• amanda0195

African History



  • Divides northern coast from rest of continent

  • Once was cooler and wetter, then became warmer and dryer 3000 BC

  • Proof from rock paintings

  • Lakes dried up forcing many east to Nile and south to grassland

  • Camel

  • Early in 1st millennium

  • Stimulated trans-Saharan trade


  • Cape Verde, Senegal and Niger Rivers

  • Rich in natural resources

  • Empires: Ghana, Mali, Songhai (Songhay)

EAST (“safari country”)

  • Horn of Africa

  • Bordering Indian ocean

  • Snowcapped mountains, upland plateau and lakes

  • Grassland populated by wild beasts

  • Axum (Ethiopia) (Christian)

  • Swahili (Arabic and Bantu)

  • Madagascar (Malay)

NORTH (Maghrib or Maghreb)

  • Egypt (Nile River)

  • Nubia (Kingdom of Kush, Sudan)

  • Berbers

  • A pastoral people of North Africa

  • Intermediaries from Carthage across desert (food, manufactured goods)

  • In exchange for salt, gold, cooper, skins, slaves

  • Possibly spread ironworking from Carthaginians

  • Nok culture (one of most active iron-working societies)


  • Congo River

  • Fertile land and deposits of copper and iron = agric. Surplus, commerce

  • Kingdom of Luba (center of continent, near Lake Kisale)

  • Centralized govt., king appointed provincial governors to collect tribute from village chiefs

  • Kingdom of Kongo

  • South of mouth of Congo River on Atlantic coast

  • Agriculture with manufacturing

  • Main crop millet



  • Niger-Congo

  • Largest language group

  • Senegal in west to Kenya in east, south to South Africa

  • Bantu-based languages spoken in south (including Swahili on east coast)

  • Sudanic (Nilo-Sudanic)

  • Second largest language family

  • Upper Nile and area known as Sudan

  • Afro-Asiatic languages

  • Spoken in north of Africa

  • Including Arabic (from Middle East)

  • And Semitic languages spoken by Somali and Ethiopian people

  • Khoisan or Click (!)

  • Spoken by San and Khoi people in southern Africa

  • As well as Xhosa in South Africa

  • Uses click sound (written as !)


--- Under Construction --


NUBIA (Kingdom of Kush, Sudan)

  • Began to domesticate animals 9th millennium BC and gathered wild grains

  • Then cultivated grains (sorghum and millet)

  • Spread westward when Sahara was cool

  • After desiccation (or "drying" of Sahara in 3000 BC) they moved south and east

  • Major trading state by end of 2nd millennium BC

  • By mid 1st mil. BC declined

  • Eventually replaced by state south of great bend of Nile River near Fourth Cataract - Meroe

  • After Egyptian kingdom fell apart

  • Govt = all-powerful monarch

  • Gained wealth and military power

  • To north via Nile and east and west via camel caravans

  • Flourished from 300 BC to 100 AD

  • Tombs of Nubian kings

  • Gold, jewelry, pottery from Egypt

  • Urban center

  • Weavers, merchants, potters, iron workers, masons, laborers servants, slaves

  • Rural areas

  • Herders and farmers, rain-based agriculture

  • Fell apart after AD 100

  • Deforestation

  • Conquest by neighboring state of Axum


  • Near iron deposits

  • Basis for area’s growing prosperity

  • Became major trading hub for iron goods and other manufacturers for the entire region

  • Connection with Egypt

  • At one point conquered Egypt

  • Kings and queens

  • All powerful monarchy

  • 10 queens ruling or co-ruling

  • State not as centralized.

  • Rainfall allowed for more geographical spread out than Egyptians

  • Egypt close to Nile

  • Trade – n/s on Nile and east west via camel.

  • Coptic for 1000 years

  • 300 to 1300 Coptic branch of Christianity dominated

  • Using Greek as language for worship

  • Construction churches in Coptic or Byzantine style

  • Rulers buried with sacrificed people

  • Mercants, weavers, potters, masons, servants, laborers and slaves

  • Iron tools and weapons

  • Rainfall was enough

  • Irrigation not needed

  • Agriculture flourished.

