
    • One theory suggests that cattle grazing had worn out the grasslands/farming worn out the soil/people used up the salt & timber, which meant that it couldn't support a large population
  • Almost everything that is known about Great Zimbabwe comes from its impressive ruins
  • According to Shona oral tradition, a man named Mutota left Great Zimbabwe about 1420 to find a new source of salt
    • He founded a new state to replace Great Zimbabwe  
  • As the state grew, its leader Mutota used his army to dominate the northern Shona people living in the area/forced them to make payments to support him/his army
  • These conquered people called Mutota and his successors mwene mutapa, meaning “conqueror” or “master pillager”
  •  The Portuguese who arrived on the East African coast in the early 1500s believed mwene mutapto be a title of respect for the ruler
    • The term is also the origin of the name of the Mutapa Empire  
  • By the time of Mutota’s death, the Mutapa Empire had conquered all of what is now Zimbabwe except the eastern portion
  • By 1480 Mutota’s son Matope claimed control of the area along the Zambezi River to the Indian Ocean coast
  • The Mutapa Empire was able to mine gold deposited in nearby rivers/streams
  •  Mutapa rulers forced people in conquered areas to mine gold for them
  • The rulers sent gold to the coastal city-states in exchange for luxuries  
  • Even before the death of Matope, the southern part of his empire broke away, but the Mutapa Dynasty remained in control of the smaller empire
  • In the 1500s, the Portuguese tried to conquer the empire
    • When they failed to do so, they resorted to interfering in Mutapa politics
    • They helped to overthrow one ruler and replace him with one they could control  
D

CHAPTER 15 - Societies and Empires of Africa (800-1500) - World History: Patterns of Interaction (Atlas by Rand McNally 2009)

CHAPTER 15 - Societies and Empires of Africa (800-1500) - World History: Patterns of Interaction (Atlas by Rand McNally 2009)

CHAPTER 15.1: North and Central African Societies

  • Hunting-gathering societies began in Africa and still exist today
  • The Efe are one of several hunting-gathering societies in Africa
    • They live in the Ituri Forest in the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) 
    • Modern-day Efe live in small groups between 10-100 members, all of whom are related 
    • Each family occupies its own grass/brush shelter within a camp but their homes are rarely permanent 
    • The Efe collect few possessions and move to new camps as they use up the resources in the surrounding area
    • Women are gatherers and walk through the forest to forage roots, yams, mushrooms, and wild seeds
    • Efe men/older boys do the hunting
    • They add to their diet by trading honey, wild game, and other forest products for crops grown by farmers in nearby villages
  • A respected older male serves as group leader
    • Although members of the group listen to/value the man's opinion, he doesn't give orders or act as chief
  • Each family makes its own decisions/is free to come and go
  • Group members settle arguments through long discussions
    • If they can't be settled by talking, a group member may decide to move to a different hunting band
  • Daily Efe life is not governed by formal written laws
  • Family organization is central to African society
  • In many African families, families are organized in lineages, in which members believe that they are descendants of a common ancestor 
    • Besides its living members, a lineage includes past generations (spirits of ancestors) and future generations (unborn children)
    • Members feel strong loyalty to one another
  • South of the Sahara, many African groups developed systems of governing based on lineages
  • In some African societies, lineage groups took place of rulers
    • These societies became known as stateless societies and did not have a centralized system of power
    • Instead, authority was balanced among lineages of equal power so that no one family had too much control 
  • The Igbo people (also called Ibo) of southern Nigeria lived in a stateless society as early as the 9th century 
  • When a dispute arose within an Igbo village, respected elders from different lineages settled the problem
  • Igbos later encountered challenges from 19th-century European colonizers who expected one single leader to rule over society
  •  The way an African society traces lineage determines how possessions and property are passed on and what groups individuals belong to
  • Members of a patrilineal society trace their ancestors through their fathers; inheritance passes from father to son
    • When a son marries, he, his wife, and children remain part of his father's extended family
  • In matrilineal societies, children trace their ancestors through their mothers
    • Young men from a matrilineal culture inherit land and wealth from their mother's family
    • Even in matrilineal societies, men usually hold positions of authority 
  • In many African societies, young people form close ties to individuals outside their lineage through the age-set system
    • An age-set system consists of young people within a region who are born during a certain time period
    • Each age set passes together through clearly identified life stages, such as warrior or elder
    • Ceremonies mark the passage to each new stage
    • Men/women have different life stages, with each stage having its own duties/importance
  • Societies like the Igbo use this system to teach discipline, community, service, and leadership skills to the young
  • Islam played a vital role in North Africa
  • Muslims swept across the northwest part of the continent after Muhammad died in 632
