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West Africa Before The Colonial Era

922 words - 4 pages

Basil Davidson’s book on West Africa before the colonial era provides a very traditional and fact-oriented narrative of the traditional and embattled concept of Atlantic history to 1850. In sixteen chapters, Davidson explores the majesty of the West African kingdoms and contacts within and among their neighboring borders regarding trade with commodities, religion, art, education and warfare. Davidson’s approach offers many fascinating stories on kingdoms in West Africa to present a detailed history of West Africa before the colonialism during the mid-nineteenth century.
Davidson explores the consistent struggle of prejudice and indifference that has plagued West Africa for centuries. He ...view middle of the document...

At least two to three thousand years ago West Africa’s social structure, well-defined cultural groups and the ability to self-govern was the in its infancy and existence clearly, West Africa was a people with a history.
In chapters two through eight, Davidson focuses on the rise of specific empires and kingdoms and delves deep into the emergence and interconnections of trade and commerce. He begins in detailing how the Sahara desert was a key trade route and highlights the negative consequences that emerged from this route. He goes on to discuss ancient Ghana and its wealth in gold resources as well as its imminent fall from grace. Davidson repeats this pattern with the kingdom of Mali, but directs the attention to its origins, growth and rulers, specifically.
The most fascinating section in Davidson’s book can be found in his chapter on Songhay in which he discusses the significant changes in trade, learning, language and invasion. Here, Davidson reveals that in the city of Gao archaeological evidence uncovered the earliest known form of writing in West Africa as well as the evidence that Gao was ruled by prosperous kings. Davidson, also examines the political and strategic location of the empire which include Timbuktu and Jenne and their importance to the kingdom. As the inhabitants and rulers of the Songhay empire expanded so did the appetites of their enemies, the Moroccans. The attacked by the Morroccan army in 1592, left Songhay unable to recover from the war, but the people of Songhay retained their culture and dignity. The kingdom of Songhay provided evidence that West African kingdoms enjoyed long durations of political stability and stayed true to their own beliefs and ideals even during defeat in war.
Chapters six thorough...

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