  • Wealth and miltiary power

  • From trading = profits

  • Lion god Apedemek

  • Meroitic writing

  • Kingdom declined

  • Deforestation

  • Trade routes switched

  • Wealth diminished

  • Kingdom fell to Axum

  • Later Nubian cities rise

  • Coptic Christian – 1000 year Nucia.

  • 1300 started to erode with Arab immigration and Islam

  • became part of Islamic world


AXUM (c. 100–940 AD)

  • Location: Mountainous highlands of Ethiopia

  • Main port: Adulis

  • Language: Ge'ez for religion, Amharic for daily conversation

  • Religion: Coptic Christian (see below)

  • Founders of Axum

  • Claimed descent from migrants from Saba (Sheba) across Red Sea

  • Transit point for goods from South Asia

  • Queen of Sheba had vast wealth

  • Saba declined because of desiccation of the Arabian Desert.

  • Axum survived for centuries

  • Trade

  • Prosperous because of location on commercial trade route

  • Ships from Egypt stopped regularly at port of Adulis near Red Sea

  • Merchants got products from African interior (animal hides, rhino horns, ivory, slaves)

  • Made money from taxing the trade

  • Red Sea to Indian Ocean

  • Falk of Meroe and rise of Axum changed patterns of trade

  • Agriculture

  • Used plowing as opposed to digging sticks used elsewhere

  • Allowed people to grow large supply of grain crops

  • Millet, barley, wheat in abundance

  • Led to rise in population

  • 50 CE developed into a state

  • Coins

  • Earlier inscribed with different gods

  • Later with cross

  • Axum expanded

  • To Mecca – military

  • Art and architecture

  • Monumental buildings and court culture

  • Capital city contained impressive architecture

  • Axum known for their stone obelisks

  • Royal grave markers, funeral monuments

  • King Lalibela (d. 1221) sponsored churches in rock

  • Religion

  • Around 356 CE,King Ezana converted to Christianity

  • Same time as Constantine

  • Rulers claimed descent from King Solomon

  • Through visit of queen of Sheba to Israel in biblical times

  • Followed the religion of Saba

  • Adopted Coptic Christianity

  • Possible as result of contacts with Egypt

  • Ethiopians speak Coptic to this day

  • Separated from Byzantine Christians by Muslim conquest of Egypt and Red Sea coast

  • Compared to Meroe

  • Meroe also adopted Christianity in the 340s CE

  • Both developed their own distinct writing scripts

  • A Mesolithic script eventually took the place of Egyptian-style writing

  • Both traded extensively with neighboring civilization

  • Exports

  • Ivory, frankincense, myrrh and slaves

  • Competed for ivory trade with neighboring state of Meroe

  • Axum hunters had imported iron weapons - sought elephants

  • 4th century provoked Axumite invasion of Meroe – conquered

  • Created empire that rivaled Rome and Persia

  • Imports

  • Textiles, metal goods, wine, olive oil

  • “hermit kingdom”

  • Home to Prester John – legendary Christian king of East Africa

  • Decline

  • Started to decline in 600s due to

  • Soil exhaustion and erosion (over-exploitation of farm land)

  • Deforestation

  • Rise and spread of Islam

  • Shift in trade routes from Red Sea to Arabian Peninsula and Persian Gulf

  • Arab world increasingly served as focus of regional trade

  • by 8th c. number of Muslim trading sttaes on African coast turned Axum into a landlocked country

  • By 9th c. the capital had been moved farther into mountainous interior

  • Axum transformed from maritime power to isolated agricultural society

  • Arab world increasingly served as focus of regional trade

  • At first

  • Relations between Christian Axum and Muslim neighbors peaceful

  • Axumite kingdom tried to compel coastal Islamic state to accept a tributary relationship

  • Axum became prime source for ivory, gold, resins (frankincense, myrrh) and slaves form south (Amharic plateau)

  • Beg. 12th c.

  • Relations between Axum and neighbors deteriorated

  • As Muslim states along coast began to move inland

  • To gain control over growing trade in slaves and ivory

  • Axum responded with force

  • Early 14th c.

