The Ghana Empire which traditionally known as Wagadu was certainly among the greatest empires to have been made in the history of Africa. The Empire was located in west Africa in what is today part of the countries of Senegal, Mauritania, and Mali.
The Empire was founded by the Soninke people of western Africa around the year 300 A.D, and it has collapsed around 1100 A.D.
Much of the history of the Ghana Empire came from the written accounts wrote by the by the Arabs According to accounts such as that of Mahmud Kati ‘Tarikh al-Fattash’, the process of the foundation of the Empire was said to have started in the 4th century A.D. when different Soninke tribes were brought together under one ruler. The first King of Ghana was Dinga who was regarded by many historians to be the founder of the Empire. The word ‘Ghana’ was a word used by the Soninke people in addressing their Kings.
The Mighty Empire
Gradually, the Ghana Empire became a strong empire. The most important thing behind its strength was gold. A strong relationship was initiated with the North African Berbers and the Muslim Arabs of the Middle East based on the gold trade. Eventually, the Empire emerged as a center of trade between the North Africa and the West African people in the trans-Saharan trade.
Another valuable thing that gave the Empire a strong economy and power was salt which attracted many traders into the Empire. Salt was mined in the northern part of the Empire.
The gold and salt trade gave the Ghana an opportunity of controlling many trans-Saharan routes. Territorial expansion followed in which many neighboring states of the Mande-Speaking were captured and brought under the Empire.
The capital city of the Empire was called Koumbi Saleh which was a walled city especially where the King palace was located.
Decline of the Ghana Empire
The Ghana Empire reached its peak around the late 12th century when a political decay began. However, the main factor that led to the collapsed of the Empire was that of Almoravids expansion from North Africa.
Later the Sosso took the advantage of the declining process and captured the capital city of the Empire Koumbi Saleh. At last, the Sosso Kingdom and the other parts of Empire of Ghana was subjugated and conquered to be part of the newly Mali Empire. Thua, the Mali Empire replaced the Ghana Empire.