African Kingdoms Anna Bright


Physical description: Located in Western Africa. The region lies South of the Sahara Desert and is mostly savannas. Major rivers are the Gambia River, Senegal River, and the Niger River served as the means of transportation and trade.

Map of Ghana

Religions practiced: The religions practiced were mainly Christianity and Islam.

People in Ghana practice their religions.

Slave Trade: It began in 700 CE. The Arab Slave Trade and European were the two major events in the history of African slave trade. It began to end in the 1930s. Slaves were traded from the Cape Coast to Europe and Arabia.

Trading system: Cocoa is exclusively a commercial crop. Gold is produced internationally. Most of the income of this trade is invested outside the country. Timber is also a large scale trade.

Small pieces of gold in Ghana.

Information: A lot we know about the people in Ghana comes from the writings of Al-Bakri. Not related to the modern African country of Ghana.

Culture: Formally known as the Republic of Ghana. Diet consists of starchy stable, soup or stew, corn, and rice. English is the dominant language while Akan, Wale, Dagbane, Ewe, Ga, Gonja, Kasem, and Nzema are the others.

Girls in Ghana gather food.

Current: After the second world war the call for 'self government' was made by the Convention People's Party that a new constitution and elections came. Ghana fell into debt in 1966. Over the years, there were a number of military take-overs and corrupt governments. In 1922, the government went back to normal under the leadership of Jerry Rowlings, the next elected president.


Physical Description: Is 478, 764 square miles. It is a landlocked country approximately twice the size of Texas. Located in Western Africa.

Map of Mali

Religion Practiced: Eighty percent of the population is Muslim. Nineteen percent follow traditional African practices. The other one percent is Christian.

The book of Islam called the Qu'ran.

Slave Trade: Many slaves were captives of war. They were sold far away so that they couldn't escape. They were transported in horrible conditions on ships and about ten percent died on their way to America...Mansa Sakura was a slave and became Emperor of the Mali Empire in the 1200s.

Trading System: Mali's major trading items are cotton, gold, and livestock products. Main trading exports were Thailand, Italy, Brazil, and Portugal. Trading imports were France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Senegal.

Women gather cotton for trade.

Information: Mansa Musa made a pilgrimage to Mecca in the early 1300s and brought 12,000 slaves, 60,000 men, 80 camels, and they each carried fifty to thirty pounds of gold. Mali is one of the poorest countries in the world, earning about one dollar per day.

Culture: People invest more than half of their income in food other than anything else. Rice is the main food consumed followed by cereal, peanuts, sugar, and oil. Rice is a luxury item to them. Mali's official language is French. It is a democratic republic. Crime is considered to be low in this kingdom.

Rice in Mali.

Current: Fishing is a major rate in its economic structure. About 26.2% people above the age of 15 can read and write. This is the worst literary rate in the world. Political instability, poor governance, and corruption remain major problems in Mali.


Physical Description: Located in Western Africa. Is on the Niger River near Gao. Songhai has savannas, rainforests, the Sahara Desert, and the Niger River. The main natural resources are water, ivory, and jade.

Map of Songhai

Religions practiced: Were Muslims since early 1010. Other religions such as magic is still practiced by Songhai people. Ancient people were polytheistic. 99.5% are Muslim today.

Slave Trade: Slaves were used to transport goods to Morocco and the Middle East. They were sold to work in Europe and in America.

Trading System: Long distance trade is helpful to the economy and supported internal trade. Increase of ivory and rubber trade between Chokwe, Lunda, and Portuguese under a single authority. They used the Congo River as a main transport place to other kingdoms.

Map of trade routes in Songhai.

Information: Timbuktu is an important city of trade and education because of the Songhai Empire. Sunni Ali is a legendary hero in Songhai folklore, often told as having magical powers and was known as Sunni Ali the Great. Also, if a prisoner was already practicing Islam before being captured, they couldn't be sold.

Culture: They speak Songhay and French. Major holidays include Muhammad's birthday, the Ramadan Fast, and Eid al-Adha or tabaski, a time to celebrate Abraham's sacrifice of a ram. They live in walled or fenced in compounds. Houses are made of mud bricks and roofs made of straw. Men usually wear trousers and untucked shirts. Women wear long skirts called , pagnes and matching tops. They normally eat a millet, a pancake type staple.

Houses that people in Songhai live in.

Current: Songhai was the largest empire in African history, but was taken by Morocco. People there have beautiful smiles, lacking many dental problems. Many people in Songhai also have small tribal marks. They spend many hours doing their hair. Children get one or two outfits per year. Their clothes are mostly Western style.


Physical Description: Located in Central Southern Africa. Is a landlocked country. Most of Zimbabwe is a high to middle plateau with extensive woodland savannas and a high temperature climate. On the Mozambique border, it is mountainous. Rainfall is higher north of the Eastern Highlands.

Map of Great Zimbabwe

Religions: They believe that a person who has passed away returns to the community. This is part of their traditional religion. In which they also believe in witchcraft. Islam is also another one of their religions.

Muslims of Zimbabwe pray.

Slave Trade: Alfonso 1, a leader in Great Zimbabwe who expanded his trade links became involved with slave trade. He sold the slaves to Europeans. The Kongo and Portuguese colonized in 1885 after fighting and ended slavery.

Trading system: Exports include gold, tobacco, furroalloys, asbestos, and nickel. Main places of exports are Great Britain, Germany, and South Africa. South Africa is the largest source of imports.

Gold nuggets traded in Great Zimbabwe.

Information: A big stomach is a sign of wealth to men. Believed to be the place of Ophir, an ancient country in which King Solomon received gold, ivory, and other expensive items. The country's life expectancy is 45 for women and 46 for males, being one of the lowest in the world.

Culture: Food they eat is a thick porridge that is eaten with vegetables or meat. They also drink milk, eat boiled or roasted peanuts, and boiled or roasted maize. Eating out is not common, although you can buy soft drinks, fried cakes, potato chips, roasted maize, and sugarcane. Agriculture is the basis of the economy for over seventy percent of the population. Major crops are grown by smallholders on the plateau. Shana is the language the people of Zimbabwe spoke.

Gathering maize (corn) to eat.

Current: Zimbabwe today contains fourteen million people. It has main resources such as gold, copper, nickel, and other types of metals. Victoria Falls is the largest waterfall and is located in Zimbabwe. Christians make up about twenty-five percent of the total population. The literacy rate today is around seventy-five percent. People there live on less than $1.25 a day.

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