The Songhai Empire

The Songhai Empire
Photo by Damian Patkowski / Unsplash

The Songhai Empire of West Africa began in 1375 and ended in 1591.

This empire began when Mali started being weakened and the Songhai people rebelled, fighting back and setting up their capital in the city of Gao.

The Songhai eventually took over (under the rule of the former military commander Sunni Ali Ber) and conquered Mali, taking all those salt and gold mines that made the previous empire one of the richest in the medieval world.

After Sunni Ali Ber died, his son became the king, but soon lost the throne to Muhammad Toure. Muhammad was a Muslim and he conquered some more lands but mainly focused on appointing mayors and establishing a new law all over the kingdom. Muhammad was also responsible for inviting many people from other countries to come and live in his lands.

After Muhammad Toure's death, the Songhai empire was very prosperous, with much trade happening in the capital and other cities. This all ended with a civil war, which prompted Sultan Ahmad Saadi to attack the Songhai Empire.

Sultan Ahmad won the ensuing battle (his troops having cannons and arquebuses), and the Songhai Empire was destroyed. In 1661, the Moroccans withdrew from the former Songhai empire because the Songhaians were very rebellious. Until 1901, the Songhaians tried to reestablish their kingdom but in that year were conquered by the French.