West African Civilization (1400-1591) - Study Guide

7.4 Students analyze the geographic, political, economic, religious, and social structures of the sub-Saharan civilizations of Ghana and Mali in Medieval Africa.

  1. Study the Niger River and the relationship of vegetation zones of forest, savannah, and desert to trade in gold, salt, food, and slaves; and the growth of the Ghana and Mali empires.
  2. Analyze the importance of family, labor specialization, and regional commerce in the development of states and cities in West Africa.
  3. Describe the role of the trans-Saharan caravan trade in the changing religious and cultural characteristics of West Africa and the influence of Islamic beliefs, ethics, and law.
  4. Trace the growth of the Arabic language in government, trade, and Islamic scholarship in West Africa.
  5. Describe the importance of written and oral traditions in the transmission of African history and culture.

The Rise of West African Empires

Study Guide Questions

    Section 1

  1. How did Sunni Ali Ber control his growing empire?

  2. How was Arabic important in Songhai?

  3. What were Gao, Djenné, and Timbuktu?

  4. How did Sunni Ali Ber's treatment of the people of Timbuktu and Djenné differ?

  5. In what areas of Songhai life was the Artabic language used?

  6. How did the leaders of Songahi Strengthen Islam and the Arabic language in West Africa?

    Section 2

  7. What caste groups made up West African society?

  8. In what ways did trade change West African cities and towns?

  9. How important were families and clans in West African society? Explain.

  10. What were the main economic activites in West African villages?

  11. How did social and economic life differ in the villages and cities? Give examples.

  12. How did the leaders of Songahi Strengthen Islam and the Arabic language in West Africa?

    Section 3

  13. What was the value of folk tales and proverbs?

  14. How were songs used to pass on culture?

  15. What elements from the days of empires influence West Africa today?

  16. What functions do griots perform?

  17. How did the oral tradition transmit West African Culture? Explain.

  18. List three traditional arts of West Africa.

  19. How did West African culture influence the Americas?