Kingdom of Ghana

300 - early 1200s

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The Kingdom of Ghana, modern-day parts of Mali and Mauritania.

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A mural of a palace in the kingdom of Ghana.

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Islamic Empire




Technology

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Some sweet gold

We became a trade center for gold, and Muslim merchants came here for that reason. Ghana didn't actually have gold in its specific area, but the kings of Ghana managed to get it from southern lands. We also provided ivory and slaves.

Culture

Our capital, Koumbi-Saleh, consisted of a population between fifteen and twenty thousand people, and had plenty of mosques thanks to the Muslim merchants. The city was wealthy, so many Muslim judges and scholars were supported. Trade taxes allowed the kings of Ghana to build a large army that could defend gold, keep order in both the kingdom and in other related states, and protect Ghana from outsiders' attacks.

Religion

Muslim merchants introduced Islam to Ghana, but it was not until around the tenth century that the kings of Ghana officially converted. This helped improve relations with other Muslim merchants, as well as north African states that also held Islam in high esteem/. Islam was not forced onto the citizens of Ghanas, nor did the kings even really accept it for themselves - they kept up with the customs, but otherwise, it wasn't a huge deal to them in a spiritual sense. The religion did garner more converts, however, despite the lack of active promotion.

Blog

805
We traded with traders from north Africa today. After crossing through the Sahara in camel caravans just to see us, we made some pretty fair transactions. We gave them some of our beloved gold - that of which we have more than enough at this point; the world's largest supply, actually - and some ivory and slaves. In return, they gave us horses, cloth, and salt. We're pretty popular. 8)
920
At the royal palace at Koumbi-Saleh, we saw some religious men observing Islam. They were practicing magic, which made the religion all the more enticing to us. When we went outside, we saw some structures of idols in the forests around the palace, which were really cool to look at. We finally got around to trading with Muslim merchants, the whole reason we were hanging around in the first place, and they told us more about their religion. We're really seriously considering a conversion.
1210
Ghana is falling apart. We were expanding our kingdom to the north, which seemed like such a good thing, but Saharan nomads tried to attack us for our wealth. The Saharans eventually really got to us, and our kingdom was significantly impacted, in a very negative way. We were severely weakened, and other states have been taking over parts of Ghana. The Mali empire is looking like it's got a good chance at becoming a major power like we once were.

The Wall

Hey Pops!
I just wanted to tell you that I miss you and that I am trying to remember everything you taught me.I really am trying to make you proud, father. I keep up with all of the traditions you have taught me, and I am trying my hardest to keep your spirit alive. I think you will be happy to know that I am not working in a plantation anymore. We went meant to be in that situation. I am trying to go back to the old times when we would farm only for our own family. I miss you and love you.
I hope I make you proud,
Maroons
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Bibliography
Bentley, Jerry H., and Herbert F. Ziegler. Traditions & Encounters. 3rd ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2006

Photo credits
Map - http://www.cominganarchy.com/images/africa1.jpg
Mural - http://collections.lib.uwm.edu/cdm4/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/catw&CISOPTR=2763&REC=6
Some sweet gold - http://www.australianminesatlas.gov.au/images/gold1.jpg