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Ancient Ghana. Location. The empire of Ghana is not located in the same place as the modern country of Ghana in West Africa. Two different places! 

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  • The empire of Ghana is not located in the same place as the modern country of Ghana in West Africa. Two different places! 
  • Ancient Ghana was located about 400 miles northwest of the modern day country of the same name.  When the modern country of Ghana won their independence, they took the name of a famous (and nearby) ancient kingdom - the kingdom of Ghana.
  • The king, ably assisted by his council of elders, headed the government. The kingdom was divided into districts. A district leader guided each district. They had laws that people obeyed.
  • Ghana was a great military power. Legend says the king could order 200,000 warriors and 40,000 more with bows and arrows.
  • Every male in Ghana trained to be a soldier
daily life
Daily Life
  • The people were farmers and miners and artists. They made the most wonderful fabrics. Using mud to make designs on dyed cloth and set in the sun made mud cloth. The sun baked the mud and created a design in the cloth. They had fresh fruit and sweet potatoes. They had the Niger River, which provided water for farming, washing, and bathing, and fish and waterfowl to eat. They worked very hard, but their life was good. They had ample food. They were protected.
  • The griots were the storytellers. Kids did not go to school, as we know school. Rather, people collected in the evening to hear the wonderful stories of the griots who were responsible for passing on stories and traditions from one generation to another.  They loved to hear any stories, but they especially loved stories about Anansi the Spider
trade and wealth
Trade and Wealth
  • people of ancient Ghana were rich! Ghana never owned gold or salt mines. Salt came from the salt mines controlled by kingdoms to the north of Ghana, kingdoms in the north Sahara Desert. Gold came from the gold mines controlled by kingdoms to the south of Ghana. What Ghana controlled was the trade route between the salt mines and the gold mines.  
  • Ghana offered the traders a deal. Ghana's large army assured the traders of safe passage. In return, Ghana restricted trade to gold dust only. They kept the gold nuggets for themselves. Ghana became the guardians and the negotiators. 
  • As more and more traders braved the Trans Saharan Trade Route, bringing spices and silks to Ghana, and taking gold in trade, the Kingdom of Ghana flourished. Ghana and other West African kingdoms soon became collectively known as The Gold Coast

Once upon a time, a long time ago, there lived a spider named Anansi. Anansi's wife was a very good cook. But always, Anansi loved to taste the food that others in the village made for themselves and for their families.

  • One day, he stopped by Rabbit's house. Rabbit was his good friend.
  • "There are greens in your pot," cried Anansi excitedly. Anansi loved greens.
  • "They are not quite done," said Rabbit. "But they will be soon. Stay and eat with me."
  • "I would love to, Rabbit, but I have some things to do," Anansi said hurriedly. If he waited at Rabbit's house, Rabbit would certainly give him jobs to do. "I know," said Anansi. "I'll spin a web. I'll tie one end around my leg and one end to your pot. When the greens are done, tug on the web, and I'll come running!"

Rabbit thought that was a great idea. And so it was done.

  • "I smell beans," Anansi sniffed excitedly as he ambled along. "Delicious beans, cooking in a pot."
  • "Come eat our beans with us," cried the monkeys. "They are almost done."
  • "I would love to Father Monkey," said Anansi. And again, Anansi suggested he spin a web, with one end tied around his leg, and one end tied to the big bean pot.
  • Father Monkey thought that was a great idea. All his children thought so, too. And so it was done.

"I smell sweet potatoes," Anansi sniffed happily as he ambled along. "Sweet potatoes and honey, I do believe!"

  • "Anansi," called his friend Hog. "My pot is full of sweet potatoes and honey! Come share my food with me."
  • "I would love to," said Anansi. And again, Anansi suggested he spin a web, with one end tied around his leg, and one end tied to the sweet potato pot.
  • His friend Hog thought that was a great idea. And so it was done

By the time Anansi arrived at the river, he had one web tied to each of his eight legs.

  • "This was a wonderful idea," Anansi told himself proudly. "I wonder whose pot will be ready first?"
  • Just then, Anansi felt a tug at his leg. "Ah," said Anansi. "That is the web string tied to Rabbit's greens." He felt another. And another. Anansi was pulled three ways at once.
  • "Oh dear," said Anansi as he felt the fourth web string pull.

Just then, he felt the fifth web string tug. And the sixth. And the seventh. And the eighth. Anansi was pulled this way and that way, as everyone pulled on the web strings at once. His legs were pulled thinner and thinner. Anansi rolled quickly into the river. When all the webs had washed away, Anansi pulled himself painfully up on shore.

  • "Oh my, oh my," sighed Anansi. "Perhaps that was not such a good idea after all."
  • To this day, Anansi the Spider has eight very thin legs. And he never got any food that day at all.