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Mapa del Imperio de Malí, c. 1337 d.C.

Mapa del Imperio de Malí, c. 1337 d.C.


Mapa del Imperio de Malí, c. 1337 CE - Historia

El Imperio de Ghana estaba ubicado en lo que hoy es el sureste de Mauritania, el oeste de Malí y el este de Senegal, y derivaba su poder del control del comercio transsahariano, en particular del oro.

Objetivos de aprendizaje

Describe el Imperio de Ghana y la fuente de su riqueza.

Conclusiones clave

Puntos clave

  • El Imperio de Ghana, llamado Imperio Wagadou (o Wagadu) por sus gobernantes, estaba ubicado en lo que ahora es el sureste de Mauritania, el oeste de Malí y el este de Senegal. No hay consenso sobre cuándo se originó precisamente. Diferentes tradiciones identifican sus comienzos entre el año 100 d.C. y el siglo IX, y la mayoría de los eruditos aceptan el siglo VIII o IX.
  • El desarrollo económico y la eventual riqueza de Ghana estuvieron vinculados al crecimiento del comercio transsahariano regular e intensificado de oro, sal y marfil, lo que permitió el desarrollo de centros urbanos más grandes y alentó la expansión territorial para obtener el control sobre diferentes rutas comerciales.
  • Se cree que la capital del imperio estuvo en Koumbi Saleh, en el borde del desierto del Sahara. Según la descripción de la ciudad que dejó Al-Bakri en 1067/1068, la capital era en realidad dos ciudades, pero & # 8220entre estas dos ciudades hay viviendas continuas & # 8221, por lo que podrían haberse fusionado en una sola.
  • El Imperio de Ghana se encontraba en la región del Sahel, al norte de los campos de oro de África Occidental, y pudo obtener ganancias controlando el comercio de oro a través del Sahara, que convirtió a Ghana en un imperio de riqueza legendaria.
  • Ghana parece haber tenido una región central y estaba rodeada de estados vasallos. Una de las fuentes más antiguas señala que bajo la autoridad del rey hay varios reyes. kafu en Mandinga.
  • Aunque los académicos debaten cómo y cuándo Ghana declinó y colapsó, está claro que se incorporó al Imperio de Malí alrededor de 1240.

Términos clave

  • los almorávides: Una dinastía imperial bereber de Marruecos que formó un imperio en el siglo XI que se extendía por el Magreb occidental y Al-Andalus. Fundada por Abdallah ibn Yasin, su capital era Marrakech, ciudad que fundaron en 1062. La dinastía se originó entre los Lamtuna y Gudala, tribus nómadas bereberes del Sahara, atravesando el territorio entre los ríos Draa, Níger y Senegal.
  • la gente de Soninke: Pueblo Mandé que desciende de los Bafour y está estrechamente relacionado con los Imraguen de Mauritania. Fueron los fundadores del antiguo imperio de Ghana c. 750–1240 CE. Los subgrupos incluyen Maraka y Wangara.
  • Koumbi Saleh: El sitio de una ciudad medieval en ruinas en el sureste de Mauritania que pudo haber sido la capital del Imperio de Ghana.

Orígenes en disputa del Imperio de Ghana

El Imperio de Ghana, llamado Imperio Wagadou (o Wagadu) por sus gobernantes, estaba ubicado en lo que ahora es el sureste de Mauritania, el oeste de Malí y el este de Senegal. No hay consenso sobre cuándo se originó precisamente, pero su desarrollo está vinculado a los cambios en el comercio que surgieron a lo largo de los siglos posteriores a la introducción del camello en el Sahara occidental (siglo III). En el momento de la conquista musulmana del norte de África en el siglo VII, el camello había cambiado las rutas comerciales anteriores, más irregulares, en una red comercial que iba desde Marruecos hasta el río Níger. Este comercio transsahariano regular e intensificado de oro, sal y marfil permitió el desarrollo de centros urbanos más grandes y alentó la expansión territorial para ganar control sobre diferentes rutas comerciales.

La dinastía gobernante de Ghana se mencionó por primera vez en registros escritos en 830 y, por lo tanto, el siglo IX a veces se identifica como el comienzo del imperio.
En las fuentes árabes medievales, la palabra & # 8220Ghana & # 8221 puede referirse a un título real, el nombre de una ciudad capital o un reino. La primera referencia a Ghana como ciudad es de al-Khuwarizmi, quien murió alrededor de 846. Investigaciones sobre el sitio de Koumbi Saleh (o Kumbi Saleh), una ciudad medieval en ruinas en el sureste de Mauritania que pudo haber sido la capital del Imperio de Ghana, sugiere comienzos anteriores. El primer autor en mencionar Ghana es el astrónomo persa Ibrahim al-Fazari, quien, escribiendo a fines del siglo VIII, se refiere al & # 8220el territorio de Ghana, la tierra del oro & # 8221. mencionar el Imperio de Ghana en relación con el comercio de oro a través del Sahara. Al-Bakri, que escribió en el siglo XI, describió la capital de Ghana como formada por dos ciudades separadas por seis millas, una habitada por comerciantes musulmanes y la otra por el rey de Ghana. Según la tradición del pueblo Soninke, emigraron al sureste de Mauritania en el siglo I, y ya alrededor del año 100 d.C. crearon un asentamiento que eventualmente se convertiría en el Imperio de Ghana. Otras fuentes identifican los inicios del imperio en algún momento entre el siglo IV y mediados del siglo VIII.

El Imperio de Ghana en su mayor extensión

Cuando Gold Coast en 1957 se convirtió en el primer país del África subsahariana en recuperar su independencia del dominio colonial, se le cambió el nombre en honor al imperio desaparecido del que se cree que fueron los antepasados ​​del pueblo Akan de la actual Ghana. han migrado.

La ciudad capital: Koumbi Saleh

Se cree que la capital del imperio estuvo en Koumbi Saleh, en el borde del desierto del Sahara. Según la descripción de la ciudad que dejó Al-Bakri en 1067/1068, la capital era en realidad dos ciudades, pero & # 8220entre estas dos ciudades hay viviendas continuas & # 8221, por lo que podrían haberse fusionado en una sola. Según al-Bakri, la mayor parte de la ciudad se llamaba El-Ghaba y era la residencia del rey. Estaba protegido por un muro de piedra y funcionaba como la capital real y espiritual del imperio. Contenía una arboleda sagrada que se usaba para los ritos religiosos de Soninke en los que vivían los sacerdotes. También contenía el palacio del rey, la estructura más grandiosa de la ciudad. También había una mezquita para los funcionarios musulmanes visitantes. No se registra el nombre de la otra sección de la ciudad. Estaba rodeado de pozos con agua dulce, donde se cultivaban verduras. Tenía doce mezquitas, una de las cuales estaba destinada a las oraciones del viernes, y contaba con un grupo completo de eruditos, escribas y juristas islámicos. Debido a que la mayoría de estos musulmanes eran comerciantes, esta parte de la ciudad era probablemente su principal distrito comercial.

Economía y Gobierno

La mayor parte de nuestra información sobre la economía de Ghana proviene de al-Bakri. Señaló que los comerciantes tenían que pagar un impuesto de un dinar de oro sobre las importaciones de sal y dos sobre las exportaciones de sal. Al-Bakri mencionó también el cobre y & # 8220otras mercancías & # 8221. Las importaciones probablemente incluían productos como textiles y adornos. Muchos de los artículos de cuero hechos a mano que se encuentran en el antiguo Marruecos también tienen su origen en el Imperio de Ghana. También se recibió tributo de varios estados tributarios y jefaturas en la periferia del imperio. El Imperio de Ghana se encontraba en la región del Sahel, al norte de los campos de oro de África Occidental, y pudo beneficiarse del control del comercio de oro a través del Sahara. Se desconoce la historia temprana de Ghana, pero hay evidencia de que África del Norte había comenzado a importar oro de África Occidental antes de la conquista árabe a mediados del siglo VII.

Gran parte de los testimonios sobre la antigua Ghana provienen de las visitas registradas de viajeros extranjeros que, por definición, solo podían proporcionar una imagen fragmentaria. Los escritores islámicos a menudo comentaban sobre la estabilidad sociopolítica del Imperio basándose en las acciones aparentemente justas y la grandeza del rey. Al-Bakri interrogó a los comerciantes que visitaron el imperio en el siglo XI y escribió que el rey escuchó agravios contra los funcionarios y estuvo rodeado de grandes riquezas. Ghana parece haber tenido una región central y estaba rodeada de estados vasallos. Una de las primeras fuentes, al-Ya & # 8217qubi, que escribió en 889/890 (276 AH), señaló que & # 8220 bajo la autoridad del rey & # 8217 hay varios reyes. & # 8221 Estos & # 8220 reyes & # 8221 eran presumiblemente los gobernantes de las unidades territoriales a menudo llamados kafu en Mandinga. En la época de al-Bakri, los gobernantes de Ghana habían comenzado a incorporar más musulmanes al gobierno, incluido el tesorero, su intérprete y & # 8220 la mayoría de sus funcionarios & # 8221.

