The West African Kingdom of Ghana
Objective: To identify and explain the reasons for Ghana’s prosperity and power
Do Now: Multiple-choice questions from previous lessons
1. Which practice is most closely associated 4 . . . . “One theory is that there were waves
with a person of the Islamic faith? of migration, one moving through the east of
(1) refraining from eating meat on Fridays Africa and another making its way through
(2) praying five times a day the centre of the continent. In Zambia, there
(3) following the Eightfold Path is evidence of at least three routes of
(4) worshipping many gods migration – from the great lakes, from the
Congo forest and from Angola.” . . . Source:
2. One similarity between the Nile River BBC, The Story of Africa: Early History
valley and savanna lands in Africa is that This passage about the early history of
they both Africa describes migrations associated with
(1) served as major barriers to the which group of people?
movement of people and goods (1) Phoenicians
(2) provided necessary resources for (2) Bantu
settlement (3) Moors
(3) are located on the western side of the (4) Babylonians
(4) had little effect on the lives of the people 5. One similarity between animism and
who lived in these regions Shinto is that people who follow these belief
3. Where does the archaeological evidence (1) practice filial piety
gathered by Louis and Mary Leakey suggest (2) worship spirits in nature
the earliest humans developed? (3) are monotheistic
(1) Great Rift Valley (4) are required to make pilgrimages
(2) Amazon rain forest
(3) Himalaya Mountains
(4) Philippine archipelago
The African Trading Kingdoms consist of Questions:
Ghana, Mali, and Songhai, all located in West List the great West African trading
Africa. All three kingdoms maintained vast kingdoms:
trading networks across the Sahara desert and ________________________________
into North Africa and the Middle East. The What did all three kingdoms
main export was gold, which made each maintain?
kingdom wealthy and strong, and provided them ________________________________
with the conditions necessary for cultural and What was the main export of the
intellectual achievement. kingdoms?
Ghana, Mali, and Songhai were all influenced ________________________________
by Islam to different degrees. The kings of What belief system influenced the
Ghana often had Islamic advisors, while Mali kingdoms?
and Songhai established Islamic Empires after ________________________________
converting. In Mali, the emperor Mansa Musa Who was Mansa Musa?
was famous for his pilgrimage to Mecca, one of ________________________________
the Five Pillars of Islam. What did Mansa Musa do?
~Adapted from regentsprep.org ________________________________
Cornell Notes Outline: The West African Kingdom of Ghana (Add Key Words and
The Key The Notes:
I. The Sahara Desert
A. Separates Africa into two parts
1- North Africa
2- Sub-Saharan Africa (south of the Sahara)
B. Difficult to cross
1- Europeans did not cross it
2- North African nomads did
a) Nomads exchanged salt for gold
II. The West African Kingdom of Ghana
A. 400 A.D. – 1076 A.D.
B. Controlled important trade routes
1- Trans-Saharan Trade
a) Nomads crossed desert and exchanged salt for gold
1. West Africans lacked salt
2. Essential for survival
2- Taxed traders entering and exiting Ghana
a) Never owned gold fields
b) Controlled trade routes
1. Called the “Land of Gold”
C. Wealth and power
1- 200,000 soldiers in army
2- Created peace in West Africa
3- Did not conquer neighbors
a) Collected tribute
1- Muslim invaders from North Africa in 1076 A.D.
Please read the passage below and answer the questions:
Much of North Africa is occupied by the Sahara Desert. Below the desert is savanna or
grasslands. The Sahara acted as a barrier that separated the peoples of sub-Saharan
Africa from the Mediterranean world and the rest of Eurasia. This isolation led sub-
Saharan African tribes or ethnic groups to develop their own customs and beliefs.
However, despite this separation, trade across the desert was never cut off completely.
Merchants, traveling on camels able to go several days without water, crossed the Sahara.
While North Africa had abundant supplies of salt, West Africa lacked salt. Salt is vital
for human survival. Merchants, moving in caravans across the desert, picked up large
blocks of salt on their journey to exchange for gold. West Africa had abundant supplies of
gold. A thriving trade developed that was based on this salt for gold trade.
1- How did the Sahara desert affect the people of Africa?
2- Why were sub-Saharan African tribes or ethnic groups somewhat isolated?
3- Though the Sahara desert was a barrier, it was not a complete barrier. Why was
the Sahara desert not a complete barrier?
4- What did North African nomads have that greatly benefited them? How did it
5- What did West Africans lack? Why did they need it this commodity?
6- Describe the Trans-Saharan trade.
While the West African kingdom of Ghana was founded around 400 A.D., it did not
become an important center of trade until around 750 A.D. Ghana controlled all the
important trade routes from the Sudan to North Africa. Early stories about Ghana
called it “the land of gold”. However, Ghana never owned any gold fields. But Ghana
did control the salt for gold trade. The gold actually came from a region near the
Senegal River. People there had much gold but no salt and they needed salt to live.
North African traders on camels carried salt and other goods to the people near the
Senegal River. However, on traveling to the river and away from it, they had to pass
through Kumbi, the largest city in Ghana. The government of Ghana taxed the traders
each way. Both the North African and West African traders paid tribute or forced
payments to the king of Ghana. With all of the money from trade, Ghana became one
of the most powerful empires in the world. Taxes from trade filled the king’s treasury.
With all this money, the king could keep as many as 200,000 soldiers. Ghana’s large
army gave it great power. With this power, Ghana created peace in West Africa and
made trade safe. Yet, in 1076 A.D., Ghana was invaded by Muslims from North Africa.
In time, Ghana defeated the Almoravids, the Muslim invaders, but never fully
recovered from the invasion.
7- Why was Ghana called the “land of gold” if it had no gold?
8- How did Ghana maintain power and how did Ghana lose power?
For years, the Sahara was an obstacle for Which economic activity was the basis for
Europeans while Africans used the desert as most of the wealth and power of the West
a highway. Which conclusion is supported African empires of Ghana and Mali?
by this statement? (1) hunting and gathering
(1) Trade between Africa and Europe (2) farming and cattle ranching
decreased. (3) trading in salt and gold
(2) African empires generally avoided (4) working in bronze and brass
contact with Europeans.
(3) Desertification reduced the amount of
(4) Initially, Europeans lacked the
knowledge and skills needed to travel in the