How did the african kingdom of Carthage adapt to their environment?

This is really important to me cause I need the answer to this for my ss hw and I just can't find any sites with reliable info.

  • Where did the people of Carthage come from? What was the climate like? Compare that to the climate of Carthage. Look at climate zones. See if you can find climographs for both the new location and the old one, and see if there are significant differences.
  • The climate of the region changed due to deforestation. Can you assume that the effects were the same at the original location and the new one?
  • Try and find out what the agriculture and economy were like. Did they change after moving to Carthage? How important was agriculture to the economy?
  • How much of the surrounding area was controlled by Carthage before the Punic Wars? Would a similar empire have been possible in the original location?

Additional pointers:

  • Find out where Rome got grain a few centuries later. What does that tell you about Carthage?
  • What happened to North Africa after the fall of Carthage? What was the economy then?


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Ghana, first of the great medieval trading empires of western Africa (fl. 7th–13th century). It was situated between the Sahara and the headwaters of the Sénégal and Niger rivers, in an area that now comprises southeastern Mauritania and part of Mali. Ghana was populated by Soninke clans of Mande-speaking people who acted as intermediaries between the Arab and Amazigh (Berber) salt traders to the north and the producers of gold and ivory to the south. (The empire should not be confused with the modern Republic of Ghana.)

An unconfirmed tradition dates the origins of the kingdom to the 4th century ce . Nothing is known of the political history of Ghana under its early kings. The first written references to the empire are those of Arabic geographers and historians from the 8th century, and it seems certain that, by 800, Ghana had become rich and powerful. Called Wagadu by its rulers, it derived its more familiar name from the king’s title of ghāna. The king was able to enforce obedience from lesser groups and to exact tribute from them. Much of the empire was ruled through tributary princes who were probably the traditional chiefs of these subject clans. The Ghanaian king also imposed an import-export tax on traders and a production tax on gold, which was the country’s most valuable commodity.

According to the 11th-century Spanish-Arab chronicler Abū ʿUbayd al-Bakrī, the king welcomed to his capital many of the northern African traders of the Sahara, who, after the Arab conquest in the 8th century, had been converted to Islam. In the course of Ghana’s history the capital was moved from one place to another: that of the 11th century has been tentatively identified by archaeologists as Kumbi (or Koumbi Saleh), 200 miles (322 km) north of modern Bamako, Mali.

The principal raison d’etre of the empire was the desire to control the trade in alluvial gold, which had led the nomadic Amazigh peoples of the desert to develop the western trans-Saharan caravan road. Gold was secured, often by mute barter, at the southern limits of the empire and was conveyed to the empire’s capital, where a Muslim commercial town developed alongside the native city. There the gold was exchanged for commodities, the most important of which was salt, that had been transported southward by northern African caravans.

As Ghana grew richer it extended its political control, strengthening its position as an entrepôt by absorbing lesser states. It also incorporated some of the gold-producing lands to its south and such south-Saharan cities to the north as Audaghost, a famous market that has since disappeared.

Ghana began to decline in the 11th century with the emergence of the Muslim Almoravids, a militant confederation of the Ṣanhājah and other Amazigh groups of the Sahara who combined in a holy war to convert their neighbours. Abū Bakr, the leader of this movement’s southern wing, took Audaghost in 1054 and, after many battles, seized Kumbi in 1076. The Almoravids’ domination of Ghana lasted only a few years, but their activities upset the trade on which the empire depended, and the introduction of their flocks into an arid agricultural terrain initiated a disastrous process of desertification. The subject peoples of the empire began to break away, and in 1203, one of these, the Susu, occupied the capital. In 1240 the city was destroyed by the Mande emperor Sundiata, and what was left of the empire of Ghana was incorporated into his new empire of Mali.

Family affairs

After the death of Micipsa, Jugurtha immediately contested the division of power. Gathering his soldiers, he sent them to Hiempsal’s quarters where they ransacked the house, killed anyone who resisted, and discovered Hiempsal hiding in the cell of a maidservant. As ordered by Jugurtha, they cut off Hiempsal’s head.

Adherbal fled to Rome, where he declared to the Senate that Jugurtha was a traitor and had murdered his own brother. He demanded punishment, and the Senate set up a commission to investigate. Quoted in Sallust’s first-century B.C. work, Jugurtha describes Rome as “urbem venalem et mature perituram, si emptorem invenerit—a city for sale and doomed to speedy destruction if it finds a purchaser”a valuable lesson he learned during his time with Roman troops in Spain. To fight his adoptive brother’s accusations, Jugurtha applied this lesson and bribed his friends in the Senate. The commission decided to split Numidia between Jugurtha and Adherbal, each man in charge of his own section. Jugurtha’s role in the assassination of Hiempsal was overlooked. (Meet Crassus, the richest man in ancient Rome.)

[B]eing ordered by the senate to leave Italy. After going out of the gates, it is said that [Jugurtha] looked back at Rome in silence and finally said, 'A city for sale and doomed to speedy destruction if it finds a purchaser!'

Encouraged, Jugurtha turned to building up his forces at home and then securing the throne for himself. He attacked Adherbal and pushed his forces back. Adherbal retreated, secured himself in Cirta, the capital of his portion of Numidia, and appealed to Rome for help. Jugurtha’s armies besieged the walled city of Cirta, sealing it off from any shipments of food or supplies.

Sallust recorded how Adherbal begged Rome to deliver him from “the inhuman hands” of Jugurtha, but Roman envoys failed to bring Jugurtha to terms. Adherbal surrendered, trusting that the status of the many Romans trapped with him in Cirta would make Jugurtha act mercifully. Undeterred, Jugurtha took the city, tortured Adherbal until he died, and killed the adult occupants of the city, including those of Italian descent.

The Remarkable Adaptations of Birds to Their Environment

It is widely accepted that the first bird, Archaeopteryx lithographica, evolved approximately 150 million years ago. Since then, many adaptations have been sculpted by natural selection, making birds the unique group they are today. These adaptations help birds to survive and thrive in all environments, on every area of the planet. Three physical characteristics in particular indicate unique adaptations to their environment: beaks (bills), feet, and plumage (feathers).

University of Houston Photo – The adaptive characteristics of bill and foot structure optimize a bird’s ability to thrive in its environment

Natural selection is the mode of evolution that makes living things well-suited (adapted) to their environments. This mechanism has sculpted the beaks, feet, and plumage of birds over millions of years, making these animals more successful in their environments. Varieties of beak shapes and sizes are an adaptation for the different types of foods that birds eat. In general, thick, strong conical beaks are great at breaking tough seeds, and are found on seed-eating birds such as cardinals, finches, and sparrows. Hooked beaks, such as those found on raptors like hawks, eagles, falcons, and owls, are adept at tearing meat – perfect for these predatory birds. Straight beaks of intermediate length are particularly versatile and are often found on omnivorous birds like crows, ravens, jays, nutcrackers, and magpies. There are even highly specialized bills such as the flamingo’s: their beaks are comma-shaped for filter-feeding, enabling them to sift through mud and silt in order to devour krill and other crustaceans.

NPS Photo/Patricia Simpson – The conical beak of a House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) is great at breaking seeds

NPS Photo/Patrcia Simpson – The versatile bill of an omnivorous Common Raven (Corvus corax)

The feet of birds have evolved as an adaptation to the landscapes they inhabit. Wading birds, such as egrets and herons, have long toes to help with weight distribution as they make their way over reeds and lily pads. Ducks and pelicans have webbed feet which, much like SCUBA fins, make them more adept swimmers. Some birds, such as the American Coot, have lobate feet - a “halfway” point between webbed feet and long-toed waders to assist in both modes of locomotion. Many bird species, like most songbirds, are also referred to as “perching birds” because they have a foot structure that allows them to grasp branches - the configuration of one toe at the back of the foot acts like a pincher, stabilizing the perched bird.

NPS Photo/Patricia Simpson – Three toes in the front and one toe in the back make perching easy for this Black Phoebe (Sayornis nigricans)

NPS Photo/Patricia Simpson – Webbing between the front toes (palmate) gives this Heermann’s Gull (Larus heermanni) a paddling advantage in the ocean

NPS Photo/Patricia Simpson – This California Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis californicus) is ocean adapted with webbing between all four toes (totipalmate) and a giant bill with a large fish-storing pouch

Nail structure plays an additional role in foot adaptation: the acute, strong nails of woodpeckers and flickers gives these species the ability to stand on and climb the vertical trunks of trees, a useful adaptation for reaching insects that burrow beneath the bark. The grasping, sharp claws of a raptor, on the other hand, are honed for subduing and even killing prey. Most running birds, such as ostriches and emus, do not perch, therefore their back claw is either reduced or entirely absent.

Plumage, or a bird’s feather pattern, is also shaped by natural selection for two main reasons (besides the obvious benefit of flight): mating and survival. Both of these categories increase individual fitness, which is the measurement of an organism’s ability to survive and procreate. Plumage that is attractive to the opposite sex allows for more mating opportunities and, thus, the ability to create more young. Additionally, feathers can disguise an organism, creating camouflage for those that wish to hide from predators, or to sneak up on prey. Cryptically colored (camouflaged) birds tend to resemble the background they wish to hide against: the mottled black and brown plumage of nocturnal nightjars, for example, helps them to blend in against the woody ground or tree branches as they roost during daylight hours. The specialized flight feathers of owls, on the other hand, are fringed for silent flight, making owls nearly impossible to detect as they swoop down upon prey.