Disminución

Dadas las escasas fuentes árabes y la ambigüedad del registro arqueológico existente, es difícil determinar cuándo y cómo declinó y cayó Ghana. Según la tradición árabe, Ghana cayó cuando fue saqueada por el movimiento almorávide en 1076-1077, pero esta interpretación ha sido cuestionada. Conrad y Fisher (1982) argumentaron que la noción de cualquier conquista militar almorávide es simplemente un folclore perpetuado, derivado de una mala interpretación o una dependencia limitada de las fuentes árabes. Dierke Lange estuvo de acuerdo con la teoría de la incursión militar original, pero argumentó que esto no excluye la agitación política almorávide, afirmando que la desaparición de Ghana se debe mucho a esta última. Sheryl L. Burkhalter
argumentó que, si bien la idea de la conquista no estaba clara, la influencia y el éxito del movimiento almorávide en la obtención del oro de África Occidental y su amplia circulación requirieron un alto grado de control político. Además, la arqueología de la antigua Ghana no muestra signos del rápido cambio y destrucción que se asociarían con las conquistas militares de la era almorávide.

Se supone que la guerra que siguió empujó a Ghana al límite, poniendo fin a la posición del reino como potencia comercial y militar en 1100. Se derrumbó en grupos tribales y jefaturas, algunas de las cuales se asimilaron más tarde a los almorávides, mientras que otras fundaron Malí. Imperio. A pesar de la evidencia ambigua, está claro que Ghana se incorporó al Imperio de Malí alrededor de 1240.

El Imperio de Malí fue un imperio en África Occidental que duró desde 1230 hasta 1600 e influyó profundamente en la cultura de la región a través de la difusión de su idioma, leyes y costumbres a lo largo de tierras adyacentes al río Níger, así como en otras áreas que constan de numerosas provincias y reinos vasallos.

Objetivos de aprendizaje

Evaluar cada período de la historia del Imperio de Malí.

Conclusiones clave

Puntos clave

  • El Imperio de Malí, también conocido históricamente como Manden Kurufaba, fue un imperio en África Occidental que duró desde c. 1230 a 1600. Fue el imperio más grande de África Occidental e influyó profundamente en la cultura de la región a través de la difusión de su idioma, leyes y costumbres a lo largo de las tierras adyacentes al río Níger, así como en otras áreas que consisten en numerosos reinos vasallos y provincias.
  • Las tradiciones orales modernas registran que los reinos mandinka de Mali o Manden ya habían existido varios siglos antes de la unificación. Esta área estaba compuesta por montañas, sabanas y bosques que brindan protección y recursos ideales para la población de cazadores. Los que no vivían en las montañas formaron pequeñas ciudades-estado.
  • Las fuerzas combinadas del norte y sur de Manden derrotaron al ejército de Sosso en la Batalla de Kirina aproximadamente en 1235. Esta victoria resultó en la caída del reino de Kaniaga y el surgimiento del Imperio de Mali.
  • El Imperio de Malí cubrió un área más grande durante un período de tiempo más largo que cualquier otro estado de África Occidental antes o después. Lo que hizo esto posible fue la naturaleza descentralizada de la administración en todo el estado. Su poder provenía, sobre todo, del comercio.
  • El Imperio de Malí alcanzó su mayor tamaño y floreció como centro comercial e intelectual bajo las mansas Laye Keita (1312-1389). los
    El área total del imperio incluía casi toda la tierra entre el desierto del Sahara y los bosques costeros.
  • La batalla de Djenné en 1599 marcó el final efectivo del gran Imperio de Malí y preparó el escenario para que emergiera una plétora de estados más pequeños de África Occidental.

Términos clave

  • mansa: Una palabra en Mandinga que significa & # 8220sultán & # 8221 (rey) o & # 8220emperador & # 8221. Está particularmente asociada con la dinastía Keita del Imperio de Malí, que dominó África Occidental desde el siglo XIII hasta el XV.
  • almuédano: La persona designada en una mezquita para dirigir y recitar el llamado a la oración para cada evento de oración y adoración. La publicación del muecín es importante y la comunidad depende de él para tener un horario de oración preciso.

Introducción

El Imperio de Malí, también conocido históricamente como Manden Kurufaba, fue un imperio en África Occidental que duró desde c. 1230 a 1600. El imperio fue fundado por Sundiata Keita y se hizo famoso por la riqueza de sus gobernantes. Fue el imperio más grande de África Occidental e influyó profundamente en la cultura de la región a través de la difusión de su idioma, leyes y costumbres a lo largo de las tierras adyacentes al río Níger, así como en otras áreas que constan de numerosos reinos y provincias vasallos.

Malí preimperial

Las tradiciones orales modernas registraron que los reinos mandinka de Malí o Manden ya habían existido varios siglos antes de la unificación por Sundiata, una mansa maliense también conocida como Mari Djata I, como un pequeño estado justo al sur del imperio Soninké de Wagadou (el Imperio de Ghana ). Esta área estaba compuesta por montañas, sabanas y bosques que brindan protección y recursos ideales para la población de cazadores. Los que no vivían en las montañas formaron pequeñas ciudades-estado como Toron, Ka-Ba y Niani.

Aproximadamente en 1140, el reino Sosso de Kaniaga, un antiguo vasallo de Wagadou, comenzó a conquistar las tierras de sus antiguos amos. En 1180, incluso había subyugado a Wagadou, lo que obligó a los Soninké a rendir tributo. En 1203, el rey Sosso Soumaoro del clan Kanté llegó al poder y, según los informes, aterrorizó a gran parte de Manden, robando mujeres y bienes tanto de Dodougou como de Kri.

Después de muchos años en el exilio, primero en la corte de Wagadou y luego en Mema, Sundiata,
un príncipe que finalmente se convirtió en fundador del Imperio de Mali, fue buscado por una delegación de Niani y le suplicó que combatiera a los Sosso y liberara los reinos de Manden. Al regresar con los ejércitos combinados de Mema, Wagadou y todas las ciudades-estado rebeldes de Mandinga, Maghan Sundiata, o Sumanguru, encabezó una revuelta contra el Reino Kaniaga alrededor de 1234. Las fuerzas combinadas del norte y sur de Manden derrotaron al ejército de Sosso en la Batalla. de Kirina (entonces conocida como Krina) en aproximadamente 1235. Esta victoria resultó en la caída del reino Kaniaga y el surgimiento del Imperio Malí. Después de la victoria, el rey Soumaoro desapareció y los mandinka asaltaron la última de las ciudades de Sosso. Maghan Sundiata fue declarado & # 8220faama de faamas & # 8221 y recibió el título & # 8220mansa, & # 8221 que se traduce aproximadamente como emperador. A la edad de dieciocho años, ganó autoridad sobre los doce reinos en una alianza conocida como Manden Kurufaba. Fue coronado bajo el nombre del trono Sunidata Keita, convirtiéndose en el primer emperador mandinka. Y así el nombre Keita se convirtió en un clan / familia y comenzó su reinado.

Malí imperial (1250-1559)

El Imperio de Malí cubrió un área más grande durante un período de tiempo más largo que cualquier otro estado de África Occidental antes o después. Lo que hizo esto posible fue la naturaleza descentralizada de la administración en todo el estado, pero la mansa logró mantener el dinero de los impuestos y el control nominal sobre el área sin agitar a sus súbditos para que se rebelaran. Los funcionarios a nivel de aldea, pueblo, ciudad y condado fueron elegidos localmente, y solo a nivel estatal o provincial hubo una interferencia palpable de la autoridad central en Niani. Las provincias elegían a sus propios gobernadores a través de su propia costumbre (elección, herencia, etc.), pero los gobernadores tenían que ser aprobados por la mansa y estaban sujetos a su supervisión.

El Imperio de Malí floreció debido al comercio por encima de todo. Contenía tres inmensas minas de oro dentro de sus fronteras, y el imperio gravaba cada onza de oro o sal que entraba en sus fronteras. A principios del siglo XIV, Malí era la fuente de casi la mitad del oro del Viejo Mundo, exportado de las minas de Bambuk, Boure y Galam. No había una moneda estándar en todo el reino, pero varias formas fueron prominentes por región. Las ciudades sahelianas y saharianas del Imperio de Malí se organizaron como puestos de escala en el comercio de caravanas de larga distancia y como centros comerciales para los diversos productos de África occidental (por ejemplo, sal, cobre). Ibn Battuta,
un viajero y erudito musulmán marroquí medieval, observó el empleo de mano de obra esclava. Durante la mayor parte de su viaje, Ibn Battuta viajó con un séquito que incluía esclavos, la mayoría de los cuales transportaban mercancías para el comercio, pero también ellos mismos comerciaban. A su regreso de Takedda a Marruecos, su caravana transportó a 600 esclavas, lo que sugiere que la esclavitud era una parte sustancial de la actividad comercial del imperio.

