The empire of songhai
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The Empire of Songhai. Similarities to Mali and Ghana. Songhai was made rich through trade. They owned important salt mines. They were located on important trans-Saharan trade routes. They worked with Berber caravan leaders. Songhai’s leaders were Muslims.

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The Empire of Songhai

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The empire of songhai

The Empire of Songhai


Similarities to mali and ghana

Similarities to Mali and Ghana

  • Songhai was made rich through trade.

    • They owned important salt mines.

    • They were located on important trans-Saharan trade routes.

    • They worked with Berber caravan leaders.

  • Songhai’s leaders were Muslims.

  • Songhai depended on the Niger River for water, trade and travel.


Conflict with mali

Conflict with Mali

  • Mali and Songhai occupied roughly the same area.

  • Mansa Musa (the great leader of Mali) sent his army to conquer Songhai. Mali absorbed Songhai into their empire for a short time.

  • As Mali began to fail, Songhai was able to regain independence.


Sunni ali

Sunni Ali

  • Sunni Ali became leader of Songhai in 1464.

  • He strengthened Songhai and added territory (including much of Mali).

  • He conquered the wealthy trade cities of Djenne and Timbuktu.

    • He had been asked by Mali’s leaders for help against Tuareg invaders.

    • He drove off the invaders and kept the cities for himself.

  • To promote peace, he participated in both Muslim and traditional African religions.


Sunni baru

Sunni Baru

  • When Sunni Ali died in 1492, his son (Sunni Baru) took the throne.

  • Sunni Baru was not a Muslim, even though most of the people in his empire were.

  • Fearing that Songhai would lose power (and trading partners) with a non-Muslim leader, the people rebelled against Sunni Baru.

  • The leader of the rebellion against Sunni Baru was a general named, Muhammad Ture. After defeating Sunni Baru, he took the title askia (a military rank).


Askia the great

Askia the Great

  • Askia the Great was a devout Muslim.

    • Like Mansa Musa, Askia went on a hajj.

    • Askia made many laws which were similar to other Muslim nations.

      • The picture is the 16th century mosque built by Askia the Great in Gao.


Askia the great cont

Askia the Great (cont.)

  • Askia the Great promoted education.

    • He made Timbuktu a world-famous education center once again. People came from all over to study at the University of Sankore.

    • Djenne became a world-famous center of medicine.

  • Askia reorganized the government.

    • He divided the empire into 5 provinces.

    • He appointed governors and removed local leaders.

    • He created government departments to oversee certain areas.

  • He had the first standing army in West Africa.


Fall of songhai

Fall of Songhai

  • After Askia the great, other askias ruled for a short time.

  • Morocco invaded to take control of Songhai’s salt mines.

    • Morocco needed money after years of fighting with the Portuguese and Spanish.

    • Morocco marched on Songhai in 1591. Some of Morocco’s soldiers were actually Portuguese and Spanish war prisoners.

    • Morocco had superior firepower. They carried the arquebus (early form of the gun) and even some cannons.

    • They attacked the trading cities of Timbuktu and Gao.

  • The destruction of trade finally wiped out Songhai.


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