Before Columbus sailed to the New World and before Europereached their Enlightenment Era two significant kingdoms flourishedon the west coast of what some refer to as the motherland: Africa.

The name of these two mighty states are Ghana and Mali. Ghanawas the first West African state of which their was any record. Afterthe downfall near the end of the eleventh century, Mali rose up to taketheir place as the economic, religious, and cultural hub of WestAfrica. These two states are very similar yet differ in many ways also.The economy of the two states are very similar. Ghanaianswere primarily an agricultural community. Most of the people weresubstance farmers who lived off of their own farms and livestock.

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Many people choose to trade with neighboring villages through theirchief town, Kumbi Saleh. The people of Mali were also predominatelyagricultural. Most people who did not engage in farming, worked asartisans. The rich mines of Bure also served as income for somepeople of Mali.

The economies of both states were related in that theyboth were primarily agricultural.Religion is another topic of comparison for the two enormouskingdoms. The Religion of Ghana during the eleventh century was areligion based on the belief that every earthly object contained goodor evil spirits that had to be satisfied if the people were to prosper.However in 1076, Muslims invaded the state and converted theirreligion to Islam. The people of Mali were firm Muslims. These peopletook at least one pilgrimage a lifetime to the holy city of Mecca.

Theytraveled in caravans across hundreds of miles of dessert to kiss theKabba (a black stone believed to have religious powers). Bothkingdoms were primarily Islamic because it allowed them to tradefreely with other Islamic states.Although both kingdoms flourished, their reign of West Africahad to come to an end. The decline of Ghana began with the invasionof Muslims. Ghana still held on shortly after this, but was finished by aseries of droughts that dried up important life giving rivers.

Maliflourished for three centuries until signs of declination becameapparent. The decline was brought on by a series of invasions by theSonghay and Mossi people. Mali continued to exist as a small,semi-independent state for many years.Ghana and Mali were two very important kingdoms in thehistory of the continent as well as the world as a whole.

Researchingtheir times of prosperity and also their decline can be keys inunlocking the mysteries of the twenty-first century.

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