NPS Photo/Patricia Simpson – The flashy pink of a male Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna) gorget helps them to garner the attention of females

NPS Photo/Patricia Simpson – A Greater Roadrunner’s (Geococcyx californianus) plumage helps it to blend in to the foliage of its environment

Here at Cabrillo National Monument (CNM), there are many different types of birds. Located on the great Pacific Flyway, CNM houses both residential and migratory shorebirds, seabirds, raptors, and songbirds. From the California Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis californicus)
to the California Gnatcatcher (Polioptila californica), CNM is a great location to birdwatch. So come on down to view our feathered friends! And the next time you observe a bird, whether it’s at the Monument or elsewhere, take a look at its beak, feet, and feathers to recognize its incredible adaptations!

How did the african kingdom of Carthage adapt to their environment? - History

The trade routes of Ancient Africa played an important role in the economy of many African Empires. Goods from Western and Central Africa were traded across trade routes to faraway places like Europe, the Middle East, and India.

The main items traded were gold and salt. The gold mines of West Africa provided great wealth to West African Empires such as Ghana and Mali. Other items that were commonly traded included ivory, kola nuts, cloth, slaves, metal goods, and beads.

As trade developed across Africa, major cities developed as centers for trade. In Western Africa the major trade centers were cities such as Timbuktu, Gao, Agadez, Sijilmasas, and Djenne. Along the coast of North Africa sea port cities developed such as Marrakesh, Tunis, and Cairo. The port city of Adulis on the Red Sea was also an important trade center.

Routes Across the Sahara Desert

The major trade routes moved goods across the Sahara Desert between Western/Central Africa and the port trade centers along the Mediterranean Sea. One important trade route went from Timbuktu across the Sahara to Sijilmasa. Once the goods reached Sijilmasa they might be moved to many places including the port cities of Marrakesh or Tunis. Other trade routes included Gao to Tunis and Cairo to Agadez.

Traders moved their goods across the Sahara in large groups called caravans. Camels were the main mode of transportation and were used to carry goods and people. Sometimes slaves carried goods as well. Large caravans were important because they offered protection from bandits. A typical caravan would have around 1,000 camels with some caravans having over 10,000 camels.

Caravan by Unknown

The camel was the most important part of the caravan. Without the camel, trade across the Sahara would have been next to impossible. Camels are uniquely adapted to survive long periods without water. They also can survive large changes in body temperature allowing them to withstand the heat of the day and the cold of night in the desert.

Camels were first domesticated by the Berbers of North Africa around 300 CE. With the use of camels trade routes began to form between cities across the Sahara Desert. African trade reached its height, however, after the Arabs had conquered North Africa. Islamic traders entered the region and began to trade for gold and slaves from Western Africa. The trade routes remained an important part of the African economy throughout the Middle Ages until the 1500s.

The First Steps Toward Civilization

Most of the communities that took up cultivation became entirely sedentary, staying in one place long enough to build permanent villages which were sometimes walled. Other peoples concentrated on herding, driving their animals from one pasture to another as the seasons changed or the livestock ate up the local ground cover mobility remained the leading characteristic of their culture. Thus began the split between nomad and peasant, between the inhabitants of the steppe (which is good for nothing but grazing) and the settled, ultimately urban society which would generate nearly all of the population increase.

At first Africa played no part in these developments, due to the aforementioned limitations of geography and climate. Progress began with the transmission of neolithic technology from the Jordan valley across the Sinai peninsula to the Nile valley of Egypt. The new techniques were then spread gradually along the Mediterranean coast to the countries of the Maghreb (Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco) and up the Nile to what is now called Sudan. The last stage before 1000 B.C. was more rapid (taking less than half a millennium), and involved the spread of cattle herding westward all the way along the southern border of the Sahara, by following the Sahel, the narrow grassland between the desert and the jungles of West Africa. Nilotic tribes led the way here, but west of Lake Chad they got separated from their kinsmen who stayed east of the lake, and soon developed languages of their own henceforth we will call them the Chadic group. Southwest of them the Bantus were brought into the neolithic zone, but since the West African bush country makes agriculture a better proposition than herding, their economy emphasized the growing of sorghum.

Though the development of civilization was painfully slow in most of Africa, there was one spectacular success--Egypt. In fact, it was so spectacular that for a long time (until the discovery of equally old civilizations elsewhere), it was seen as the world's oldest civilization, and people, then and now, have tended to think of Egypt as not really being part of Africa. Therefore, we must never forget the cultural similarities Egypt shares with the rest of the continent: the worship of animals (see footnote #8 below), the king's absolute status as a lawgiver and a living god, and smaller elements like the use of wooden headrests instead of pillows.

Egypt got a head start not only because of its proximity to the "cradle of civilization"--the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East--but because it had the type of environment where civilization is most likely to get started: a river valley in a desert. As noted in my previous works, the dry nature of the climate encourages people to gather where the water is, and life in such a climate is not difficult, but it requires work if one is going to live well .

Most historians agree that ideas and trade goods traveled between Egypt and the Middle East at a very early date--as early as 3000 B.C., if not sooner. Is it possible that people migrated along those trade routes as well, and stayed when they arrived? Sir Flinders Petrie, the father of modern Egyptology, thought Egypt got started this way. When Petrie excavated the predynastic cemetery of Nubt (Naqada), one of Upper Egypt's oldest cities, he noticed that the graves had two different styles of burial, and called these differences the Naqada I and the Naqada II culture. Whereas the Naqada I people were buried in a fetal position and covered with palm branches (a style the poorest Egyptians would practice for centuries to come), the Naqada II graves were lined with bricks and covered with palm logs. Moreover, instead of keeping the body in one piece, the Naqada II culture dismembered the dead before burial, and knife and teeth marks on the bones suggest that ritual cannibalism was practiced. Finally, the pottery styles in the two types of graves were very different, and even the skulls were of different shapes, leading Petrie to conclude that the Naqada I and Naqada II people were not the same at all.

A predynastic burial, in the Naqada I style.
(From the Oriental Institute, Chicago.)
To explain all this, Petrie proposed the "Dynastic Race theory" to explain the changes. According to this, a group of outsiders invaded and conquered Nubt artifacts at Nekhen (Hierakonpolis), a town far up the Nile, tell us that Nekhen was a second base for the same people. Petrie also called these elite foreigners the "Falcon Tribe," because the falcon was one of their symbols from the start, and soon Nekhen became the main cult center for Horus, the Egyptian falcon god. Nubt is where the Nile meets the Wadi Hammamat, a sixty-mile-long valley at the narrowest point between the Nile and the Red Sea, so he went on to suggest that the newcomers were Mesopotamians, who sailed around Arabia, entered the Red Sea, and marched through the Wadi Hammamat to get here. Later on one of their descendants would conquer the rest of Egypt and crown himself as the first pharaoh. (8)

The "Dynastic Race" theory went out of fashion in the mid-twentieth century, because it was too politically incorrect for a post-colonial world. Then in 1998 it was revived by another British Egyptologist, David Rohl, who felt that the story of newcomers in Egypt could be told correctly if the imperialist elements were left out. Besides the previously mentioned evidence, Rohl cited the following:

  1. Petroglyphs in the eastern desert, showing high-prowed boats and pear-shaped maces the Sumerians had both items first.
  2. Mud bricks, Mesopotamian-style pottery, and tombs built with Mesopotamian-style niched walls.
  3. The presence of lapis lazuli, a purple semi-precious stone from Afghanistan, in the Naqada II graves. It would not appear in Egyptian graves again until late in the Old Kingdom, about six centuries later.
  4. Pear-shaped maces in the graves of Naqada II warriors. This proved to be a more effective weapon than the small bows and disk-shaped maces used previously. In fact, it was so effective that later on, the pharaohs would routinely have pictures done showing them using it in battle.
  5. The first examples of writing. A casual comparison of Egyptian hieroglyphics and other ancient scripts, like cuneiform, show they have nothing in common, but the fact that hieroglyphics first appeared at this time suggests that the Egyptians got the idea for writing from somebody else. So far we have not found evidence of a long period of trial and error, as was the case when cuneiform was developed.

If Egypt's first rulers were foreigners, they did not remain distinct from their subjects for very long. Perhaps we should see them as a catalyst, like the Normans in England and the Varangians in Russia: after speeding up the development of the land they took over, they were absorbed into the masses. By the end of the second dynasty of pharaohs, the only way one could identify members of the "Dynastic Race" was by whether or not they belonged to Iry-Pat (hereditary nobility) families.