  • Muslim state of Adal launched new attack

  • Axum internal change

  • Zagwe dynasty (mid 12th c.) centralized govt. and extended Christian faith throughout kingdom

  • Now known as Ethiopia

  • Military commanders (and those with ties to royal court) established vast landed estates to maintain security and facilitate collection of taxes

  • Christian missionaries established monasteries and churches to propagate faith.

  • Close relations between leaders of Coptic church in Egypt and Christian officials in Holy Land

  • Continued by the Solomonids

  • Who succeeded Zagwe dynasty in 1270

  • Holy war with Muslim Adal early 15th c.




  • South of Axum on shores of Indian Ocean

  • Mixture of People

  • Some depended on hunting, others pastoral


  • 3rd millennium BC

  • Farming people who spoke dialects of Bantu family began to migrate from homeland in Nigeria

  • “Migrations of Peoples”

  • Introduced cultivation of crops and knowledge of ironworking

  • Bantu settled in rural communities

  • Based on subsistence farming

  • Crops: millet and sorghum, yams, melons, beans

  • Iron tools to till land,

  • Domesticated animals (cattle, sheep, goats, chickens)

  • Most settlements small


  • Mixture of local Bantus and immigrants from Arabia

  • (“Land of the Zanj”)

  • Continue to live there today

  • Trade facilitated by monsoon winds

  • Traders from sea – from as far away as southeast Asia in 1st mill. CE

  • By 12th and 13th c.

  • A cosmopolitan culture eventually known as Swahili

  • From Arabic sahel (“coast”) began to emerge throughout seaboard area

  • Intermarriage between small number of immigrants and local population

  • Led to emergence of a ruling class of mixed heritage

  • Some had Arab or Persian ancestors

  • Many members of ruling class had converted to Islam

  • Mideast urban architectural styles and other aspects of Arab culture implanted within a society still predominantly African

  • Arabic words, phrases combined Bantu grammatical structures

  • Swahili language: National language of Kenya and Tanzania today


  • Vasco da Gama (Portuguese) went up east African coast towards India in 1497/8

  • He quarreled with local forces at Mozambique and Mombasa.

  • 2nd voyage to India 1502 - da Gama forced ruler of Kilwa to pay tribute and faced cannons on Swahili ports along east African coast.

  • 1505, massive Portuguese naval expedition subdued all Swahili cities from Sofala to Mombasa.

  • Portuguese built administrative centers at Mozambique and Malindi

  • And forts throughout the region

  • hoping to control trade in east Africa

  • They didn't succeed

  • but disrupted trade partners enough to send Swahili centers into decline (never recovered)


  • Brought cinnamon to Middle East, crossed Indian Ocean, to coast

  • Settlement on island of Madagascar

  • Introduced banana and yam


  • High yield and ability to grow in uncultivated rain forest

  • Became preferred crop of may Bantu people



  • The peoples who resided in the savannas set up trading systems joining the Mediterranean coast with the gold-producing areas of the forests

  • Along the Niger and Senegal Rivers.

  • States developed with the wealth established from the trade routes.

  • Takur, Ghana, Gao, and Kanem were all trade intermediaries.

GHANA (c. 400-c. 1200)

(not related to modern Ghana geographically or historically)

  • First of commercial state in West Upper Niger valley

  • Established before Islam

  • Height 9th to 12th c.


  • Grassland region (savannas) between Sahara and tropical forest along West African coast


  • Majority were farmers living in villages under local chieftains

  • United to form kingdom of Ghana


  • As trade and traffic across desert increased, Ghana went through transformation.

  • Became the most important commercial site in west Africa

  • Reason for growth -- Gold

  • (in high demand because of surging trade throughout eastern hemisphere.)

  • Ghana didn't produce gold

  • ​but


  • 8th c. merchants from Maghrib (north Africa)

  • Began to carry Muslim beliefs to savanna areas south of Sahara

  • Converts to Islam

  • First: local merchants and rulers

  • Royal family of Gao converted to Islam at end of 10th c.

  • Kings of Ghana made no attempt to impose Islam forcibly on their society

  • nor accepted Islam exclusively even for their own purposes

  • Instead continued to observe traditional religious customs

  • Continued practicing magic and kept idols in woods around royal palace at Koumbi-Saleh

  • By 1500 most of population in grasslands south of Sahara had converted

  • Political impact of Islam

  • Introduced Arabic as first written language in region

  • Muslim law codes and administrative practices came from Middle East

  • Islam provided local rulers with tools to increase their authority

  • Common religion united previously diverse people into a unified community

  • Ghana’s influence increased with its conversion in 985 C.E.

