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The territorial extent of the Songhai Empire in c. 1500.
|•||Songhai state emerges||c. 1000|
|•||independence from ||c. 1430|
|•||Songhai Empire falls||1591|
|•||1500||1,400,000 km2 (540,000 sq mi)|
|•||1550||800,000 km2 (310,000 sq mi)|
|Today part of|| |
The Songhai Empire (also transliterated as Songhay) was a state that dominated the western
During the second half of the 13th century, Gao and the surrounding region had grown into an important trading center and attracted the interest of the expanding
Under the rule of Sonni Ali, the Songhai surpassed the Malian Empire in area, wealth, and power, absorbing vast areas of the Mali Empire and reached its greatest extent. His son and successor,
A series of plots and coups by Askia's successors forced the empire into a period of decline and instability. Askia's relatives attempted to govern the empire, but political chaos and several civil wars within the empire ensured the empire's continued decline, particularly during the brutal rule of
Askia Daoud responded by sending a large quantity of gold as gift in an attempt to appease the sultan.
In ancient times there were several different groups of people that collectively formed the Songhai identity. Among the first people to settle in the region of Gao were the Sorko people, who established small settlements on the banks of the
The other group of people known to have inhabited the area were the Do people. They were farmers who raised crops in the fertile lands bordering the river. Sometime before the 10th century, these early settlers were subjugated by more powerful, horse-riding Songhai speakers, who established control over the area. All these groups of people gradually began to speak the same language and they and their country eventually became known as the Songhai.
The earliest dynasty of kings is obscure and most of the information about this dynasty comes from an ancient cemetery near a village called
The trade goods included
Then I travelled to the town of Kawkaw, which is a great town on the Nīl [Niger], one of the finest, biggest, and most fertile cities of the Sūdān. There is much rice there, and milk, and chickens, and fish, and the cucumber, which has no like. Its people conduct their buying and selling with cowries, like the people of Mālī.
Following the death of
Sonni Ali was the first king of the Songhai Empire and the 15th ruler of the Manay dynasty. He worked his hardest to get the Songhai empire out of its rocky start. The Muslim leaders of Timbuktu asked him to drive out the invaders. Once Sunni Ali drove them out, he took this chance and took over Timbuktu. Soon, he had almost all the trading cities along the Niger River.[