  • Many were converted by both sword and through pacifist means
  • By 670, Muslims ruled Egypt and entered the Maghrib, the part of North Africa that is today the Mediterranean coast of Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco
  • Some African rulers converted to Islam and then based their government on Islamic law
  • Muslims believe that God’s law is a higher authority than any human law, which resulted in Muslim rulers often relying on religious scholars as government advisers
  • Following the law is a religious obligation in Islam, there is no separation from personal and religious life
    • Islamic law regulates almost all areas of human life 
  • Islamic law helped bring order to Muslim states
  • Various Muslim states had ethnic/cultural differences
    • These states also sometimes had differing interpretations and schools of Islamic law
  • Berbers also converted to Islam
    • They were original inhabitants of North Africa
    • Berbers accepted Islam as their faith, but many maintained their Berber identities/loyalties
  • Two Berber groups: the Almoravids/Almohads, founded empires that united the Maghrib under Muslim rule 
  • 11th century: Muslim reformers founded the Almoravid Empire
    • The members came from a Berber group living in the western Sahara in present-day Mauritania
    • The movement began after Berber muslims made a hajj (pilgrimage) to Mecca
    • They convinced a Muslim scholar from Morocco (Abd Allah Ibn Yasin) to return with them to teach their people about Islam
  • Ibn Yasin's teachings attracted followers and he founded a strict religious brotherhood (the Almoravids) 
  • 1050s: Ibn Yasin led the Almoravids in an effort to spread Islam through conquest
  • 1059: Ibn Yasin dies
    • The Almoravids went on to take Morocco and found Marrakech, which became their capital
    • They overran Ghana by 1076 and also captured parts of southern Spain, where they were called Moors
  • Mid-1100s: the Almohads, another group of Berber Muslim reformers, seized power from the Almoravids
    • They began as a religious movement in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco 
  • The Almohads followed the teachings of Ibn Tumart
  • After a pilgrimage to Mecca, Ibn Tumart criticized later Almoravid rulers for straying from the traditional practice of Islam
  • He urged his followers to strictly obey the Qur'an/Islamic law
  • The Almohads, led by Abd al-Mumin, fought to overthrow the Almoravids and remain true to their view of traditional Islamic beliefs
  • By 1148, the Almohads controlled most of Morocco and ended Almoravid rule
  • They kept the capital at Marrakech
  • By the end of the 12th century, they conquered much of southern Spain
  • In Africa, their territory stretched from Marrakech to Tripoli and Tunis on the Mediterranean
  • The Almohad Empire broke up into individual Muslim dynasties 
  • The Almohad Empire united Maghrib under one rule for the first time even though it only lasted just over 100 years


CHAPTER 15.2: West African Civilizations

  • By 200 AD, trade across the Sahara existed for centuries but was infrequent/irregular because of harsh desert conditions
  • Most pack animals couldn't travel very far in in the Sahara without rest or water
  • 3rd century AD: Berber nomads began using camels
    • Camels could steadily travel much longer distances (60 miles in a day)
    • They could also travel more than ten days without water, which is twice as long as most pack animals 
  • The introduction of the camel allowed for nomads to travel new desert routes and increase trade
  • Trade routes crossed through the region farmed by the Soninke people
    • They called their ruled ghana or war chief
  • By the 700s, Ghana was a kingdom and its rulers were growing rich by taxing goods that traders carried through their territory
  • The two most important trade items were gold and salt
    • Gold came from a forest region south of the savanna between the Niger and Senegal rivers
    • Some sources estimate that until about 1350, at least 2/3 of the world’s supply of gold came from West Africa
  • Even though West Africa was rich in gold, their forests and savanna lacked salt
    • The Sahara contained salt deposits
  • Arab and Berber traders crossed the desert with camel caravans loaded down with salt 
    • They also carried cloth, weapons, and manufactured goods from ports on the Mediterranean
  • African traders brought gold north from the forest regions
  • Merchants met in trading cities and exchanged goods under the supervision of the king's tax collector
  • Royal officials also made sure that all traders weighed goods fairly and did business according to law
  • Royal guards also provided protection against bandits
  • By 800, Ghana became an empire
  • Because Ghana’s king controlled trade and commanded a large army, he could demand taxes and gifts from the chiefs of surrounding lands
  • As long as chiefs made their payments, the king left them alone to rule their own people 
  • The king stored gold nuggets and slabs of salt (collected as taxes) in his royal palace
    • Only the king had the right to own gold nuggets, although gold dust freely circulated in the marketplace
    • The king limited the supply of gold and kept its price from falling
  • Ghana’s African ruler acted as a religious leader, chief judge, and military commander 
    • He headed a large bureaucracy and could call up a huge army
  • Islam spread through North Africa by conquest and South Africa by trade
  • Muslim merchants/teachers settled in the states south of the Sahara and introduced their faiths
  • Ghana's rulers eventually converted to Islam
  • By the end of the 11th century, Muslim advisers were helping to run the kingdom
