the kingdom of Ghana got the name because the soninke people called their king Ghana or war chief. Muslim traders began to use the word to refer to the soninke region. Ghana was kingdom that grew rich by taking the goods that traders carried through their territory. the two most important trade items in Ghana were gold and salt.
Mali was formed when a ruler named Sundiata Keita united the tribes of the Malinke people. the most famous of the Mali Emperors was Mansa Musa. Mansa Musa became famous because of his lavish trip to Mecca in 1324. Historians estimate that Mansa Musa was the wealthiest person in history. The great wealth of Mali came from gold and salt mines.
The Songhai Empire lasted from 1464 to 1591. Prior to the 1400s, The Songhai Empire first came into power under the leadership of Sunni Ali. Sunni Ali was often portrayed as having magical powers because he was never defeated in battle. In 1493, Askia Muhammad became the leader of the Songhai. He brought the Songhai Empire to its height of power. He conquered much of the surrounding lands and took control of the gold and salt trade from the Mali Empire.