West Africa Timeline (PCE 110)

Ghana Empire

Iron Age Underway

0 CE

The iron age was underway in West Africa in the year 0 CE. The Nok culture located near the Niger Delta are thought to be the first to people in West Africa to use iron 200 to 300 years earlier. The discovery and use of iron made agriculture and military endeavors more efficient. The iron age allowed for population growth and an increase in complex cities, kingdoms and empires.

Introduction of camels to the Sahara

0 CE

Introduction of camels from the Nile Valley to Lake Chad (Eastern region of west Africa), crossing the Sahara was made possible (Gomez).


Approx. 400 CE - Approx. 1240 CE

The leaders of the Ghana Empire established wealth and power through a monopoly on the trade of gold and the enforcement import taxes on goods such as salt and copper. The Ghana Empire derived part of its military power from the use of iron pointed spears.

Abu Bakar takes city of Aoudaghost


The Muslim religious and political leader Abu Bakar takes over control of Aoudaghost, a city on the western fringe of the Empire's territory. Thus marks the beginning of the end of the Ghana Empire as other ethic groups and tribes, who had marginal power in the empire, rose up.

Fulani/Peule and Tekrur peoples declare their independence from Ghana Empire

Approx. 1200

Sumanguru seizes Koumbi Saleh


Sumanguru seizes the capital of the Ghana Empire, Koumbi Saleh. After 40 years of mismanagement and chaos the empire has officially collapsed and the foundations for the Mali Empire begin to be set forth.

Mali Empire


Approx. 1230 C.E. - Approx. 1400 C.E.

"A Mandingo ruler, Sundiata Keita fought against Sosso (Fulah) King of Sumagero and won. The empire started it's decline around 1400 C.E. with the take over of Gao by the Songhai rebel groups." The African Past

Sundiata Keita

1239 C.E. - 1255 C.E.

"Under Sundiata’s successors, Mali extended its control west to the Atlantic, south into the rain forest region, including the Wangara gold fields, and east beyond the great bend of the Niger River."

Mansd Uli

1255 C.E. - 1270 C.E.

Secured or regained control over gold producing lands; pushed its influences down from the Niger to the shore of Lake Deba; became the successor of Ghana

Djenne Terracottas

Approx. 1300 C.E. - Approx. 1500 C.E.

They were warrior figures that expressed the strength of the Mali army and were found in the heart of the Mali empire in Djenne. Mali Empire and Djenne Figures: Works of Art.

Mansa Musa

1312 C.E. - 1337 C.E.

Gained control of the middle Niger (Timbuktu and GAO); imposed is on Southern Sahara trading cities (Walata) and pushed as far northward as The salt deposits of Taghaza, As far westward as Hausaland, and as far eastward as Tekrur along with Fulani and Tucolor; done by a single system of law and order, so much so that a traveler through these regions said they felt general piece in the land; Gold trade grew immensely throughout west Africa; help to popularize the Islamic religion; Took pilgrimage to Mecca and 1324

Mansa Musa's pilgrimage to Mecca

1324 C.E. - 1325 C.E.

Brought thousands of followers with him as well as gold and established trade routes throughout the Middle East and Asia.

The Height of the Empire


Songhai (Songhay) Empire

The Capital of Gao

800 C.E.

Developed as the center for the Songhai Kingdom while it was still until the Malian rule, this city became a great cultural center and later the capital of the Songhai Empire.


Approx. 1100 C.E.

He is responsible for the leading the Songhai people out of control of the Mali empire when it was collapsing.


Approx. 1375 C.E. - 1591 C.E.

"The Songhai (Songhay) Empire was developed out of the weakening of the Mali Empire. The capital of Gao rebelled in 1375 and eventually took over the land of the former empire."

Sunni Ali Ber

1464 C.E. - 1492 C.E.

"He was the ruler that established military victories of the capturing of the various important cities of Timbuktu and Djenne, which were both cultural centers during the Songhay Empire." Davidson

The Seize of Timbuktu

Approx. 1468 C.E.

"The city was previously seized from the Mali Empire by Tuareg until the Gao decided to take over three years after the take over of Mema." Davidson

Raid on Walata

1480 C.E.

"In 1480 the Mossi of Yatenga daringly sent cavalry to raid as far as Walata on the verge of the Sahara. Ali launched his own cavalry and was able to drive them back to their own country in the south." Davidson 122

Askia Muhammad Toure

1492 C.E. - 1538 C.E.

"With Asika Muhammad, the empire of Songhay entered on a new stage in its impressive political life." Davidson 127

Askia Dawud

1549 C.E. - 1582 C.E.

"Took over after the unsettled periods left behind by a series of rulers. Ushered in the last peaceful period before the Moroccan invasion that ended the empire." Davidson

Moroccan invasion and the fall of the Songhai Empire

Approx. 1591 C.E. - Approx. 1660 C.E.

When forces from Morocco leveled the important cities of the Songhai Empire the people belonging to the peasants and slaves classes/castes rose up and seized their freedom making it impossible for the old order to restore itself (Davidson 263).

Asante Empire

Osei Tutu unifies the Kingdom of Asante


Tutu founded the kingdom, and Opoku Ware expanded and transformed Asante into an empire.

Osei Kwame of Asante deposed


Osei Bonsu accedes to Throne


Major Asante campaign in the south

1806 - 1807

Also another major campaign in the south happened during 1811. During the 1811 campaign the conflict greatly damaged Asante trade routes. Another happened during 1814 to 1816. The 1814 campaign resolved problems in the south and gave back full Asante control.