West of Egypt, the first fully developed civilization was that of the Carthaginians, centered in modern-day Tunisia. Here we have even less to go on when it comes to artifacts showing this area's development (presumably because the Romans did a very thorough job of destruction when they finished off Carthage in 146 B.C.), but we know who was responsible Greek and Roman records identify the founders as Phoenicians coming from Tyre, the greatest city of ancient Lebanon. To discuss the Egyptians, Nubians and Carthaginians in detail here would make the rest of ancient Africa look insignificant, so the complete story of those civilizations will be covered in the next three chapters of this work.

Here are the most important kingdoms that existed in Africa before the Europeans took over, in the late nineteenth century A.D. The purpose of the map is to show where each kingdom was keep in mind that several were too small to appear on a map of this scale, like Benin. Also, the core territory of each is shown, but in some cases these borders do not reflect the kingdom's size at its peak. For example, while you can see the Merina kingdom was based in the heart of Madagascar, the borders are the ones it had around 1800 A.D. afterwards it conquered most of the island. In the north, Egypt ruled Nubia (the area occupied by Kush) and the nearest parts of Asia more than once, while Carthage dominated the western Mediterranean, the European as well as the African shore, during its best years between 500 and 200 B.C.

2: Trans-Saharan Trade. Origins, organization and effects in the development of West Africa

The connections of West Africa with the Mediterranean world is a very old one, which long predates the rise of Islam in the late 6 th century CE. Several centuries before the rise of the Roman empire, the Greek historian Herodotus (c. 484-425BCE) wrote of peoples in Africa. Herodotus wrote repeatedly of the peoples of the Nile Valley, stressing that many of them were Black Africans, and suggesting connections with people further to the west. Rock art from this period, and later, suggests the existence of wheeled chariots south of what is now the Sahara, and suggest a connection with the Mediterranean world.

Zoomorphic figures. Round head period (9.500 – c. 7,000 BP). Algeria. Tassili n’Ajjer. Tan Zoumaitak. Wikimedia. Fondazione Passaré, Fondazione Passaré V1 057, CC BY-SA 3.0

It’s important to know that the Sahara desert itself was not as harsh in these ancient times as it later became, and is today. Rock art from the Sahara desert is abundant, and some of it is as much as 12000 years old. A good example is the Tassili n’Ajjer, north of Tamanrasset in the Algerian Sahara. This is one of the oldest examples of rock art in the Sahara. Another good example is in the Tibesti Massif in Chad, which also has rock art dating from around this time. These old paintings show areas which are now in the desert as fertile, rich with animals which can no longer live in these desert areas, such as buffalos, elephants, rhinoceros, and hippopotamus. It’s important to bear in mind that this era of fertility in the Sahara coincided with the European Ice Age. The Ice Age was not a problem in Africa, and in fact this seems to have been a time of plenty.

The Sahara appears to have begun desertifying more rapidly around 3000 years BCE, but there remained strong connections with the Mediterranean until a later point. This is shown by the Carthaginian general, Hannibal. Carthage was an empire based in Libya [the most powerful empire in the Mediterranean until the rise of Rome], and around 220 BCE Hannibal embarked on an attack on Roman forces in Europe which involved crossing the high Alps mountain range. His military supplies were carried by elephants, and these were African elephants connected to the peoples and geographies south of the Sahara.

Desertification increased and the geographical boundaries became harder to cross. By the time of the rise of Islam, in the early 7 th century CE [from c. 610fl., with the establishment of the early Caliphs, c. 610 CE], there were fewer connections. But the growth of powerful Islamic kingdoms in Morocco, and of centres of learning based in Cairo, Tripoli, and the Middle East, saw the rise of the caravan trade. By the 9 th century CE, the empire of Ghāna [also known as Awkar] had been founded in what is now Mauritania [the first historical references coming from c. 830 CE], with the capital at Koumbi-Saleh [the trading route from Ghāna was concentrated in the Western Sahara, with its terminus at Sījīlmassa]. By the 10 th century CE there were separate settlements for those practicing African religions and those practising Islam at Koumbi-Saleh, indicating the large number of North African traders who were coming. The gold trade was already spreading to influence commerce and society in the Mediterranean, and it was at around 1000 CE that West African gold was first minted for markets in Europe.

It’s important to grasp how events in West Africa were connected to those in North Africa and even in Europe by the 11 th century. A vital change occurred in this time, spearheaded by the Almoravid movement. They appear to have grown from Berber Muslims who migrated north from the Senegal river seeking a purer form of Islam after the middle of the 11 th century. They conquered the Kingdom of Morocco, founded Marrakech in 1062, and then swept into Al-Andalus in southern Spain in the 1080s, where they defended the Caliphate of Córdoba from the reconquest led by the Christian kings of Spain. Córdoba had already splintered into many different mini states in southern Spain known as the Taifa states in the 1030s in the 12 th century these were overtaken by the Almohads, who also came from Morocco, overthrowing the Almoravids in 1147.

In West Africa, the most important changes came in Ghāna. Until 1076, Muslims and worshippers of African religions had co-existed there, but in that year the Almoravids sacked the city and Ghāna fell into decline. Mali would not rise until the 13 th century. Thereafter, the gold trade was the centrepiece of the trans-Saharan trade. Money was the cause of the early interest of Arabic traders in West Africa, which was indeed known to them as “the golden country”.The influence of the trans-Saharan gold trade on European societies can be seen for instance in the derivation of the Spanish word for gold coin in the 15 th century, maravedí, from the Almoravid murabitūn dinar.

The trade in gold saw the rise of powerful empires such as Mali, Bono-Mansu, and Songhay, the expansion of urban centres such as Kano, and the rise of powerful trading classes such as the Wangara. Arabic became increasingly influential through the spread of Islam and its use as a script for administration. By the 15 th century, when the Atlantic trade would begin, the trans-Saharan trade had been flourishing for at least 5 centuries, and had already shaped the rise, fall, and consolidation of many West African states and societies.

Key Factors of Trade: Environment, Gold, Horses, and the Organization of the Caravan Trade

One of the major elements in the creation of trade networks is geography. Trade tends to be in products which cannot be found in one area, and which are exchanged with those which are needed in another. For example, societies living in areas with forest products can exchange them for salt from desert areas, and grain crops from savannah areas.In turn, savannah and desert peoples can acquire forest products. Thus, a vital factor in the emergence of the social fabric of West Africa was the Sahara desert.

Where the geographical barriers between different climate zones are extensive, the trade networks needed to move goods have to be more complicated. In order to thrive, societies need to develop new means of accommodating stranger traders. Where the barrier is as large as the Sahara desert, or the Atlantic Ocean, the social fabric will become intertwined with these complex trading networks. This occurred in West Africa with the trans-Saharan trade and the social frameworks which emerged with this trade then became influential in shaping the early trans-Atlantic trade. So it is hard to understand the importance of trans-Saharan trade without understanding its importance for society, in terms of organisation and belief.

One important climatic factor in the shaping of West African societies was the spread of the tsetse fly. In humid forest zones, the tsetse fly which causes Sleeping Sickness meant that it was hard for pack animals to survive. Camels, horses, donkeys, and the like could not easily survive in areas where the tsetse fly could live and thrive. This meant that society had to be organised so that people would fulfill that role, and be able to carry headloads of gold, kola nuts, ivory, and more. This became significant as the trans-Saharan gold trade became ever more important from the 11 th century onwards.

There were two main zones for the location of gold in West Africa. One was on the Upper Senegal river, especially the tributary of the Falémé. The other was in the forests of the Gold Coast. Being close to the source of gold was of course a great political prize, and it is significant that the areas near to both the Falémé and the forests of the Gold Coast saw the rise of stable political systems for many centuries. In the Falémé, this was the kingdom of Gajaaga [known by the French as Galam], which saw stable rule for 8 centuries [according to the Senegalese historian Abdoulaye Bathily]. In the Gold Coast, this came in a series of powerful Akan states, beginning with Bono-Mansu in the 14 th century, and then continuing through Denkyira and Akwamu to 1700, all of whom relied on the gold trade.

In Senegambia, the Falémé source of gold was in a semi-desert area where the tsetse fly could not thrive [later this was close to the heartland of the kingdom of Bundu]. This favoured the creation of powerful cavalry forces, and so one of the main things traded by the North African traders in the trans-Saharan trade were their famous “Arab” horses. Cavalries were important to the process of state formation and military control in areas such as the Jolof empire in northern Senegambia, and in Borno and Kano further to the east. Indeed, one of the first areas of the trans-Saharan trade which Europeans copied was in the institution of a horse trade, with horses bred on the Capeverdean islands and traded to the West African coast as early as the 1470s.

In Bono-Mansu, however, horses could not flourish because of the tsetse fly. This meant that the role of head-carriers was vital in ensuring the smooth operation of the gold trade. Gold was dug out of the mines in the forests a hundred miles north of the Atlantic coast, and then porteraged north to the termini of the trans-Saharan trade at Oualata [in present-day Mauritania], Timbuktu [in present-day Mali], Kano, and N’gazarzamu at Borno.