El número y la frecuencia de las conquistas a fines del siglo XIII y durante todo el siglo XIV indican que las mansas de Kolonkan (que gobernaban en ese momento) heredaron y / o desarrollaron un ejército capaz. Sin embargo, pasó por cambios radicales antes de alcanzar las proporciones legendarias proclamadas por sus súbditos. Gracias a los ingresos fiscales constantes y a un gobierno estable que comenzó en el último cuarto del siglo XIII, el Imperio de Malí pudo proyectar su poder a lo largo de su propio y extenso dominio y más allá. El imperio mantuvo un ejército semiprofesional a tiempo completo para defender sus fronteras. Se movilizó a toda la nación, y cada clan se vio obligado a proporcionar una cuota de hombres en edad de luchar. Los historiadores que vivieron durante el apogeo y el declive del Imperio de Malí registraron constantemente su ejército en 100,000, y 10,000 de ese número estaban compuestos por caballería.

El Imperio de Malí alcanzó su mayor tamaño bajo las mansas Laye Keita (1312-1389). El área total del imperio incluía casi toda la tierra entre el desierto del Sahara y los bosques costeros. Abarcaba el actual Senegal, el sur de Mauritania, Malí, el norte de Burkina Faso, el oeste de Níger, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Costa de Marfil y el norte de Ghana.
El primer gobernante del linaje Laye fue Kankan Musa Keita (o Moussa), también conocido como Mansa Musa. Se embarcó en un gran programa de construcción, levantando mezquitas y madrasas en Timbuktu y Gao.
También transformó Sankore de una madraza informal en una universidad islámica.
Al final del reinado de Mansa Musa, la Universidad Sankoré se había convertido en una universidad con todo el personal, con las colecciones de libros más grandes de África desde la Biblioteca de Alejandría. Durante este período, hubo un nivel avanzado de vida urbana en los principales centros de Malí. Sergio Domian, un estudioso de arte y arquitectura italiano, escribió lo siguiente sobre este período: & # 8220Así se sentaron las bases de una civilización urbana. En el apogeo de su poder, Malí tenía al menos 400 ciudades, y el interior del delta del Níger estaba muy densamente poblado. & # 8221

Extensión del Imperio de Malí (c. 1350): El Imperio de Malí fue el más grande de África Occidental e influyó profundamente en la cultura de la región a través de la difusión de su idioma, leyes y costumbres a lo largo de las tierras adyacentes al río Níger, así como en otras áreas que constan de numerosos reinos vasallos y provincias.

Colapso

Mansa Mahmud Keita IV fue el último emperador de Manden, según Tarikh al-Sudan. Lanzó un ataque contra la ciudad de Djenné en 1599 con los aliados de Fulani, con la esperanza de aprovechar la derrota de Songhai. Finalmente, el ejército dentro de Djenné intervino, obligando a Mansa Mahmud Keita IV y su ejército a retirarse a Kangaba. La batalla marcó el final efectivo del gran Imperio de Mali y preparó el escenario para el surgimiento de una plétora de estados más pequeños de África Occidental. Alrededor de 1610, Mahmud Keita IV murió. La tradición oral afirma que tuvo tres hijos que se pelearon por los restos de Manden. Ningún Keita gobernó Manden después de la muerte de Mahmud Keita IV y, por lo tanto, el fin del Imperio de Mali.

El antiguo núcleo del imperio se dividió en tres esferas de influencia. Kangaba, la capital de facto de Manden desde la época del último emperador, se convirtió en la capital de la esfera norte. El área de Joma, gobernada desde Siguiri, controlaba la región central, que abarcaba Niani. Hamana (o Amana), al suroeste de Joma, se convirtió en la esfera sur, con su capital en Kouroussa en la Guinea moderna. Cada gobernante usaba el título de mansa, pero su autoridad solo se extendía hasta su propia esfera de influencia. A pesar de esta desunión en el reino, el reino permaneció bajo el control de Mandinga hasta mediados del siglo XVII. Los tres estados se enfrentaron entre sí tanto, si no más, como lo hicieron contra los forasteros, pero las rivalidades generalmente se detuvieron cuando se enfrentaron a una invasión. Esta tendencia continuaría en la época colonial contra los enemigos de Tukulor del oeste.

Manuscritos de Tombuctú, c. siglo 14: Tombuctú se convirtió en un asentamiento permanente a principios del siglo XII. Después de un cambio en las rutas comerciales, Tombuctú floreció gracias al comercio de sal, oro, marfil y esclavos. Se convirtió en parte del Imperio de Malí a principios del siglo XIV. En su Edad de Oro, los numerosos eruditos islámicos de la ciudad y la extensa red comercial hicieron posible un importante comercio de libros. Junto con los campus de Sankore Madrasah, una universidad islámica, esto estableció a Tombuctú como un centro académico en África.


2: Comercio transahariano. Orígenes, organización y efectos en el desarrollo de África Occidental

Las conexiones de África Occidental con el mundo mediterráneo son muy antiguas, que son muy anteriores al surgimiento del Islam a finales del siglo VI EC. Varios siglos antes del surgimiento del imperio romano, el historiador griego Herodoto (c. 484-425 a. C.) escribió sobre los pueblos de África. Herodoto escribió repetidamente sobre los pueblos del valle del Nilo, destacando que muchos de ellos eran africanos negros y sugiriendo conexiones con personas más al oeste. El arte rupestre de este período, y más tarde, sugiere la existencia de carros de ruedas al sur de lo que hoy es el Sahara, y sugiere una conexión con el mundo mediterráneo.

Figuras zoomorfas. Período de cabeza redonda (9.500 & # 8211 c. 7,000 BP). Argelia. Tassili n & # 8217Ajjer. Tan Zoumaitak. Wikimedia. Fondazione Passaré, Fondazione Passaré V1 057, CC BY-SA 3.0

Es importante saber que el desierto del Sahara en sí no era tan duro en estos tiempos antiguos como lo fue más tarde y lo es hoy. El arte rupestre del desierto del Sahara es abundante, y parte de él tiene hasta 12000 años. Un buen ejemplo es el Tassili n'Ajjer, al norte de Tamanrasset en el Sahara argelino. Este es uno de los ejemplos más antiguos de arte rupestre del Sahara. Otro buen ejemplo es el macizo de Tibesti en Chad, que también tiene arte rupestre que data de esta época. Estas pinturas antiguas muestran áreas que ahora están en el desierto como fértiles, ricas en animales que ya no pueden vivir en estas áreas desérticas, como búfalos, elefantes, rinocerontes e hipopótamos. Es importante tener en cuenta que esta era de fertilidad en el Sahara coincidió con la Edad de Hielo europea. La Edad de Hielo no fue un problema en África y, de hecho, esta parece haber sido una época de abundancia.

El Sahara parece haber comenzado a desertar más rápidamente alrededor de 3000 años antes de nuestra era, pero permanecieron fuertes conexiones con el Mediterráneo hasta un momento posterior. Esto lo demuestra el general cartaginés Aníbal. Cartago era un imperio con sede en Libia [el imperio más poderoso del Mediterráneo hasta el surgimiento de Roma], y alrededor del 220 a. C. Aníbal se embarcó en un ataque a las fuerzas romanas en Europa que implicó cruzar la cordillera de los Alpes. Sus suministros militares eran transportados por elefantes, y estos eran elefantes africanos conectados a los pueblos y geografías al sur del Sahara.

La desertificación aumentó y las fronteras geográficas se hicieron más difíciles de cruzar. En el momento del surgimiento del Islam, a principios del siglo VII EC [desde c. 610fl., Con el establecimiento de los primeros califas, c. 610 CE], hubo menos conexiones. Pero el crecimiento de poderosos reinos islámicos en Marruecos y de centros de aprendizaje con sede en El Cairo, Trípoli y el Medio Oriente, vio el auge del comercio de caravanas. En el siglo IX d.C., el imperio de Ghāna [también conocido como Awkar] se había fundado en lo que hoy es Mauritania [las primeras referencias históricas provienen de c. 830 EC], con la capital en Koumbi-Saleh [la ruta comercial de Ghāna se concentraba en el Sahara Occidental, con su término en Sījīlmassa]. En el siglo X d.C., había asentamientos separados para los que practicaban las religiones africanas y los que practicaban el Islam en Koumbi-Saleh, lo que indica la gran cantidad de comerciantes del norte de África que estaban llegando. El comercio de oro ya se estaba extendiendo para influir en el comercio y la sociedad en el Mediterráneo, y fue alrededor del año 1000 EC cuando el oro de África Occidental se acuñó por primera vez para los mercados de Europa.

