The connections of West Africa v the Mediterranean world is a an extremely old one, which long predates the increase of Islam in the late 6th century CE. Several centuries before the climb of the roman empire, the Greek chronicler Herodotus (c. 484-425BCE) composed of individuals in Africa. Herodotus wrote repetitively of the peoples of the Nile Valley, stressing that countless of castle were black color Africans, and suggesting connections with people further to the west. Rock art from this period, and also later, says the presence of wheeled chariots southern of what is now the Sahara, and suggest a connection with the Mediterranean world.
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It’s important to understand that the Sahara desert chin was no as harsh in these ancient times together it later on became, and is today. Rock art from the Sahara desert is abundant, and some of that is as much as 12000 year old. A great example is the Tassili n’Ajjer, north of Tamanrasset in the Algerian Sahara. This is among the oldest examples of rock arts in the Sahara. Another great example is in the Tibesti Massif in Chad, which also has absent art date from around this time. These old paints show locations which are currently in the desert as fertile, wealthy with animals which can no much longer live in this desert areas, such as buffalos, elephants, rhinoceros, and also hippopotamus. It’s essential to be afflicted with in mind the this era the fertility in the Sahara synchronized with the European ice Age. The Ice period was not a trouble in Africa, and in fact this appears to have been a time of plenty.
The Sahara shows up to have begun desertifying more rapidly approximately 3000 year BCE, yet there remained solid connections with the Mediterranean until a later point. This is displayed by the Carthaginian general, Hannibal. Carthage was an empire based in Libya
Desertification increased and the geography boundaries became harder come cross. By the time of the climb of Islam, in the early on 7th century CE
It’s essential to grasp how events in West Africa were connected to those in phibìc Africa and also even in Europe by the 11th century. A vital change arisen in this time, spearheaded through the Almoravid movement. They appear to have actually grown native Berber Muslims who migrated north from the Senegal flow seeking a purer kind of Islam ~ the middle of the 11th century. They dominated the Kingdom the Morocco, started Marrakech in 1062, and also then swept into Al-Andalus in southerly Spain in the 1080s, wherein they safeguarded the Caliphate the Córdoba indigenous the reconquest led through the Christian queens of Spain. Córdoba had currently splintered into numerous different mini states in southerly Spain well-known as the Taifa states in the 1030s; in the 12th century these were overtaken by the Almohads, who additionally came from Morocco, overthrowing the Almoravids in 1147.
In West Africa, the most important alters came in Ghāna. Until 1076, Muslims and worshippers of african religions had actually co-existed there, however in that year the Almoravids sacked the city and Ghāna fell into decline. Mali would not increase until the 13th century. Thereafter, the gold trade was the centrepiece of the trans-Saharan trade. Money was the reason of the at an early stage interest the Arabic traders in West Africa, i m sorry was without doubt known to them as “the gold country”.The influence of the trans-Saharan gold profession on european societies can be viewed for circumstances in the source of the Spanish word because that gold coin in the 15th century, maravedí, indigenous the Almoravid murabitūn dinar.
The trade in gold observed the climb of an effective empires such together Mali, Bono-Mansu, and also Songhay, the expansion of metropolitan centres such as Kano, and the climb of powerful trading classes such together the Wangara. Arabic ended up being increasingly influential through the spread out of Islam and also its use as a manuscript for administration. Through the 15th century, once the Atlantic profession would begin, the trans-Saharan trade had been prospering for at the very least 5 centuries, and also had already shaped the rise, fall, and also consolidation of many West african states and societies.
Key factors of Trade: Environment, Gold, Horses, and the organization of the Caravan Trade
One the the major elements in the creation of profession networks is geography. Trade has tendency to it is in in assets which can not be found in one area, and also which room exchanged through those which are essential in another. For example, cultures living in areas with forest assets can exchange them because that salt indigenous desert areas, and grain crops from savannah areas.In turn, savannah and also desert peoples deserve to acquire forest products. Thus, a crucial factor in the emergence of the social cloth of West Africa was the Sahara desert.
