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Unit 2: How Trade and Travel Changed the World

Lesson G: Avenues of Change in Africa

Lesson Overview

Mali King Mansa Musa

Mali King Mansa Musa I [1]

The expansion of travel and trade during 1300-1550 affected societies throughout the African continent. The rise of the Islamic Mali and Songhai empires in West Africa were influenced by cultural exchanges along trans-Saharan trade routes. Technological and cultural developments connected markets of East Africa with merchants in the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean networks. The diffusion of religion, such as Islam, and language, such as Swahili, reflected the role of travel and trade in regional changes. European demand for goods such as gold and salt, and the boom in the intercontinental slave trade, permanently impacted African control over their continent. The transition from the Medieval world to the early Modern Era created opportunities from some and crises for others.


Key Questions

  1. How and why did trade and interaction lead to changes in political, economic, and social systems?
  2. What factors contributed to the establishment, expansion, and decline of empires?

Student Outcomes

  1. Explain the causes and effects of Islamic expansion on political and cultural life in the Mali and Songhai Empires.
  2. Explain how West African Kingdoms participated in and profited from Eurasian trade routes, especially the trade of slaves, salt, gold, and ivory.
  3. Analyze the impact of trade in the economic and cultural development of East Africa, including the significance of Swahili.
  4. Identify the author or source of a historical document and explain the literal meaning of the document. (Historical Thinking Skill)
  5. Draw upon data from maps, charts, and graphs to form conclusions and generalizations. (Historical Thinking Skill)
  6. Analyze change or continuity in areas of the world over time based on text and non-text information. (Historical Thinking Skill)

Key Terms

Student Resources

Chart of Activities

Activities to Complete Estimated Time
5 minutes
Key Terms
5 minutes
Activator: The World 1300-1550
5 minutes
Opening: Travel and Trade Comes to Africa
10 minutes
Activity 1: Travel, Trade and Islam in Africa
15 minutes
Activity 2: Timbuktu, Africa's First Islamic Capital
15 minutes
Activity 3: West African Trade Through Portuguese Contacts
15 minutes
Activity 4: East African Trade and the Swahili Coast
15 minutes
Activity 5: The Gold, Slave and Swahili Coasts
15 minutes
Review and Assessment
15 minutes
Lesson Summary
5 minutes

Lesson Completion Time

The total estimated time to complete this lesson is 120 minutes.


Page Notes:

[1] Source: This image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mansa_Musa.jpg is in the public domain because its copyright has expired.