Es importante comprender cómo se relacionaron los eventos en África occidental con los del norte de África e incluso en Europa en el siglo XI. En esta época se produjo un cambio vital, encabezado por el movimiento almorávide. Parecen haber surgido de musulmanes bereberes que emigraron al norte desde el río Senegal en busca de una forma más pura de Islam después de mediados del siglo XI. Conquistaron el Reino de Marruecos, fundaron Marrakech en 1062 y luego barrieron Al-Andalus en el sur de España en la década de 1080, donde defendieron el Califato de Córdoba de la reconquista liderada por los reyes cristianos de España. Córdoba ya se había dividido en muchos mini estados diferentes en el sur de España conocidos como los estados de Taifa en la década de 1030 en el siglo XII, estos fueron superados por los almohades, que también vinieron de Marruecos, derrocando a los almorávides en 1147.

En África occidental, los cambios más importantes se produjeron en Ghāna. Hasta 1076, musulmanes y adoradores de religiones africanas habían convivido allí, pero ese año los almorávides saquearon la ciudad y Ghāna cayó en decadencia. Malí no se levantaría hasta el siglo XIII. A partir de entonces, el comercio del oro fue la pieza central del comercio transahariano. El dinero fue la causa del interés temprano de los comerciantes árabes en África Occidental, que de hecho era conocida por ellos como "el país dorado". La influencia del comercio de oro a través del Sahara en las sociedades europeas puede verse, por ejemplo, en la derivación del Palabra española para moneda de oro en el siglo XV, maravedí, del Almorávide Murabitun dinar.

El comercio de oro vio el surgimiento de poderosos imperios como Mali, Bono-Mansu y Songhay, la expansión de centros urbanos como Kano y el surgimiento de poderosas clases comerciales como Wangara. El árabe se volvió cada vez más influyente a través de la difusión del Islam y su uso como guión para la administración. En el siglo XV, cuando comenzaría el comercio atlántico, el comercio transsahariano había florecido durante al menos cinco siglos y ya había dado forma al ascenso, la caída y la consolidación de muchos estados y sociedades de África occidental.

Factores clave del comercio: medio ambiente, oro, caballos y organización del comercio de caravanas

Uno de los elementos principales en la creación de redes comerciales es la geografía. El comercio tiende a ser de productos que no se encuentran en un área y que se intercambian con los que se necesitan en otra. Por ejemplo, las sociedades que viven en áreas con productos forestales pueden intercambiarlos por sal de áreas desérticas y cultivos de granos de áreas de sabana. A su vez, los pueblos de la sabana y el desierto pueden adquirir productos forestales. Por tanto, un factor vital en el surgimiento del tejido social de África Occidental fue el desierto del Sahara.

Cuando las barreras geográficas entre diferentes zonas climáticas son extensas, las redes comerciales necesarias para mover mercancías tienen que ser más complicadas. Para prosperar, las sociedades necesitan desarrollar nuevos medios para acomodar a los comerciantes extranjeros. Donde la barrera es tan grande como el desierto del Sahara o el Océano Atlántico, el tejido social se entrelazará con estas complejas redes comerciales. Esto ocurrió en África Occidental con el comercio transsahariano y los marcos sociales que surgieron con este comercio se volvieron influyentes en la configuración del temprano comercio transatlántico. Por lo tanto, es difícil comprender la importancia del comercio transsahariano sin comprender su importancia para la sociedad, en términos de organización y creencias.

Un factor climático importante en la formación de las sociedades de África occidental fue la propagación de la mosca tsetsé. En las zonas de bosque húmedo, la mosca tsetsé que causa la enfermedad del sueño hizo que los animales de carga tuvieran dificultades para sobrevivir. Los camellos, caballos, burros y similares no podrían sobrevivir fácilmente en áreas donde la mosca tsetsé podría vivir y prosperar. Esto significaba que la sociedad tenía que organizarse para que las personas cumplieran ese papel y pudieran llevar cargas de oro, nueces de cola, marfil y más. Esto se volvió significativo a medida que el comercio de oro a través del Sahara se hizo cada vez más importante a partir del siglo XI.

Había dos zonas principales para la ubicación del oro en África Occidental. Uno estaba en el río Alto Senegal, especialmente el afluente del Falémé. El otro estaba en los bosques de Gold Coast. Estar cerca de la fuente de oro fue, por supuesto, un gran premio político, y es significativo que las áreas cercanas tanto a Falémé como a los bosques de Gold Coast vieron el surgimiento de sistemas políticos estables durante muchos siglos. En Falémé, este fue el reino de Gajaaga [conocido por los franceses como Galam], que vio un gobierno estable durante 8 siglos [según el historiador senegalés Abdoulaye Bathily]. En Gold Coast, esto se produjo en una serie de poderosos estados Akan, comenzando con Bono-Mansu en el siglo XIV y luego continuando a través de Denkyira y Akwamu hasta 1700, todos los cuales dependían del comercio del oro.

En Senegambia, la fuente de oro de Falémé estaba en una zona semidesértica donde la mosca tsetsé no podía prosperar [más tarde, esto estaba cerca del corazón del reino de Bundu]. Esto favoreció la creación de poderosas fuerzas de caballería, por lo que una de las principales cosas comercializadas por los comerciantes del norte de África en el comercio transsahariano eran sus famosos caballos "árabes". Las caballerías fueron importantes para el proceso de formación del estado y control militar en áreas como el imperio Jolof en el norte de Senegambia, y en Borno y Kano más al este. De hecho, una de las primeras áreas del comercio transsahariano que copiaron los europeos fue la institución del comercio de caballos, con caballos criados en las islas de Cabo Verde y comercializados en la costa de África occidental ya en la década de 1470.

En Bono-Mansu, sin embargo, los caballos no podían prosperar debido a la mosca tsetsé. Esto significó que el papel de los portadores de cabezas era vital para asegurar el buen funcionamiento del comercio del oro. Se extrajo oro de las minas en los bosques a 160 kilómetros al norte de la costa atlántica, y luego se transportó al norte hasta el final del comercio transsahariano en Oualata [en la actual Mauritania], Tombuctú [en la actual Malí] , Kano y N'gazarzamu en Borno.

Estos centros urbanos fueron vitales para la organización del comercio transsahariano en su conjunto. Tuvieron que desarrollar una infraestructura compleja de prestación de servicios para los comerciantes de larga distancia. Para el siglo XV, cada una de estas ciudades tenía hoteles para caballos y comerciantes, cámaras de compensación para que los animales regresaran para el comercio de larga distancia de regreso al Mediterráneo, and markets where the wherewithal for the trade could be bought: saddlery and other kit for camels and horses, huge stocks of grain (millet, rice, and cous) to feed the slaves and traders crossing the Sahara, skins for water, dried meat, and more. Some, such as Timbuktu, had also become centres of learning for the scholars who accompanied the caravans for Islam was also becoming ever more closely related to the success and transformation of the trans-Saharan trade.

Traders and Diasporas

The traders who specialised in linking up the different centres of the trans-Saharan trade were known as the Wangara. By the 15 th century, the Wangara formed an important trade diaspora, stretching from The Gambia in the West to Borno in the East they also had connections in the Mali empire, and as far south as Bono-Mansu, and some of the Akan states on the southern Atlantic coast of what is now Ghana.

As we have seen, Islam had become closely connected to trans-Saharan trade: all of the traders from North Africa who came with the caravans were Muslims, and they preferred to trade with Muslims only. The rise of the Almoravid movement in the 11 th century, and the fall of Ghāna, made it clear that those rulers who converted to Islam would fare better in the trans-Saharan stakes.

At the same time, Islam remained the religion of the nobles and the trader class. It was not the faith of everyone, and some would resist it strongly. Thus West African rulers who wanted to succeed in the trans-Saharan trade had to develop a complex strategy. On the one hand, they had to be seen as Muslims in order to be able to entice the trans-Saharan traders: and yet at the same time, they had to be able to relate to their subjects, many of whom were not Muslims.

This commercial reality contributed to what historians call “plural societies”. A plural society can be defined as one in which more than one religion is allowed and tolerated where people can mix across ethnic and religious lines, and where the ability to respect more than one faith is an important part of political and social life. This can be seen through the oral accounts of key rulers such as Sunjata Keita of Mali, many of which emphasise the place of musicians in the court of Mali. The balafon was a royal instrument, which can be seen through its relationship in oral accounts to the sorcerer-king whom Sunjata defeated, Sumanguru Kante. Sumanguru was also reputed as a “Blacksmith king”, in tune with the supernatural powers of smiths and previous political regimes. Thus even Islamic rulers such as those of Mali showed their respect of African religions [and this may also explain why political leaders from Mali explained in Cairo in the 1320s that it was not possible to convert the producers of gold to Islam].

