Ghana, Mali and Songhai: Enduring Understandings

  1. The Sahara Desert wasn’t a huge barrier between North Africa and West Africa
  2. In this era, much of Africa was part of wider economic and cultural currents and thus not isolated.
  3. These kingdoms were among the wealthiest in the world in their time.
  4. West Africans and Europeans traded with each other and considered each other equal.
  5. The West African Sahel was part of wider Mediterranean and Islamic worlds.
  6. Islam facilitated trade and learning in the West African Sahel.
  7. Ancient movement and exchange between people were NOT only about gold and salt
  8. Gold was a central resource
  9. Much of medieval Europe’s gold and wealth was extracted from West Africa and traded across the Sahara
  10. The Mali and Songhai kingdoms had epic literature which has been passed down to today.
  11. Primary sources exist in translation and are effective teaching tools. Among them are:
    • Written records of Muslim visitors to the region
    • Epic literature