For this assignment, you will complete a supplementary reading (you can find it on Blackboard/Content/Supplementary Reading/”West Africa and the Spread of Islam”), watch two documentaries, and then construct a thoughtful response to this material. Your response should be about 250 words (that’s a little less than a page). To make accessing this all more convenient, I have created a separate folder (Content/Blackboard Response Materials) with the necessary reading and links to the documentaries).
East African City States and the West African empires
The reading provided me with an opportunity to know about African History in respect to the introduction and spread of Islam in different African regions. To get the most out of the text, I had to look at it from different angles. For example I focused on the importance of trade between different regions of Africa. This trade continued for thousands of years before Muslims had a presence in Africa. There was time when trade with Sudan was considered forbidden in the later tenth century by Ibn Abi Zayd but there is no historical evidence that Muslims stopped their trade relations. I was astonished to know that during ninth century, Berber merchants used to exchange salt for gold in Ghana. This salt was brought from east African states. Thought this trade may not have continued for long, but this is an astonishing news for me at least.
In the Rise of Mali section of the text, I came across the history of Sundiata and Soumaoro and their mutual wars. Sundiata king who became a Muslim was portrayed as a good king while Soumaoro was considered as an evil king. At this point I was able to realize that none of these kings was completely good or bad, but due to the fact that history is written by winners, it is always tilted in their favor. Sundiata turned out to be the winner of wars with Soumaoro and contributed to making a great empire in Mali. This empire resulted in the spread of trade and more people becoming in contact with Muslims contributing to the spread of Islam in West Africa.
The text had much more to offer than I discussed. Especially many ancient maps were presented to understand the boundaries of different empires like the Empire of Mali and Songhai. It has motivated me to read more about African History.