Where the geographical obstacles between different climate zones room extensive, the trade networks needed to move goods have come be much more complicated. In order come thrive, societies need to build new method of accommodating stranger traders. Whereby the obstacle is as large as the Sahara desert, or the Atlantic Ocean, the social cloth will end up being intertwined with these complicated trading networks. This occurred in West Africa with the trans-Saharan trade; and also the social frameworks which emerged with this profession then became influential in shaping the beforehand trans-Atlantic trade. So the is hard to recognize the prestige of trans-Saharan profession without understanding its importance for society, in terms of organisation and also belief.
One important climatic aspect in the shaping of West African societies was the spread out of the tsetse fly. In humid forest zones, the tsetse paris which causes Sleeping Sickness intended that the was hard for pack pets to survive. Camels, horses, donkeys, and also the like could not conveniently survive in areas where the tsetse fly can live and thrive. This meant that society had to be organised for this reason that world would accomplish that role, and be maybe to bring headloads that gold, kola nuts, ivory, and more. This became far-ranging as the trans-Saharan yellow trade ended up being ever much more important indigenous the 11th century onwards.
There were two key zones for the ar of gold in West Africa. One was on the upper Senegal river, especially the tributary that the Falémé. The various other was in the woodlands of the gold Coast. Gift close to the resource of gold to be of food a good political prize, and it is far-reaching that the locations near come both the Falémé and also the forests of the Gold coastline saw the increase of secure political equipment for many centuries. In the Falémé, this to be the kingdom of Gajaaga
In Senegambia, the Falémé source of gold was in a semi-desert area where the tsetse fly might not thrive
In Bono-Mansu, however, horses can not flourish due to the fact that of the tsetse fly. This expected that the role of head-carriers was critical in ensuring the smooth procedure of the gold trade. Gold to be dug out of the mines in the woodlands a hundred miles north of the Atlantic coast, and also then porteraged phibìc to the termini the the trans-Saharan trade at Oualata
These city centres were critical to the organization of the trans-Saharan profession as a whole. They had to develop complicated infrastructure of organization provision because that the long-distance traders.By the 15th century, every of this cities had actually hotels for horses and traders, clearing residences for animals to return for the long-distance trade earlier to the Mediterranean, and markets where the wherewithal because that the trade can be bought: saddlery and other kit because that camels and horses, vast stocks of serial (millet, rice, and cous) to feed the slaves and traders cross the Sahara, skins for water, dried meat, and also more. Some, such as Timbuktu, had likewise become centres of discovering for the scholars who accompanied the caravans; for Islam was additionally becoming ever more closely regarded the success and change of the trans-Saharan trade.
Traders and Diasporas
The traders who specialised in linking up the various centres that the trans-Saharan trade were well-known as the Wangara. By the 15th century, the Wangara formed critical trade diaspora, stretching from The Gambia in the West come Borno in the East; they also had relationships in the Mali empire, and as far south as Bono-Mansu, and also some of the Akan states on the southern Atlantic coastline of what is now Ghana.
As we have seen, Islam had come to be closely linked to trans-Saharan trade: all of the traders from phibìc Africa that came with the caravans to be Muslims, and they desired to trade with Muslims only. The increase of the Almoravid activity in the 11th century, and also the autumn of Ghāna, made it clear that those rulers who converted come Islam would fare far better in the trans-Saharan stakes.
At the exact same time, Islam remained the religious beliefs of the nobles and the trader class. It was not the belief of everyone, and some would stand up to it strongly. For this reason West african rulers who wanted to success in the trans-Saharan trade had actually to construct a complex strategy. On the one hand, they had actually to be viewed as Muslims in order to be able to entice the trans-Saharan traders: and also yet at the same time, they had to be able to relate to their subjects, numerous of who were no Muslims.
This advertising reality added to what historians speak to “plural societies”. A plural culture can be defined as one in which more than one religion is allowed and tolerated where world can mix across ethnic and religious lines, and where the ability to respect much more than one faith is crucial part that political and social life. This deserve to be seen through the dental accounts of key rulers such together Sunjata Keita of Mali, many of which emphasize the location of musician in the court the Mali. The balafon was a imperial instrument, which deserve to be seen through its connection in dental accounts to the sorcerer-king who Sunjata defeated, Sumanguru Kante. Sumanguru was likewise reputed as a “Blacksmith king”, in song with the supernatural powers that smiths and also previous politics regimes. Thus even Islamic rulers such together those that Mali confirmed their respect that African religions
The Wangara diaspora of traders slowly became much more and much more important in creating a common culture across different parts that West Africa. Your arrival in Borno through the 15th century showed exactly how the pluralism the society, the spread out of Islam together a scholarly, religious, and also commercial religion, and the arrival of an ext and more global influences were all coming together throughout a wide component of West Africa.