  • ​Brought Ghana recognition and support from Muslim states in north Africa


  • Ghana controlled the trans-Sahara trade

  • Sahara transformed into one of leading avenues of world trade (caravans)

  • Gold didn't come from Ghana

  • But Ghana's government taxed trade through the region.

  • Ghananian merchants were intermediaries between Berbers and the south

  • Transported gold to Morocco (Berbers)

  • Where it was distributed to world

  • In exchange for salt, cloth, manufactured goods

  • Other exports: ivory, ostrich feathers, hides, horses and slaves

  • Slaves from Berber tribesmen who seized African villages south of Sahara

  • Slaves sold to buyers in Europe or Middle East

  • Taxation of trade allowed rulers to militarize

  • Control of trade routes gave Ghana influence over subject states and provinces that depended on exchange of goods


  • ​Ghana kings financed a large army from levied taxes on trade

  • About 2,000 warriors who protected the sources of gold, maintained order and kept allied and tributary states in line

  • also defended Ghana against nomadic incursions from the Sahara

  • EXPANSION: Influence eventually extended into Sahara to towns along trade routes

  • CAPITAL: Kumbi Saleh

  • Extraordinarily wealthy

  • 15-20,000 people

  • Flourishing trade city with stone buildings and more than a dozen mosques

  • Home to many Islamic scholars and qadis (judges in Shari'a courts)

  • Divided into halves

  • One part reserved for ruling family and indigenous residents,

  • Other for Islamic scholars and merchants.


  • King - divine right

  • Responsible for maintaining security of kingdoms

  • Served as intermediary with local deities

  • Functioned as chief law officer to adjudicate disputes

  • Kings of Ghana did not convert to Islam themselves

  • Although they welcomed Muslim merchants

  • And didn’t discourage subjects from adopting Islam

  • Aristocracy

  • Hereditary aristocracy assisted king

  • Leading members of prominent clans were district chiefs responsible for law and order and collecting taxes


  • Empire flourished several hundred years

  • By 12th c. weakened

  • By ruinous wars with Berber marauders from north

  • 1076 Ghana fell to a group of Muslim revolutionaries, the Almoravids

  • Ghana's control over its empire waned

  • Collapsed by end of 12th c.

  • Political fragmentation: development of new African states in region

  • ​A number of new trading societies

  • Including large territorial empires

  • Mali and Songhai in the west

  • Kanem-Bornu in the east

  • Small commercial city-states like the Hausa states in northern Nigeria

  • Mali emerged as the most powerful of the new political units


  • Greatest empire that emerged after destruction of Ghana

  • SUNDIATA (r. 1230-1255)

  • Lion prince

  • Built the Mali empire in first half of 13th c. after returning from exile

  • While away, he made alliances with local rulers and gained reputation for courage in battles

  • By 1235 he consolidated his hold on Mali empire

  • ​Mali expanded to include Ghana and neighboring kingdoms in regions around Senegal and Niger rivers.


  • From Atlantic coast to Timbuktu and Gao on Niger River

  • Extended to present day Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone


  • Wealth and power of Mali built on trans-Saharan gold trade

  • On a larger scale than Ghana

  • ​From 13th - late 15th centry Mali controlled and taxed almost all trade passing through west Africa.

  • Caravans with as many as 25,000 camels linked Mali to north Africa

  • Money came from taxing commercial activities

  • Heartland of Mali, south of Sahara in savanna region, had enough moisture for farmers to grow sorghum, millet, rice.


  • Niani (Capital) attracted merchants seeking to enter gold trade

  • Other trade cities along caravan routes

  • Timbuktu, Gao, Jenne

  • All became prosperous centers featuring buildings of brick and stone


  • Like kings of Ghana, rulers of Mali honored Islam

  • And provided protection, lodging and comforts for Muslim merchants from the north.

  • But didn't force Islam on the realm

  • encouraged voluntary conversion


  • Farmers lived in villages ruled by a local chieftain called a mansa.

