Caravans of Gold

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An Essay on “Caravans of Gold” and “Africa: A History Denied” A powerful and peaceful land of trade and scholarship was established in Africa long before European ships even landed there. Great African Empires flourished from the wealth of Africa’s natural resources that marked its rich and lavish history. Though Europeans and Arabs, people who most benefited from the wealth of Africa, denied Africa its legacy, the magnificence of people of color is embedded in the history of powerful empires such as Ghana, Mali, Songhai, Cairo, and Zimbabwe.

The gold deposits of West Africa brought great wealth to the surrounding people from which great empires emerged. The first of the three most powerful successive empires of West Africa is Ghana. By the 11th century, the armies of Ghana made master trade routes extending from modern-day Morocco in the north to the coastal forests of West Africa in the South. Though the gold deposits brought much wealth to Ghana, the Niger River served as a source of fish, which was also a valuable medium of trade. Soon Arabs and Muslims began to exploit these trade routes. Late in the 11th century, a militant Muslim group destroyed Ghana but

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Being denied the history of my ancestors makes me aware of the extent to which some have gone to erase the achievements of mighty people of color.

Swahili cities were built all along the East Coast of Africa down to an enormous gold deposit in present-day Zimbabwe, known then as the Mwene Mutapa Empire which arose in the 14th century.

Songhai, the third of the Great West African Empires, was centered on the largest bend of the Niger River and reached its zenith in the 15th and 16th centuries. The people of Mali conquered them, in turn, in about 1240. Early Europeans looked to cities such as Cairo for Renaissance art work and even changed their currency to gold coins, mimicking the currency of the Africans. Cairo was noted as “the metropolis of the universe. The Dutch, English, and...
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