How Did The Empires Of The Saharas Affect West Africa

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Katelin Leavey Throughout history the Niger River, Sahara Desert, and the Savannas have had major impact on the development of Northwest Africa. Kingdoms and empires of Ghana, Mali, and Songhai were affected by the arid Sahara Desert, that created a natural barrier, the Niger River facilitated trade, travel, and provided fertile land for agriculture . The Savannas provided open lands for animals to be herded and graze, and land for the farmers to cultivate Ghana, Mali, and Songhai have many diverse geographic features that affected the rise and fall of their empires. Ancient Ghana or the “land of gold” existed from 750 CE to 1200 CE was positioned on the South border of the Sahara Desert. Gold trade was largely credited for the empire’s…show more content…
An effect of the desert was the gold trade routes developed over time. Ghana was geographically under the desert and they traded goods from West Africa like gold in return for salt and dates from the Sahara (Wood 229). The camel simplified this with its ability to carry heavy trade goods for a long amount of time. Ghana was in the middle of two major trading cities and became rich since there was an abundant amount of trader passing through. A fee was developed in which there was payment was required for the amount of good you were passing through with (Wood 229). After the Ghana Empire fell, the need for salt and gold was still in high demand. In the time of the Mali Empire’s rule there was still taxing for traveling through their land (Wood 230). Even during the rule of the Songhai the Trans-Saharan trade was still being used and important. A negative effect the Sahara had on Northwest Africa, was that the land wasn’t exactly suitable for growing crops because of its lack of moisture and fertile properties (Wood 230). The Sahara wasn’t always this was way. It used to be very fit for farming, but the desert began to dry out c.2000 BCE forcing civilizations like Songhai to exit, isolating the people of the North and the people from the middle region of Africa (Koslow…show more content…
This river facilitated trade with other civilizations and cities on the river such as formed known as Gao, Jenne, and Timbuktu (Duiker 229). As time went on Timbuktu was flourishing with mosques and educational facilities (Wood 231). The city of Jenne in the Mali Empire thrived with business such as trade. There was also learning and art taking place ( “AFRICA: THE ART OF A CONTINENT: Sahel and Savanna”). There were art pieces produced like pottery, ironwork, jewelry, and had possibly used iron ores, stone grinders, and beads coming from other civilizations or empires ("Ancient Ghana”). The city of Gao was based on trade and merchants exchanging goods with one another (Wood 232). Gao was the capital of the Songhai empire, and it was on the Niger river and it was an area of trade (“Songhai Empire (ca. 1375-1591) | The Black Past: Remembered and Reclaimed”). Located on the Niger river, Gao was easily accessible by foreign groups allowing trade to blossom. The Niger river was also used for travel and the people living there cultivated the fertile land and planted crops. In the rule of the Songhai there were two tribes, the Sorko - the fishers, and the Gabibi-the farmers ( Koslow 11). The fertile properties of the river is silt, which makes the land more fit for agriculture. Although the Niger river had positive characteristics there were also some negative

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