  • Responsible for forwarding tax revenues from village to higher levels of govt.

  • Mansa was both religious and administrative leader

  • MANSA MUSA (1312-1337)

  • Sundiata's grand-nephew

  • One of most powerful kings of Mali

  • ​Ruled during the high point of the empire

  • Wealthiest person in history

  • Devout Muslim, went on pilgrimage to Mecca (1324-25)

  • Brought so much gold on his journey that gold decreased in value as much as 25% worldwide

  • Founded 1000s of seasonal camps for caravan traders on Niger River

  • Primary contribution wasn't economic prosperity -- but Muslim faith

  • ​Mansa Musa encouraged building of mosques and study of Quran

  • Imported scholars and books

  • Including four descendants of Muhammad

  • To make Islam better known in Mali


  • Timbuktu (“well of Bouctu” – the name of a Tuareg woman)

  • Under Mansa Musa and successors

  • City emerged as major intellectual and cultural center in W. Africa

  • Site of schools of law, literature and sciences

  • City had a well-furnished court

  • Doctors, judges, priests, books, gold coins with no stamp

  • Cowrie shells for matters of small value


  • ​Within a century of Mansa Musa's regin Mali in serious decline

  • factions crippled the central government

  • provices seceded from the empire

  • military pressures from neighhboring kingdoms and desert nomads

  • By late 15th century, the Songhay empire had completely overcome Mali

  • But Mansa Musa and other Mali rulers had established a tradition of centralized government that Songhay realm would continue

  • ​Also ensured that Islm would have a prominent place in west African society over long term

SONGHAY EMPIRE (1464-1591)

  • Developed by 8th c.

  • CAPITAL: Gao (trading city)

  • ​75,000 residents

  • RISE: Replaced Mali as dominant power in West Africa by 15th c.

  • Rejected Mali authority

  • mounted raids deep into Mali territory

  • EMPEROR: Sunni Ali (r. 1464-1493)


  • Sunni Ali expanded the empire by conquering neighbors

  • ​Including important trading cities: Timbuktu and Jenne

  • Used their wealth to dominate central Niger valley


  • Sunni Ali built an elaborate administrative and miltiary apparatus to oversee affairs

  • Appointed governors to oversee provinces

  • Instituted hierarchy of command


  • Sunni Ali turned army into effective military force

  • He created an imperial navy to patrol Niger River (commercial highway)

  • Powerful military allowed Sunni Ali and sucessors to extend authority north into Sahara, east to Lake Chad and west to upper Niger R.


  • Like Ghana, became rich through lucrative trans-Saharan trade

  • Salt, textiles and metal south

  • Gold and slaves north


  • Emperors were all Muslims

  • Supported mosques, schools for Quran and Islamic university at Timbuktu

  • Valued Islam as cultural foundation for cooperation with Muslim merchants and Muslim states in north Africa.

  • But didn't abandon traditional religious practices

  • FALL

  • Last of great imperial states of grasslands

  • Songhay fell to Moroccan army in 1591

  • ​Opened fire on previously invincible Songhay military

  • Also suffered from revolts (people taking advantage of disorder to rise up)

  • A series of small regional kingdoms and city-states developed

  • After Songhay crumbled

  • ​series of small regional kingdoms and city-states emerged

  • Kanem-Bornu dominated area around Lake Chad

  • Hausa city-state to the west

  • Oyo and Asante - in forests south of grasslands

  • Diule and Mande on coasts

  • Trade moved to Atlantic


  • Cities without states

  • Urbanization without imperial or bureaucratic systems

  • Over course of 5 centuries

  • Waves of immigrants from Sahara and Sahel

  • Settled around Niger R.

