The first west african kingdom
introduction to African history.
· The existence
of groups of kingdoms.
established a trade with the Africans.
· Ghana the
famous kingdom and land of gold.
Historians used to depict African’s tribes that they were underdeveloped,
and backward, and to get powerful, they depicted the colonizers as more
developed. But in reality, and as mentioned in the handout,
the writer mentioned that Africans were not backward, and primitive, but they
Colonization was not far the purpose of civilization, but they were
motivated for economic purposes (market).
The European colonizers considered Africans as inferior and backward
because African man could have 15 kids, 10 wives. Also because Africans are
agnostics, so they did not correspond to their behaviour, i.e. to European
They behave differently, their traditions and economical and political
style...etc, all that are inferior. The Europeans believe that they are better
than Africans, so they are going to civilize them.
At that time, mainly historians were Europeans not Africans, and in order
to justify the purposes, colonizers needed support from Historians who depict
Africans as Inferior.
Notes starting from the first paragraph:
· Ghana was the
land of gold.
· African came into
the light of History in 8th century, they discovered Africa through
· The Arab land
referred to Africans according to their skin, and was called “Bilad al Sudan”.
· Ghana at that
time as a power territory was important, according to their power king, and
because of gold and natural sources.
· Ghanaian people
had a nomadic way of life (fixed), they used to move and they didn’t build
houses for settlements.
What attracted the merchants?
· Merchants came
from North Africa to Sudan for gold, there was an exchange.
· The Arabs could
not speak to the Sudanese because of different languages.
· Trans-Sahara: to
transport across Sahara. The writer described the values of trade
· By the 8th
century, Europeans realised Africans kingdoms by writing.
· The existence of
the value of the exchange was very high. Africans were organised and they were
practiced trade (40000 dinars = £100000 or $250000).
traditional west african state
The first aim of Arabs in West Africa was practicing trade.
The king (the absolute monarchy) became king through material line and
also his subjects. Certain believe in ancient centuries which characterized
The wealth of the king originated form trade by establishing taxes on the
merchants, who could whenever raise taxes on traders.
The king believes in supreme authority (supra human being). He was
represented as a symbol of divinity, whereas the king of Kawkaw was different
because he was Muslim, and he was attracted by Islamic rules.
The Negroes imported salt from North Africa, especially from lacks in
There were many kingdoms which had relations with historians and traders
form Arabian countries. The contact between Arabs with Africans triggered some
changes in African society. e.g. the way of building houses.
The author mentioned also the sources of development in the African
societies; there was an organization, and also there was a taxing system and a
suitable civilization. The African developed themselves by themselves.
The author started with this explanation because it was advanced by
colonial period and also it was done by Africans themselves.
The development of Africans is backed up to colonial period. Thanks to
outside influence that came form colonial period.
They came to rule them because they needed the outside influence in order
to acquire the light of civilization, but they didn’t develop themselves by
themselves, and this according to European authors who considered and still
consider Africans as inferior.
Those people were Hamitic because they merged with people came from North
of and North East of Africa to bring civilization to these countries. The
Africans needed outside influence in order to be developed.
According to the European authors, each white people could carry
civilisation to help this Africans who were always backward.
The Hamitic hypothesis announces that there is a Hamitic influence on the
West African kingdoms.
According to anthropologist C.G.Seligma, there was an interaction between
Africans and Hamites mixing, the influence of Hamites who, because of their
civilisation, imposed themselves on Africans.
The West Africans were agriculturalists but the Hamites were pastoralists.
The writer wanted to show that the pastoralists were not always intelligent in
comparison with agriculturalists.
The language of Hausa is Hamitic. According to pastoralists, the
agriculturalists and the language of Hausa showed that the white advanced before
is completely false, because the agriculturalists of Hausa spoke Hamitic
language before the coming of pastoralists, so the theory of agriculturalists
The idea that the Africans were stupid which was advanced by the
archaeologists is totally false, these people were Hamites who spoke Hamitic
language, which was closest to Arabic language, and they were living in nomadic
According to C.G.Seligma, they were more intelligent than Africans, but
according to author the idea is false, because the Hamitic language was spoken
The first contact with West Africa was thanks to the Portuguese navigator
Henry. When the European countries were living in darkness, there were strong
states in African, e.g. the kingdom of Ghana. There were caravans of transport
for the traders, who came from Middle East, after that, the Europeans come in
the 18th century where they found plantation (cotton, coffee,
Europeans went to the interior states to draw the maps and for trades.
