Unified African American History Reclamation Project

About the

June 12, 2009 By: deglover Category: UAAHRP

Please help us build this project. The Unified African American History Reclamation Project ( is an “Open Source” project designed to reclaim the history stolen from African Americans during the time of slave trading. The emphasis is on the Ancient African Civilizations during the time frame prior and including the slave trading era. The project shall also include a limited amount of recent African History. The end goal is to publish the gathered historical facts in a first of it’s kind text to be used in the main stream education process. Any and all Credentialed Historians (Degreed or Otherwise) are urged to participate in this project. It is our hope the product of this collaboration will help foster a sense of historical pride in young African-American students. Financial contributions are also welcome.

This project began on October 1, 2007 and is anticipated to last not less than 5-7 years. At that time, the accumulated materials will be distibuted to an Editorial Board to begin the publication process. The editing and publication process is anticipated to take 2-3 years.

Students, Teachers and those that are in general curious about the History of African Americans, are encouraged to read and search the site’s study materials. Comments are permitted and encouraged by all visitors to this web site.

Parties interested in contributing material may:


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A Brief History of the Songhai (Songhay) Empire

June 24, 2009 By: deglover Category: Songhay

Following the fall of Dynastic Egypt, Carthage, and Numidia, the pride of Africa centered on the outstanding West African empires of Ghana, Mali, and Songhay. At the core of the empires were the great cities of Gao, Timbuktu, and Jenne. Gao, founded in the seventh century, was a major terminus for the great caravans crossing the Sahara. Timbuktu was the great intellectual nucleus of West Africa. Jenne was a vital commercial hub as well as an important learning center. Each of these three cities enjoyed an exceptionally high status and wielded considerable influence.

The Songhai Empire (sometimes spelled Songhay) is regarded by scholars and laymen alike as one of Africa’s greatest empires. The Songhai Empire rose to particularly lofty heights in the late 1400s during the magnificent rule of Sunni Ali. During the reign of Sunni Ali most of what was formerly the Ghanaian and Mali Empires were incorporated into the Songhai Empire.

Sunni Ali marched on Timbuktu and captured it along with its great University of Sankore, which had thousands of students from many parts of the world. During the waging of a seven year war Sunni Ali captured the great city of Jenne. Sunni Ali would marry the queen of Jenne, Queen Dara, and they would reign together splendidly. Sunni Ali eventually gained control over the entire middle Niger region.

Sunni Ali, in addition to restoring order to the Sudan (the Arabic expression for West Africa), was also a brilliant administrator. He divided the Songhai Empire into separate provinces and placed each province under the control of its own governor. Much to his credit Sunni Ali developed new methods of farming and created for Songhai a professional navy. Sunni Ali embraced and respected the Islamic faith of his trading partners, which accounted for much of his success as a ruler. By the time of his death in 1492 the Songhai Empire under Sunni Ali had surpassed the greatness of the other West African empires (including Ghana and Mali) that preceded it and became the greatest empire in West Africa.

Following the death of Sunni Ali, his son, Sunni Baru, ascended to the throne for a short time before he was in turn overthrown by the person who would lead the Songhai Empire to the pinnacle of its greatness, Askia Muhammad Toure. Askia Muhammad Toure had been a general under Sunni Ali and was successful as a ruler largely as the result of his acceptance of Islam. He appointed Islamic leaders to the larger districts of his empire and applied Islamic law in place of Songhai’s traditional laws.

Askia Muhammad Toure greatly improved the learning centers of the Songhai by encouraging scholars to come from other parts of Africa (as well as Europe and Asia) to settle in Timbuktu and Jenne, and built as many as 180 Koranic schools in Timbuktu alone. Indeed, the Sankore University in Timbuktu developed a reputation for scholarship in rhetoric, logic, Islamic law, grammar, astronomy, history, and geography.

During Askia Muhammad Toure’s brilliant reign, the Songhai Empire was characterized by order, stability, and prosperity. His most important innovation was to open up the ranks of government service. Previously, the status of the leaders of the empire was determined upon the basis of birth. Under Askia Muhammad Toure, however, men could achieve high office based upon their scholarship and intellect regardless of their social position. Askia Muhammad Toure also organized and established a permanent professional army which enabled him to expand the territory of Songhai and turn the Songhai Empire into the largest empire every known in the Western and Central Sudan.

*Juanda Honore is a long time member of the Global African Presence and a strong and ardent believer in African economic self-empowerment. She is an active member of MATAH and the founder of the Songhai International’s Virtual Trade Center. For further information Juanda can be reached via the Internet at

By: Juanda Honore

African Glory, by J.C. Degraft-Johnson
Timbucktoo the Mysterious, by Felix DuBois
Introduction to African Civilizations, by John G. Jackson

Civilizations in Africa: Songhay

June 24, 2009 By: deglover Category: Songhay

After the decline of Mali, the kingdom of Gao reasserted itelf as the major kingdom in the Sahel. A Songhay kingdom in the region of Gao had existed since the eleventh century AD, but it had come under the control of Mali in 1325. In the late fourteenth century, Gao reasserted itself with the Sunni dynasty. Songhay would not fully eclipse Mali until the reign of the Sunni king, Sonni Ali, who reigned from 1464-1492.

Sonni Ali aggressively turned the kingdom of Gao into an empire, the Songhay empire. Sonni Ali based his military on a cavalry and a highly mobile fleet of ships. With this military, he conquered the cities of Timbuctu and Jenné, the major cities of the Sahel. The Berbers, who had always played such a crucial role in the downfall of Sahelian kingdoms, were pushed far north.

Sonni Ali was succeeded by Askia Muhammad Touré (1493-1528), who established a new dynasty, the Askia. Muhammad Touré continued Sonni Ali’s imperial expansion by seizing the important Saharan oases and conquering Mali itself. From there he conquered Hausaland. In addition, Muhammad Touré further centralized the government by creating a large and elaborate bureaucracy to oversee his extensive empire. He was also the first to standardize weights, measures, and currency, so culture throughout the Songhay began to homogenize. Muhammad Touré was also a fervent Muslim; he replaced native Songhay administrators with Arab Muslims in order to Islamicize Songhay society. He also appointed Muslim judges, called qadis , to run the legal system under Islamic legal principles. These programs of conquest, centralization, and standardization were the most ambitious and far-reaching in sub-Saharan history until the colonization of the continent by Europeans. Songhay reached its greatest territorial expansion under Askia Daud (1549-1582), when the empire stretched all the way to Cameroon. With literally several thousand cultures under its control, Songhay was the largest empire in African history.

While the urban centers were dominated by Islam and Islamic culture, the non-urban areas were not Islamic. The large majority of the Songhay people—around 97%—followed traditional African religions.

Songhay, however, had gotten too large; it encompassed too much territory to control. After the reign of Askia Duad, subject peoples began to revolt even though Songhay had an army of over 35,000 soldiers. The first major region to go was Hausaland; then Maghreb (Morocco) rebelled and gained control over crucial gold mines. The Moroccans defeated Songhay in 1591 and the empire quickly collapsed. In 1612, the cities of Songhay fell into anarchy and the greatest empire of African history came to a sudden close.

Richard Hooker
Washington State University