various kingdoms in West Africa made very good trading partners.
They each had something the other wanted. The
north had salt. The south had gold. Ghana was in the middle.
Ghana handled the trades.
Trades were even, ounce for ounce - an
ounce of gold for an ounce of salt. Both
sides - north and south - paid Ghana a tribute to handle the trades.
Although Ghana never owned gold and salt mines, they
controlled the trade between the kingdoms to the north and the
kingdoms to the south.
the arrival of camel trains, the caravans, the Kingdom of Ghana
expanded their control to include trade with the foreigners. They
traded gold for spices and other luxury goods as well as salt.
King of Ghana was a very wise man. He did three things that he felt
would protect his people.
first thing the king did was charge a tax (a tribute, a tariff) on
all people entering and leaving Ghana. This tax was paid in
salt, iron, peacock feathers, fine silk, spices, and other
luxury goods. In
exchange, Ghana warriors kept the trade routes open and
protected from raiders. As long as the traders paid the
tax, traders could pass in peace. It was the tax that made Ghana
System of Silent Barter:
The king established a system of silent barter. Rather
than meet and argue a price, gold would be left at a special
place for the traders to take. If ample goods were not left in
exchange, all trade ceased. The traders of Ghana did not speak
the language of many of the new traders who crossed the Sahara
via the Trans-Sahara Trade Routes.
This system of silent barter worked very well. Traders
were afraid to leave too little. They knew Ghana would stop
trading. If anything, they left more than they normally would,
to keep relations good and trade flowing.
City: The King of Ghana did not wish
traders to enter his city on a routine basis or in an
uncontrolled manner. To protect his people, he built a second
city for the traders located about 6
miles from the main capital. The capital remained a city for the
king and his people. The other, the new part of the city, was
reserved for Moslem traders, merchants, and foreigners.
system worked very well. It allowed the people of Ghana to
continue to worship in a way that was familiar and comfortable
to them. It encouraged the traders to worship in their way, in
the many mosques they built in the new city.