History Of The Songhai Empire
Origins Of The Songhai Empire
During the reign of Dia Kossi, the Songhai Capital Gao was founded in approximately 800 A.D, and it eventually expanded to include the Mali Empire after conquering Timbuktu.
Regarded as one of the best Civil Administrators in History, Sunni Ali Ber, is considered the first great ruler of the Songhai, and under him, the Empire continued to expand into the Sahara.
A succession dispute however occurred after Sunni Ali Ber’s death in 1492, which saw the rise of the Muslim Ruler Muhammad Toure after he usurped the Throne from Sunni Ali Ber’s son.
Sharia Law was then promulgated throughout the Empire with more Schools and education centres established followed by an extension of the Sankore University in Timbuktu.
Under Muhammad Toure, relations with the broader Muslim world were strengthened through Scholar and Diplomatic exchanges with the Arab world and Muslim Spain.
Decline Of The Songhai Empire
In 1591 civil war in the Empire weakened the State, and the Moroccan Sultan Ahmad I al-Mansur Saadi saw this as an opportunity to conquer Songhai by sending an army to attack it.
Although he was victorious through the use of Guns and Canon which the Songhai had not encountered before, the Moroccan conquest of the Empire was never complete.
The Moroccans were faced with frequent revolts and eventually withdrew in 1661.
Despite the Moroccan withdrawal, Songhai had been weakened and could not be reconstituted to its former glory and structure as a Unitary State and Polity.
Nevertheless, various Songhai Emperors sought to recreate old Songhai but failed until finally the empire was conquered and colonised by the French in 1901 marking the end of an era.
Peep the Dr. John Henrik Clarke’s ‘Empire of Songhai’ video Lecture, a real gem which takes you deep into the origins, rise and fall of the Songhai. I appreciated his exposition on the essence of Pre-Colonial African Spirituality, Culture and Society as background to the founding of the Empire.
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