There were many empires and kingdoms in West Africa. The empires of Ghana, Mali, and Songhai were three of them. These empires set the way for new ones to come. The way these people lived is very unique.
The most important thing that all of these people did was trading. This was how all of the prospered so well. The West African empires of Mali, Ghana, and Sonhai were very important cultures to all people of Africa. The Empire of Ghana rose when Africans started to use the Camel to cross the Sahara Desert. Before this trade across this desert was practically impossible. The trade routes came right through the part of the savanna, which was originally called the Soninke region.
It became known as Ghana because that was what they called their leader. The main thing that made Ghana such a big empire is the Gold-Salt trades that they made with the people of the Sahara. The trading was done under close watch by the tax collector for the king. All of the good were weighed to assure the right amount.
All of the Gold was stored in the kings palace to keep it safe. The power all of this gave Ghana let them put together a huge army. With a huge army at their disposal they could tax all small villages around them. The kingdom of Mali emerged from a pre-existing kingdom, as did some other great empires.
Like Ghana, Mali was also based on the trading of gold. As the mines ran out of gold in Ghana the miners had to shift eastward which put them in the small Mali Empire. With all of this gold the power of the kingdom grew and they were able to take over the struggling Ghana Empire. The first great leader of Mali was Sundiata.
He came in and took over many trading cities. A period of peace followed this. He was the leader that reinstated the gold-salt trade. Sundiata eventually died and Mansa Musa took over. Mansa Musa divided the empire into small self-governed territories. Musa also brought the Muslim religion t the Mali Empire.
When he died his successors came into power they couldnt handle the empire and it eventually declined. The empire of Songhai was one of the only West African Empires that did not rely on trading Gold. The empire started by building up a huge army to gain power with more land. As they gained more land they gained more trading centers. Eventually they stopped conquering other empires and they traded to keep their power. This empire was based on the trade of anything that came to them.
The two major leaders of the empire were Sunni Ali and Asia Muhammad. Ali used military force to take over Timbuktu, which was one of Mali major cities. He also gained almost all of the land the Mali held at the time. Muhammad didnt gain a lot of land for the kingdom but he made it more organized.
He set up laws and a government to collect taxes. He appointed officials to serve as ministers of the treasury, army, navy, and agriculture. Despite all of their hard work a Moroccan fighting force of several thousand warriors came in and swept the Sonhai army in a short period of time. All three of these empires relied almost all on their trading ability.
The Sahara trade routes crossed through all of them. With all of the trading these empires were able to build up huge empires and conquer other peoples for more land. These empires all set the way for future settlements and more technology.