Ancient Ghana: Soninke tribes were ruled by the Maga, a Berber clan from Morocco


“Ghana 700-1240 Ghana was the first truly African state. Most Africans still lived in tribal village societies, but Ghana, a center of the gold trade, opened up new possibilities. The medieval kingdom of Ghana lay farther north, inland from today’s nation of Ghana. Its roots lay in the 300s when the African Soninke tribes were ruled by the Maga, a Berber clan from Morocco.”

“The Berbers had mastered trans-Saharan camel travel and traded salt for gold from the Soninke. When the Arabic Muslims invaded northern Africa there was an upsurge in the gold trade, and by 700, Ghana was rich and important as a trading center. In 770, the Soninke outsted the Maga, and built a nation under Kaya Maghan Sisse, who became Soninke king around 790. Ghana’s capital was the city of Koumbi Saleh, where Africans and Berbers met and traded. During the 800s, Arab traders described Ghana as “the land of gold.”

“The gold came from Ashanti and Senegal to the south and west, and trade routes led north and east to Morocco, Libya, and Aksum, and so on to Europe and Asia. Ghana grew rich on gold, making it the first African nation. Its capital, Koumbi Saleh, was very cosmopolitan. Gold was transported north to Morocco, Tunisia, the Nile, and Arabia. Ghana reached its peak during the 900s controlling both the gold and salt trades.”

“Other goods that passed through Ghana included woolen cloth and luxury items from Europe, and leather goods and slaves from the south. In 990, Ghana took over the neighboring Berber kingdom of Audagost–making Ghana 500 mi. (800 km) across. In 1076, however, it fell to the Almoravids, a puritanical Berber Muslim set.”

“The Almoravids ruled Morocco and Spain, but they fell in 1147, and power returned to Ghana until, in 1240, the country became part of a new African nation, Mali. Berber and Arab traders transported goods hundreds of miles across the Sahara Desert with camel caravans. WIthout traders, Ghana and its successors, Mali and Songhai, would not have become rich nations. “


Source: The Kingfisher History Encyclopedia By Editors of Kingfisher