The kingdom of Ghana lasted about 800 years, until the kingdom of Mali took over.
The kingdom of Ghana was rich! Ancient Ghana is located in a different place than the modern country of Ghana in West Africa. The ancient kingdom of Ghana was a key part of the Trans-Sahara Trade Route.
But even earlier than the trading that went on between east and west Africa, the kingdom of Ghana acted as guards for the traders from the north, and the traders from the south. Ghana was in the middle. Ghana was a great military power in ancient times. They had an army of 200,000 fighting men. People in the north had salt mines. People in the south had gold mines. Ghana had an army that could protect the traders.
Ghana charged a fee for their protection in gold and in salt and in other goods. This arrangement worked well for everyone. Ghana became rich.
The people in Ghana were very happy. They worked hard, but they were safe and protected. They benefited from the wealth that poured into the empire. The king and nobles lived in the best houses, but they too were comfortable.
They had plenty to eat. The Niger River ran through ancient Ghana. The river provided water for bathing and washing. There were ample fish and waterfowl to eat. The people also farmed. They grew sweet potatoes and other vegetables. No one went hungry in ancient Ghana.
They were creative people. Their artists wove cotton fabrics. They designed these fabrics by painting wet mud on woven cloth, and then placing the fabric in the sun to dry. This created a permanent design in the cloth. It was very clever and very unique.
Their storytellers were called Griots. The Griots were the first to tell the wonderful stories of Anansi the Spider. The people believed in many gods and goddesses. The storytellers told stories about their gods, their people, their villages, their triumphs, their trades, their wonderful king, and of course, everyone's favorite, stories of Anansi the Spider.
The people of Ghana were peace loving. Their laws were gentle. People were important. The king had a council of elders to advise him. There were district leaders all over the kingdom to make sure people were treated fairly.
Ghana was so good at protection and trade that the kingdoms to the north and south of Ghana, along with Ghana herself, became known as the Gold Coast. Word of their wealth spread across Africa. Traders braved the Sahara Desert, bringing with them silks and spices to trade for gold. The kingdom of Ghana again acted as the protection for traders. The more traders braved the Trans-Sahara Trade Route, the more the kingdom of Ghana flourished.