The Empire of Ghana Name: Institution: Course: Tutor: Date: The empire of Ghana can be found in present day southeastern Mauritania and western Mali (Conrad, 2010). The time when the empire began cannot be exactly known since the first documented information about the kingdom is in 830 AD…
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According to the archaeological evidence available, in the initial stages of the kingdom, the relatively low levels of economic and technological development coupled with a sense of communism among the citizens led to minimal differentiation among social classes. This trend changed when the empire discovered natural resources such as gold within its boundaries. In addition, its proximity to major sub Saharan trade routes also contributed to the rise of economic muscle of the kingdom (Irele & Jeyifo, 2010). The development of iron resources and ironworking skills among the people led to production of weapons, which made it easier for the empire to expand its territory by conquering the neighbouring tribes. The production of iron tools also led to better farm equipments, which brought about distribution of labour and increased stratification of social classes. The main territories of the kingdom lay in the middle of trade routes that were used by ivory and gold producers of the south and Arab and Berber tradesmen of the north who introduced camels in the empire. The empire ensured that it had an army of at least 200, 000 warriors mainly of Soninke origin who provided the trade caravans with security during their journeys. These warriors were also responsible for invasion of neighbouring tribes in a bid to expand their territory and to get slaves to provide labour in the farms and mines (Masonen & Senkomago, 2005). Initially, the government structure in the Ghana Empire was a communal system led by village elders; however, with increased military and trade activities, the empire expanded its authority and territories, which led to the formation of a hierarchical system of governance led by an emperor. The rule of the emperor was absolute as he had the final word regarding all activities within the empire. He was assisted to rule by the royal council that directed and vetted his decisions, in addition, the council was also responsible for the supervising all government affairs. The monarchy had a matrilineal succession style where the son of the emperor’s sister would succeed the emperor on his death. With the growth in the kingdom, the government structure became sophisticated and the emperors had to entrust the responsibility of running the affairs of the government to viziers (prime ministers) who in turn were assisted by many officials in various areas of administration such as palace, foreign affairs, trade among others (Haywood, 2008). The introduction of Islam religion and its culture from the Middle East brought with it more elaborative leadership styles that were used in that region (Lange, 2005). The empire of Ghana was divided into provinces that were ruled by governors appointed by the king, in addition, there were tributary kingdoms that were allowed to retain their autonomy by the king but they had to pay tribute to the emperor and provide the empire with soldiers. Justice in the empire of Ghana was served by higher and lower courts that became active after Arab traders set their base in the region. The empire had two main sources of revenue; one was tax that was levied per donkey and camel load of precious metals or merchandise that entered or left the empire, secondly, the empire got revenues from production tax that was levied on gold and iron ore, which were the most precious resources that the country had. The capital city of the empire is
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