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An African state that developed along the upper reaches of the Nile c. 100 B.C.E.; conquered Egypt and ruled it for several centuries.


Axum was a trading center and a powerful ancient kingdom in northern present-day Ethiopia. Converted to Christianity in 4th century.

Swahili Coast

East African shores of the Indian Ocean between the Horn of Africa and the Zambezi River; from the Arabic sawahil, meaning 'shores.' Home to the Bantu speakers.

Mansa Musa

this Mali king brought Mali to its peak of power and wealth from 1312 the 1337; he was the most powerful king in west africa. Built a capital at Timbuktu, became a sensation with his pilgrimage to Mecca.

Sonni Ali

Rebel leader who captured Timbuktu and established the kingdom of Songhai.

Oral literature

Literature not written down but passed from generation to generation through performance or word-of-mouth.


a kingdom of the West African rain forest. Known for bronze sculpting.

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