They sold alcohol, arms, and tobacco... and they bought paper, salt, spices, and
It was the main reason for the collapse of the states, but the major aim
for the European countries: Germany, Spain, GB... was the trade.
The Portuguese took 2 to 3 black people to Portugal as evidence that these
people who were different form Portuguese and lived far away than them, could
work in their lands and properties.
West Africa was the 1st kingdom known by the Arabs, under the
name of Ghana in the 8th century, was called by Arabs: “Belad el
Sudan”, which mean: the land of black men.
El Yakubi said that there were in 8th century others kingdoms under this
kingdom, as Kawkaw, Mallel (Mali), and the Sanghana kingdom.
The Arabs became familiar with Ghanaian by trade. The trade was silent:
when the merchants reach the frontier, they place wares on their cloths, and
then depart, so the Negroes come after, bearing gold, and they leave the
merchandise and then they depart. The owners of the merchandise then returns,
and if they are satisfied with what they find, they take it. If not, they go
away again, that the Negroes return and add to the price until the bargain
(business, exchange) is concluded.
Ibn Hawkal said that Berbers had also a trade with the Arabs. Whereas El
Bakri described the capital of Ghana which was a city, saying that the houses
were built by mud and the palace of the king was surrounded by grows, and where
dead kings are put, they practiced the animistic religious.
There were two towns: one of the king’s palaces which was made of mud, and
the second of the Arabs Muslims which was of stones.
There was a respect form the Arabs to the African’s territories, perhaps
because they don’t have common purposes.
Sanhaja came from Tafilelt in southern Morocco, to Awdaghost, which was a
big centre of collecting and distributing products.
Factors led to development of kingdoms:
· There were
sparked off by political influences coming to the western and central Sudan form
the outside, specifically form non-negro lands to the north and northeast
(Algeria – Egyapt).
influence: they said that those Africans were very late so they needed someone
(white man) to lead them to civilization, those non-negro people coming from
north and northeast Africa (the Berbers, and the Ancient Egyptians) called
Hamitic people, they spoke the Hamitic language, they were not white, but they
were considered as whites, and for that, they were considered as superior human
type by the Europeans.
· Hamitic influence
had a great impact on Negroes, they leaded the African civilization. They were
pastoralists whereas Africans were Agriculturalists, which gave to Hamitic
people the impact on the way of using agriculture and living of Africans,
especially the Ancient Egyptians who had an advance in that domain.
· There was a
competition between Tuareg and Negroes; Tuareg had an inner close relationship,
so they would defeat Negroes.
revolution: far from influence of other domains, Africans themselves began to
establish their lives, instead of relying on hunting and eating wild foods, they
reactivated lands and plants, and they construct domesticate animals’ buildings,
and permanent villages. They adopted new ways of life; this change is known by
· Where did the
Neolithic revolution started from? It started from the Northwest of the edge of
the Sahara, in a suitable environment. The important centres were Senegal
valley, upper Niger and its coasts, and Chad basin.
· The Neolithic
revolution consequence: the growth of population, organized governments and
administrations, the fall of the ideas that considered the king as a God.
Generally, they moved form hinting to cultivation.
trade: trade across the Sahara was a contact between Hamitic trades and Negroes
via practicing moving southern in the winter, and northern in summer.
Portuguese exploration in West Africa: in the 8th century
Muslims settled in Iberia by the middle of 13th Century, Christian defeated
Muslims, who?s confined to Granada; they established a number of kingdoms
(Aragon, Castile...). Portugal had the chance to practice trade with Africa,
Henry the navigator focused his work on the exploration of the west coast of
Africa, by Portuguese ships till his death, than gradually this expedition
(brought from Italian ones) their aim was to control trade and defeat Muslims
and avoid middle Arabs, they explored the cape balance ? cape Verde.
