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Continuation of ancient states of Western Sudan


  • The empire of Ghana was organized in many ways which were social political and economic in nature as explained below;
    Politically, the empire was controlled by a king who was always referred to as the chief priest. He controlled the trade and all taxes.
    The king was assisted by a council of ministers many of whom were Muslims and pegans working as clerks, accountant, tax administrators and political advisors.
  • Other important officials were the state treasurer and court interpreters who were mostly educated Muslims.
  • The King was the chief judge of Ghana and he rode around the city receiving the petitions from his subjects; there was also court of appeal.
  • For purposes of administration, the empire of Ghana was divided in to two parts i.e Ghana Metropolitan and Ghana provincial.
    Ghana Metropolitan was governed by the king himself but with the assistance of the ministers and court officials.
  • Ghana provincial having the states of susu, Diara, Tekrur among others were left in the hands of conquered chiefs who always paid annual tributes and contributed armed forces in times of war.
    To ensure loyalty of provincial chiefs, the king ordered each of them to surrender a beloved son to his palace
  • The empire was divided in to 16 principalities and each had a chief in charge.
  • The position of the king was hereditary and the system of inheritance was matrilineal.
  • When a crime was committed and there was some doubt, they used a sass wood. If the suspect tasted it and vomited, he proved innocent and vice-versa was true.
  • The capital city of the empire was Kumbi saleh which had both Muslim and pegan sections.
  • The empire had a strong army which protected and defended the frontiers of the empire.
  • The army was divided in to about 200,000 infantry soldiers and 40,000 cavalry soldiers.
  • The Soninke participated in the Trans Saharan trade which boosted the economy of the empire.
  • The people of Ghana carried out agriculture which provided the people with food.
  • They grew crops like kola nuts, yams, cassava, millet etc.
    Socially, the people of Ghana believed in unending life and they buried their king with property.




    • Factors for the decline of Ghana Empire were very many. Social political and economic in nature.
    • These factors were both internal and external
    • The decline of Ghana Empire was a gradual process not by surprise and by 1240 AD the empire was no more.
    • The empire of Ghana had become too vast/big to be controlled effectively hence its decline.
    • The empire strong sense of religion (unity) which led to the collapse of the empire.
    • The power struggles in the empire led to rebellions and civil wars hence decline of the empire.
    • The empire declined after the death of capable leaders like Tunkamanin who was succeeded by incompetent leaders that could not effectively control the empire.
    • The army later became weak due to constant attacks and could no longer defend the frontiers of the empire
    • The decline of trade due to insecurity affected the empire’s economy hence its collapse.
    • Decline in agriculture due to insecurity caused famine and starvation leading to the empire’s collapse.
    • Decline in local industries which was a source of revenue to the empire hence its collapse.
    • External attacks also weakened the empire’s army hence the decline.
    • The Almoravids attack on Ghana that outlaid districts of Ghana in 1032
    • In 1055, the Almoravids captured Audoghast a vassal state of Ghana which was converted into Islamic state.
    • In 1076, Abu Bekri-the leader of the Almoravid forces captured Kumbisaleh the capital of Ghana hence decline of Ghana.
    • The attack of Sumangulu Kante of the susu (Kaniaga) on Ghana also led to its collapse.
    • The breaking away of some vassal states from Ghana led to her collapse since Ghana’s economy was affected.
    • Independence of some vassal states also reduced the empire’s income hence the collapse.
    • Finally, the rise of Mali Empire under Sundiata Keita (Mari Jata) after killing Sumangulu Kante led to the complete collapse of Ghana Empire.


Guiding questions

  • What were the origins of Mali Empire?
  • What factors led to the rise and expansion of Mali Empire?
  • Describe the contributions
    • Sundiata Keita
    • Mansa Kankan Musa towards the growth and expansion of the Empire
  • Why did this empire decline?




241/2 History 2 syllabus summary

  • Trades; Trans Saharan trade
    • Factors for its growth
    • Organization
    • Roles played by;
      • Berbers
      • Tuaregs
      • Africans
    • Effects of the trade
    • Decline of the trade
  • Ancient empires of western Sudan
    • Image From EcoleBooks.comGhana
    • Mali origin, rise and growth, organization, decline and personalities.
    • Songhai

      Other states; Sene- Gambian States (Woloff empire), Central Sudanic states (Kanem Bornu and Hausa states)

  • Forest states;
    • Oyo (yoruba)

      Yoruba civil wars

    • Dahomey
    • Benin
    • Asante/Ashanti
      • Asante fante wars
      • Asante fante British wars
      • Fante confederation
      • George Maclean’s administration in Southern Ghana
  • Religion (Islam and Christianity)
    • Jihads : causes and effects, personalities
    • Methods of the spread of Islam
    • Effects of the spread of Islam
    • Reasons for the coming of missionaries
    • Effects
    • Problems they faced
    • Samuel Ajayi Crowther and Shanahan Joseph
  • Scramble and partition of west Africa
    • Causes and effects
    • Methods
    • Reaction to colonial rule
    • Jaja of Opobo and Nana of Itsekili
    • Samori Toure
    • French assimilation policy British indirect rule
    • German rule in Togo
  • Trans-Atlantic slave trade/Triangular trade
    • Origins
    • Factors for development
    • Organization
    • Effects of the trade
    • Abolition of slave trade
      • Development of legitimate trade
      • Factors and effects
  • Foundation of sierra Leone and Liberia in 1787 and 1821 respectively
    • Reasons for foundation
    • Problems faced by early settlers
    • Creoles
    • Temne- mende /hut tax war of 1898
  • Social- economic developments in West Africa and African



Summarized table answering questions on Empires


Factors for rise and growth




  • Not clear
  • Based on myths legends

    and traditions

  • Traditions were many
  • Social political economic
  • Empire was located in……
  • Its capital was
  • Participated in trade

    (TST or TAST)

  • Fertile soils for agriculture
  • Strong army for expanding the empire
  • Army was well equipped with arrows, bows and spears
  • Had local industries e.g.
  • Strongest king was …..
  • Narrate the story for origin
  • Many
  • Social political economic
  • Internal $ external
  • Gradual process
  • Strong army
  • For defense and expansion
  • To keep law and order
  • For internal security
  • Army was trained and alert
  • Well equipped with arrows, bows and spears
  • Divided in cavalry and infantry
    Capable leaders
  • E.g ….
  • Fertile soils for agriculture
  • Good climate for agriculture and settlement
  • Strategic location
  • Local industries
  • E.g art and craft, black smithing etc.
  • Trade
  • E.g local trade and TST
  • Taxes from traders
    Tributes from vassal states
  • E.g ….
  • Efficient system of administration
  • Iron smelting
  • Items like hoes and pangas
  • Islam (not in Ghana)
  • Promoted unity
    Sound economy
  • Disunity of conquered


  • E.g.


  • Many
  • Social political economic
  • Internal $ external
  • Gradual process


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Change all the factors for rise to negative e.g.

  • the army became weak
  • Many
  • Social political economic

Get them from the factors

 Image From

  • Many

Social political economic

  • Positive negative
  • All factors can be applied

    Image From






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