  • While Ghana’s African rulers accepted Islam, many people in the empire clung to their animistic beliefs and practices 
    • Animism = the belief that spirits living animals, plants, and natural forces play an important role in daily life
    • Much of the population never converted
    • Those who converted kept many of their former beliefs which they observed along with Islam
  • In the upper-class, Islam's growth encouraged literacy
  • Converts to Islam had to learn Arabic to study the Qur'an
  • 1067: Muslim Almoravids of North Africa completed their conquest of Ghana 
  • The Almoravids eventually withdrew from Ghana, but the war badly disrupted the gold-salt trade
  • Ghana never regained its power as a result
  • By 1235, the kingdom of Mali emerged
    • Its founders were Mande-speaking people, who lived south of Ghana 
  • Mali's wealth was also built on gold 
  • As Ghana remained weak, people who had been under its control began to act independently
  • Miners also found new gold deposits farther east, which led the most important trade routes to shift eastward
    • This made the people of Mali wealthy and enabled them to seize power
  • Sundiata, Mali's first great leader came to power by crushing a cruel/unpopular leader
    • Sundiata became Mali's mansa or emperor
  • Through a series of military victories, he took over the kingdom of Ghana/the trading cities of Kumbi/Walata
  •  Sundiata put able administrators in charge of Mali's finances, defense, and foreign affairs
  • He also promoted agriculture/re-established the gold-salt trade through his capital at Niani
    • Niani became an important center of commerce and trade
  • 1255: Sundiata dies
  • Some of Mali’s next rulers became Muslims 
    • They built mosques, attended public prayers, and supported the preaching of Muslim holy men
  • The most famous of them is Mansa Musa (r. 1312-1332)
  • Mali experienced turmoil between Sundiata and Mansa Musa's reign
  • There were 7 different rulers in roughly 50 years
  • Mansa Musa was also a skilled military leader who exercised royal control over the gold-salt trad/squashed every rebellion
  • Under Mansa Musa, the empire expanded to roughly twice the size of the empire of Ghana
  • Mansa Musa divided it into provinces and appointed governors to govern his far-reaching empire
  • Mansa Musa was a devout Muslim and went on a hajj to Mecca (1324-1325)
  • When he returned, he ordered the building of new mosques at the trading cities of Timbuktu/Gao
  • Timbuktu became one of the most important cities of the empire
    • It attracted Muslim judges, doctors, religious leaders, and scholars from far and wide 
      • They attended Timbuktu's mosques/universities
  • 1352: One of Mansa Musa’s successors prepared to receive a traveler and historian (Ibn Battuta)
    • Ibn Battuta had traveled for 27 years, visiting most of the countries in the Islamic world
  • Ibn Battuta visited Timbuktu and other cities in Mali after leaving the royal palace
    • As a devout Muslim, he praised the people for their study of the Qur’an but criticized them for not strictly practicing Islam's moral code
    • Mali's justice system greatly impressed him
  • 1353: Ibn Battuta left Mali
  • Within 50 years, the empire began to weaken  
  • Most of Mansa Musa’s successors lacked his ability to govern well
  • The gold trade shifted eastward as new goldfields were developed elsewhere
  • As Mali declined in the 1400s, people who had been under its control began to break away 
  • This included the Songhai people to the east
    • They built up an army/extended their territory to the large bend in the Niger River near Gao (their capital)
    •  They gained control of the all-important trade routes
  • The Songhai had 2 rulers, both of whom were Muslims:
    • One of them was Sunni Ali, who built a vast empire by military conquest
      • His rule began in 1464 and lasted nearly 30 years
      • He built a professional army that had a riverboat fleet of war canoes and a mobile fighting force on horseback
      • He expanded Songhai into an empire through his skill as a military commander/aggressive leadership
      • 1468: Sunni Ali achieved his 1st major military triumph by capturing Timbuktu
      • 5 years later, he took Djenne, a trade city that had a university 
      • He surrounded the city with his army 7 years before it fell in 1473 
      • Sunni Ali completed the takeover of Djenne by marrying its queen
    • Sunni Ali dies in 1492, his son succeeded him as ruler
      • Almost at once, the son faced a major revolt by Muslims who were angry that he did not practice their religion faithfully
        • The leader of the revolt was a devout Muslim (Askia Muhammad)
        • He drove Sunni Ali's son from power and replaced him
    • Aska Muhammad set up an efficient tax system/chose able officials
    • He appointed officials to serve as ministers of the treasury, army, navy, and agriculture
    • The well-governed empire thrived under his rule
  • The Songhai Empire lacked modern weapons
  • The Chinese invented gunpowder in the 9th century
  • Around 1304, Arabs developed the first gun, which shot arrows 
  • 1591: a Moroccan fighting force of several thousand men equipped w/ gunpowder/cannons crossed the Sahara/invaded and defeated Songhai warriors that were only armed with swords/spears
  • The collapse of the Songhai empire ended a 1,000 year period in which powerful kingdoms/empires ruled the central region of West Africa
  • City-states developed in other parts of West Africa
  • Muslim traditions influenced some of these city-states while others held to their traditional African beliefs
  • The Hausa were a group of people named after the language they spoke. 