Arabic, Literacy, and also Scholarly Production
One the the effects of the growing trans-Saharan profession was the spread of Arabic together a composed language in West Africa. Arabic ended up being not just a language of faith and spiritual scholarship, v the many mallams, shereefs, and also other seers who involved the region. The was additionally a language of government and also law. The countless manuscripts currently housed in the Ahmed Baba academy in Timbuktu space testament come the spread of proficiency in West Africa from very early time, and certainly that had become important by the 13th century.
Rulers of vital West African realms such together Mali and also Songhay that course preserved existing aboriginal frameworks the rulership. Yet they obtained Islamic bureaucratic forms, religion, scholarship and also legal frameworks to administrate the new states, and also the complicated international relationship which they were developing through trade through the remainder of the Islamic world. Taxation, law, and state workplaces all emerged alongside the literate class which became an important to the to work of the says of the Sahel.
By the 15th and 16th centuries, particular desert clans were renowned for their learning and also scholarship. In Western areas such together Mauritania, these were well-known as the zwāya, and in the later 17th century castle would have actually a major role in the Islamic revival movement which spread in the 18th century.Desert clans such as the Masūfa also migrated to Timbuktu native Māsina in central Mali, happen special areas of finding out in Islamic legislation (fiqh).The high condition of these scholars is presented by the truth that the good Timbuktu scholar Ahmad Baba had as his key shaykh or spiritual instructor a scholar native Djenné on the Niger.
Great Mosque that Djenné, photo by Andy Gilham, 2003, CC BY-SA 3.0
The spread out of Arabic has been studied by some chroniclers through the spread of the use of Arabic top top tombstones. The Brazilian chronicler PF de Moraes Farias invested his career researching these funerary inscriptions in cemeteries in Mauritania, Mali, and Niger. What he discovered was a more integrated background of Songhay, Tamasheq, Berber and also Mande peoples than traditional histories had suggested. Arabic was not just an upstream language the learning, but also became a language provided by plenty of to pay homage to their departed family members members.
An important feature of this climb of Arabic was the spread out of scholars from phibìc Africa in centres of finding out such together Kano and Timbuktu. Indeed, this was likewise an exchange, due to the fact that scholars from West afri cities moved to learn, study, and preach more afield. One to be Al-Kānemī, native Kanem-Borno, who lived and also taught in Marrakesh c. 1200, before dying in Andalusía in Spain. By the 14th century, annual caravans take it pilgrims native West Africa to north Africa and then come Mecca, and also there remained in Cairo a hostel come accommodate just those pilgrims that came native Borno; if Askia Mohammed, who became ruler of Songhay c. 1495, describe a garden and also lodge for pilgrims from West Africa in Medina , during his very own hajj.
The frequency of together presences the West africans in the wider Islamic civilization is presented not only through the spread of Arabic, and also the variety of documented journeys made, but additionally by dental accounts. For instance,
By the 15th century, the growth of the yellow trade had gone hand in hand with the focus on scholarship. The critical 15th century Sarki the Kano, Mohammed Rimfa, invited large numbers of scholar to clear up in the city, and one of lock – Sherif Abdu Rahman – come from Medina. Rahman carried his very own library and also many learned followers. The city wall surfaces of Kano to be built, and the Kurmi sector established, which showed just exactly how much urban developments, learning, and also the expansion of the trans-Saharan trade had come to be interconnected.