Empire of Asante establishes Salaga as main northern market center


Before Salaga, Asante's major nouthern trading exchange was in Gbuipe. They changed it to Salaga because Gbuipe was a center of unrest.

Asante campaign against Gyaman

1817 - 1818

After 1817 Asante's government began to respond more aggressively to challenges to its authority. Revolt came first from Gyaman. A declaration of war followed and Osei Bonsu led the expedition

Empire of Asante demand for reparations from Fante and The British

January 1820

Asante demanded 1600 ounces of gold from the British and the amount Fante payed could have been reduced.

Dupuis’ treaty ratified by Asante

March 1820

Dupuis and Osei Bonsu deliberated about a possible treaty between the Asante and the British. They also discussed the merits of the abolition of the slave trade.

British officials on gold coast refuse to give hearing to treaty or take Asante embassy to Great Britain

April 1820

The British navy denied Dupuis passage to the embassy. Dupuis tried but never succeeded in gaining British government ratification.

British raid Asante group at coast, Empire of Asante begin blockade of central coast

February 1821

British initiate attacks on Asante traders in south

November 1822

Agents of the the Governor MacCarthy appointed authority over the gold coast settlements, murdered a number of Asante merchants.

Osei Bonsu dies, Osei Yaw accedes to throne

November 1823

Osei Yaw the new king started formulating plans for the reoccupation of southern provinces. He also ordered his generals to restore the order among the rebellious. But to evade any direct engagement with British. MacCarthy thought this restraint as weakness and led a into the hinterland.

Battle of Nsamankow

January 1824

Relating to the restraint of the Asante when Osei Yaw was appointed king, the Asante then mistook MacCarthy's band for a group of rebels.

Asante army withdraws

August 1824

Asante stayed in the south for much of 1824, but then withdrew because of logistical problem and issues with smallpox and dysentery.

Battle of Katamanso where The Asante are defeated

August 1826

Osei Yaw's moved into the south and then encountered a British-led force at Katamanso which is north of Accra. This battle the Europeans won a decisive victory, ending several Asante leaders. The campaign also cost the Asante at least one years revenue.

Peace treaty


George Maclean then took care of the British held settlements and persuaded a Fante force to stop blockading a Asante trade, he also prepared the path to the treaty of 1831. The agreement would govern British-Asante relations for the next thirty years.

The Asante's become dependent, end of their empire


The Asante unites with Ghana, northern territories, Gold Coast Crown Colony and British Mandate of Togoland.

Early European Contact

Elmina Castle Built


Early contact with Europeans in West Africa was egalitarian compared to what was to come. In the beginning of this phase of history Europeans only had small outposts along to coast, like Elmina, and held no power in the interior. With these small trading forts, however, the complex trans-Saharan trade networks that linked Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa would became obsolete.

First European slave ship crosses the Atlantic


The small-scale trade of human chattel between Europeans and West Africans began in the early 1500s. It would later develop into the massive and horrendous Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.

Sugar and tobacco cultivation start in the Americas, demand for enslaved people rises

Approx. 1640

Establishment of colonies in the Americas and the genocide of American Indians drove Europe's demand for free labor and human chattel up. The Trans-Atlantic Slave trade grew and greatly affected the political landscape of West Africa (especially coastal areas). Leaders began started by selling their prisoners of war to Europeans. As the demand for enslaved people rose means by which to capture people became more systematic. This fueled political and social tension betweens ethnic groups and kingdoms in the coast as well as a brain drain.

French slave trade grows

1670 - 1672

French slave trade grows. In these two years the French buy and ship 3,000 human beings a year across the Atlantic to support their sugar colonies.


Scramble for Africa

1881 - 1914

In this period of less than 50 years Europe took political control of the majority of the African continent.

Berlin Conference


In this meeting European leaders drew arbitrary lines on the map of Africa in order to carve out their empires.

Thiaroye massacre


When Senegalese soldiers serving the French army demanded equality and pay in a mutiny the French responded with a massacre. The colonial period was characterized with events such as the massacre of the "tirailleurs Sénégalais."


Libera's Independence

July 26th, 1847 C.E.

Ghana's Independence

March 6th, 1957 C.E.

Referendum of Dahomey

September 28th, 1958 C.E.

Modern-day Benin - paved the way for independence

Guinea's Independence

October 2nd, 1958 C.E.

Niger's Referendum

December 18th, 1958 C.E.

Cameroon's Independence

January 1st, 1960 C.E.

Senegal's Independence

April 4th, 1960 C.E.

Togo's Independence

April 27th, 1960 C.E.

Cameroon's First President

May 5th, 1960 C.E.

Niger's Independence

August 3rd, 1960 C.E.

Burkina Faso's Independence

August 5th, 1960 C.E.

Côte D'Ivoire's Independence

August 7th, 1960 C.E.

Mali's Independence

September 22nd, 1960 C.E.

Mauritania's Independence

November 28th, 1960 C.E.

Sierra Leone's Independence

April 27th, 1961 C.E.

Gambia's Independence

February 18th, 1965 C.E.

Biafra War

1967 - 1970

Guinea - Bissau's Independence

September 24th, 1973 C.E.

Benin renamed

1975 C.E.

Cape Verde's Independence

July 5th, 1975 C.E.

Civil War of Liberia


Civil War of Sierra Leone


First Woman to be Head of State