History of Mali and Ghana Empires in Africa

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Mali and Ghana empires had different luxury trading goods such as gold, ivory and animal skins. In Africa around 325 to 360 BCE at the height of the Aksum empire due to Africa’s location, multiple sea and land trade routes connected to India, Africa became one of the hotspots for trade. The African and Indian economies benefited highly from these trade routes. Initially the African-Indian trade route started small but eventually it evolved into the largest international trade route in all of Europe. The economies of Africa flourished before the arrival of the Europeans because of trade, wealth and economy.

At the beginning of the first century the ancient kingdom of Ghana was beginning to flourish. As stated by Al Bakri he describes how advanced Ghana was compared to other civilizations and empire. One of the things Al Bakri noticed that were more advanced for a kingdom of the very first century included,”The governor of the city sits on the ground before the king, and around him are ministers seated likewise.”(Doc 1) This showed early signs of hierarchies and social class structures which was considered extremely advanced for an early first century kingdom.

This practice of arranging people based on class and social status would remain as one of the most dominant features of any kingdom throughout history. Some other things Al Bakri noticed that were considered advanced in the ancient Ghana empire included “wealth was based on trade and having sufficient food to feed its people income derived from taxes and having a strong army equipped with advanced weapons, and a foreign policy.” (Doc 3) When the powerful kingdom of Ghana was combined with Mali in 1240 the Ghana empire ended. Then the Mali empire rose to power.

When Ghana was combined with Mali in 1240 Mansa Musa expanded Mali to twice the size of the Ghana empire it replaced. Mali was also considered advanced because a moroccan traveler states in Timbuktu “here are many doctors, judges, priests, and other learned men that are well maintained at the king’s costs.” (Doc5) This showed that the Mali had advanced medicine and people actually showing signs of being educated. Being educated was almost unheard of back then but in Timbuktu the moroccan traveler states ,”Various manuscripts and written books are brought here”(Doc5) This in turn led to a spike in education and trading because various manuscripts were being imported from all over.

Once these manuscripts were traded all over Africa people decided it was a good idea to share these manuscripts to other cultures by trading. Thus benefiting both the African and Indian economies Another advancement Mali was showing compared to other empires or Civilizations was the fact that ibn battuta states that,”They are seldom unjust, and have a greater hatred of injustice than any other people.” (Doc 6)Also Ibn battuta states ,”Their sultan shows no mercy to anyone who is guilty of the least act of it.(Doc 6)Because of this Mali was showing signs early development of law systems and rules.

Trade was one of the fundamentals for Africa’s wealth. In fact in (Doc 3) The writer of Through African Eyes states, “The Arab traders of this region wanted gold as much as the Wangara wanted salt, but both had to pass through Ghana to trade and the military forces to maintain peace in the area. If there were any bandits nearby or disputes breaking out the powerful military ensured safe trade for the Arabs and the Wangara. (Doc 3) Thus exponentially doubling Ghana’s wealth as an empire.

As a result of the wealth the Ghana empire able to form a powerful military, have sufficient food to feed its people and increase income derived from taxes. With Ghana having a powerful military an increase of weaponry was needed to maintain Ghana’s army. As stated by an artisan,”Now this kind of work is done with clay, and wax, and red metal copper, and solder zinc and lead, and fire.” (Doc 7) This showed that in Ghana they started showing signs of forging weapons and incorporating metals into a vast array of tools and weapons.


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History of Mali and Ghana Empires in Africa. (2021, Jul 23). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/history-of-mali-and-ghana-empires-in-africa/

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