These urban centres were vital to the organization of the trans-Saharan trade as a whole. They had to develop complex infrastructure of service provision for the long-distance traders.By the 15 th century, each of these cities had hotels for horses and traders, clearing houses for animals to return for the long-distance trade back to the Mediterranean, and markets where the wherewithal for the trade could be bought: saddlery and other kit for camels and horses, huge stocks of grain (millet, rice, and cous) to feed the slaves and traders crossing the Sahara, skins for water, dried meat, and more. Some, such as Timbuktu, had also become centres of learning for the scholars who accompanied the caravans for Islam was also becoming ever more closely related to the success and transformation of the trans-Saharan trade.

Traders and Diasporas

The traders who specialised in linking up the different centres of the trans-Saharan trade were known as the Wangara. By the 15 th century, the Wangara formed an important trade diaspora, stretching from The Gambia in the West to Borno in the East they also had connections in the Mali empire, and as far south as Bono-Mansu, and some of the Akan states on the southern Atlantic coast of what is now Ghana.

As we have seen, Islam had become closely connected to trans-Saharan trade: all of the traders from North Africa who came with the caravans were Muslims, and they preferred to trade with Muslims only. The rise of the Almoravid movement in the 11 th century, and the fall of Ghāna, made it clear that those rulers who converted to Islam would fare better in the trans-Saharan stakes.

At the same time, Islam remained the religion of the nobles and the trader class. It was not the faith of everyone, and some would resist it strongly. Thus West African rulers who wanted to succeed in the trans-Saharan trade had to develop a complex strategy. On the one hand, they had to be seen as Muslims in order to be able to entice the trans-Saharan traders: and yet at the same time, they had to be able to relate to their subjects, many of whom were not Muslims.

This commercial reality contributed to what historians call “plural societies”. A plural society can be defined as one in which more than one religion is allowed and tolerated where people can mix across ethnic and religious lines, and where the ability to respect more than one faith is an important part of political and social life. This can be seen through the oral accounts of key rulers such as Sunjata Keita of Mali, many of which emphasise the place of musicians in the court of Mali. The balafon was a royal instrument, which can be seen through its relationship in oral accounts to the sorcerer-king whom Sunjata defeated, Sumanguru Kante. Sumanguru was also reputed as a “Blacksmith king”, in tune with the supernatural powers of smiths and previous political regimes. Thus even Islamic rulers such as those of Mali showed their respect of African religions [and this may also explain why political leaders from Mali explained in Cairo in the 1320s that it was not possible to convert the producers of gold to Islam].

The Wangara diaspora of traders gradually became more and more important in creating a common culture across different parts of West Africa. Their arrival in Borno by the 15 th century showed how the pluralism of society, the spread of Islam as a scholarly, religious, and commercial religion, and the arrival of more and more global influences were all coming together across a wide part of West Africa.

Arabic, Literacy, and Scholarly Production

One of the impacts of the growing trans-Saharan trade was the spread of Arabic as a written language in West Africa. Arabic became not only a language of faith and religious scholarship, with the many mallams, shereefs, and other seers who came to the region. It was also a language of government and law. The many manuscripts now housed in the Ahmed Baba Institute in Timbuktu are testament to the spread of literacy in West Africa from an early time, and certainly it had become important by the 13 th century.

Rulers of important West African empires such as Mali and Songhay of course maintained existing indigenous frameworks of rulership. However they borrowed Islamic bureaucratic forms, religion, scholarship and legal structures to govern the new states, and the complex international relationships which they were developing through trade with the rest of the Islamic world. Taxation, law, and state offices all developed alongside the literate class which became vital to the functioning of the states of the Sahel.

By the 15 th and 16 th centuries, certain desert clans were renowned for their learning and scholarship. In Western areas such as Mauritania, these were known as the zwāya, and in the later 17 th century they would have a major role in the Islamic revival movement which spread in the 18 th century.Desert clans such as the Masūfa also migrated to Timbuktu from Māsina in central Mali, bringing special areas of learning in Islamic law (fiqh).The high status of these scholars is shown by the fact that the great Timbuktu scholar Ahmad Baba had as his main shaykh or religious instructor a scholar from Djenné on the Niger. [Ahmed Baba lived from 1556 to 1627, and wrote over 40 books in his lifetime he has the reputation of being Timbuktu’s greatest scholar].

The spread of Arabic has been studied by some historians through the spread of the use of Arabic on tombstones. The Brazilian historian PF de Moraes Farias spent his career studying these funerary inscriptions in cemeteries in Mauritania, Mali, and Niger. What he found was a more integrated history of Songhay, Tamasheq, Berber and Mande peoples than traditional histories had suggested. Arabic was not only an elite language of learning, but also became a language used by many to pay homage to their departed family members.

Headless figure, Jenne-jeno, Mali, 900-1400 AD, terracotta – National Museum of Natural History, photograph by Daderot, United States – DSC00413, CC0 1.0.

An important feature of this rise of Arabic was the spread of scholars from North Africa in centres of learning such as Kano and Timbuktu. Indeed, this was also an exchange, since scholars from West African cities moved to learn, study, and preach further afield. One was Al-Kānemī, from Kanem-Borno, who lived and taught in Marrakesh c. 1200, before dying in Andalusía in Spain. By the 14 th century, annual caravans took pilgrims from West Africa to North Africa and then to Mecca, and there was in Cairo a hostel to accommodate only those pilgrims who came from Borno while Askia Mohammed, who became ruler of Songhay c. 1495, instituted a garden and lodge for pilgrims from West Africa in Medina [a holy city of Islam, in Arabia], during his own hajj.

Tomb of Askia, photograph by Taguelmoust, 2005, CC BY-SA 3.0

The frequency of such presences of West Africans in the wider Islamic world is shown not only through the spread of Arabic, and the number of documented journeys made, but also by oral accounts. For instance, [the Gambian theologian Lamin Sanneh notes that] one of the most important strains of Islam in this period was that of Suwerian Islam. The founder of Suwerian Islam, al-Hajj Sālim Suware, is said in oral accounts to have made the pilgrimage to Mecca seven times in the early 13 th century. This is unlikely to be true, given just how difficult this journey was [and also as the Qur’an lonely requires it as a duty for Muslims to make the pilgrimage once in their lifetimes if possible]. However, the story reveals just how normal these journeys were, and how often they took place.

By the 15 th century, the growth of the gold trade had gone hand in hand with the emphasis on scholarship. The last 15 th century Sarki of Kano, Mohammed Rimfa, invited large numbers of scholars to settle in the city, and one of them – Sherif Abdu Rahman – came from Medina. Rahman brought his own library and many learned followers. The city walls of Kano were built, and the Kurmi market established, which showed just how much urban developments, learning, and the growth of the trans-Saharan trade had become interconnected.

This was also very apparent in Timbuktu. Timbuktu grew a reputation as a city of learning, and yet during the reign of Sonni Ali (c. 1464-93) of Songhay, its scholars felt undermined and slighted. After Sonni Ali’s death, many mallams from Timbuktu complained at his rulership and departure from orthodox Islam, and the ways in which they claimed he had persecuted the mallams. In the 16 th century, a succession of Askias ruled who followed a more orthodox path of Islam, and the city’s reputation as a centre of learning reached its peak. But this would fall with the Moroccan invasion of Songhay in 1591 [after which time, many of its scholars would disperse west, to Mauritania which is why many scholars of Islam in Mauritania see this as the centre of Islamic scholarship in the Sahel by the 18 th and 19 th centuries].

Mali and Mansa Musa

Perhaps the most famous and influential kingdom linked to the trans-Saharan trade was that of Mali. Mali was founded by Sunjata Keita in the 13 th century, defeating the blacksmith king Sumanguru Kante. However, in Mali, the ruler who reached world renown at the time was the Emperor Mansa Musa.

A ttributed to Abraham Cresques, Catalan Atlas BNF Sheet 6 Mansa Musa, marked as public domain, more details on Wikimedia Commons

Mansa Kankan Musa Keita was the son of Mansa Aboubacarr II the Navigator who in the 1300s sent out an expedition across the Atlantic Ocean from River Gambia to discover new territories. His son Mansa Kankan Musa Keita better known as Mansa Musa ruled Mali from 1312-1337. His reign lasted barely quarter of century but the whole 1300s are still called the Century of Mansa Musa because of his lasting legacy.

This legacy came out more for his exploits on his way to Mecca to perform his pilgrimage 1324-1325 than in any wars he fought and won or lost. He apparently did not want to perform the pilgrimage as he was still a nominal Muslim but when he accidentally killed his mother, he decided to perform the Hajj to purify himself and atone for his capital crime. He took along the entire court of his to Mecca including doctors, princes, griots and an army of body guard which numbered 8000 men! He left he Capital of Mali and traversed the Sahara through Walata in present day Mauretania, then Libya before entering Cairo. From Cairo he entered the Holy city of Mecca.

This pilgrimage had economic, political and religious consequences.

