Civilizations in Africa

The Almoravids

   Ghana was the most powerful empire in Western Africa, but it was not an Islamic kingdom. By the 900's, Muslims controlled most of the desert oases along the commercial routes; because of this economic power, they were able to force the king of Ghana to divide his capital city into two distinct districts, one for Muslims and one for non-Muslims.

   The Almoravid movement began among the nomadic Berbers, or Almoravids, living in the desert north of Ghana. They were fervent Muslims and they declared holy war, or jihad, against the kingdom of Ghana. The Almoravids pushed Ghana over the edge, for the kingdom had for a couple centuries been close to collapse because of the spread of the Sahara desert and the overuse of agricultural land. The Almoravids so weakened the Ghanaian empire, that it finally collapsed as individual tribal groups and chieftaincies seceded.

   The story of the Sudanic empire, though, still had life in it. In 1224, one of the chief that had seceded from Ghana, attacked the capital city of Kumbi-Saleh and seized the royal family. He didn't last long, though. A mere ten years later, a legendary magician and a royal hostage named Sunjata overcame the usurper and began a new empire: Mali.
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Civilizations in Africa

Egypt: A Learning Module

Kush

Axum

The Iron Age South of the Sahara

Ghana

The Islamic Invasions

The Almoravids

Mali

Songhay

The Hausa Kingdoms

Kanem-Bornu

The Forest Kingdoms

The Swahili Kingdoms

Great Zimbabwe / The Mwenemutapa Empire

Internet Resources on Africa

About "Civilizations in Africa"

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1996, Richard Hooker
Updated 11-15-96