  • Brought trades and herding practices

  • They did not develop state systems of either imperial or local city-stte variety

  • Iron working and other specialization s

  • In lieu of poltical hierarchy

  • Social straftficiation did develop around skilled crafts with iron working being most important

  • Regional West African trade system

  • As cities often lacked various raw mateirals and commodities

  • Increased long trade netowrks linked various cities with producers of minerals, agriculral goods an other comodities

  • Jenne-jeno

  • 40,000 people

  • Cities but not city-stats

  • More independent but coexisting

  • Remains show little sign of despotic power, warfare or inequlaity among people

  • Resemble early cities of Indus Valley

  • Cities specified

  • Iron smithing, cotton weaving, potters, leather workers and griots (singers of oral history)

  • Cities devleoped occupational caste system

  • Skills passed to children

  • And marriage in group only

  • Boat travel along Niger River

  • Trade – evidence of widespread trade in Africa

  • City-based civilization

  • Biggest city= Jenne-jeno (about 40,000 people)

  • No monarch, emperor. Or other kind fo leader controlling the cities

  • Not city-states because each city did NOT have its own indivdiual monarch and/or bureacracy

  • City “clusters”

  • Clusters of econoically specialized settlements surrounded a larger central town

  • Large central town

  • Surrounded by

  • Griots (praise-singers who preserved and recited the oral traditions of their socities)

  • Leather workers

  • Potters

  • Cotton weavers

  • Iron smiths

  • Artisan communities became occupational castes

  • Skills and jobs were passed down to children

  • Only allowed to marry within your own group

  • IN rural areas surrounding these urban clusters

  • Were the farmers

  • Specialization

  • Fishing, rice cultivation, animal domestication

  • Niger region witnessed the creation of large cities with the apparent absence of a corresponding state structure.

  • These cities were not like the city-states of ancient Mesopotamia

  • Instead they wer close to the early cities of the Indus Valley civilization

  • Where complex urban centers also apparently operated without the coercive authoirty of a centralized state.


  • South of Zambezi River.

  • Mixed economy

  • Farming, cattle herding, commercial pursuits early 1st mill. CE

  • Villages inside walled enclosures

  • To protect animals at night

  • Zimbabwe

  • Between Zambezi and Limpopo Rivers

  • 12th to mid 15th c. Zimbabwe most powerful, most prosperous state in region

  • Major role in gold trade with Swahili trading communities in east.

  • Great Zimbabwe

  • “Zimbabwe” means “stone house” in Bantu language

  • Zimbabwe’s capital

  • Illustration of kingdom’s power and influence

  • Strategically located

  • Between substantial gold reserves to west

  • And small river leading to coast

  • Trade coast to interior

  • Sits on hill overlooking the river

  • Surrounded by stone walls

  • Enclosed an area large enough to hold over 10,000 residents

  • Like Inca

  • Stacked stone blocks without mortar to build walls

  • Houses stone or cement

  • Common people houses of dried mud and thatched roofs

  • Artifacts

  • Household implements and ornaments of gold, copper, jewelry, porcelain from China

  • Most of royal wealth from two sources

  • Ownership of cattle

  • Ability to levy heavy taxes on the gold that passed through to coast.

  • City abandoned middle 15th c.

  • Possibly because of environmental damage caused by overgrazing

  • With decline of Zimbabwe

  • Focus of economic power shifted northward to valley of Zambezi River.



  1. Art for expressing religious convictions and communal concerns

  2. Oldest – rock paintings

  3. Most famous in Tassili Mountains in central Sahara from 5000 BC

  4. Show two-horse chariots to transport goods before camel

  5. Also rock paintings in Nile valley

  6. San rock paintings

  7. Illustrations of ritual ceremonies

  8. In which village shamans induce rain, propitiate spirits or cure illnesses

  9. African wood carvings and sculpture

  10. Statues, masks, headdresses carved from living trees (after artist sacrifice to tree’s spirit)

  11. Masks and headdresses

  12. Won by costumed singers and dancers in performances to various spirits

  13. Show intimacy of African with natural world

  14. Mali 3 foot tall Ci Wara headdresses

  15. One female, other male

  16. Celebrate mythical hero who had introduced agriculture

  17. Metal ware

  18. 13th and 14th c.

