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Sub-Sahara Africa. Lsn 9. ID & SIG.

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Sub-Sahara Africa

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Sub sahara africa l.jpg

Sub-Sahara Africa

Lsn 9


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ID & SIG

  • Bantu iron metallurgy, Bantu migrations, chiefdoms, Gao, gold trade, Great Zimbabwe, Islam in Africa, kin-based society, Kilwa, Kingdom of Ghana, Kingdom of Kongo, Kingdom of Mali, Kingdom of Songhay, Mansa Musa, Swahili Coast, Timbuktu, trans-Sahara trade route


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Part 1: Sub-Sahara AfricaTheme: The impact of trade

Lsn 9


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Bantu

  • Among the most influential people of ancient Sub-Sahara Africa were those who spoke the Bantu languages

  • Bantu people showed an early readiness to migrate

    • Canoes enabled the Bantu to move easily

    • Agricultural surpluses enabled the Bantu to increase their population more rapidly than the hunting, gathering, and fishing people


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Bantu

  • After about 1000 B.C., Bantu began to produce iron tools which enabled them to clear land and expand their zone of agriculture

  • Iron weapons allowed them to defeat competitors

Iron spearheads and

hoes gave the Bantu

an advantage


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Political Organization

  • By 1000 A.D, most of the migrations were complete

  • Instead of continued migrations, Africans developed increasingly complex forms of government that enabled them to organize their existing societies more efficiently

  • Initially the Bantu established “stateless societies” in which they governed themselves mostly through family and kinship groups


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Political Organization

  • Stateless societies worked well in small-scale communities but as they grew into large populations, resources became strained and conflicts became more frequent

  • Bantu communities began to organize themselves militarily and this development encouraged more formal structures of government

    • Chiefdoms overrode kinship networks and imposed their own authority

  • In general, between 1000 and 1500, clusters of smaller entities gradually formed into larger states


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Kingdom of the Kongo: Toward Centralization

  • One of the most active areas of political development was the basin of the Congo (or Zaire) River

    • One of the most prosperous of the Congolese states was the Kingdom of the Kongo


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Kingdom of the Kongo: Toward Centralization

  • Perhaps the most tightly centralized of the early Bantu kingdoms

    • King and his officials who oversaw military, judicial, and financial affairs

    • Six provinces administered by governors

    • Each province had several districts administered by subordinate officials

    • Each district had villages ruled by chiefs


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African Empires: Kingdoms Built on Trade

West Africa

(Ghana, Mali, Songhay)

East Africa

(Swahili

Coast,

Kilwa)

Southern

Africa

(Great

Zimbabwe)


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Characteristics of a Civilization

  • Intensive agricultural techniques

  • Specialization of labor

  • Cities

  • A social hierarchy

  • Organized religion and education

  • Development of complex forms of economic exchange

  • Development of new technologies

  • Advanced development of the arts. (This can include writing.)


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Agriculture


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Agriculture: Bananas

  • The principal result of the Bantu migrations was to spread agriculture to almost all parts of Africa

  • Yams, sorghum, and millet were dietary staples

  • In the early centuries A.D., bananas brought from Asia by Malay seafarers, became well established in Africa

  • The introduction of bananas introduced a fresh migratory surge

    • Iron metallurgy and bananas were the keys to population growth


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Cities


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Cities: Timbuktu

  • Located on the southern edge of the Sahara; served as an important post on the trans-Sahara caravan route

    • Founded 1100 A.D. as a seasonal camp by nomads

  • Incorporated within the Mali Empire by Mansa Musa who built the Great Mosque of Djingareyber and a royal residence, the Madugu

Djingareyber


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Cities: Timbuktu

  • Center for the expansion of Islam

    • Intellectual and spiritual capital

    • Home of Sankore, a Koranic university

  • In the 14th century Timbuktu became an important focal point of the gold-salt trade

    • With the influx of North African merchants came the settlement of Muslim scholars


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Cities: Gao

  • Mansa Musa expanded Mali’s influence into Gao which, like Timbuktu, was a terminus for trans-Saharan caravans