The Wangara diaspora of traders gradually became more and more important in creating a common culture across different parts of West Africa. Their arrival in Borno by the 15 th century showed how the pluralism of society, the spread of Islam as a scholarly, religious, and commercial religion, and the arrival of more and more global influences were all coming together across a wide part of West Africa.

Arabic, Literacy, and Scholarly Production

One of the impacts of the growing trans-Saharan trade was the spread of Arabic as a written language in West Africa. Arabic became not only a language of faith and religious scholarship, with the many mallams, shereefs, and other seers who came to the region. It was also a language of government and law. The many manuscripts now housed in the Ahmed Baba Institute in Timbuktu are testament to the spread of literacy in West Africa from an early time, and certainly it had become important by the 13 th century.

Rulers of important West African empires such as Mali and Songhay of course maintained existing indigenous frameworks of rulership. However they borrowed Islamic bureaucratic forms, religion, scholarship and legal structures to govern the new states, and the complex international relationships which they were developing through trade with the rest of the Islamic world. Taxation, law, and state offices all developed alongside the literate class which became vital to the functioning of the states of the Sahel.

By the 15 th and 16 th centuries, certain desert clans were renowned for their learning and scholarship. In Western areas such as Mauritania, these were known as the zwāya, and in the later 17 th century they would have a major role in the Islamic revival movement which spread in the 18 th century.Desert clans such as the Masūfa also migrated to Timbuktu from Māsina in central Mali, bringing special areas of learning in Islamic law (fiqh).The high status of these scholars is shown by the fact that the great Timbuktu scholar Ahmad Baba had as his main shaykh or religious instructor a scholar from Djenné on the Niger. [Ahmed Baba lived from 1556 to 1627, and wrote over 40 books in his lifetime he has the reputation of being Timbuktu’s greatest scholar].

The spread of Arabic has been studied by some historians through the spread of the use of Arabic on tombstones. The Brazilian historian PF de Moraes Farias spent his career studying these funerary inscriptions in cemeteries in Mauritania, Mali, and Niger. What he found was a more integrated history of Songhay, Tamasheq, Berber and Mande peoples than traditional histories had suggested. Arabic was not only an elite language of learning, but also became a language used by many to pay homage to their departed family members.

Headless figure, Jenne-jeno, Mali, 900-1400 AD, terracotta – National Museum of Natural History, photograph by Daderot, United States – DSC00413, CC0 1.0.

An important feature of this rise of Arabic was the spread of scholars from North Africa in centres of learning such as Kano and Timbuktu. Indeed, this was also an exchange, since scholars from West African cities moved to learn, study, and preach further afield. One was Al-Kānemī, from Kanem-Borno, who lived and taught in Marrakesh c. 1200, before dying in Andalusía in Spain. By the 14 th century, annual caravans took pilgrims from West Africa to North Africa and then to Mecca, and there was in Cairo a hostel to accommodate only those pilgrims who came from Borno while Askia Mohammed, who became ruler of Songhay c. 1495, instituted a garden and lodge for pilgrims from West Africa in Medina [a holy city of Islam, in Arabia], during his own hajj.

Tomb of Askia, photograph by Taguelmoust, 2005, CC BY-SA 3.0

The frequency of such presences of West Africans in the wider Islamic world is shown not only through the spread of Arabic, and the number of documented journeys made, but also by oral accounts. For instance, [the Gambian theologian Lamin Sanneh notes that] one of the most important strains of Islam in this period was that of Suwerian Islam. The founder of Suwerian Islam, al-Hajj Sālim Suware, is said in oral accounts to have made the pilgrimage to Mecca seven times in the early 13 th century. This is unlikely to be true, given just how difficult this journey was [and also as the Qur’an lonely requires it as a duty for Muslims to make the pilgrimage once in their lifetimes if possible]. However, the story reveals just how normal these journeys were, and how often they took place.

By the 15 th century, the growth of the gold trade had gone hand in hand with the emphasis on scholarship. The last 15 th century Sarki of Kano, Mohammed Rimfa, invited large numbers of scholars to settle in the city, and one of them – Sherif Abdu Rahman – came from Medina. Rahman brought his own library and many learned followers. The city walls of Kano were built, and the Kurmi market established, which showed just how much urban developments, learning, and the growth of the trans-Saharan trade had become interconnected.

This was also very apparent in Timbuktu. Timbuktu grew a reputation as a city of learning, and yet during the reign of Sonni Ali (c. 1464-93) of Songhay, its scholars felt undermined and slighted. After Sonni Ali’s death, many mallams from Timbuktu complained at his rulership and departure from orthodox Islam, and the ways in which they claimed he had persecuted the mallams. In the 16 th century, a succession of Askias ruled who followed a more orthodox path of Islam, and the city’s reputation as a centre of learning reached its peak. But this would fall with the Moroccan invasion of Songhay in 1591 [after which time, many of its scholars would disperse west, to Mauritania which is why many scholars of Islam in Mauritania see this as the centre of Islamic scholarship in the Sahel by the 18 th and 19 th centuries].

Mali and Mansa Musa

Perhaps the most famous and influential kingdom linked to the trans-Saharan trade was that of Mali. Mali was founded by Sunjata Keita in the 13 th century, defeating the blacksmith king Sumanguru Kante. However, in Mali, the ruler who reached world renown at the time was the Emperor Mansa Musa.

A ttributed to Abraham Cresques, Catalan Atlas BNF Sheet 6 Mansa Musa, marked as public domain, more details on Wikimedia Commons

Mansa Kankan Musa Keita was the son of Mansa Aboubacarr II the Navigator who in the 1300s sent out an expedition across the Atlantic Ocean from River Gambia to discover new territories. His son Mansa Kankan Musa Keita better known as Mansa Musa ruled Mali from 1312-1337. His reign lasted barely quarter of century but the whole 1300s are still called the Century of Mansa Musa because of his lasting legacy.

This legacy came out more for his exploits on his way to Mecca to perform his pilgrimage 1324-1325 than in any wars he fought and won or lost. He apparently did not want to perform the pilgrimage as he was still a nominal Muslim but when he accidentally killed his mother, he decided to perform the Hajj to purify himself and atone for his capital crime. He took along the entire court of his to Mecca including doctors, princes, griots and an army of body guard which numbered 8000 men! He left he Capital of Mali and traversed the Sahara through Walata in present day Mauretania, then Libya before entering Cairo. From Cairo he entered the Holy city of Mecca.

This pilgrimage had economic, political and religious consequences.

Economically, Mansa Musa dispensed so much gold on his way to Mecca that he has since then been called the richest ever human being to live on this earth. He also cemented trade ties between Mali and the Middle East and Cairo such that from 1325, caravans of over 10,000 camels traversed the Sahara into Mali at Gao and Timbuktu. Religiously, Mansa Musa and his huge entourage returned from the hajj renewed Muslims who now wanted to strengthen the religion and spread it far and wide. The Malian masses which were mostly animist then, were soon converted by the fresh pilgrims. Also, Mali opened up to more Arab scholars who were attracted by the immense wealth Mansa Musa displayed. These Arabs built fabulous mosques and courts for Mansa Musa. He also brought along great scholars who helped him establish the famous libraries in Gao, Jenne and Timbuktu. The hajj became one of the world’s greatest PR exercises! Politically, Mali became well known and Mansa Musa earned international repute. His pilgrimage put Mali firmly on the map. Indeed, before his death in 1337, Mansa Musa has expanded Mali into a sprawling empire with over 400 cities extending from the Atlantic in the West to the forest zones of the south. All the known states of the time such as Songhay,, Ghana, Galam, Tekrur formed part of Mansa Musa’s Mali. Mansa Musa indeed gave Mali her glory and Mali also gave Mansa Musa his glory!

Political reorganization in the 15 th century: Bono-Mansu, Mossi, Kano, and Songhay

The growth of the trans-Saharan trade from the 10 th to the 15 th century led to profound transformations across West Africa, and this can be seen through a whole range of transformations that took place in the 15 th century, from West to East and from North to South. It would be political, economic and social transformations in West Africa that would drive globalization and Europe’s role in this, not the other way around.

A good example are events in Nigeria. In Borno, the growth of the gold trade from Bono-Mansu would lead to the movement of the capital away from the old centre of Kanem, further south to Gazargamo (Ngazargamu) in Borno circa 1470. In Kano, there was the establishment of a new system, the Sarauta sistema. Meanwhile, the 10-metre deep earthworks known as “Eredos”, built around Ijebu in Yorubaland, have recently been dated [by the archaeologist Gérard Chouin] to the period 1370-1420.

