Application and Reflection Questions
In what ways might trans-Saharan trade have actually benefited from the physical environment of the Sahara?
Of all the factors that led to the collapse of the Empire of Mali, which would you argue was the most important? Why?
Consider the responsibility of political leaders toward intellectual centers like Timbuktu and Djenné. Do governments have an obligation to promote culture and learning or just to ensure economic and political stability? Explain your answer.
What factors led to the collapse of the Songhai Empire? What role did external forces play in its collapse?
How did the Islamic identity of the Swahili coast connect it to other parts of the Islamic world? In what ways was the practice of Islam on the Swahili coast different from the practice of Islam elsewhere?
How did the mixed African-Arab ancestry of most merchants in the Swahili city-states facilitate trade?
In what ways did trade in West Africa change as a result of the arrival of European traders in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries?
What might have been some of the effects of the trade in enslaved Africans on the communities from which they were taken?