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HIST 3410 October 23 2013 Pre Colonial Africa.docx

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University of Guelph
HIST 3410
Femi Kolapo

October 23 2013 HIST 3490 HIST 3490 October 23 2013 Pre Colonial Africa Environment Factors in the Rise of the West African Empires - Parallel climatic/ vegetation zones that run across the continent from east to west - The river Niger- flowing northeastward into the plains of the savannas and southward into the Atlantic - Topography that allowed for the easy movement of peoples, languages, animals, crops, arts, and ideas - Diversity of ecological niches in close proximity encouraged economic specialization within each region The Readings Goodwin - Emphasizes the role of the gold trade; the lace of Islam and the cultural and political domination of Libyco- Berbers (ruling class) on the formation and consolidation of the early states of west Africa - Written 1950’s so colonialist Patrick Munson - Focusing on antecedents to ancient Ghana, challenges foundational assumption of Goodwin. Significance of trade - The trans- Saharan trade o High valued goods governed by the elite - Was largely conducted and controlled by Muslim Berbers and Arabs o Owned the camels and organized trade from Mediterranean to morocco, Egypt etc. Across the desert - Local regional trade was conducted - In ancient Ghana by the Wangara - In Mali by the Dyula o Building a network that stretched from the edge of the desert to the gold- producing forests in the south. o Handled all aspects f the trade below the desert o Earliest Muslim converts - African political authorities enhance their power and legitimacy by embracing a religion that would transcend the parochial traditional rituals and bind them to peoples far beyond the Western Sudan. In Mali the influence of Islam in the capital is very noticeable - Islam followed trade into West Africa (merchants, scholars) Until 19 century Islam was the religion of the city and of the elite - Earliest contact of Islam was between the traders The East- West axis of the expansion these states is considered as a big to establish monopoly and use it to consolidate state power - Patrick Munson: “[Ghana’s] reason for being, at least in large part, was the trans- Saharan trade; it lay at the southern terminus of the caravan routes that brought salt (as well as, to a lesser extent, such things as copper and 1 October 23 2013 HIST 3490 cloth), from or across the Saharan it lay at the northern edge of the West African gold fields… - As these empires succeeded one another they had a difficult time to control the movement of the traders some extended into the desert to exert more control Even the decline of these states have been associated with the changing vicissitude of long distance trade: Ghana: - Eastward shift of the trans- Saharan trade route by the 11 century (and
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