West african societies and empires
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West African Societies and Empires. Chapter 5 and 6. Human and Environmental Interactions. Depend on the Environment Adapt to the Environment Modify the Environment. Africa. 2 nd Largest continent Deserts Rift Valleys Rainforests. Social Structures. AGE-Sets Extended Family.

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West African Societies and Empires

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West African Societies and Empires

Chapter 5 and 6

Human and Environmental Interactions

  • Depend on the Environment

  • Adapt to the Environment

  • Modify the Environment


  • 2nd Largest continent

  • Deserts

  • Rift Valleys

  • Rainforests

Social Structures

  • AGE-Sets

  • Extended Family

In the Village

  • There was a family

  • Mom, dad, brothers and sisters

In the Village

  • There was an extended family

  • Mom, Dad, sisters, brothers and close relatives

In the Village

  • There were age-sets

  • People of the same age helped each other out


  • Everyone had specific jobs in their family and village


  • Hunted and farmed

    • Crops: Millet and sorghum

    • Raised goats and sheep


  • Collected firewood

  • Ground Grain

  • Carried Water

  • Looked after children

Elders (old people)

  • Taught family traditions to the younger generations

    • Songs, dances and stories

    • Community history and values


  • Worked beside the older family members as soon as they were able




  • Religion was similar from village to village

  • Animism

    • Belief that bodies of water animals, trees and other natural objects had spirits


  • Traditional beliefs

    • unseen spirits of ancestors stayed near by

    • Families offered food to these ancestors

Traditional Beliefs

  • Traditional beliefs were based off of the families. The families were the basic group of village society.

  • Traditional: customary or time-honored

Trade: Movement

  • GOLD

  • SALT


  • Dates: raised in desert oasis

  • Kola Nuts: Used for medicines


  • Salt: When ancient lakes dried up they left salt behind

  • Gold: found in secret mines and used for jewelry

Culture and Trade

  • When west Africa was damp people lived further apart because they could rely on the earths resources, but as time changed the earth got dryer and people had to live closer together to depend on one another. Thus came SOCIAL STRUCTURES!!

Technology brought change

  • Heating rock= IRON

  • IRON= Strong tools

  • STRONG TOOLS= more crops

  • MORE CROPS= trading

  • Nok people became good farmers and hunters and gained power


  • Desert Trade

    • Not so smart people used horses, but horses had to stop and drink at every oasis

    • Then they started used camels 200AD

    • Camels allowed people to cross the desert in 2 months

    • They formed caravans

    • Berbers were know for crossing the desert


  • Desert Trade was dangerous because

    • Supplies ran low

    • Thieves

    • Loose their way (sand was everywhere)


  • Gold and Salt Mine=MONEY MONEY MONEY

  • Camels carried gold and salt from the Sahara desert in the north to the south for trade

  • EUROPE and the ISLAMIC world received gold and salt

  • Along with gold and salt, they traded cloth, copper, and silver and sold humans


  • Famous trading center in 1100AD

Ghana.The First Empire

  • Story Time

  • Once upon a time, way far away in West Africa, grew a country named Ghana. Now Ghana was not like most countries

  • It was special. See Ghana was the center of trade. And the trade all started with the Soninke. But who were the Soninke?

  • The Soninke were farmers in 300AD. They banned together and united to form Ghana. They were amazing farmers. They farmed across the Niger River and most of West Africa.

  • The Soninke were not only good farmers but they were smart. They used Iron tools to farm. And soon more food meant more people and Ghana became the center for trade.

  • Ghana was the center of trade. Salt came from the North and Gold came from the South. Ghana was growing and growing.

  • Trading happened like this: The people who owned the salt and gold would trade each other for goods. But they would trade without ever contacting each other.

  • But how?

  • Through Silent Barter, a process in which people exchange goods without ever contacting each other directly. Gold mines had to be kept secret from the salt traders. SHHHH.

  • So this trading went on and on. AND ON

  • So over time the trading increased so Ghana's power grew and military grew too. Ghana was in control of the trade routes.

  • Soon thanks to trade, Ghanas capitol city became the largest in west Africa. KOUMBI SALEH

  • Ghana was doing just fine, and in 800AD Ghana was in control of the trade routes. Ghana even protected the traders with an Army. But

  • Ghana was becoming greedy and wanted to look for a way to make more money. SO..

  • In came taxes. Ghanas rulers forced

  • traders to pay taxes.

  • The people of Ghana had to pay taxes

  • Tribes they conquered had to pay taxes.

  • Money Money Money from taxes. So they built a stronger army with all the money.

  • The Gold trade was getting so big that the Gold Mines were producing enough gold to trade with England. But

  • The Kings made a rule.

  • The people of Ghana could own only gold dust, but the kings could own Gold Nuggets. So

  • The kings got richer. And used the money to build the Empire GHANA. So they conquered land.


  • King of conquered land

  • King of conquered land

  • King of conquered land

  • The greatest of all greatest kings was TUNKA MANIN. But a great empire like Ghana cant last forever

  • SO.

  • In the mid 1060s AD Ghana was Rich and Powerful, but by the 1200s Ghana was no More. But how, you might ask?

  • Remember the Islamic Empire.A Muslim group Almorvids attacked Ghana in 1060 and wanted to convert everyone to Islam.

  • The people of Ghana fought them for 14 years, and won, but the Almoravids, weaken this once strong empire.

  • The Almoravids came in and brought herds of animals into Ghana, and the animals ate all the grass, this left the soil exposed and the land worthless. So.

  • No food, means hungry people and hungry people get angry and soon Ghana was at war with each other, and the empire collapsed.