Economically, Mansa Musa dispensed so much gold on his way to Mecca that he has since then been called the richest ever human being to live on this earth. He also cemented trade ties between Mali and the Middle East and Cairo such that from 1325, caravans of over 10,000 camels traversed the Sahara into Mali at Gao and Timbuktu. Religiously, Mansa Musa and his huge entourage returned from the hajj renewed Muslims who now wanted to strengthen the religion and spread it far and wide. The Malian masses which were mostly animist then, were soon converted by the fresh pilgrims. Also, Mali opened up to more Arab scholars who were attracted by the immense wealth Mansa Musa displayed. These Arabs built fabulous mosques and courts for Mansa Musa. He also brought along great scholars who helped him establish the famous libraries in Gao, Jenne and Timbuktu. The hajj became one of the world’s greatest PR exercises! Politically, Mali became well known and Mansa Musa earned international repute. His pilgrimage put Mali firmly on the map. Indeed, before his death in 1337, Mansa Musa has expanded Mali into a sprawling empire with over 400 cities extending from the Atlantic in the West to the forest zones of the south. All the known states of the time such as Songhay,, Ghana, Galam, Tekrur formed part of Mansa Musa’s Mali. Mansa Musa indeed gave Mali her glory and Mali also gave Mansa Musa his glory!

Political reorganization in the 15 th century: Bono-Mansu, Mossi, Kano, and Songhay

The growth of the trans-Saharan trade from the 10 th to the 15 th century led to profound transformations across West Africa, and this can be seen through a whole range of transformations that took place in the 15 th century, from West to East and from North to South. It would be political, economic and social transformations in West Africa that would drive globalization and Europe’s role in this, not the other way around.

A good example are events in Nigeria. In Borno, the growth of the gold trade from Bono-Mansu would lead to the movement of the capital away from the old centre of Kanem, further south to Gazargamo (Ngazargamu) in Borno circa 1470. In Kano, there was the establishment of a new system, the Sarauta system. Meanwhile, the 10-metre deep earthworks known as “Eredos”, built around Ijebu in Yorubaland, have recently been dated [by the archaeologist Gérard Chouin] to the period 1370-1420.

In other regions similar transformations were afoot. In Mali, the Dogon people of the Bandiagara escarpment probably moved there in the 15 th century. At the same time, in the 15 th century, the Mossi kingdom rose in what is now Burkina Faso, linked to the profits to be made from taxing the onward gold trade.Al-Sa’dī describes Mossi attacking the town of Mâssina in this period.It was also at this time that Bono-Mansurose to prominence. Meanwhile, the key gold-trading centre of Bighu, also on the Gold Coast and which was to become very important in the 17 th and 18 th century, is mentioned by al-Ouazzan (as Bito) in the 1520s, suggesting that it too rose to prominence in these decades.

Meanwhile, in Senegambia, the rise of the major military leader Koli Tenguela at the end of the 15 th century coincided probably with an attempt to control the gold trade which came from the kingdom of Wuuli, on the north bank of the Gambia river. Tenguela, a Fula, would eventually lead an army south across the Gambia river to the Fuuta Jaalo mountains in Guinea-Conakry and establish a new polity there. This would lead in turn to the establishment of Fuuta Tooro on the Senegal river.

In other words, all across West Africa, from Borno to Fuuta Tooro, political transformations were taking place well before trade with Europe had begun. West African mining technology, economic transformation, and political reorganization grew. This helped to create the framework in which European powers sought to expand their knowledge of the world, as they began to sail along the West African coast in the 15 th century.

The most remarkable example came in northern Nigeria. Kano grew very rapidly in the 15 th century, sending out military expeditions to the south and becoming a regional hub linking trading networks from southern Nigeria to what is now Mali and beyond. [The Kano Chronicle gives some details of these changes]. In the reign of Kano’s Sarkin Dauda (c. 1421-38), we are told of the connections between Kano and the province of Nupe. The major power between Kano and Nupe was Zaria, which conquered a large area of land. The Kano Chronicle says, “at this time, Zaria, under Queen Amina, conquered all the towns as far as Kwararafa and Nupe. Every town paid tribute to her. The Sarkin Nupe sent forty eunuchs and ten thousand kolas to her…in time the whole of the products of the west were brought to Hausaland [of which Kano was the capital]”.

Just as European power was beginning to expand along the West African coast in the 15 th century, therefore, so the impact of the trans-Saharan trade reached its zenith. The 15 th century was not just the time of European expansion, but of global expansion of networks, trade, productions, and the manifestation of this power in more complex states, in West Africa and beyond.

Koli Tengella and Tekrur

Tekrur was another of the states which thrived largely as a result of the Trans-Saharan trade. It was founded in the 7 th century, and was located in present day North-East Senegal in the valley of the Senegal River. For many years, Tekrur laid quietly as a vassal of the Ghana and Mali empires. Tekrur had largely Serahuly and Mande speaking populations, but in the 15 th century, the Fula became powerful and removed the ruling Mande class and established the Janonkobe dynasty. They were led by a warrior the Senegalese historian Ousman Ba called ‘the great hero and saviour of the Peulh’ named Koli, the son of Tengella. He formed and mobilised a vast army and ravaged through Fouta Jallon, Mali and Jollof to make Tekrur the unvanquished power in the region. Koli was crowned as Satigi or emperor over the vast lands now under the control of his Fula armies. His capital was at Gode, near the present day Matam.

Koli is remembered in the Fouta Toro legends as the big chief of the Fula animist aristocracy who lived on war and slavery, catching especially of the Fula and Tukulor Muslims of his empire. No doubt then in 1776, the Muslims headed by Sulayman Bal revolted against Koli’s oppression to found the Muslim state of Fouta. How did Koli benefit from the trade across the Sahara? Simply put, by trading grain in exchange for firearms. He was able to build a strong army which maintained Tekrur’s dominance for many decades. It is clear from what has been said above that the trade across the Sahara helped to build strong states and also to destroy them as weapons became readily available and the lucrative trade also generated envy and the desire to dominate.

Ghana and Songhai Empires

Ghana was one of the most famous and earliest of the West African empires. It existed between the 5 th and 13 th centuries in the modern Mali and Mauritania, and was heavily connected to the trans-Saharan trade. The Ghana empire with its capital of Kumbi Saleh in Mauritainia, is not to be confused with modern Ghana with its capital at Accra, which was named after it. The principal inhabitants of Ghana were the Serahuli, also called Soninke, who were part of the Mande-speaking people.

Ghana owed her progress and prosperity and influence to the strategic role it played in the Trans-Saharan trade. British historian Kevin Shillington was categorical in this: ‘…Ghana’s position with regard to the trade…. made it grow powerful and its rulers became rich…. It seems likely that trade was a major factor in the growth of Ghana from the very beginning’.

Ghana was located half way between the sources of the two Trans-Saharan trade items: salt from the desert up north and gold from Bambuk to the East. Ghana played the enviable role of middleman. The introduction of the camel as carrier of goods in the trade was a massive boost to the exchange between Ghana and the desert peoples such as the Berbers.

Ghana’s glory could not be hidden simply because it was well traced and chronicled by the Arabic traders who came there. As early as the 11 th century an Arab geographer called al-Bakari visited Kumbi Saleh, the capital and described the fabulous wealth he saw and the well advanced form of administration run by the Ghana ruler. He observed that Kumbi Saleh had two separate wards: the foreigners’ quarter where Arab trader resided and the main ward where the king and his people lived. The dumbstruck Arab visitor also described in glowing terms how well dressed in gold the Ghana king was, how he was able to raise an army of 200,000 men and how he allowed both Islam and animism to be practised in Kumbi Saleh. Of course, our Arab writers only met the royals, nobles and traders as they were interested only in gold. They said little about what the ordinary people did for a living but we can glean from the writings that they fished and farmed along the banks of the River Senegal to survive.

Ghana’s glory rested on trade and so did its collapse. When the Almoravids started to wage war against other Berber tribes, the trade routes to Ghana became unsafe and trade was affected. Dry weather conditions also affected Ghana’s ability to feed herself and her vast army this seriously weakened the state. Also, by the 12 th century, vassals like Mali had began to rebel to gain freedom from Ghana’s dominance.

Songhay, on the other hand lasted from the 11 th to 16 th century. It rose to prominence as a result of the Trans-Saharan trade. As early as the 14 th century Muslim traders were settled in Gao, the principal trade town of Songhay. Gao became the hub for the Trans-Saharan trade for the central and eastern Sahara. The farmers and fishermen of Songay ensured the traders were well fed.

Songhay collected the bulk of her revenue from the taxes levied on trade caravans. One of the great Songhay emperors was Muhamed Ture also called Askia Muhamed who introduced Islam in to Songhay and increased the empire’s reaches. Like Mansa Musa of Mali, he made a pilgrimage to Mecca where he showed how rich and powerful his kingdom was. The Trans-Saharan trade helped to make Songhai rich and prosperous.

It should be noted that the trans-Saharan trade continued to be important into the 19 th and even the 20 th century, as the continuing trade and human traffic shows. The desert is a geographical barrier which requires complex organisation to cross – those who crossed it laid the foundations of some of the most important states in West African history.


3000BCE: Sahara starts desertifying

220BCE: Hannibal of Carthage crosses the Alps with West African elephants

400 CE: City of Jenne-jenò in the Middle Niger has grown to 4000 inhabitants

900AD: Gold from the forests of Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire found in North African mints in increasing quantities

1062: The Almoravids from the fringes of the Senegal river valley conquer Morocco and establish Marrakech.

