“The rulers of the Soninke people had many titles, one of which was “warrior king” or “Ghana.” Outsiders began calling both the King and the empire he ruled Ghana. The name stuck. The actual name for the empire of Ghana was Wagadu, which was also known by three other names throughout its history: Dierra, Agada, and Silla.”

“The oral history was eventually written down in the Dausi, a collection of stories about the region’s four kingdoms. In the 11th century, Abu Abdullah Al-Bakri, a Moorish nobleman who lived in Cordova, Spain, began interviewing travelers returning from West Africa. He also collected records and documents of trips to the region.”

“Although Al-Bakri never set foot in Ghana, he described it fairly accurately in a series of books, including his best-known work, The Book of Routes and Kingdoms. Trade formed ties between the nomadic Berbers and the farmers and merchants of the Ghana Empire. These bonds, however, were fairly weak. Battles often raged. Sometimes ample rainfall and healthy crops motivated the Soninke to invade Berber territory.”

“At other times, the Berbers raided Soninke communities. By 700 C.E., the empire’s golden age had begun. However, the rise of Islam in the northern and eastern regions of Africa would help bring about the empire’s downfall, and would radically change not only the empire but much of West Africa as well.”

“In 1076, Islamic Berbers defeated the Soninke warriors. The Berber’s victory helped spread Islam throughout the area. Meanwhile, drought and warfare cost the empire thousands of lives.” 

Source: We Visit Ghana By John Bankston

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