In other regions similar transformations were afoot. In Mali, the Dogon people of the Bandiagara escarpment probably moved there in the 15 th century. At the same time, in the 15 th century, the Mossi kingdom rose in what is now Burkina Faso, linked to the profits to be made from taxing the onward gold trade.Al-Sa’dī describes Mossi attacking the town of Mâssina in this period.It was also at this time that Bono-Mansurose to prominence. Meanwhile, the key gold-trading centre of Bighu, also on the Gold Coast and which was to become very important in the 17 th and 18 th century, is mentioned by al-Ouazzan (as Bito) in the 1520s, suggesting that it too rose to prominence in these decades.

Meanwhile, in Senegambia, the rise of the major military leader Koli Tenguela at the end of the 15 th century coincided probably with an attempt to control the gold trade which came from the kingdom of Wuuli, on the north bank of the Gambia river. Tenguela, a Fula, would eventually lead an army south across the Gambia river to the Fuuta Jaalo mountains in Guinea-Conakry and establish a new polity there. This would lead in turn to the establishment of Fuuta Tooro on the Senegal river.

In other words, all across West Africa, from Borno to Fuuta Tooro, political transformations were taking place well before trade with Europe had begun. West African mining technology, economic transformation, and political reorganization grew. This helped to create the framework in which European powers sought to expand their knowledge of the world, as they began to sail along the West African coast in the 15 th century.

The most remarkable example came in northern Nigeria. Kano grew very rapidly in the 15 th century, sending out military expeditions to the south and becoming a regional hub linking trading networks from southern Nigeria to what is now Mali and beyond. [The Kano Chronicle gives some details of these changes]. In the reign of Kano’s Sarkin Dauda (c. 1421-38), we are told of the connections between Kano and the province of Nupe. The major power between Kano and Nupe was Zaria, which conquered a large area of land. The Kano Chronicle says, “at this time, Zaria, under Queen Amina, conquered all the towns as far as Kwararafa and Nupe. Every town paid tribute to her. The Sarkin Nupe sent forty eunuchs and ten thousand kolas to her…in time the whole of the products of the west were brought to Hausaland [of which Kano was the capital]”.

Just as European power was beginning to expand along the West African coast in the 15 th century, therefore, so the impact of the trans-Saharan trade reached its zenith. The 15 th century was not just the time of European expansion, but of global expansion of networks, trade, productions, and the manifestation of this power in more complex states, in West Africa and beyond.

Koli Tengella and Tekrur

Tekrur was another of the states which thrived largely as a result of the Trans-Saharan trade. It was founded in the 7 th century, and was located in present day North-East Senegal in the valley of the Senegal River. For many years, Tekrur laid quietly as a vassal of the Ghana and Mali empires. Tekrur had largely Serahuly and Mande speaking populations, but in the 15 th century, the Fula became powerful and removed the ruling Mande class and established the Janonkobe dynasty. They were led by a warrior the Senegalese historian Ousman Ba called ‘the great hero and saviour of the Peulh’ named Koli, the son of Tengella. He formed and mobilised a vast army and ravaged through Fouta Jallon, Mali and Jollof to make Tekrur the unvanquished power in the region. Koli was crowned as Satigi or emperor over the vast lands now under the control of his Fula armies. His capital was at Gode, near the present day Matam.

Koli is remembered in the Fouta Toro legends as the big chief of the Fula animist aristocracy who lived on war and slavery, catching especially of the Fula and Tukulor Muslims of his empire. No doubt then in 1776, the Muslims headed by Sulayman Bal revolted against Koli’s oppression to found the Muslim state of Fouta. How did Koli benefit from the trade across the Sahara? Simply put, by trading grain in exchange for firearms. He was able to build a strong army which maintained Tekrur’s dominance for many decades. It is clear from what has been said above that the trade across the Sahara helped to build strong states and also to destroy them as weapons became readily available and the lucrative trade also generated envy and the desire to dominate.

Ghana and Songhai Empires

Ghana was one of the most famous and earliest of the West African empires. It existed between the 5 th and 13 th centuries in the modern Mali and Mauritania, and was heavily connected to the trans-Saharan trade. The Ghana empire with its capital of Kumbi Saleh in Mauritainia, is not to be confused with modern Ghana with its capital at Accra, which was named after it. The principal inhabitants of Ghana were the Serahuli, also called Soninke, who were part of the Mande-speaking people.

Ghana owed her progress and prosperity and influence to the strategic role it played in the Trans-Saharan trade. British historian Kevin Shillington was categorical in this: ‘…Ghana’s position with regard to the trade…. made it grow powerful and its rulers became rich…. It seems likely that trade was a major factor in the growth of Ghana from the very beginning’.

Ghana was located half way between the sources of the two Trans-Saharan trade items: salt from the desert up north and gold from Bambuk to the East. Ghana played the enviable role of middleman. The introduction of the camel as carrier of goods in the trade was a massive boost to the exchange between Ghana and the desert peoples such as the Berbers.

Ghana’s glory could not be hidden simply because it was well traced and chronicled by the Arabic traders who came there. As early as the 11 th century an Arab geographer called al-Bakari visited Kumbi Saleh, the capital and described the fabulous wealth he saw and the well advanced form of administration run by the Ghana ruler. He observed that Kumbi Saleh had two separate wards: the foreigners’ quarter where Arab trader resided and the main ward where the king and his people lived. The dumbstruck Arab visitor also described in glowing terms how well dressed in gold the Ghana king was, how he was able to raise an army of 200,000 men and how he allowed both Islam and animism to be practised in Kumbi Saleh. Of course, our Arab writers only met the royals, nobles and traders as they were interested only in gold. They said little about what the ordinary people did for a living but we can glean from the writings that they fished and farmed along the banks of the River Senegal to survive.

Ghana’s glory rested on trade and so did its collapse. When the Almoravids started to wage war against other Berber tribes, the trade routes to Ghana became unsafe and trade was affected. Dry weather conditions also affected Ghana’s ability to feed herself and her vast army this seriously weakened the state. Also, by the 12 th century, vassals like Mali had began to rebel to gain freedom from Ghana’s dominance.

Songhay, on the other hand lasted from the 11 th to 16 th century. It rose to prominence as a result of the Trans-Saharan trade. As early as the 14 th century Muslim traders were settled in Gao, the principal trade town of Songhay. Gao became the hub for the Trans-Saharan trade for the central and eastern Sahara. The farmers and fishermen of Songay ensured the traders were well fed.

Songhay collected the bulk of her revenue from the taxes levied on trade caravans. One of the great Songhay emperors was Muhamed Ture also called Askia Muhamed who introduced Islam in to Songhay and increased the empire’s reaches. Like Mansa Musa of Mali, he made a pilgrimage to Mecca where he showed how rich and powerful his kingdom was. The Trans-Saharan trade helped to make Songhai rich and prosperous.

It should be noted that the trans-Saharan trade continued to be important into the 19 th and even the 20 th century, as the continuing trade and human traffic shows. The desert is a geographical barrier which requires complex organisation to cross – those who crossed it laid the foundations of some of the most important states in West African history.

Factbox:

3000BCE: Sahara starts desertifying

220BCE: Hannibal of Carthage crosses the Alps with West African elephants

400 CE: City of Jenne-jenò in the Middle Niger has grown to 4000 inhabitants

900AD: Gold from the forests of Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire found in North African mints in increasing quantities

1062: The Almoravids from the fringes of the Senegal river valley conquer Morocco and establish Marrakech.

1076: Almoravids sack Koumbi-Saleh, capital of Ghāna

1080s: Almoravids sweep into southern Spain

1070-1100: The kingdom of Kanem-Borno converts to Islam and becomes important in the trans-Saharan trade. Regular pilgrimages to Mecca via Cairo of the Borno kings begin in the 1100s.

1200: Kano’s city walls completed by this date

1200-1250: rise of the Mali empire under Sunjata Keita, founded on trans-Saharan wealth

1322-5: Pilgrimage of Mansa Musa, emperor of Mali to Mecca via Cairo

1330s: Djinguereber mosque built in Timbuktu using the architect As-Sahili from Andalusía in southern Spain

1350-1390: Wangara traders bring Islam to Kano with trade

1433 – 1474: Emergence of Songhay to rival Mali for imperial power with the loss of Timbuktu to Songhay in 1468 to their ruler Sonni ‘Alī

1470s: The capital of Borno moves south to the fortified redoubt of Ngazargamu

1492: Death of Sonni ‘Alī, ruler of Songhay. He is replaced by Askia Mohammad in 1494, who inaugurates the great age of Songhay

1490s-1510s: Rise of Koli Tenguella, founder of Futa Toro on the northern bank of the Senegal river

1591: Fall of Songhay to the forces of Morocco


Growth and Urbanization of Malinké

Mansa Musa—Mansa is a title meaning something like "king"—held many other titles he was also the Emeri of Melle, the Lord of Mines of Wangara, and the Conquerer of Ghanata and a dozen other states. Under his rule, the Malinké empire was stronger, richer, better organized, and more literate than any other Christian power in Europe at the time.