  19. Metal workers at Ife (southern Nigeria) made bronze and iron statues

  20. Using lost-wax method

  21. Melted wax in a mod is replaced by molten metal

  22. Music

  23. Music and dance served a religious function

  24. Heavy rhythmic beat, dances were means of communicating with the spirits

  25. Frenzied movements intended to represent the spirits acting through humans

  26. Instruments

  27. drums, percussion, xylophones, bells, horns, flutes,

  28. Stringed instruments (fiddle, harp, zither)

  29. gourds, pots, bells, sticks, hand clapping

  30. voice

  31. musical instruments and voice woven together to tell a story

  32. “talking drum” -- To represent voice

  33. Pattern of repetition and variation

  34. “call and response”

  35. Audience participated into eh music by uttering a single phrase over and over as a choral response to changing call sung by soloist

  36. Carried by slaves to Americas

  37. Today in gospel music sung by African American congregations

  38. Music

  39. Social rituals (weddings, funerals, religious ceremonies, official inaugurations)

  40. Education

  41. Passing on to young people information about history and social traditions

  42. No written languages in sub-Saharan Africa (except Arabic used in Muslim societies in east and West Africa)

  43. Music was primary means of transmitting folk legends and religious traditions from generation to generation

  44. Oral tradition

  45. Priestly class or specialized class of storytellers (griots)

  46. Architecture

  47. Pyramids along Nile

  48. Earliest surviving architectural form

  49. Adopted by Meroe during last centuries of first millennium BC

  50. Used for same purpose as Giza,

  51. Pyramids at Meroe distinctive in style

  52. Smaller and topped with flat platform rather than rising to a point

  53. Zimbabwe

  54. Ruins of Great Zimbabwe south of Zambezi river

  55. Constructed without mortar

  56. Outer wall and public buildings = creativity

  57. Moorish palaces at Zanzibar

  58. West Africa

  59. Turreted mud mosques

  60. Buildings of stone were rarity until 1st millennium CE

  61. Most of population houses of dried mud

  62. Leo Africanus 16th c. traveler

  63. To Guinea on West African coast

  64. Houses of ruler and other elites built of chalk with straw roofs

  65. East coast

  66. Architecture of elite reflected Middle Eastern styles

  67. Coastal towns and islands

  68. From Mogadishu to Kilwa

  69. Houses of wealthy built of stone and reflected Arabic influence

  70. Commoners lived in huts of mud, thatch, palm leaves

  71. Mosques normally built of stone

  72. Axum

  73. stone pillars (stelae)

  74. Used to mark tombs of dead kings

  75. Some 100 feet

  76. Christianity

  77. During Zagwe dynasty, churches carved out of solid rock constructed throughout country

  78. Earliest built in 8th c. CE

  79. Combined indigenous techniques from pre-Christian period with elements borrowed from Christian churches in Holy Land

  80. Literature

  81. In sense of written works – did not exist in sub-Saharan Africa

  82. Except where Islam had brought Arabic script form Middle East

  83. African societies compensated for absence of a written language

  84. With a rich tradition of oral lore

  85. Bard (griot) – a professional storyteller

  86. Way history was transmitted orally from generation to generation

  87. West Africa Bards highly esteemed

  88. Served as counselors to kings

  89. As well as protectors of local tradition

  90. Bards revered for their oratory and singing skills, phenomenal memory and astute interpretation of history

  91. Death of a bard was like burning of a library

  92. Bards served necessary functions in society

  93. Chroniclers of history

  94. Preservers of social customs and proper conduct

  95. Entertainers who possessed a monopoly over the playing of several musical instruments

  96. Which accompanied their narratives

  97. Often were mediator between hostile families or clans

  98. Credited with possessing occult powers

  99. Could read divinations

  100. Give blessings and curses

  101. Advisor to the king

  102. Sometimes inciting him to action (like battle) through the passion of their poetry

  103. When captured by the enemy

  104. Bards often treated with respect and released

  105. Or compelled to serve the visitor with their art

  106. Epic of Son-Jara (Sunjata, Sundiata)

  107. West African poem

  108. Passed won orally by bards for 700 years

  109. Heroic exploits of Son-Jara

  110. Founder of Mali’s empire

  111. Its ruler from 1230 to 1255

  112. More celebrated than Mansa Musa

  113. Women

  114. Appreciated for their story-telling talents

  115. Role as purveyors of the moral values, religious beliefs

  116. Women were glue that held community together


  1. Zanj (referring to “burnt skin” of indigenous population

  2. 7th and 8th c.