    • They first emerged b/t the years 1000-1200 in the savanna area east of Mali/Songhai in present-day northern Nigeria
  • Songhai briefly ruled the Hausa city-states, but they soon regained their independence
  • In city-states such as Kano, Katsina, and Zazzau, local rulers built walled cities for their capitals
    • Hausa rulers governed the farming villages outside the city walls from their capitals
  • Each ruler depended on the crops of the farmers and on a thriving trade in salt, grain, and cotton cloth made by urban weavers
  • Because they were located on trade routes that linked other West African states with the Mediterranean, Kano and Katsina became major trading states
    • They profited greatly from supplying the needs of caravans 
  • Zazzau, the southernmost state, conducted a vigorous trade in enslaved persons
    • Zazzau’s traders raided an area south of the city/sold their captives to traders in other Hausa states, who then sold them to other North or West African societies in exchange for horses, harnesses, and guns
  • The Hausa kept some slaves to build and repair city walls and grow food for the cities
  • All the Hausa city-states had similar forms of government
    • Rulers held great power over their subjects, but ministers and other officials acted to check this power
    • For protection, each city-state raised an army of mounted horsemen
    • Although rulers often schemed/fought to gain control over their neighbors, none succeeded for long
    • The constant fighting among city-states prevented any one of them from building a Hausa empire  
  • The Yoruba also all spoke a common language
    • Originally the Yoruba-speaking people belonged to a number of small city-states in the forests in present-day Benin and southwestern Nigeria
  • Most people farmed
  • Over time, some of these smaller communities joined together under strong leaders, leading to the creation of several Yoruba kingdoms
  • Yoruba kings were considered divine and served as the most important religious/political leaders in their kingdoms
  • All Yoruba chiefs traced their descent from the first ruler of Ife
    • According to legend, the creator sent this first ruler down to earth at Ife, where he founded the first Yoruba state
  • All Yoruba chiefs regarded the king of Ife as their highest spiritual authority
  • A secret society of religious and political leaders limited the king’s rule by reviewing the decisions he made
  • Ife and Oyo were the two largest Yoruba kingdoms
  • Ife was developed by 1100 and was the most powerful Yoruba kingdom until the late 1600s, when Oyo became more prosperous
  • Both Ife and Oyo had high walls surrounding them 
  • Most rural farms in the surrounding areas produced surplus food, which was sent to cities
    • This enabled city dwellers to become traders/craftspeople
  • According to tradition, Benin artists learned their craft from an Ife artist brought to Benin by the oba to teach them
  • 1480s: Portuguese trading ships began to sail into Benin’s port at Gwatto 
  • The Portuguese traded with Benin merchants for pepper, leopard skins, ivory, and enslaved persons
  • This began several centuries of European interference in Africa, during which they enslaved Africans and seized African territories for colonies 


CHAPTER 15.3: The Eastern City-States and Southern Empires

  • Villages along the east coast began to develop into important trade cities
  • By 1100, many Bantu-speaking people had migrated across central Africa to the east coast
  • They established farming/fishing villages
  • The existing coastal villages gradually grew into bustling seaports built on trade b/t East African merchants and traders from Arabia, Persia, and India
  • As trade increased, many Muslim Arab/Persian traders settled in the port cities.
