A history of West Africa, 1000-1800 by Basil Davidson

By Basil Davidson

This article is designed for college students getting ready for O point historical past, supplying an exam of a few of the main traits and occasions in West African heritage from advert 1000-1800.

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T h e y travelled far and wide, across the plains and through the forests, trading even on the distant coast of central G u i n e a . 53 B u t the political power was mostly gone. A s early as 1400 the Songhay ruler of G a o is said to have pillaged N i a n i itself. I n 1431 the T u a r e g rushed into T i m b u k t u . B y the end of the century M a l i had no power to ihe east of Segu. Even w i t h i n his homeland, the M a l i emperor could seldom do more than stand aside and let things happen.

T h e truth was that M a l i had outgrown its political and military strength. O n l y supremely skilful leadership at the centre c o u l d hold this wide empire together. Mansa M u s a commanded that s k i l l . H i s successors, generally, d i d not. F o r a w h i l e , a l l remained w e l l w i t h the empire, especially under the rule of M a n s a S u l e y m a n (about 1340-60). T h e n the good days were over. Mansa M a r i D i a t a II, who followed S u l e y m a n , was described by Ibn K h a l d u n as 'a bad ruler w h o oppressed the people, depleted the treasury, and nearly p u l l e d down the structure of the government'.

T h e y had to pay tribute (taxes) to the Y o r u b a of Oyo. T h e y were 66 67 CENTRAL REGION I CHAPTER SEVEN The empire of Songhay In this section we embark upon the early history of the peoples of the centra] or M i d d l e Niger region of the Western Sudan and G u i n e a , remembering again that this is a geographical d i v i s i o n made only for the convenience of study. M u c h of the central region was i n fact part of the empires of Ghana and M a l i , or felt their influence. Gao and the Songhay T h e Songhay are a people of the M i d d l e N i g e r region.

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