Musa established a university at Timbuktu where 1,000 students worked towards their degrees. The university was attached to the Sankoré Mosque, and it was staffed with the finest jurists, astronomers, and mathematicians from the scholarly city of Fez in Morocco.

In each of the cities conquered by Musa, he established royal residences and urban administrative centers of government. All of those cities were Musa's capitals: the center of authority for the entire Mali kingdom moved with the Mansa: the centers where he was not currently visiting were called "king's towns."


Mali Empire (ca. 1200- )

The Mali Empire was the second of three West African empires to emerge in the vast savanna grasslands located between the Sahara Desert to the north and the coastal rain forest in the south. Beginning as a series of small successor trading states, Ancient Ghana, the empire grew to encompass the territory between the Atlantic Ocean and Lake Chad, a distance of nearly 1,800 miles. Encompassing all or part of the modern nations of Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, and Chad, at its height in 1300, Mali was one of the largest empires in the world.

The Mali Empire was strategically located between the West African gold mines and the agriculturally rich Niger River floodplain. Mali’s rise begins when the political leaders of Ghana could not reestablish that empire’s former glory following its conquest and occupation by the Almoravids in 1076. Consequently a number of small states vied to control the salt and gold trade that accounted for Ghana’s wealth and power.

In 1235 Sundiata Keita, the leader of one of these states, Kangaba, defeated its principal rival, the neighboring kingdom of Susu, and began consolidating power in the region. Sundiata’s conquest in 1235 is considered the founding of the Malian Empire. Under Sundiata’s successors Mali extended its control west to the Atlantic, south into the rain forest region, including the Wangara gold fields, and east beyond the great bend of the Niger River.

At its height in 1350 the Mali Empire was a confederation of three states, Mali, Memo and Wagadou and twelve garrisoned provinces. The emperor or mansa ruled over 400 cities, towns and villages of various ethnicities and controlled a population of approximately 20 million people from the capitol at Niani. The Malian Army numbered 100,000 men including 10,000 cavalry. During this time only the Mongol Empire (China) and the Russian Empire exceed Mali in size. The mansa reserved the exclusive right to dispense justice and to tax both local and international trade. That trade was centered in three major cities, Timbuktu, Djenne and Gao.

Between 1324 and 1325 Mansa Musa, the most famous of the Malian Emperors, made an elaborate pilgrimage through the current nation of Sudan and through Egypt on to Mecca in Arabia, bringing thousands of followers and hundreds of camels carrying gold. Through the highly publicized pilgrimage and indirectly through an elaborate trade that sent gold to the capitals of Europe and Asia, Mali and its ruler became famous throughout the known world.

Mali’s power however was eventually weakened by palace intrigue that prevented an orderly succession of imperial power and by the desire of smaller states to break free of its rule to reap the benefits of the salt and gold trade. The first people to achieve independence from Mali were the Wolof who resided in what is now Senegal. They established the Jolof Empire around 1350. In 1430 the nomadic Tuareg seized Timbuktu This conquest had enormous commercial and psychological consequences: a relatively small but united group had occupied the richest city in the Empire and one of the major sources of imperial wealth.

The greatest challenge, however, came from a rebellion in Gao that led to rise of Songhai. The once vassal state to Mali conquered Mema, one of the Empire’s oldest possessions in 1465. Three years later they took Timbuktu from the Tuareg.

Beginning in 1502, Songhai forces under Askia Muhammad took control of virtually all of Mali’s eastern possession including the sites for commercial exchange as well as the gold and copper mines at the southern and northern borders. Even the desperate effort by Mansa Mahmud III to craft an alliance with the Portuguese failed to stop Songhai’s advances. In 1545 a Songhai army routed the Malians and their emperor from their capital, Niani. Although Songhai never conquered what remained of the Empire of Mali, its victories effectively ended Malian power in the savanna.


Regions of Mali Map

Mali has been divided into 10 administrative regions. In alphabetical order, these are as follows: Gao, Kayes, Kidal, Koulikoro, Menaka, Mopti, Segou, Sikasso, Taoudenni, Tombouctou (Timbuktu) note - Menaka and Taoudenni were legislated in 2016, but implementation has not been confirmed by the US Board on Geographic Names

The country also has one capital district, Bamako. It is the capital and largest city of Mali.

With an area of 496,611 sq. km Tombouctou is the largest region of Mali by area and Sikasso is the most populous one.


Mansa Musa, King of Mali

King Mansa Musa is famous for his Hajj journey, during which he stopped off in Egypt and gave out so much gold that the Egyptian economy was ruined for years to come. Mansa Musa was the great-great-grandson of Sunjata, who was the founder of the empire of Mali. His 25-year reign (1312-1337 CE) is described as the golden age of the empire of Mali (Levztion 66). While Sunjata focused on building an ethnic Malinke empire, Mansa Musa developed its Islamic practice. He performed his Hajj in 1324. According to Levztion, the journey across Africa to Makkah took more than a year and it took a powerful king to be able to be absent from his kingdom for so long. Mansa Musa journeyed along the Niger River to Mema, then to Walata, then through Taghaza and on to Tuat, which was a trade center in central Africa. Tuat attracted traders from as far as Majorca and Egypt and its traders included Jews as well as Muslims.

When he arrived in Egypt, Mansa Musa camped near the Pyramids for three days. He then sent a gift of 50,000 dinars to the Sultan of Egypt before settling in Cairo for three months. The Sultan lent him his palace for the summer and made sure that his entourage was treated well. Mansa Musa gave away thousands of ingots of gold, and Egyptian traders took advantage of this by charging five times the normal price for their goods. The value of gold in Egypt decreased as much as 25 percent. By the time Mansa Musa returned to Cairo from Hajj, however, he had run out of money and had to borrow from local Egyptian merchants.

While Mansa Musa was devout, he was not an ascetic. His imperial power was widely respected, and he was feared throughout Africa. Ibn Battuta s accounts show that Musa expected the same traditional etiquette of reverence to be performed for him as for any other king. These included demonstrating one s submission before the king. People who greeted him had to kneel down and scatter dust over themselves. Even in Cairo, Mansa Musa was greeted by his subjects in the traditional way. No one was allowed into the king s presence with his sandals on negligence was punished by death. No one was allowed to sneeze in the king s presence, and when the king himself sneezed, those present beat their breasts with their hands (Levtzion, 108).

Another custom was that the king would never give orders personally. He would pass instructions to a spokesman, who would then convey his words. He never wrote anything himself and asked his scribes to put together a book, which he then sent to the Sultan of Egypt. However, Mansa Musa had to face his own test of humility because it was required, when greeting the sultan, to kiss the ground. This was an act that Mansa Musa could not bring himself to perform. Ibn Fadl Allah Al-Omari, who spent time with Musa in Egypt, reports that Musa had made many excuses before he could be persuaded to enter the sultan s court. In the end, he made a compromise by announcing that if he had to prostrate on entering the court, it would be before Allah only, and this he did.

Mansa Musa stood in a long tradition of West African kings who had made pilgrimage to Makkah and, like his predecessors, he traveled in style. Ibn Battuta recorded the display of wealth, which included a large presence of bodyguards, dignitaries, saddled horses, and colored flags. He traveled with his senior wife, Inari Kunate, who brought with her five hundred maids-in-waiting. The senior wife was also respected and feared, and rulers of different cities paid their tributes to her. However, Ibn Battuta recorded that in Mansa Musa s court, the Shari`ah was rather informally practiced in matters of marriage. He records that Ibn Amir Hajib, a member of the Mamluk court, noted how Mansa Musa strictly observed prayer and knew the Qur an, but had maintained the custom that if one of his subjects had a beautiful daughter, he brought her to the king s bed without marriage. Ibn Amir Hajib informed Mansa Musa that this was not permitted under Islamic law, to which Mansa Musa replied, Not even to kings? Ibn Amir Hajib said, Not even to kings. Henceforth Mansa Musa refrained from the practice.

Mansa Musa s Hajj had a significant impact on the development of Islam in Mali and on the perception of Mali throughout Africa and Europe. He was later accompanied back to Mali by an Andalusian architect, who is said to have designed the mosque at Timbuktu. He also invited back with him four descendents of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), so that the country of Mali would be blessed by their footprints. According to Levtzion, Mansa Musa s pilgrimage is recorded in many sources, both Muslim and non-Muslim and from both West Africa and Egypt. Mali also appeared on the maps of the Jews and Christians in Europe. In Mali, Musa is known for building mosques and inviting Islamic scholars from around the Muslim world to his empire (Levtzion 213).