  • The End

Mali Empire

  • Story time

  • There once was an EmpireMali. This Empire was special, as it lay in the fertile land on the Niger river. The Niger River helped this Empire grow into a HUGE POWERFUL EMPIRE. But that did not happen over night.

  • There was a leader named Sundiata and he was a warrior, but also a magician.

  • Sundiata was a son of a pervious King. And boy did he hate his father. So he made an army and.

  • Over took his fathers kingdom. Sundiata then continued to conquer near by kingdoms.

  • Sundiata took over the salt and gold traders and he worked. He worked to

  • Improver Agriculture. He grew beans, onions, rice. (NOT for Tacos). He also grew.

  • Cotton. And he did not farm this cotton, oh no, he had slaves farm it. But where did he get these slaves?

  • The people he conquered would become his slaves.

  • Not only did he make the people slaves, but he took power from both the people and local leaders he conquered.

  • When Sundiata died in 1255AD his son took power and then when his son died Muslims came to power.

  • But what is a Mansa

  • A Mansa is a person who had both political and religious rulessuch as Mansa Musa.

  • Mansa Musa came to power in 1300.

  • He was Muslim and wanted to spread Islam to West Africa. ( Remember the Rise and Spread of Islam?)

  • So Mansa Musa ruled Mali for 25 years. He was in charge of these important trade routes:

  • Timbuktu, Gao, Djenne.

  • But Mansa Musa had a big head and though he was the best, sooo

  • In 1324 Mansa Musa left Mali and went to make his pilgrimage to Mecca. But this trip was not like every other trip.

  • You see Mansa Musa traveled with 100 camels, 300 pounds of gold on EACH camel, and 60,000 men. Well his first stop was

  • Cairo Egypt, and Mansa Musa made such an impression that Mali became famous throughout Africa, Asia and Europe.

  • So Mansa Musa was looked at as a very important leader, but Ms. M liked him for a different reason

  • You see

  • Mansa Musa Supported Education!!!! He sent scholars to Morocco and these Scholars set up schools in Mali for studying.

  • In the schools they studied the Quran, and Arabic was the main language for the Government and Religion.

  • Mansa Musa was determined to spread Islam to West Africa, so he built mosques thought-out the empire. And many Muslims from Asia, Egypt and other parts of Africa visited Mali.

  • But all great Empires have to come to an end. Sooo.

  • Mali Fell. But how?

  • Poor Leadership. You see Mansa Musa had a son Maghan and was not a strong leader.

  • Mali had become to large to control and cities were declaring independent. Then in 1431 Tuareg nomads from the Sahara desert seized Timbuktu.

  • And in the 1500s AD Most of the conquered lands were lost. Only a small area of Mali remained.

  • The End

  • Songhai Empire

  • Once upon a time, there was an Empire Songhai. Now this Empire was similar to the other two Empires.

  • See way back when. Songhai used to be part of the Mali empire, until the Songhai people broke free.


  • And now the Songhai participated in the trade that made Ghana and Mali so Rich. You see

  • Songhais capitol was Goa. One of the most famous trade cities.

  • And by 1300s Songhai was becoming rich and powerful. POW!!

  • The Songhai were Muslims and so they traded with another Muslim group the Berbers. And the Songhai were getting


  • The Songhai were getting so rich that they were building a strong empire. And soon Sunni Ali came to power.

  • Sunni Ali was leader in 1464 and he worked hard to organize, strengthen and unify the empire.

  • Sunni Ali conquered Timbuktu and Djeene from Mali and encouraged his people to work together

  • Sunni Ali participated in both Muslim and traditional religion, which allowed him to be liked all around.

  • Sunni Ali brought peace and stability to Songhai. The people were very saddened when he died in 1492. (the same year Columbus sailed the ocean blue)

  • Then came Muhammad Ture, AKA, Askia the Great. But what is an Askia?

  • An Askia is the highest military rank.

  • Askia the great was a great man.

  • He took religion seriously and he supported Education.

  • Timbuktu soon had, universities, schools, libraries and mosques. The most famous of all was the University of Sankore

  • The Songhai Empire was growing and growing. Djenne was becoming the center of learning also.

  • In Djenne, scientist found out that mosquitos spread malaria. This was a very important finding for the people of Songhai.

  • Timbuktu, Djeene and Goa were all becoming busy trade cities thanks to Askia the Great.

  • Askia even organized his government. He organized it into five provinces and allowed local leaders to rule.

  • Askia even created special departments to oversee certain tasks in the government. And he had Muslim influence on the government.

  • Askia also created an Army. All was well in the Songhai Empire.until.

  • Askia lost power to his son in 1528.

  • His son was not a good leader, and in came the Moroccan invasion.

  • The Moroccan ruler decide to attack Songhai for the gold and salt. But this attack was not like any other attack. You see

  • The Moroccans brought cannons and arquebus (guns). And it was all over for the Songhai.

  • The End

West African

  • Historical and Artistic Traditions

  • West African societies had no written language. What they did write down was in Arabic.

  • Types of people who could write:

  • Muslim traders

  • Government officials

  • Religious leaders

  • Oral History

  • Is a spoken record of past events

  • Africa story tellers were called GROITS

  • The Groits were highly respected, and kept history alive. They told stories of deeds of people ancestors and stories of the rise and fall of West Africa.

  • Epics were long poems about kingdoms and hero's

  • Dausi Epic- Tells about Ghana

  • Sudiata Epic- Tells about Mali

  • Much of West African stories come from travelers or scholars from Muslim lands such as Spain or Arabia Peninsula

  • West African Arts

  • Sculptures made of wood, brass, clay, stone, ivory and other materials

  • Masks made of hyenas, lions, monkeys and antelopes

  • Kenteis the hand-woven brightly colored fabric

  • Dances ere important visual arts

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