1076: Almoravids sack Koumbi-Saleh, capital of Ghāna

1080s: Almoravids sweep into southern Spain

1070-1100: The kingdom of Kanem-Borno converts to Islam and becomes important in the trans-Saharan trade. Regular pilgrimages to Mecca via Cairo of the Borno kings begin in the 1100s.

1200: Kano’s city walls completed by this date

1200-1250: rise of the Mali empire under Sunjata Keita, founded on trans-Saharan wealth

1322-5: Pilgrimage of Mansa Musa, emperor of Mali to Mecca via Cairo

1330s: Djinguereber mosque built in Timbuktu using the architect As-Sahili from Andalusía in southern Spain

1350-1390: Wangara traders bring Islam to Kano with trade

1433 – 1474: Emergence of Songhay to rival Mali for imperial power with the loss of Timbuktu to Songhay in 1468 to their ruler Sonni ‘Alī

1470s: The capital of Borno moves south to the fortified redoubt of Ngazargamu

1492: Death of Sonni ‘Alī, ruler of Songhay. He is replaced by Askia Mohammad in 1494, who inaugurates the great age of Songhay

1490s-1510s: Rise of Koli Tenguella, founder of Futa Toro on the northern bank of the Senegal river

1591: Fall of Songhay to the forces of Morocco

Sub-Saharan Africa: Environment, Politics, and Development

The winds of changes are blowing across Sub-Saharan Africa, a diverse region of 47 countries stretching from the rolling savannas south of the Sahara desert to the coastal mountains and valleys of the Cape. In hundreds of cities and towns, prodemocracy demonstrators have taken to the streets. In over a dozen countries, opposition to one-party rule has led to promises of open elections, and major reforms aim at improving relations between governments and their citizens.

Despite these changes, over 70 percent of the people in Sub-Saharan Africa still lack basic civil liberties and human rights. Moreover, the region faces what amounts to a humanitarian crisis as a combination of drought, civil conflict, and economic decline threaten nearly 60 million of the region's 550 million people. Millions more, possibly a quarter of the total population, are poverty-stricken.

The forces of colonialism are partially responsible for Africa's difficulties today. In the nineteenth century, European powers drew political boundaries that cut across indigenous cultural and territorial divisions, exacerbating social tensions. Large areas of land were taken over by colonial administrations or European companies and individuals. Forced off their ancestral land, tens of thousands of Africans became laborers and migrant workers.

When the colonial era ended in the 1950s and 1960s, Sub-Saharan countries were left with few trained personnel and little infrastructure. Exploitative policies extracted Africa's minerals and other natural wealth for the benefit of outsiders. National economies were geared toward producing goods - including such cash crops as coffee, palm oil, and cocoa - for European markets. Colonial leaders, as well as those who replaced them, devoted little attention to improving the grain and root crops upon which most Africans have depended.

Living mainly in rural areas, many Africans now make a living through a combination of agriculture, domestic animal keeping, and wage labor. About 24 million herders raise livestock both for subsistence and for sale. On the other hand, the urban population is growing rapidly Lagos, Nairobi, and other cities already have serious shortages of housing, employment, and social services.

One legacy of European-drawn borders is the ethnic diversity that characterizes almost every African state. Nigeria contains as many as 160 different groups. Even countries such as Swaziland that are occupied almost entirely by a single ethnic group are usually subdivided along lines of kinship and social affiliation. The picture is complicated by the fact that the various African societies speak as many as 2,000 different languages and have an array of religious beliefs. These countries are governed by indigenous elites who also vary greatly in size and cultural characteristics.

For the new African leaders, decolonization offered a chance to implement development programs that would benefit the citizens of independent states, although these countries faced several constraints in their efforts to develop, not least of which were access to capital and technical expertise. But with advice supplied by Western Bank, the International Development Association, and other international agencies, African governments embarked on ambitious programs of industrial and agricultural development. The projects they undertook ranged from state farms to large-scale efforts to develop river basins, from road-building to the establishment of schools and health services.

Unfortunately, many projects have yielded mixed results. While access to social services improved in some rural areas, economic growth has been limited at best. Moreover, some government elites and their supporters have used large-scale projects for self-serving political and economic purposes. River-basin developments, in particular, have transferred resources to those in power at the expense of indigenous peoples. For example, the erection of the Manantali Dam on the Senegal River boosted local land values. Backed by government troops, politically well-placed individuals then began registering plots of land in their own names, forcibly relocating local people and almost touching off a war between Senegal and Mauritania.

Many of the elite are reluctant to acknowledge the existence of distinct indigenous groups within their countries' boundaries. Rather than grand one groups primacy, states maintain that all resident groups are indigenous. Thus, it is extremely difficult to obtain reliable census data broken down along tribal affiliation or ethnic group membership. Estimates of the number of indigenous Africans range from 25 million to 350 million.

Relatively few African governments have targeted development at improving the living standards of groups that are defined on an ethnic basis. One reason is that states understandably want to avoid South Africa's apartheid system of separate development. Thus, Botswana, one of Africa's oldest democracies, expanded its Bushmen Development Program to include all people in remote areas. The this case, as in many others, there was a less commendable reason as well. Botswana could now well-to-do assist people in the remote areas in addition to Bushmen. The program thus became a source of subsidies for wealthier people to develop cattle ranches and farms in out-of-the-way places.

At time, dependence on funds from international development agencies and multilateral development banks has resulted in the imposition of programs that are geared more toward objectives defined by those agencies rather than by Africans. For example, "structural adjustment programs" have meant drastic cuts in spending on social services, reductions in government subsidies, and increases in food prices.

Misguided development efforts and structural adjustment have hit hardest those at the bottom - the very poor, particularly those in urban areas. Per capita incomes declined at an annual rate of over 1 percent in the 1970s and 1980s in Sub-Saharan Africa. Since the 1970s, unemployment has spread, especially among the growing numbers of young people. In many countries, half the population is 15 years old or younger, with profound implications for government expenditures on social services and economic assistance.

Competition for scarce resources has increased the pressure on governments to come up with sustainable long-term development policies. However, at the same time, Africa's external debt now stands at $255 billion. Much of the continent's export earnings now go to paying off these debts: African governments spend twice as much money on debt service as on health and education, even while they curtail investments in social and economic development.

The failures of development are not the only reason that African economies and living standards have deteriorated. One of the worst threats to Africa is militarization. During the Cold War, the superpowers poured billions of dollars worth of weapons and military assistance into the continent. Hundreds of thousands of Africans have died at the hands of state-supported military units. Governments such as those of Sudan and Ethiopia spent considerable sums - sometimes over half the national budget - on weapons and supporting armies. Scarce foreign currency was used for military hardware - money that could have been used for development or humanitarian aid.

In response to the crisis of survival that many Africans face, literally thousands of self-help organizations and multipurpose development associations have emerged at the grassroots level. In east Africa, the Organization of Pastoral People has been established to seek rights for Maasai and other herding peoples. In Swaziland, women have formed some 200 zenzele ("do-it-yourself') voluntary associations. These groups engage in activities ranging from day-care services to horticulture projects. Since 1986, a cooperative joining 32 Ju/'hoansi Bushmen communities in northeastern Namibia has undertaken farming activities and worked to establish secure rights to land and natural resources. Oromo in Ethiopia are actively conserving the range lands on which they depend.

Likewise, indigenous groups have resisted the establishment of certain development projects, as was the case with the Barabaig, a society of farmers and pastoralists in northern Tanzania. With financial support from Canada's International Development Agency, the Tanzanian National Agriculture and Food Corporation had acquired title to some 100,000 acres of the Barabaig's crucial dry-season grazing land for a wheat project reduced livestock numbers and milk yields. Police have arrested Barabaig for trespassing on what used to be their own land and saddled them with large fines for damage their cattle did to the wheat crop. With the help of the Legal Aid Committee of the University of Dar Es Salaam, the Barabaig are seeking to have the government recognize their customary rights.

The Barabaig case is but one of many instances in which indigenous groups have had to resort to legal action to press their claims. Many other ethnic and tribal groups in Sub-Saharan Africa have become vocal about infringements on their rights. G/wi and G//ana, assisted by journalists, have argued for continued rights of residence and resource use in Botswana's Central Kalahari Game Reserve, despite a 1986 government recommendation that these Bushmen peoples be relocated. In northeastern Nambibia, Ju/'hoan Bushmen collaborated with film makers who documented their efforts to convince herders who had moved into their area to leave peacefully.

Long viewed as "victims of progress," indigenous peoples in Sub-Saharan Africa are moving to take control of their own destinies. They are protesting the ways in which governments, multinational corporations, and development agencies have treated them, and they are seeking redress through the media and the courts and in their own communities.

Sub-Saharan Africa Resources:

African American Institute, 833 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017.

Africa Recovery Briefinq Paper, United Nations Department of Public Information.

African Watch, 485 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10017.

African Cultural Institute, 13 Avenue du Presidente Habib Bourguiba, Boite Postale 1, Dakar, Senegal.

Human Rights Internet, 1338 G. St., SE, Washington, DC 20003.

International African Institute, Lionel Robbins Building, 10 Portugal St., London WC2A 2HD, England.

