Africa*s Government and Religion

and Religion
Today we are learning
about the governments
and religions that
influenced life in
medieval Africa
Government & Society
• All citizens were allowed to come to a meeting
w/ the king to voice complaints.
• Kings
– settled arguments
– Managed trade
– Protected the empire
• Subjects
– Had to obey the king completely
Ghana’s Government
Council of
(close advisors)
Lesser Kings –
conquered leaders
(governed provinces)
District Chiefs
(governed smaller districts)
Each district had a Chief’s clan
(group of people from the same
• Kings most important job –
control trade
– No one traded w/out his
– Illegal to own a gold nugget
– Only allowed to trade gold dust
• ???? Why not the son????
– Royal blood lines were matrilineal
(passed on by mother)
– Throne inherited by nephew, not
Mali’s Government
• Like Ghana’s but larger
– More territory, people, trade
• Royal officials – more responsibilities
– Specialized- each was in charge of something dif.
• Generals – oversaw the provinces divided by
• Trousers – Military honor
– to wear sewn clothes
Songhai’s Government
• Modeled after Ghana & Mali
• Sunni Ali – Divided empire into provinces
– Never finished what he started
– Died mysteriously in 1492
• Muhammad Ture – general, took over
– Loyal Muslim
• Religion affected the government
Traditional African Religions
• Olaudah Equiano – Igbo, disagreed with
Europeans – he said they did believe in a
higher power
• Common Belief - in one supreme god
• Communication
– Nanti in E. Africa – talk directly to their god
– Igbo – only be spoken to through less powerful
• Helped people stay in touch w/ their history
• Dead relatives spirits stayed in the
3 Major African Religions Today
Islam in Africa
• Ibn Battuta – Arab lawyer
from Morocco
• 1325- goes to see the
Muslim world
– Islam had been spreading
since 600s
• Mansa Musa – ruler of
– 1324- made pilgrimage to
Mansa Musa
Songhai and Askia Muhammad
• Sunni Ali – declared himself a Muslim to keep
support of townspeople, but practiced a
traditional religion
• Sunni’s son – refused
• Muhammad Ture – general, took over the gov.
when had support of Muslim’s townspeople
• Took the name Askia Muhammad – Askia is a
rank in the Songhai army
– Honored Muslim laws
– Made Timbuktu a center for Islamic culture
Islam in East Africa
• Sultan of Mogadishu was honored by Ibn
Battuta visiting
• He spoke in both Arabic and Swahili
– Swahili – “people of the coast”
• The unique culture
• The language spoken
• Swahili – exist in East Africa today
– Blend of African and Muslim influences
– Europeans and Portuguese tried to destroy it
– Swahili outlived European rule
Islam’s Impact
• Africans who
accepted Islam
– Islamic laws
– Ideas of right/wrong
– Education
– Arabic language
– Art/Architecture

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