  • As Mali declined, Gao reasserted itself and eventually became the Songhay Empire


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Cities: Kilwa

  • On the east coast (Swahili Coast), Kilwa was one of the busiest city-states

  • Traded gold, slaves, and ivory obtained from the interior for cotton, silk, perfume and pearls from India and porcelain from China


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Cities: Great Zimbabwe

  • zimbabwe means dwelling of a chief

  • About the early 13th Century, a huge stone complex known as Great Zimbabwe began to arise in what is now Tanzania

  • Walls 32 feet high and 16 feet thick

  • Stone towers, palaces, and public buildings

  • At its height during the late 15th Century, up to 18,000 people lived in the vicinity of Great Zimbabwe


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Cities: Great Zimbabwe

  • Kings residing at Great Zimbabwe controlled and taxed trade between the interior and coastal regions

    • Organized flow of gold, ivory, slaves, and local products from sources of supply to the coast


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Social Hierarchy

Sunni Ali

King of Songhay (1464-1493)

Painting by Leo Dillon


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Kingdoms, empires, city states

Ruling elites

Military nobles

Administrative officials

Religious authorities

Wealthy merchants

Artisans

Business entrepreneurs

Common people

Peasants

Slaves

Small states and kin-based societies

Aristocratic or ruling elite

Religious authorities

Beyond that principal considerations were kinship, sex and gender expectations, and age groupings

Social Hierarchy


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Social Hierarchy: Kinship Groups

  • Extended families and clans served as the main foundation of social and economic organization

    • Villagers functioned in society first as members of a family or clan

  • Notion of private property ownership did not exist in sub-Sahara Africa

    • Communities claimed rights to land and used it in common

  • Villages consisted of several extended family groups

  • Male heads of families jointly governed the village


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Social Hierarchy: Sex and Gender Relations

  • Sex largely determined work roles

    • Men usually did the heavy labor

    • Both sexes participated in planting and harvesting

    • Women tended to domestic chores and child rearing

  • Men largely monopolized public authority but women in sub-Sahara Africa generally had more opportunities than their counterparts elsewhere

    • Women enjoyed high honor as the sources of life

    • Women acted as merchants

    • Some women engaged in combat and formed all-female military units

    • Even the arrival of Islam did not drastically curtail opportunities for women


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Social Hierarchy: Age Grades

  • Members of age grades performed tasks appropriate for their development and bonded with one another socially and politically

  • Age grades offered some integration to a society otherwise organized based on family and kinship


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Social Hierarchy: Slavery

  • Most slaves were captives of war

    • Others were debtors, suspected witches, and criminals

  • Slaveholding allowed owners to advance their personal wealth in the absence of private land ownership

  • After the 9th Century, expanded trade stimulated interest in slave traffic

    • Slave raiding increased to meet the demand

    • The Islamic slave trade between 750 and 1500 created a foundation for the future Atlantic slave trade


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Economic Exchange

Empire of Mali in the fourteenth century (dashed lines trace the main trans-Saharan routes of the period)


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Economic Exchange: Camels

  • Camels came to north Africa from Arabia, by way of Egypt and the Sudan, around the 7th Century B.C.

  • A caravan took 70 to 90 days to cross the Sahara, so the camel’s ability to travel long distances without water made it very useful

  • After about 300 A.D., camels had replaced horses and donkeys as the preferred means of transportation across the Sahara


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Economic Exchange: Gold

  • The Kingdom of Ghana became the most important commercial site in west Africa because it was the center for trade in gold

  • Ghana itself did not produce gold but the kings obtained gold from lands to the south and became wealthy by controlling and taxing the trade

  • Muslim merchants were especially eager to procure gold for customers in the Mediterranean basin and the Islamic world

  • Ghana also provided ivory and slaves

    • In exchange they received horses, cloth, small manufactured wares, and salt


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Economic Exchange: Gold

  • Mali benefited from trans-Sahara trade even more than did Ghana

  • From 13th until the late 15th Century Mali controlled and taxed almost all the trade passing through west Africa

  • The most prominent period was under the reign of Mansa Musa from 1312 to 1337


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Mansa Musa

  • Expanded the kingdom of Mali by capturing the neighboring kingdom of Songhay and making its major city Timbuktu an important trade center

  • Made a pilgrimage to Mecca in 1324-1325 and dispensed so much gold in Cairo that the value of gold declined up to 25% on local markets

Facsimile of a map drawn in Spain and dated to 1375, showing Mansa Musa, the king of Mali, holding a gold nugget.