- Levtzion, N. Ancient Ghana and Mali. London: Methuen & Co., 1973.


Africa 979 CE

North AfricaIn North Africa, the Islamic religion has taken root, and a Shiite movement, called the Fatimids, now rules most of that region from Egypt.The Christian civilization of the Nubian kingdoms in the Nile Valley .

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What is happening in Africa in 979CE

North Africa

In North Africa, the Islamic religion has taken root, and a Shiite movement, called the Fatimids, now rules most of that region from Egypt.

The Christian civilization of the Nubian kingdoms in the Nile Valley continues to flourish, while the Christian kingdom of Ethiopia is under fierce pressure from surrounding pagan tribes.

Sub-Saharan Africa

Islam is also now spreading across the Sahara desert into West Africa, carried by merchants and missionaries, although at this date the great bulk of the population have their traditional religions. West African civilization continues to advance, and other kingdoms have appeared beside Ghana, notably Songhai and Mali. Further east, the development of a more easterly trade route across the Sahara has led to the rise of the kingdom of Kanem, on the shores of Lake Chad.

The maritime trade between the east coast of Africa, Arabia and India is also expanding, and is leading to the rise of a coastal society, predominantly black by race and Muslim by culture, which will later be given the name “Swahili”. There is evidence for the beginnings of urbanization in this period along the coast.

In southern Africa, the Bantu herding cultures are thriving, pushing the pre-Bantu hunter-gatherer peoples further and further into inhospitable desert areas.

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Darkness and Light: Europe in 962 CE This series of timemaps shows a portion of North Africa.


Map of the Mali Empire, c. 1337 CE - History


An African emperor who ruled Mali in the 14th century discovered America nearly 200 years before Christopher Columbus, according to a book to be launched this month.

Abubakari II ruled what was arguably the richest and largest empire on earth - covering nearly all of West Africa.

According to a Malian scholar, Gaoussou Diawara in his book, 'The Saga of Abubakari II. he left with 2000 boats', the emperor gave up all power and gold to pursue knowledge and discovery.

Abubakari's ambition was to explore whether the Atlantic Ocean - like the great River Niger that swept through Mali - had another 'bank'.

In 1311, he handed the throne over to his brother, Kankou Moussa, and set off on an expedition into the unknown.

His predecessor and uncle, Soundjata Keita, had already founded the Mali empire and conquered a good stretch of the Sahara Desert and the great forests along the West African coast.

The book also focuses on a research project being carried out in Mali tracing Abubakari's journeys.

"We are not saying that Abubakari II was the first ever to cross the ocean," says Tiemoko Konate, who heads the project

"There is evidence that the Vikings were in America long before him, as well as the Chinese," he said.


The researchers claim that Abubakari's fleet of pirogues, loaded with men and women, livestock, food and drinking water, departed from what is the coast of present-day Gambia.

They are gathering evidence that in 1312 Abubakari II landed on the coast of Brazil in the place known today as Recife.

"Its other name is Purnanbuco, which we believe is an aberration of the Mande name for the rich gold fields that accounted for much of the wealth of the Mali Empire, Boure Bambouk."

Another researcher, Khadidjah Djire says they have found written accounts of Abubakari's expedition in Egypt, in a book written by Al Omari in the 14th century.

"Our aim is to bring out hidden parts of history", she says.

Mr Konate says they are also examining reports by Columbus, himself, who said he found black traders already present in the Americas.

They also cite chemical analyses of the gold tips that Columbus found on spears in the Americas, which show that the gold probably came from West Africa.


But the scholars say the best sources of information on Abubakari II are Griots - the original historians in Africa.

Mr Diawara says the paradox of Abubakari II, is that the Griots themselves imposed a seal of silence on the story.

"The Griots found his abdication a shameful act, not worthy of praise," Mr Diawara said.

"For that reason they have refused to sing praise or talk of this great African man."

Mr Diawara says the Griots in West Africa such as Sadio Diabate, are slowly starting to divulge the secrets on Abubakari II.

But the research team says an even bigger challenge is to convince hard-nosed historians elsewhere that oral history can be just as accurate as written records.

Mr Diawara believes Abubakari's saga has an important moral lesson for leaders of small nation states in West Africa, which were once part of the vast Mande-speaking empire.

"Look at what's going on in all the remnants of that empire, in Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea.

"Politicians are bathing their countries in blood, setting them on fire just so that they can cling to power," says Mr Diawara.

"They should take an example from Abubakari II. He was a far more powerful man than any of them. And he was willing to give it all up in the name of science and discovery."

"That should be a lesson for everyone in Africa today," concludes Mr Diawara.


7b. Mali: A Cultural Center


Mansa Musa, greatest king of Mali, is shown on this Spanish map of Africa.

What would life be like if a magician ruled the land? The history of ancient Mali gives us some hints. The founder of this West African kingdom was well known among his people as a man of magic with more than a few tricks up his sleeve.

Before the sorcerer's reign, and the Malian kingdom's birth, years of competition and fighting took place in the lands west of the upper Niger River. A series of fierce battles took place, and in the 13th century C.E., a group known as the Soso emerged victorious. The Soso's new lands, which had once belonged to the kingdom of Ghana, were like giant pots of gold. But before the Soso could settle in and enjoy the wealth, the great "sorcerer-king" Sundiata moved in to take over.

The Lion King

Sundiata claimed that Mali was his by right of inheritance and in 1230 A.D he defeated the Soso and took back the land. According to legend, Sundiata's rival, King Sumanguru, was also a sorcerer. Sumanguru conjured up the heads of eight spirits for assistance. Sundiata had stronger magic. He defeated the eight heads and then shot an arrow, which grazed Sumanguru's shoulder, draining him of all remaining magic. With a pat on the back, Sundiata declared himself ruler, or mansa, of the region and set up capital in the city of Niani.


The mosque at Timbuktu was the heart of the kingdom of Mali. The empire of Mali expanded after the fall of Ghana, reaching its height under the rule of Kankan Musa (c. 1312-1327 C.E.). Many monumental mosques were constructed during the reign of Mansa Kankan Musa who is still remembered as a great Islamic ruler.

Sundiata, also known as the "Lion King," was determined to make changes, and indeed he did. He decided to assign specific occupations to particular kin groups and developed a social organization similar to a caste system. For example, if born into a family of warriors, one was destined to be a warrior. If born into a family of djeli , or storytellers, one was destined to join the djeli tradition. Choice of destiny was not an option.

This system conveniently meant that if born into a family of mansa, one was part of the ruling dynasty &mdash the Keita. It was one of Sundiata's "tricks" to keep power in the family.

For the most part, the system worked. However, for a short time, power escaped the Keita hands and landed in those of a former slave. The disruptive reign of the ex-slave, known as Sakura, paved the way for Sundiata's nephew, Mansa Kankan Musa, to back the throne. Best known for his wealth, his generosity, and his dedication to Islam, Mansa Musa took the kingdom to new heights.

A Golden Pilgrimage

Through involvement in the gold trade that swept through Africa and reached all the way to Europe, Mansa Musa led Mali to great riches. The region's prosperity was nothing new, but based on Egyptian records, Mansa Musa's display and distribution of the wealth was unprecedented.

In 1324, the great Mansa Musa set out on a pilgrimage to Mecca. Decked out in his finest clothes, he passed through Cairo with 500 slaves, each of whom carried a six-pound staff of gold. Backing them up were 100 camels, carrying in sum over 30,000 more pounds of the precious metal.


The African gold trade was indeed a lucrative one, as shown by this gold from Ghana.

Surely this was a sight to behold, and the accounts left behind say that the show got even better. While cruising through Cairo, Mansa Musa reportedly handed out gifts of gold to bystanders. He entertained the crowds and made a lucky few suddenly rich.

In Mansa Musa's Hands

Aside from being generous, Mansa Musa made an important mark in Mali by introducing the kingdom to Islam and making it one of the first Muslim states in northern Africa. He incorporated the laws of the Koran into his justice system. Cities such as Timbuktu and Gao were developed into international centers of Islamic learning and culture. Elaborate mosques and libraries were built. The university arose in Timbuktu might well have been the world's first. The cities became meeting places for poets, scholars, and artists.

Though not everyone accepted the new faith and culture, a strong relationship between religion and politics quickly developed. Mansa Kankan Musa ruled with all the ideals of a fine Muslim king. He died in the mid-14th century, and Mali was never quite the same. Internal squabbling between ruling families weakened Mali's governing and its network of states started to unravel. Then, in 1430, a group of Berbers seized much of Mali's territory, including Timbuktu.

Though the wealth and power that Mali possessed was swept up quickly by the next great empire, its legacy stands proudly. The pioneering spirit and groundbreaking accomplishments of Mali's kingdom make its rise and fall an important chapter of African history.


Ver el vídeo: Imperio de mali (Octubre 2021).