This was also very apparent in Timbuktu. Timbuktu prospered a reputation as a city of learning, and also yet throughout the reign of Sonni Ali (c. 1464-93) of Songhay, its scholars felt undermined and slighted. ~ Sonni Ali’s death, numerous mallams from Timbuktu complained at his rulership and departure indigenous orthodox Islam, and the means in i beg your pardon they declared he had actually persecuted the mallams. In the 16th century, a succession of Askias rule who followed a more orthodox path of Islam, and the city’s reputation together a centre of discovering reached that peak. But this would autumn with the Moroccan intrusion of Songhay in 1591
Mali and Mansa Musa
Perhaps the most famous and also influential kingdom connected to the trans-Saharan trade was the of Mali. Mali was started by Sunjata Keita in the 13th century, beating the blacksmith king Sumanguru Kante. However, in Mali, the ruler who reached human being renown at the time was the Emperor Mansa Musa.
Mansa Kankan Musa Keita was the kid of Mansa Aboubacarr II the Navigator who in the 1300s sent out an expedition across the Atlantic ocean from flow Gambia come discover new territories. His boy Mansa Kankan Musa Keita far better known together Mansa Musa rule Mali from 1312-1337. His reign lasted barely quarter of century yet the whole 1300s are still called the Century the Mansa Musa since of his lasting legacy.
This tradition came out an ext for his exploits on his way to Mecca to carry out his pilgrimage 1324-1325 보다 in any type of wars that fought and also won or lost. He supposedly did not desire to do the pilgrimage as he to be still a in the name of Muslim but when that accidentally eliminated his mother, he chose to perform the Hajj come purify himself and also atone for his funding crime. He took along the whole court of his come Mecca including doctors, princes, griots and an military of human body guard which numbered 8000 men! that left he funding of Mali and also traversed the Sahara v Walata in present day Mauretania, climate Libya prior to entering Cairo. Native Cairo he gotten in the holy city of Mecca.
This pilgrimage had actually economic, politics and spiritual consequences.
Economically, Mansa Musa dispensed so lot gold ~ above his means to Mecca the he has since then been referred to as the richest ever human gift to live ~ above this earth. He additionally cemented profession ties between Mali and the center East and Cairo such that from 1325, caravans of end 10,000 camels traversed the Sahara into Mali at Gao and Timbuktu. Religiously, Mansa Musa and also his vast entourage changed from the hajj fix up Muslims who currently wanted to strengthen the religion and spread it far and wide. The Malian masses which were mostly animist then, were soon converted by the new pilgrims. Also, Mali opened up up to much more Arab scholars that were attractive by the enormous wealth Mansa Musa displayed. These Arabs constructed fabulous mosques and also courts for Mansa Musa. He additionally brought along an excellent scholars who helped him create the famous libraries in Gao, Jenne and also Timbuktu. The hajj ended up being one of the world’s greatest PR exercises! Politically, Mali became well known and Mansa Musa earned international repute. His expedition put Mali firmly on the map. Indeed, prior to his fatality in 1337, Mansa Musa has expanded Mali into a sprawling empire with end 400 cities expanding from the Atlantic in the West come the woodland zones of the south. All the recognized states of the time such together Songhay,, Ghana, Galam, Tekrur formed component of Mansa Musa’s Mali. Mansa Musa indeed provided Mali her glory and also Mali also gave Mansa Musa his glory!
Political reorganization in the 15th century: Bono-Mansu, Mossi, Kano, and also Songhay
The expansion of the trans-Saharan profession from the 10th to the 15th century brought about profound transformations across West Africa, and this deserve to be seen through a whole range of changes that took place in the 15th century, indigenous West to East and also from north to South. It would certainly be political, economic and social changes in West Africa that would drive globalization and also Europe’s function in this, no the other means around.
A good example are events in Nigeria. In Borno, the expansion of the gold profession from Bono-Mansu would cause the motion of the capital away from the old centre of Kanem, additional south come Gazargamo (Ngazargamu) in Borno circa 1470. In Kano, there was the establishment of a brand-new system, the Sarauta system. Meanwhile, the 10-metre deep earthworks well-known as “Eredos”, built about Ijebu in Yorubaland, have actually recently been dated
In various other regions comparable transformations to be afoot. In Mali, the Dogon civilization of the Bandiagara escarpment probably moved over there in the 15th century. In ~ the very same time, in the 15th century, the Mossi kingdom increased in what is now Burkina Faso, connected to the revenues to it is in made from taxing the onward yellow trade.Al-Sa’dī defines Mossi attack the town of Mâssina in this period.It was additionally at this time that Bono-Mansurose come prominence. Meanwhile, the an essential gold-trading centre of Bighu, likewise on the gold Coast and also which was to become an extremely important in the 17th and also 18th century, is pointed out by al-Ouazzan (as Bito) in the 1520s, saying that the too rose to importance in this decades.
