African empires, kingdoms, and cities made many achievements before the arrival of the Europeans. They made advancements in things such as trade, government, education, and art. Some of Africa’s cities grew wealth and power through trade. Three empires, Ghana, Mali, and Songhai controlled the gold and salt trade. The advanced civilizations began in the city of Axum. The city of Axum became an important trading center because of its location. It was located by the Red Sea. Good were able to be collected from Europe and other countries along the Mediterranean.
Cultural diffusion occurred through merchants from other countries mingling with African traders. It led to Axum converting to Christianity. (Document 1) Gold and salt were both commodities. Arab traders wanted gold as much as Wangara wanted salt, but they had to pass through Ghana to trade. Ghana was a complex empire that had advanced weapons, foreign policy, and taxes. Ghana’s role in the gold-salt trade was that it ensured safe trade for merchants. Salt was needed in people’s everyday diets especially in hot tropical areas. It replaced salt lost in perspiration. Gold was found in the soil along rivers.
The trading of gold and salt helped Ghana to become a center of trade. (Document 3) Mansa Musa expanded the Mali Empire and on his hajj to Mecca stopped in Egypt. He was described as generous because he gave out gold to everyone. He was Muslim and worked to ensure peace and order. He expanded Mali’s borders westward to the Atlantic Ocean. He also promoted religious freedom. (Document 4) Hausa sculptures were thought of as wonderful because of all the different materials used to make them. A Hausa artisan used clay, wax, copper, zinc, and led to make a bronze sculpture.
The bronzes of Benin were created using a lost-wax technique. In this technique an object was sculpted in wax, then covered in clay and baked. The wax was then filled with molten metal. Artists often portrayed warriors or daily life actions such as hunting in their sculptures. (Document 7) African civilizations thrived before the Europeans came. They made many different achievements. Axum became a trading center which helped their economy. They also had an advanced government. People were well educated. They had a strong justice system. Their empires, kingdoms, and cities soon became powerful.