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Religion and Education

Great Mosque at Kilwa


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Native Religion

  • Many African recognized a creator god as the single divine force responsible for setting the world in motion and providing it with order

  • Beneath him were many lesser gods associated with the sun, wind, rain, trees, rivers, and other natural features

    • Unlike the supreme creator god, these lesser gods actively participated in the workings of the world

  • Diviners were religious specialists who had the power to mediate between humanity and supernatural beings


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Religion: Christianity

  • Around the middle of the 4th Century, Christianity established a foothold in the Kingdom of Axum, in the highlands of modern Ethiopia

    • Missionaries later established monasteries

    • From the 12th through the 16th Century, Christianity was especially strong in Ethiopia

    • As Islam spread, Ethiopian Christians became isolated from other Christian lands and therefore retained much of the original theology and rituals

    • Not until the 16th Century did visiting Portuguese mariners expose Ethiopian Christians to Christians from other lands

Church of St. George

at Lalibela, Ethiopia


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Influence of Trade on Religion

  • Contact with Muslim merchants encouraged sub-Sahara west Africans and coastal east Africans to adopt Islam

  • It served as a cultural foundation for business relationships

    • Yet African ruling elites and merchants did not convert for purely mercenary reasons; they took their new faith seriously


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Muslim Influence in West Africa

  • Muslim traders came on land routes which allowed Islam to spread wherever they traveled

  • Rulers like Mansa Musa supported Islamic scholars which spread the religion through religious schools and education

Mosque at Djenne


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Muslim Influence of the Swahili Coast

  • Islam arrived on the African coast in many waves, at different times, rather than in one great sweep

    • Because Muslim traders came via ship, penetrations were very localized compared to in west Africa

  • The Great Mosque at Kilwa built in the 12th Century is the oldest remaining mosque on the east African coast

Great Mosque at Kilwa


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Specialization

West African gold merchants using weights and measures


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Specialization

  • Textile and pottery production

  • Metalsmithing

  • Leatherworking

  • Mining

  • Architecture

  • Trading

  • Religious scholars


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New Technologies

Gold bearing quartz vein at Essakan in modern Burkina Faso in west Africa


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Mining and Iron

  • The Kingdoms of Mali, Ghana, and Songhay all used superior iron metallurgy to gain advantages over their neighbors in terms of weapons and tools

  • Bambuk and Takkeda were mined for gold and copper


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Mud Construction

  • Mansa Musa commissioned Abu-Ishaq Ibrahim-es-Saheli to construct his royal palace and the Djingareyber Mosque at Timbuktu

  • Es-Saheli introduced the use of burnt brick and mud as a building material to the region

  • Each year before the torrential summer rains, residents replastered the mosque’s walls and roof with mud


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Art and Writing

Manuscript from Timbuktu


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Books: Timbuktu

  • As a center of learning and religious scholarship, Timbuktu became a vast hub for books

  • Books were written, stored, copied, imported, and distributed there

  • Currently some 18,000 manuscripts, many from ancient libraries, are housed in the Ahmed Baba Centre, named after the famous 15th century Timbuktu scholar, Ahmed Baba


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Art: Lost-wax Process

  • Create a wax sculpture of the desired object

  • Encase it in soft clay to create a clay mold

  • Bake the clay, causing the wax to melt

  • Pour hot molten metal into the mold

  • When the metal cools, break the clay mold to reveal the object

Gold weights from Ghana made

using the lost-wax process


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Next Lesson

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