Its exploration was slow but with great value, when they
reached the green, land of Negroes, it was the beginning of slavery trade under
games? contract. They discovered the county of gold (mina). Their aim was to
establish the sea route around Africa trade. They built the castle of Saint
George Da Mina as a work house. Portugal engaged in conflict ended by treaty of
Alcaçakas in 1479, than the treaty of Tordescilas in 1499 (after the discovery
of America). This treaty made France and England reacted, but Portugal stood the
major monopolist of trade in Africa.
The West Africa was divided according to its commodities;
Portuguese traders wanted to create a new society in Africa, the Gold coast was
the main area of Portuguese commercial activities, thus they settled and
developed first class sugar plantation, but by the end of 16th
century, the Portuguese were no more monopolist of trade in West Africa.
The hypotheses were set in order to give explanation to the
origins of West African development.
The Neolithic revolution in West Africa:
· There was no arrangement
after the Muslims invasion, so the presence of Arabs gave some changes to the
· The Stone Age
was known by the Neolithic revolution which characterized the African society.
This revolution brought them a better organisation to their life because they
learnt how to cultivate themselves. Africans needed external help; they couldn’t
develop themselves by themselves. Thus, according to historian who said: “they
· The second
hypothesis is according to Hamitic people who said that they could develop
themselves by themselves.
The author described the changes in the south, around 2000 B.C. the chances in
these societies began to occur.
· The idea of
cultivation the land: more probable that they borrowed it from the Nile
civilization. The idea of cultivation is the probably form Egypt because of the
contact between the Africans and Egyptians; they borrowed the way of cultivation
and not the way of crops.
they couldn’t cultivate themselves because of the lack of water supplies;
therefore, they concentrated on the northern rivers and human beings.
· There is an
analogy between the considerable growths in West Africa and what occurred in
Egyptian society. It described the similarities between the Negroes and the
concepts concerning the Egyptians. There was a borrowing from Ancient Egyptians
the concept of divinity of the king to African societies.
· The exaggeration
concerning the development in West African society, it might be influenced by
outside influence (as Egyptian).
There were a relation between subjectivity and the way of
thinking of the king and its divinity; the ancient Egyptian civilization is
further before the African development, so that it might have a dual influence
and an interaction between them.
What’s the relation between the king and subjects
in Egyptian civilization, and how can influence in the development in the South
The Egyptians had contacts with other peoples
through trade and other fields. Those peoples were impressed by the Egyptians
tradition, and tried to imitate them. So, that they were influenced by Egyptians
and their belief.
The pastoralists had some qualities as militaries, they were
organized. Tuareg had gone to these countries with organization and
civilization. The Negroes gained profits from the presence of pastoralists and
used those profits to develop their societies.
These two aspects support the idea that the Hamites
contributed to the development of the West African society, so that the outside
influence is present on this society.
The author moved next to the kings, He said that kings
themselves had origins of white and red men, because their fourth grand fathers
were not Negroes, but they were red skin form Yemen.
These kingdoms had links with Arabs ancestor, which led also
to the influence of Islam on the West African society.
Trans-Saharan and its influence
· In the
same time when it was the ice age in Europe, Sahara was a wet place for
grassland. Therefore, that people used to live there, but when it dried, those
people used to move towards their main centres of population in the North and in
the Nile Valley.
The Pastoralists were well known of using means of transport through the desert
like camels and horses. The Hamites were developed in mobility through using
camels and horses.
were some tribes who practiced trade through the North Africa to Atlantic Ocean.
The trade was important for these societies, especially the exchange of gold.
was a failure in adapting the sailing environment, and establishing a regular
trade over sea with Africans. The causes were: deserts, northerly winds, and
evidence and the existence of chariots in West Africa: there were two majors
routes towards West Africa, so routes afford traders and colonizers easiness to
reach gold resources deposits which attracted them.
Because Ghana offered their needs and routes were available, traders and
colonizers were obliged to setup states in order to practise and provide
security for themselves. Ghana was more than a centre of trade.
 To barter: exchange goods.
Dumb barter: the silent trade, i.e. exchange merchandise without speaking
because of different languages.
 The route: an open way for
travel or transportation.
person who traveled looking for a job.
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