Kingdoms of Africa
Villegas Middle School
Africa was the home of four great civilizations; Nubia, Ghana, Mali and Songhay.
Ghana developed in West Africa between the Niger (NI-jhur) and the Gambia Rivers. It was an important kingdom there from about AD300 to about 1100. The rivers helped Ghana to grow rich because they were used to transport goods and develop trade. Ghana also collected taxes from traders who passed through the kingdom. The people called their nation Wagadu; we know it as Ghana --that was the word for war chief.
The kingdom of Ghana probably began when several clans of the Soninke people of west Africa came together under the leadership of a great king named Dinga Cisse.
Ghana had few natural resources except salt and gold. They were also very good at making things from iron. Ghanaian warriors used iron tipped spears to subdue their neighbors, who fought with weapons made of stone, bone, and wood.
"The King . . .(wears). . . necklaces round his neck and bracelets on his forearms and he puts on a high cap decorated with gold and wrapped in a turban of fine cotton. He (meets people) in a domed pavilion around which stand ten horses covered with gold-embroidered materials…and on his right, are the sons of the (lesser) kings of his country, wearing splendid garments and their hair plaited with gold. At the door of the pavilion are dogs of excellent pedigree. Round their necks they wear collars of gold and silver, studded with a number of balls of the same metals."
Ghana became a rich and powerful nation, especially when the camel began to be used as a source of transport. Ghana relied on trade and trade was made faster and bigger with the use of the camel.
After 700 AD, the religion of Islam began to spread over northern Africa. Followers of this religion are called Muslims. Muslim warriors came into Ghana and fought with the non-Islamic people there. This weakened the great civilization of Ghana. Local warriors then decided to break away from the power of Ghana and form their own local kingdoms. This ended many of the trade networks. This eventually weakened the civilization of Ancient Ghana.