Meanwhile, in Senegambia, the increase of the significant military leader Koli Tenguela at the finish of the 15th century synchronized probably with an effort to regulate the gold trade which come from the kingdom that Wuuli, top top the north bank of the Gambia river. Tenguela, a Fula, would eventually lead an army south across the Gambia flow to the Fuuta Jaalo mountains in Guinea-Conakry and also establish a new polity there. This would certainly lead in turn to the facility of Fuuta Tooro ~ above the Senegal river.
In various other words, all across West Africa, from Borno come Fuuta Tooro, political revolutions were following well prior to trade v Europe had begun. West african mining technology, economic transformation, and also political reorganization grew. This assisted to produce the framework in which European powers sought to increase their understanding of the world, together they started to sail along the West African coastline in the 15th century.
The many remarkable example came in north Nigeria. Kano grew really rapidly in the 15th century, sending out military expeditions to the south and becoming a regional hub linking commerce networks from southerly Nigeria to what is now Mali and also beyond.
Just as European power was start to expand along the West African coast in the 15th century, therefore, for this reason the affect of the trans-Saharan trade reached its zenith. The 15th century was not just the time of europe expansion, however of an international expansion that networks, trade, productions, and the manifestation of this power in more facility states, in West Africa and beyond.
Koli Tengella and also Tekrur
Tekrur was another of the claims which grew largely as a an outcome of the Trans-Saharan trade. That was founded in the 7th century, and also was situated in current day North-East Senegal in the valley of the Senegal River. For many years, Tekrur to adjust quietly as a vassal that the Ghana and Mali empires. Tekrur had largely Serahuly and also Mande speaking populations, yet in the 15th century, the Fula became an effective and removed the judgment Mande class and also established the Janonkobe dynasty. They to be led by a warrior the Senegalese historian Ousman Ba called ‘the an excellent hero and also saviour the the Peulh’ called Koli, the boy of Tengella. He formed and mobilised a huge army and also ravaged v Fouta Jallon, Mali and also Jollof to do Tekrur the unvanquished power in the region. Koli to be crowned together Satigi or emperor over the substantial lands now under the control of his Fula armies. His resources was at Gode, near the existing day Matam.
Koli is remembered in the Fouta Toro legends together the huge chief the the Fula animist aristocracy who lived ~ above war and also slavery, catching especially the the Fula and also Tukulor Muslims of his empire. No doubt climate in 1776, the Muslims headed by Sulayman Bal revolted against Koli’s be suppressive to found the Muslim state the Fouta. Just how did Koli benefit from the trade throughout the Sahara? merely put, through trading grain in exchange for firearms. He was able to develop a strong army which preserved Tekrur’s prominence for countless decades. It is clear from what has actually been said over that the trade across the Sahara aided to build solid states and additionally to destroy them as weapons became readily obtainable and the profitable trade additionally generated envy and the desire come dominate.
Ghana and also Songhai Empires
Ghana was one of the most famous and earliest the the West afri empires. It existed between the fifth and 13th centuries in the modern-day Mali and also Mauritania, and was heavily associated to the trans-Saharan trade. The Ghana realm with its capital of Kumbi Saleh in Mauritainia, is no to be perplexed with modern-day Ghana with its resources at Accra, i beg your pardon was called after it. The principal inhabitants of Ghana to be the Serahuli, additionally called Soninke, who were component of the Mande-speaking people.
Ghana owed her progress and also prosperity and influence come the strategic duty it play in the Trans-Saharan trade. British chronicler Kevin Shillington was categorical in this: ‘…Ghana’s position with regard come the trade…. Made it grow an effective and that is rulers became rich…. It seems most likely that profession was a significant factor in the growth of Ghana indigenous the really beginning’.
