Early African farming communities were made up of extended families, meaning a family with all of the members, like the cousins, aunts, uncles, etc.. They were able to farm almost all of what they needed for their daily lives, but they would also trade to acquire what they did have. The members of the community would work together to farm, protect each other, etc..
What were the farming communities like 1000 years ago?
I heard that they were made up of extended families. It would be like if I joined up with my mom, dad, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents, and we set up our own farm. We would protect each other and help each other out.
Eventually, small farming communities would group together into villages that had about 100-200 people. This would happen when there was some sort of danger, like a flood, and people would need to group together and help each other just to stay alive. Villages would also form when there was a need for protection. Yet again, villages were able to produce most of their own good, but would often trade for certain things that they couldn't produce by themselves.
What happened then?
My dad told me that eventually, the small farming communities would merge. They would turn into villages that had something like 100-200 people in them. It would be like if my neighborhood merged together into one big village.
Villages could develop into great, magnificent cities because of two reasons: the development of iron, and the expansion of trade. Using some rivers like the ones we're standing by, and the use of camels, villages could trade easier and more efficiently, allowing for villages to become richer and prosper. Also, with the development of iron, farming was more efficient and therefore required fewer farmers. Then, more people could do other jobs, allowing for villages to prosper even more.
I learned that villages turned into cool cities like Jenne-Jeno becuase of two reasons, the development of iron, and the expansion of trade. They both helped villages prosper and eventually turn into large, bustling cities.
I heard about the great city of Jenne-Jeno, and others. How did villages develop into those cities?
Certain cities would force merchants to pay a certain tax based on the goods they were carrying. Leaders of the cities would become very rich and could afford to raise very large armies. They would then wage war on other cities, and expand their territory. Once another city was conquered, they were forced to pay tribute to the new leader, making the new leader even more rich.
This is cool and everything, but I've heard of these three poerful kingdoms: Ghana, Mali and Songhai. How did those immense kingdoms develop?
I actually read an article about what happened. So basically, cities would tax merchants that were trying to pass through or trade in their city. They would make a lot of money from this and then could raise larger armies. They could then conquer other cities and eventually develop into an empire.