What Were Some Achievements of the Songhai?

The achievements of the Songhai empire of pre-colonial West Africa include the creation of a standardized system of weights and measurements. The Songhai empire was the largest empire in African history, with several thousand cultures under its control and more territory than any other African empire to modern day.

The Songhai empire lasted from about 1375 to 1591. It was the largest and the last of the three major pre-colonial empires from West Africa. It developed out of the kingdom of Gao, and ruler Sunni Ali Ber helped the Songhai empire take over Mali. Subsequent emperor Askia Muhammad Toure centralized the government by creating a large bureaucracy to oversee the extensive empire, appointing virtually all of the mayors and governors himself. He was the first West African ruler to allow the exchange of ambassadors with other Muslim states.

The empire’s justice system was run by Muslim judges under an Islamic system. The urban areas of the empire were primarily Islamic, while the rural areas were not. The majority of the people of the Songhai empire did not convert to Islam. About 97 percent of the population kept their traditional religions, even though many of the rulers tried to force the populace to convert.