ch 8 african civilizations and the spread of islam
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Ch. 8: African Civilizations and the Spread of Islam

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Ch. 8: African Civilizations and the Spread of Islam. African Societies. Few hierarchical governments Stateless societies Pros No taxes Easy to settle disputes Cons Difficult to wage war Difficult to organize building projects Difficult to organize trade. Common Elements in Societies.

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african societies
African Societies
  • Few hierarchical governments
  • Stateless societies
    • Pros
      • No taxes
      • Easy to settle disputes
    • Cons
      • Difficult to wage war
      • Difficult to organize building projects
      • Difficult to organize trade
common elements in societies
Common Elements in Societies
  • Language
    • Bantu speaking people spread
    • Linguistic base
  • Thought
    • Religion intertwined with society
    • Ancestors as gods
  • Religion
    • Animistic: natural forces as gods
    • Creator deity
    • Witchcraft
  • Economies
    • North vs South vs Coastal
islam in north africa
Islam in North Africa
  • North of Sahara large part of Mediterranean world
  • Muslims spread across region from 640 – 700 by conquest and conversion
  • Appeal to people
    • Ideas of equality
  • Appeal to rulers
    • Political/religious ruler gave more power
    • Members of umma equal
christian kingdoms
Christian Kingdoms




Pocket of Christians surrounded by Muslims

Fortified towns

King Lalibela: 11 churches

  • Nubia
  • Coptic Christianity
  • Influenced by Byzantines
the grasslands
The Grasslands
  • Islam spread by trade
  • Camel caravans cross Sahara
  • Link north Africa to central African states
sudanic states
Sudanic States
  • Ghana
    • Trade gold for salt and dates
    • Cities like Timbuktu and Jenne grew for trade
    • Rulers convert to Islam
      • Power of religious and political leader
      • Rulers sacred and separate from subjects
      • Umma
  • Agricultural community with access to large gold producing areas
  • Grew wealthy from trade
  • Islam reinforces power of king
  • Sundiata: “The Lion Prince” was a great ruler whose history told by griots
    • Instituted division of labor
  • Mansa Musa
    • Pilgrimage to Mecca
  • Mostly farmers, herders, and fishermen
  • Sunni Ali a great military leader and ruthless ruler
    • Expanded empire, including cities of Timbuktu & Jenne
  • Syncretism of Islam with pagan religions
  • Muslim rulers shocked by interaction of men and women (unveiled) in public
rise of cities
Rise of Cities
  • Jenne and Timbuktu
    • Trade centers
      • Books the most lucrative
    • Resemble north African cities
    • Islamic scholars and theologians study at Sankore mosque
village life
Village Life
  • Agriculture the center of life for most of population (80%)
  • Primitive techniques- no plows or irrigation
  • Polygamy common: easier to plow more land
  • Poor soil, frequent droughts, insects, and poor technology
trade routes in west africa
Trade Routes in West Africa
  • Islam adopted

by traders

and rulers

  • Umma
  • Power
the swahili coast
The Swahili Coast
  • Bantu herders in the north and farmers in the south mixed with residents
  • Contact with Indian Ocean brought other peoples
  • Trading ports developed
    • Attracted residents from the Persian Gulf and Oman
  • Swahili language: mix of Bantu and Arabic
swahili trade
Swahili Trade
  • Mogadishu, Mombasa, Malindi, Kilwa, and Zanzibar ruled by Muslim families
  • Exports: gold, ivory, iron, slaves, and exotic animals
  • Imports: silk from Persia and porcelain from China
  • Active coastal trade with Africans bringing goods to coast
islamic influence
Islamic Influence
  • Spread of Islam into India and S.E. Asia influences east African coast
  • Umma promotes bond of trust
  • Ruling families and merchants convert and build mosques
  • Most of population remain polytheistic
peoples of the forests and plains
Peoples of the Forests and Plains
  • Central Africa
    • Yoruba, Benin, Great Zimbabwe
  • Small agricultural and herding villages
  • Iron tools and


  • Oral tradition
    • No written language
  • Agricultural society
  • Divine kings rule with an aristocracy
  • Ile-Ife
    • Cultural center
    • Terra-cotta statues
    • Bronze masks
  • Ogboni (secret societies of religious and political leaders) oversee king
  • Primarily agricultural
  • Oba (ruler) surrounded by large entourage
  • Artistic heritage
    • Ivory
    • Cast bronze sculptures
inland islamic influence
Inland Islamic Influence
  • Little Islamic influence
  • No trade advantage
    • Africans trading with other Africans
    • Little exposure to Muslims
    • No need to be part of umma!
  • Flourishing by the 15th century
  • Primarily agricultural
  • Weaving, pottery, carving, and blacksmith
  • Eight provinces ruled by manikongo (king)
great zimbabwe
Great Zimbabwe
  • Agriculture and herding Bantu people
  • Political and religious center
    • Eagle: link between world and spirits
  • Gold trade with Muslims in Sofala
  • Little conversion