Article copyright Cultural Survival, Inc.

Effects Of Climatic And Environmental Changes On Ancient African Civilisations

In fact, even the theory of the evolution of man was dependent largely on the climatic influences on our ancient ancestors. It is hypothesised that the ancient versions of man were forced to walk upright, lose body hair and develop their coordination for survival in a changing environment. New skills also needed to be learned as farming techniques and living habits had to be adapted.

Ancient Africa experienced major vacillations between mega-droughts and Ice Ages, although these fluctuations occurred over thousands and thousands of years. As humans continued to develop and evolve through these phases, they needed to make major adaptations, not only to their ways of life, but also to their personal body structure. Prior to 135 000 years ago, the whole of Africa was lush and fertile, with a tropical climate. Then, the most intense mega-drought ever to occur hit the continent in the period referred to as the early part of the Late Pleistocene epoch. This is believed to have led to the migration of most of our human ancestors into other areas that were more habitable and fertile. Lake Malawi has been used by scientists as a rain gauge to ascertain water levels in ancient times. Research has shown that, during this mega-drought, the lake’s level dropped at least 1968 feet, or 600 metres! Evolutionists claim that this severe lack of water not only pushed ancient man from the area, it also forced aquatic animals (such as fish) to develop the facilities to be able to survive on dry land, thus evolving into land animals.

As people flocked out of the continent, only a very small proportion of this specific generation remained. Humankind as we know it is widely believed to have come from these few remaining on the continent, who evolved significantly and in response to the climatic changes.

These conditions continued until about 70 000 years ago, when the climate was again characterised by wetter conditions. These led to the growth and renewal of fresh vegetation, as well as an increased water supply to the region. More people were in the area during this time of abundance, and the population grew. This increase in numbers eventually led to migrations due to space limitations and the ownership of land.

Then, about 20 000 years ago, an Ice Age overcame the entire earth. This meant that the planet underwent a long-term period of cold temperatures over most of its surface. In places like North America and Eurasia, giant ice sheets covered enormous proportions of the land, making it impossible to farm and, sometimes, even live in these areas. This final Ice Age lasted for about 9 500 years. It forced most of the populations to migrate to the highlands, where they would be relatively protected from the ice sheets. Again, these civilisations had to adapt their farming methods, and change their diet, social habits, clothing and migratory patterns. This forced an evolution to a certain extent. Body hair was necessary to keep people warm, their skin lightened due to a lack of the harsh rays of the sun that they experienced during the mega-droughts, etc…

When this Ice Age came to an end 10 500 years ago, areas like the Sahara were left fertile and healthy. This made it and the other areas like it the ideal spots in which to settle as ancient man began to descend from the highlands. Animals and plants thrived in this environment, which made it very desirable in the eyes of mankind. The abundance of food, water and sunshine again changed the habits and physical structures of our earliest forefathers.

These conditions lasted for some time, but the Sahara in particular continued to experience fluctuations between humid and dry conditions. These eventually left the entire area unable to yield crops or sustain life for any extended period of time. Today, it remains a large stretch of desert. Then, approximately 2500 years ago, the group of people who had made their home in the Sahara began to follow the direction of the Nile River, which held promise of a rich water supply. The arid conditions of the Sahara and its surrounds continue to the present day.

Africa has, since prehistoric times, proven to be a place of fascination, life and evolution. Changes in the climate were often dramatic, and these were, to a great extent, responsible for determining the ancient civilisations that inhabited this vast continent. It is no wonder that many researchers and scientists maintain that Africa is the Cradle of Mankind, and research continues to yield fascinating evidence of this theory.

How did the african kingdom of Carthage adapt to their environment? - History


Lectures contributed by Steve Stofferan and Sarah Wood, Purdue University

In many ways, the history of ancient Africa features just as interesting, complex, and sophisticated narratives as any other ancient civilizations, yet almost without exception it is only Egypt and Carthage that receive any substantive consideration at all in a survey course. This, despite the development of several important pre-Islamic cultures in the interior, far removed from both the Mediterranean and Egypt. The purpose, then, of the following lecture is to shed light on at least three additional centers of civilization in ancient Africa: Kush (Meroe), Aksum, and Ghana.

I. Egyptian Domination and Influence
- 500 years of direct rule of southern Nubia by Egyptians (New Kingdom), ca. 1500-1000 BCE
- pharoahs had been especially keen to control trade with the south
- had built lots of Egyptian towns, outposts along the Nile
- this period left a very long-lasting legacy, particularly evident in the Nubian ruling class' adoption and maintenance of Egyptian religion, language, and writing

II. Independence and Emergence of a New Culture
- Egyptians withdrew from Nubia, ca. 1000 BCE southern region became known to them as "Kush"
- trade links continued, but the two realms separated politically
- by 730 BCE, new rulers of independent Kush felt strong enough to invade Egypt seized Thebes
- ruled Egypt for 60 years-a period known as the XXVth ("Ethiopian/Nubian") dynasty
- following Assyrian invasion of Lower Egypt (ca. 670 BCE), withdrew to Nubia
- moved their administrative center further south, from Napata to Meroe, ca. 550 BCE

[ see companion lecture on Meroe by Sarah Wood, below]

- primary religious complexes, however, remained at Napata for several centuries
- note the continued pervasive Egyptian influence: temple of Amun Re
- the priesthood remained very powerful rulers had to present themselves at Napata for sanction
- real development of iron technology in Meroe (probably in response to encounter with Assyrians)
- the region of Meroe supported agriculture and herding very well (better than around Napata)
* also very well situated for trade (gold, ostrich feathers, ebony, ivory, leopard skins, elephants, iron), either across the desert to Egypt or via Red Sea port to several destinations (especially during the period of Greek/Roman control of Egypt)
- eventually, distinctive features of Kushite civilization emerged, particularly after the move to Meroe:
- local language (Meroitic) replaced Egyptian as language of court
- new alphabetic script developed (remains undeciphered today)
- innovations on traditional Egyptian religion: lion god, Apedemek (lion's head on body of snake)
- distinctive art: portrayals of tropical African animals on art objects, pottery, public sculptures
- distinctive pottery style (even some continuity with ancient Nubian practice)
- new style of pyramids: small, unpointed erected much later than Egyptian pyramids
- also importatnt to note the distinctive economic and political organization of Kushite society:
- peasants and herders were more spread out thus, rulers were not able to exert as much direct control over their subjects as had been the case in Egypt
- slightly less autocratic than Egypt nobility & priesthood occasionally removed kings
- the king's mother was traditionally a key political player ("kingmaker")

III. Stature among Great Empires
- Assyrians
- Kush had butted up against this great empire in Lower Egypt in 7th century BCE
- withdrew to the south, but had taken some hard iron-age lessons to heart
- Romans:
- by 1st century BCE, Meroe gradually expanded northward inevitably clashed with Romans
- 23 BCE, Meroitic army attacked border town of Syrene stole several statues of Augustus
* bronze head of Augustus was unearthed in excavation at Meroe in 1912
- Petronius led a retaliatory campaign
- reached Napata took several thousand captives, which he then sold into slavery
- however, relations with Rome eventually normalized, and the two powers enjoyed peaceful coexistence for several centuries, with special emphasis on Red Sea trade, even into Indian Ocean

IV. Decline
- kingdom declined by CE 300 the city of Meroe itself was abandoned between CE 300-350
- major factors in its decline included:
- over-exploitation of the environment the land became agriculturally untenable
- iron smelting had consumed most of the forests for charcoal widespread erosion ensued
- decline of Roman power in Egypt affected Meroe as well demand for luxury goods fell
- new power of Aksum took control of the Red Sea trade, and even invaded region of Meroe ca. CE 350, although by that time there was not much left to conquer

I. Wresting Power from Meroe
- ca. 500 BCE, peoples from southwestern Arabia migrated across Red Sea
- established farming settlements and trading centers on African coast (particularly Adulis), esp. in order to take advantage of ivory trade for Persia and India
- came to dominate the Red Sea trade, already in the period of Greek (Ptolemaic) control of Egypt
- this facilitated the establishment of their independent inland state at Aksum
- eventually edged out Meroe for domination of Red Sea & Indian Ocean trade by CE 300

II. Prosperity
- Aksum's economic well-being was, of course, dependent upon trade
- likewise, the king's power relied on the tax revenues raised on import/export duties
- esp. important export goods included ivory, slaves, crystal, brass, copper, frankincense, myrrh
- prosperity was reflected in ambitious building projects: esp. stone stelae (tall, thin columns marking notable gravesites)
- adopted Christianity in 4th century CE

III. Decline
- Aksum was eventually confronted by two principal economic & political challenges to its power:
- Persian Empire, particularly in the 6th-century Arabian trade
- Islam: caliphate presented a political threat, but trade also began to shift more to the Persian Gulf, away from the Red Sea
- however, like Meroe, over-exploitation of land and forests also played a major role in Aksum's decline
- did manage to avoid incorporation into the Islamic world system, but with the effect of cultural isolation
- hence the eventual development of very distinctive Ethiopian Christianity

I. Introduction
One must keep in mind first of all that ancient Ghana has little to do with the modern west African nation that has adopted its name. (It is significant in its own right, however, to note the enduring allure associated with the name itself-an indirect index of its grandeur in the ancient world.) Ancient Ghana, which at its height encompassed a large area extending northward from most of the Senegal River, flourished between AD 200-800, though the state remained a coherent polity well into the thirteenth century. Ghana was always associated first and foremost with its principal export, gold. Indeed, the very name "ghana" refers to the ruler in control of the region's gold supply.

