empires and kingdoms of medieval africa 500 1600 n.
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Empires and Kingdoms of Medieval Africa 500-1600. Empire of Ghana. Began around 400 CE and lasted until around 1230 CE Located in West Africa Controlling the trade of resources like gold and salt made the kingdom strong and wealthy. Ghana Geography.

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Empires and Kingdoms of Medieval Africa 500-1600

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empire of ghana
Empire of Ghana
  • Began around 400 CE and lasted until around 1230 CE
  • Located in West Africa
  • Controlling the trade of resources like gold and salt made the kingdom strong and wealthy
ghana geography
Ghana Geography

West Africa has three vegetation zones

  • Desert – The Sahara Desert
  • Grassland – Savannah
  • Forest – Equatorial Rainforest

These vegetation zones also yield different climates and living conditions.

Think about the effect geography and climate had on the Empire of Ghana and its people.

ghana s economy trade
Ghana’s Economy & Trade
  • Ghana’s empire was built by controlling the trade of gold and salt. The armies assured that traders would have safe passage in return for payments or taxes.
  • Cities grew and the empire expanded by conquering surrounding lands.
  • Conquered people were forced to pay tribute to the King
  • It also benefitted from cultural contact with foreign traders.
ghana s belief system and culture
Ghana’s Belief System and Culture
  • Nobles and Common people believed in many gods and goddesses
  • Contact with the Berber traders from North Africa introduced Islam and the Arabic language to Ghana.
  • Some kings converted to Islam
ghana s government
Ghana’s Government
  • Ruled by a king and a council of elders
  • Kingdom was divided into districts but the family was the strongest unit in society
  • Ghana had a strong army, but in the 11th century was defeated by the Muslim Almoravids and the empire began to crumble
kingdom of mali
Kingdom of Mali
  • Mali was a district in Ghana, but after Ghana’s collapse it grew and took control
  • 1230 CE Mali is in power
  • Empire declines in the late 1400s


  • Same location as Ghana
  • Established the trading city of Timbuktu
mali s economy trade
Mali’s Economy &Trade
  • Mali expanded and built upon Ghana’s trading network to establish its empire
  • Timbuktu is a center of trade and culture
mali s belief systems culture
Mali’s Belief Systems & Culture
  • Believed in Religious freedom
  • Nobles and Leaders were Muslim
  • Common people believed in traditional African religions with gods and goddesses
mali s government
Mali’s Government

Two strong leaders

  • Sudiata – young and smart. Restored trade with neighboring villages – recognized the importance of trade. Expanded Mali so he could control some of the gold and salt mines
  • Mansa Musa – Sudiata’s grandson. Loved learning. Established a university in Timbuktu
kingdom of songhai
Kingdom of Songhai
  • Songhai was a region under the control of Mali. The people grew stronger and eventually rose up against the Mali leaders and declared independence
  • Grew larger and took control of the Mali empire

Same geography as Ghana and Mali

Empire exists from around 1400 -1591

songhai government
Songhai Government
  • A strong leader brought centralized leadership and motivation to Songhai.
  • Sunni Ali is a powerful, harsh leader who conquers neighboring lands and captures the city of Djenne
  • Largest kingdom in all of West Africa
  • Askia Muhammad takes the throne from Sunni Ali’s son
  • Greatest accomplishment of Askia was his organization of government
songhai s economy and trade
Songhai’s economy and trade
  • Controlled all of the salt and gold mines
  • Extensive trade network. Nobles grew very wealthy and the poor had difficult living conditions
  • Member of the slave trade – children, men and women were sold into slavery
songhai s culture and belief system
Songhai’s culture and belief system
  • Began as a fishing village and grew into a strong empire
  • Leaders were strong Muslims who embraced the Islamic faith and culture
  • The people followed the traditional African religions
kongo kingdom
Kongo Kingdom
  • Located South of the great West African kingdoms near the Congo River
  • One of the first African civilizations to interact with the Europeans
  • Kongo Kingdom made up of Bantu people who migrated from Western and Central Africa
kongo government
Kongo Government
  • The capital city of the kingdom was Mbanza. The leaders established a very orderly kingdom and rule. The village was the main political unit.
  • The Portugese were the first to

interact with Kongo

King Alfonso I (NzingaMbemba) tried to adopt European ways and establish a close relationship with the new world. He adopted Western religion, government, language, and practices

kongo s interaction with the new world
Kongo’s interaction with the New World
  • The Portugese established trade and sent missionaries to Kongo to convert the native people.
  • King Alfonso became a

Catholic and made that

the official religion

  • The Kongo people traded

copper, iron, and ivory for

guns, horses, and

manufactured goods

trouble in kongo
Trouble in Kongo
  • Portugal wanted African slaves. Initially Alfonso provided people to the Portugese, but this practice was unpopular and when Alfonso tried to stop, the Portugese merchants began snatching people and taking them.
  • The African people were suffering from the new illnesses introduced by the Europeans
questions to think about for your brochure
Questions to think about for your brochure…

What influence did trade have on the people in each of the kingdoms?

What did the kingdoms gain and lose as a result of contact with outside groups?

How was society ordered and organized?

What influence did the geography and climate have on the kingdoms?

get to work
Get to work!
  • Your brochure should go deeper than the textbook and these notes. Find outside resources – books, magazines, websites, and on-line encyclopedias
  • Think like an Historian! Don’t just repeat facts – THINK.
  • Use your introduction to the Kingdom to tell me something fascinating or reveal an idea that you have about this place and period in time.

I am expecting greatness!

african kingdom brochure
African Kingdom Brochure

Create a brochure to educate people about one of the African kingdoms

You will use the library, Internet, and other resources to research information about one of the African Kingdoms -Ghana, Mali, Songhai, or Kongo

Topics should include:

Geography & Climate

Economy & Trade

Belief System



african kingdom brochure1
African Kingdom Brochure

Your brochure should provide additional information about the African kingdom of your choice and should include:

  • Attractive Cover (column 1): With a title and picture of topic/theme
  • Introduction(column 2):
    • general overview about the kingdom
  • Detailed information about the place (columns 3, 4, 5):
    • Information: Points out the highlights of the information researched. (see topics listed and look at rubric to see which topics should be included)
  • Sources (column 6)

All sources must be listed on the back of the brochure. Give credit where credit is due. You need at least 3 sources.

  • Pictures:
    • Creative/Attractive: A picture on every page including a map to show the location of your kingdom

This assignment is worth 25 points