  3. People from Arabian peninsula and Persian gulf began to settle at ports along coast

  4. And on small islands offshore

  5. Middle of 10th c.

  6. A Persian from Shiraz to area with six sons

  7. Small fleet stopped along coast – each son disembarked on one of the coastal islands

  8. And founded a small community

  9. These communities grew into important commercial centers

  10. Mombasa, Pemba, Zanzibar (coast of Zanj), Kilwa

  11. African merchants served as middlemen

  12. Between interior and traders from ports around Indian Ocean

  13. 9th/10th c.

  14. String of trading ports from Mogadishu (capital of Somalia in north) to Kilwa (south of present-day Dar es Salaam) in south

  15. Kilwa important

  16. Near s. limit for ship hoping to complete round-trip journey in single season.

  17. One of most magnificent cities of its day.

  18. Goods traded

  19. Exports: Ivory, gold, rhinoceros horn exported (to China)

  20. Imports: iron goods, glassware, Indian textiles, Chinese porcelain

  21. Lavish stone palaces

  22. Some still standing in Mombasa and Zanzibar

  23. Ibn Battuta

  24. 14th c. Arab traveler

  25. Described Kilwa as “amongst the most beautiful cities, most elegantly built

  26. Wood and ceilings of reeds

  27. Husini Kubwa

  28. Massive palace with vaulted roofs capped with domes and elaborate stone carvings

  29. Surrounding an inner courtyard

  30. Most of coastal states self-governing

  31. Sometimes several towns groups together under a single dominant authority

  32. Government revenue

  33. From taxes imposed on commerce

  34. Merchants sometime resorted to force to obtain goods from inland peoples


  1. Subordinate to men but valued for their work

  2. Polygyny common – esp. in Muslim societies

  3. Women worked in fields while men tended cattle and hunted

  4. Young girls sent into mines to extract gold (smaller )

  5. Key differences between women in Africa and elsewhere

  6. Matrilinear lineage (not patrilinear)

  7. Inheritance to sons of sister before own son

  8. Women could inherit property

  9. Husband into wife’s house

  10. Relations relaxed

  11. Ibn Battuta – women are companions of men


  1. Enormous in 17th and 18th centuries

  2. Originate when prisoners of war forced into perpetual servitude

  3. Common in ancient Egypt

  4. Prevalent during New Kingdom when slaving expeditions bought back 1000s of captives form upper Nile to be used in labor gangs, for tribute, as human sacrifices

  5. 10th c.

  6. Berber tribes may have regularly raided agricultural communities south of Sahara for captives

  7. Transported northward to Mediterranean

  8. Soldiers or domestic servants


  1. 7TH C. spread across North Africa

  2. Isolated Christian state of Axum to south

  3. Although East Africa and West Africa south of Sahara

  4. Not occupied by Arab forces,

  5. But Islam eventually penetrated area

  6. African relgion before Islam

  7. Pantheism

  8. Belief in single creator god from whom all things came

  9. Sometimes creator god accompanied by pantheon of lesser deities

  10. Ashanti people of Ghana in West Africa

  11. Believed in supreme being called Nyame

  12. Whose sons were lesser gods

  13. Each son had different prupose (rain, compassion, sunshine)

  14. Worship of Nyame was exclusive preserve of king through his priests

  15. Common people worshiped Nyame’s sons (interceded with father on behalf of ordinary Africans)

  16. Ancestor worship

  17. Lineage group or clan traced to founding ancestor

  18. Ancestral souls would into be extinguished as long as lineage group continued to perform rituals in their name

  19. Believes challenged but no always replaced by arrival of Islam

  20. Islam’s rejection of spirit worship and a priestly class ran counter to beliefs of many Africans

  21. Was often ignored in practice

  22. Also separation of sexes

  23. Contrasted with informal relationships that prevailed in many African societies.

4 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Alien and Sedition Acts Passed by John Adams 1820-1860 Irish immigration Irish potato famine Many were Catholic German immigrants Most to midwest to buy farms in Milwaukee, St. Louis, Cincinnati 1849

1400S 1453 Ottoman Empire takes Constantinople End of Hundred Years War 1469 Isabella and Ferdinand get married uniting Castile and Aragon 1488 Bartholomeu Dias sails around the Cape of Good Hope 1492