- best-known of the early west African Iron Age states
- comprised of the Sonnike people (a reference to its language group)
- origins of the state lay in the desire of clans to band together to form larger chiefdoms, which in turn joined together in a loose confederation sometime in the 1st century CE
- the impetus for this consolidation was likely that the Sonnike, armed with iron weapons and cavalry, saw such cooperation as the best means to seize as much remaining arable land in west Africa (which was steadily dessicating with the spread of the Sahara) as they could it also probably came at least partially in response to increased raids by Berber nomads during periods of drought
- most important in the story of Ghana's rise to power, however, was the advantageous geographical position the Sonnike enjoyed vis-a-vis the trans-Sahara trade: their region served as an ideal middle ground for exchanges of desert salt, local surplus grain, and gold mined in the lands to the south thus, they became the classic "middlemen"
- prosperity really picked up in the 5th century with the introduction of the camel in trans-Sahara trade hence the concomitant rise in Ghana's political power at this time

II. Land of Gold
- the gold trade in particular expanded exponentially by the 9th century, as consolidated Islamic states in the north (particularly along the Mediterranean coast) were in need of large quantities of gold to mint coins
- Ghana eventually gained an exotic reputation throughout the Islamic world it was even known for its fabulous wealth as far away as Baghdad
- we have several descriptions of Ghana by Arab geographers and writers from the 8th-11th centuries
- amazingly, the Sonnike managed to keep the source of its gold (i.e., the location of the southern gold fields and the peoples who owned and worked them-and who traded it for desert salt from Ghanaian merchants) a secret from inquisitive Muslim traders for several centuries
- as had been the case in Aksum, the rulers of Ghana grew wealthy from taxation on trade interestingly, however, they only taxed salt, not gold it is also worth noting that only gold dust was allowed to be traded on the market all solid nuggets belonged to (or were confiscated by) the rulers, which helped ensure their superior wealth and relative opulence
- finally, although the kingdom maintained no regular standing army, the ruler of Ghana was reputedly able (according to the 11th-century Arab geography al-Bakri) to call forth a force of 200,000 warriors from his own territories and those of allied/subject states in times of war

II. Islamic Transition and Decline
- the empire reached its height sometime around 1050 CE
- unlike their counterparts in Aksum, the rulers and people of Ghana eventually converted to Islam, probably in the 12th century the details of this process are not at all clear in the sources, but it is likely that it was a peaceful conversion
- by this time, however, Ghana was losing cohesion, for several potential reasons:
- continued conflict between Sonnike traders and their Berber counterparts
- wider wars of the Almoravids across north (and central) Africa disrupted trade
- cultural divide between now-Islamic rulers of Ghana and the mostly pagan subjects of the empire
- forceful independence movements among the southern Malinke peoples
- deterioration of the environment (esp. desertification)-an all too common theme in Africa)

Ancient Africa: Meroe, by Sarah Wood, Spring 2002

Around 1050 BC, Egypt’s dominion over Nubia came to an end. It was not until approximately 900 BC that a new power subjugated this territory and for no less than 1000 years determined its history. This power, called the Kingdom of Napata and Meroe is also known as the Kingdom of Kush. The Kingdom of Kush is divided into 2 periods, the Napatan Period lasting until 270 BC and the Meroitic Period existing from the fall of that kingdom toward the year 320 AD.

Today we can say, with some certainty that the ruling class in the Kingdom of Kush was not made up of Egyptian or Libyian immigrants, as we had frequently assumed in the past. Names of the royal family as well as high ranking officials and priests, prove that they belonged to the people whose language became the written language of the Meroitic Period. We call them “Meroites”. In addition, the custom of matrilinear succession and the development of royal tomb installations reveal that the social and cultural traditions of the ruling class were derived not from the Egyptians but from the peoples of the Upper Nile Valley.

With regards to agriculture, during the Meroitic Period, cattle breeding becomes increasingly important, replacing sheep and goats due to their nutritional value. The many representations of cattle, for example those in the Temple of Apedemak at Musawwarat es-Sufra, picture a powerful and well-cared-for breed leading us to assume that cattle breeding was taking place. An extensive system of reservoirs was developed to facilitate cattle herding and the cultivation of fields away from the Nile. The vicinity of Meroe was suited to iron production on a large scale. Implements made of iron may have been employed in agriculture and iron tools were used in the quarries and in construction.

The minor arts, especially that of goldsmiths, continued to develop and reached high levels of achievement. The elephant had great significance in Meroe, particularly in Musawwarat es-Sufra where it was frequently represented in relief and sculpture. A significant change took place at the beginning of the Meroitic Period: typical Napatan (bright red) ceramics disappeared entirely. A new black polished ware is found in royal burials beginning around 300 BC.

International trade did not pass through Meroe, which lay to the side of 2 main trade routes connecting Egypt with the Far East [the overland route through Arabia and the overseas passage across the Red Sea]. Direct trade with Meroe was important for Egypt and so was the trade with central Africa states that passed through Meroe en route to Egypt. To Egypt, Meroe exported gold, ivory, iron, ostrich feathers and other products of the African interior it also provided Egypt with slaves.

The major period for construction of the Musawwarat es-Sufra began after 300 BC with the erection of temples on artificial terraces within the Great Enclosure. This site is located in a natural basin five or six miles in width surrounded by hills in the Sudan. Musawwarat es-Sufra was an important center for pilgrims who came to celebrate the periodic festivals held there for the local gods. The numerous elephant representations may possibly suggest that elephants were trained here (for military and ceremonial purposes) and the large enclosures may have been designed to herd them in. There are several one-room temples dedicated to the native gods.

The Meroitic script has a cursive and more rarely used hieroglyphic form. Despite the individual characters being derived from Egyptian demotic script and hieroglyphs, the Meroitic system of writing differs fundamentally from that of the Egyptian. The complicated Egyptian system was reduced to a simple alphabet of 23 symbols. In contrast to Egyptian script and most Semitic systems of writing, Meroitic script includes vowel notations. From the 2 nd century BC on, the Meroitic language was almost employed exclusively as the written language as well. Since there are no bilingual inscriptions to provide us with access to Meriotic, we understand very little of the language.

The history of the Meriotic Kingdom of Kush can be divided into the following stages:

(A) Transitional Stage 310-270 BC ----

It was assumed that the Kingdom of Kush was at this time divided into a northern (Napatan) territory with its capital at Napata and a southern (Meriotic) territory with its capital at Meroe. There is a greater emphasis on Amun of Napata as a traditional god. In their cartouches, all the rulers of this period add to their own names the epithet “beloved of Amun.”

(B) Early Meroitic Period 270-90 BC ---

The influence of the priests of Amun came to an end with the transfer of the royal cemetery to Meroe. Arkakemani is the first king to have his pyramid erected near Meroe. The first 3 rulers of the Meroitic Period assumed throne names modeled upon rulers of the Egyptian Dynasty XXVI. During the reign of King Tanyidamani (110-90 BC), the oldest datable text of significant length written in the Meroitic language is found on a stela containing a detailed government report and temple endowments. Henceforth, Meroitic hieroglyphs were increasingly used and soon replaced Egyptian writing altogether.

(C) Middle Meroitic Period 90 BC

The 1 st century BC can in many ways be regarded as a golden age the height of Meroitic power. The strong concentration of reigning queens in this period is striking. A small group of pyramids at Gebel Barkal can be dated to the 1 st century BC. Increasing Meroitic activity in Lower Nubia is evident and this eventually lead to a military confrontation with the Romans. According to reports by the Greek geographer Strabo, Roman troops had advanced as far south as Napata. However, a peace agreement with Roman (Ptolemaic Egypt) was met and lasted until the end of the 3 rd century AD. Only the Emperor Nero in 64 AD planned a campaign to Meroe, but it was never executed.

(D) Late Meroitic Period 0 AD

This period began with King Natakami (0-20 AD). He managed to introduce a new smaller size pyramid and a new kind of chapel decoration. Natakami also carried out renovations for old temples and built new ones. Given the sparsity of surviving monuments, we are forced to conclude that the summit of power achieved by King Natakami could not be maintained in the years following his reign. There are very few observable decisive changes within this period and it is generally regarded as marking the decline and fall of the Meroitic Kingdom. Yet, there is no evidence of impoverishment and the economy worked fine.

Causes for the decline of the Meroitic Kingdom are still largely unknown. Among the various factors put forth are: soil erosion due to overgrazing excessive consumption of wood for iron production abandonment of trade routes along the Nile. There were also constant battles with nomads on both sides of the Nile Valley. The Kingdom of Meroe ended in the first half of the 4 th century AD.