  • Arabic blended with the Bantu language to create the Swahili language
  • Persian traders moved south from the Horn of Africa
  • They brought Asian manufactured goods to Africa/African raw materials to Asia  
  • In the coastal markets, Arab traders sold porcelain bowls from China and jewels/cotton cloth from India
  •  They bought African ivory, gold, tortoiseshell, ambergris, leopard skins, and rhinoceros horns to carry to Arabia
  • By 1300, more than 35 trading cities were created along the coast from Mogadishu in the north to Kilwa/Sofala in the south
    • They grew wealthy by controlling all incoming/outgoing trade
    • Some cities also manufactured trade goods
  • 1331: Ibn Battuta visited Kilwa
    • Rich families lived in fine houses of coral and stone
    • They slept in beds inlaid with ivory and their meals were served on porcelain
    • Wealthy Muslim women wore silk robes and gold and silver bracelets 
    • Kilwa grew rich because it was as far south on the coast as a ship from India could sail in one monsoon season
      • Trade goods from southerly regions had to funnel into Kilwa so Asian merchants could buy them
  • In the late 1200s, Kilwa seized the port of Sofala (a trading center for gold mined inland)
    • Controlling Sofala allowed Kilwa to be able to control overseas trade of gold from southern Africa
    • Kilwa became the wealthiest, most powerful coastal state
  • 1488: the first Portuguese ships rounded the southern tip of Africa/sailed north, looking for a sea route to India 
    • They wanted to gain profits from the Asian trade in spices, perfumes, and silks
    • When the Portuguese saw the wealth of the East African city-states, they decided to conquer them and take over trade themselves
  • Using their shipboard cannon, the Portuguese took Sofala, Kilwa, and Mombasa
  • The Portuguese kept their ports and cities on the East African coast for the next two centuries
  • Muslim traders introduced Islam to the East African coast/the growth of commerce caused the religion to spread 
  • A Muslim sultan, or ruler, governed most cities
    • Most government officials and wealthy merchants were Muslims
    • However, the vast majority of people along the East African coast held on to their traditional religious beliefs, which also applied to those who lived in inland villages
  • Arab Muslim traders exported enslaved people from the East African coast
  • Traders sent Africans acquired through kidnapping to markets in Arabia, Persia, and Iraq 
    • Wealthy people often bought slaves to do domestic tasks
  • Muslim traders shipped enslaved Africans across the Indian Ocean to India, where Indian rulers employed them as soldiers
  • Enslaved Africans also worked on docks and ships at Muslim-controlled ports and as household servants in China
  • Even though Muslim traders enslaved East Africans/sold them overseas since the 9th century, the numbers remained small and did not increase dramatically until the 1700s
  • Gold/ivory that helped the coastal city-states grow wealthy came from the interior of southern Africa
  • The Shona people established Great Zimbabwe in southeastern Africa
  • By 1000, the Shona people settled between the Zambezi/Limpopo rivers in modern Zimbabwe
  • The area was well suited to farming/cattle raising
  • Its location had economic advantages 
    •  Great Zimbabwe stood near an important trade route linking the goldfields w/ the coastal trading city of Sofala
    • Great Zimbabwe gained control of these trade routes sometime after 1000
  • 1200s-1400s: It became the capital of a thriving state
  • Its leaders taxed the traders who traveled these routes/demanded payments from less powerful chiefs
  •  Great Zimbabwe became the economic, political, and religious center of its empire
  • By 1450, Great Zimbabwe was mysteriously abandoned
    • One theory suggests that cattle grazing had worn out the grasslands/farming worn out the soil/people used up the salt & timber, which meant that it couldn't support a large population
  • Almost everything that is known about Great Zimbabwe comes from its impressive ruins
  • According to Shona oral tradition, a man named Mutota left Great Zimbabwe about 1420 to find a new source of salt
    • He founded a new state to replace Great Zimbabwe  
  • As the state grew, its leader Mutota used his army to dominate the northern Shona people living in the area/forced them to make payments to support him/his army
  • These conquered people called Mutota and his successors mwene mutapa, meaning “conqueror” or “master pillager”
  •  The Portuguese who arrived on the East African coast in the early 1500s believed mwene mutapto be a title of respect for the ruler
    • The term is also the origin of the name of the Mutapa Empire  
  • By the time of Mutota’s death, the Mutapa Empire had conquered all of what is now Zimbabwe except the eastern portion
  • By 1480 Mutota’s son Matope claimed control of the area along the Zambezi River to the Indian Ocean coast
  • The Mutapa Empire was able to mine gold deposited in nearby rivers/streams
  •  Mutapa rulers forced people in conquered areas to mine gold for them
  • The rulers sent gold to the coastal city-states in exchange for luxuries  
  • Even before the death of Matope, the southern part of his empire broke away, but the Mutapa Dynasty remained in control of the smaller empire
  • In the 1500s, the Portuguese tried to conquer the empire
    • When they failed to do so, they resorted to interfering in Mutapa politics
    • They helped to overthrow one ruler and replace him with one they could control