Changes & Continuities in Sub Saharan Africa

Topics: Africa, Sahara, Sub-Saharan Africa Pages: 6 (1232 words) Published: March 3, 2014

CHART #2: Thematic Organization

COMPARISON THEMES (SCRIPTED):1. Politics 2. Social Structure 3. Economics/Interactions

TIME PERIODS: 1. 400-600 CE 2. 600-1000 CE 3. 1000-1450 CE


As the political and social structures of Sub-Saharan Africa developed during the years 400 - 1450 C.E., hierarchy structures based on kinship were maintained, however self-contained city-states grew into large empires.











During much of the post-classical period, political structures

evolved and diversified throughout sub saharan Africa.

Describe the theme at the beginning of the period

People along the Niger River created a distinctive city-based civilization. They were not encompassed in a larger imperial system. Nor were they like the city-states of ancient Mesopotamia, in which each city had its own centralized political structures, embodied in a monarch and his accompanying bureaucracy. They were “cities without citadels,” complex urban centers that operated without the coercive authority of a state.

Key Changes and/or Continuities in theme from previous period

The Bantu speaking peoples began to create distinct societies. They organized themselves without any formal political specialists at all. They made decisions, resolved conflicts, and maintained order by using kinship structures or lineage principles supplemented by age grades, which joined men of a particular generation together across various lineages. Elsewhere, lineage heads who acquired a measure of personal wealth or who proved skillful at meditating between the local spirits and the people might evolve into chiefs with a modest political authority.

By 700s, a farming group of people called the Soninke built an empire called Ghana. It gained its wealth by taxing the goods that traders brought through. Ghana’s king had control over the gold supply and kept its prices high. The empire thrived due to the king’s impressive army.

Key Changes and/or Continuities in theme from previous period

By the 1400s, Africa was a virtual museum of political and cultural diversity, encompassing large empires, such as Songhay; smaller kingdoms, such as Kongo; city-states among the Yoruba, Hausa, and Swahili peoples; village-based societies without states at all, as among the Igbo; and nomadic pastoral peoples, such as the Fulbe.

Pastoral peoples stayed independent of established empires several centuries longer than the nomads of Inner Asia, for not until the late nineteenth century were they incorporated into European colonial states. The experience of the Fulbe, West Africa’s largest pastoral society, provides a useful example of an African herding people with a highly significant role in the fifteenth century and beyond. From their homeland in the western fringe of the Sahara along the upper Senegal River, the Fulbe migrated gradually eastward in the centuries after 1000 CE. They generally lived in small communities among agricultural peoples and paid various grazing fees and taxes for the privilege of pasturing their cattle.

Mali, during the 11th century, took over Ghana and built an ever bigger empire that gained its wealth from trade.
Make a statement about this topic in another region of the world.

In China, political structures transformed in the Sui, Tang, and Mongol dynasties.

Analyze the reasons for change or continuity

Analyze the reasons for change or continuity

Far more numerous than hunters and gatherers were those many people who, though fully agricultural, had avoided incorporation into large empires or civilization and had not developed their own city- or state-based...
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