Ghana to be located half way between the sources of the 2 Trans-Saharan trade items: salt indigenous the desert increase north and gold native Bambuk to the East. Ghana played the enviable role of middleman. The development of the camel as carrier of products in the trade was a massive boost to the exchange in between Ghana and the desert peoples such as the Berbers.
Ghana’s glory might not be hidden simply because it to be well traced and also chronicled through the Arabic traders who came there. As early on as the 11th century an Arab geographer called al-Bakari visited Kumbi Saleh, the capital and described the fabulous riches he saw and also the fine advanced type of management run through the Ghana ruler. That observed the Kumbi Saleh had two different wards: the foreigners’ quarter where Arab businessman resided and also the main ward where the king and his world lived. The dumbstruck Arab visitor likewise described in glowing terms how well pull in gold the Ghana king was, just how he had the ability to raise an military of 200,000 men and how he allowed both Islam and animism to it is in practised in Kumbi Saleh. Of course, ours Arab writers only met the royals, nobles and traders as they to be interested just in gold. They said little about what the ordinary people did because that a living; however we have the right to glean from the works that castle fished and also farmed follow me the financial institutions of the river Senegal come survive.
Ghana’s glory rested on trade and also so did its collapse. When the Almoravids started to wage war against other Berber tribes, the trade routes to Ghana came to be unsafe and trade to be affected. Dried weather conditions also influenced Ghana’s capability to feeding herself and also her vast army; this seriously dilute the state. Also, by the 12th century, vassals like Mali had began to rebel come gain flexibility from Ghana’s dominance.
Songhay, meanwhile lasted native the 11th to 16th century. It rose to importance as a result of the Trans-Saharan trade. As early on as the 14th century Muslim traders were cleared up in Gao, the major trade town of Songhay. Gao became the hub for the Trans-Saharan profession for the central and east Sahara. The farmers and also fishermen that Songay guarantee the traders were well fed.
Songhay gathered the bulk of she revenue from the count levied on profession caravans. Among the an excellent Songhay emperors was Muhamed Ture also called Askia Muhamed who presented Islam in to Songhay and increased the empire’s reaches. Favor Mansa Musa of Mali, he made a expedition to Mecca where he showed how rich and an effective his kingdom was. The Trans-Saharan trade aided to make Songhai rich and also prosperous.
It must be noted that the trans-Saharan trade ongoing to be crucial into the 19th and even the 20th century, together the proceeding trade and human traffic shows. The desert is a geographical obstacle which requires complicated organisation to cross – those that crossed that laid the foundations of some of the most necessary states in West african history.
3000BCE: Sahara starts desertifying
220BCE: Hannibal of Carthage the cross the Alps with West african elephants
400 CE: City of Jenne-jenò in the middle Niger has actually grown to 4000 inhabitants
900AD: gold from the woodlands of Ghana and also Cote d’Ivoire discovered in north African mints in enhancing quantities
1062: The Almoravids from the fringes of the Senegal flow valley overcome Morocco and establish Marrakech.
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1076: Almoravids bag Koumbi-Saleh, funding of Ghāna
1080s: Almoravids sweep right into southern Spain
1070-1100: The kingdom of Kanem-Borno converts to Islam and also becomes crucial in the trans-Saharan trade. Regular pilgrimages to Mecca via Cairo the the Borno kings begin in the 1100s.
1200: Kano’s city walls completed by this date
1200-1250: rise of the Mali realm under Sunjata Keita, founded on trans-Saharan wealth
1322-5: pilgrimage of Mansa Musa, emperor the Mali come Mecca via Cairo
1330s: Djinguereber mosque constructed in Timbuktu utilizing the architect As-Sahili indigenous Andalusía in southerly Spain
1350-1390: Wangara traders carry Islam to Kano through trade
1433 – 1474: emergence of Songhay to competitor Mali for royal power; through the lose of Timbuktu to Songhay in 1468 come their ruler Sonni ‘Alī
1470s: The resources of Borno moves south to the strengthened redoubt the Ngazargamu
1492: death of Sonni ‘Alī, leader of Songhay. The is replaced by Askia Mohammad in 1494, that inaugurates the great age that Songhay
1490s-1510s: rise of Koli Tenguella, founder of Futa Toro on the northern bank of the Senegal river