West African Change & continuity essay

Topics: Africa, Slavery, Atlantic slave trade Pages: 7 (1927 words) Published: May 12, 2014
Describe and analyze the cultural, economic, and political impact of Islam on West Africa between 1000 C.E and 1750 C.E. Between 1000 and 1750 C.E. Islam entered West Africa and increased its trade, many Islamic states rose and fell, but many aspects of African religion and gender roles remained unchanged. Between 1000 and 1700, Islam caused West Africa to experience an increase in trade and economic activity, the rise and fall of several Islamic states and empires, and provided new practices to be blended with the traditional African culture. In the period of 1000 and 1750 C.E Islam increased West African economics by increasing trade. Muslim merchants brought Islam into West Africa and it spreads throughout the rest of Africa. Many aspects of African religion and gender roles remained unchanged, however new practices were blended in with the traditional African culture. African rulers began to adopt Islam while ruling over populations with diverse faiths and cultures. Many of these rulers blended Islam with traditional and local practices in what is called the mixing phase. Islam impacted West Africa greatly by increasing trade, and blending its culture with West African culture. By 1000 C.E. Bantu cities were governed by kinship groups rather than bureaucracies. A group of villages, based on ethnic loyalties, made up a district, but there usually was no head or chief of a district. Village chiefs resolved district issues. The terms stateless societies or segmentary societies are often used to refer to this type of social organization. After 1000 C.E. though, these kin-based societies faced difficult challenges as population growth strained land resources. Ensuing conflicts encouraged Bantu communities to formally organize first their military and then their governments. The West African kingdoms of Ife and Benin developed as complex city- states during this time. The kingdom of Kongo emerged as the most tightly centralized Bantu kingdom and as a prosperous trading nation transporting copper, raffia cloth, and nzimbu shells from the Atlantic Ocean. Its central government was based on a king and officials who administered the nation's judicial, political, and military affairs while provincial governors supervised district rulers who oversaw the local village rulers. This organization effectively ruled for nearly four hundred years, until the arrival of the Portuguese slave traders. Before the arrival of Muslims, the kingdom of Ghana came to be when settled agricultural people were trying to avoid camel- riding nomads of the Sahara. Though the Sahara desert had never been an absolute barrier to trade and communication, only a few nomadic peoples and a handful of merchants regularly crossed it. The introduction of the camel from Asia and the development of a useful saddle in the seventh century B.C.E., along with the conquest of North Africa by the Arabs in the eighth and ninth centuries C.E., encouraged the development of trade across the Sahara. After the Muslims come to West Africa, Ghana was a regional state. Ghana had developed as a market for copper, ironware, cotton textiles, and salt, grain, and carnelian beads. After the Muslim merchants came trade and traffic across the desert increased dramatically as west Africa became the center for trade in gold, in high demand as a result of surging trade throughout the eastern hemisphere. Through her capital city, Koumbi- Sahel, Ghana controlled the trade and taxes on gold which her kings procured from the river regions of Gambia, Niger, and Senegal. Ghana's kings used that wealth to enrich and strengthen their realms. Merchants in Ghana also traded ivory and slaves for horses and salt, which was especially important for survival in the tropics. Ghanaian kings used these taxes to finance large armies to protect their sources of gold, to maintain order throughout the kingdom, and to defend Ghana from nomadic invasions across the Sahara. By about the tenth century, the kings...
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