West Africa

Oyo Empire

The Oyo Empire (1400-1830s) was a powerful Yoruba polity in what is today southwestern Nigeria. Situated in an ideal geographic location between the Volta and Niger River, the Oyo Empire became an important trade center. Its foundation myth draws upon Yoruba religious beliefs and holds sacred the original settlement of Ile-Ife, which continues to be upheld as the creation site for the Yoruba people with significance to local religious practitioners as well as members of...

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Shari'a

Islamic law, or shari’a, is a series of principles that are interpreted, negotiated, and debated by legal scholars and adapted in the lives of Muslims in order to bring their actions in line with God’s vision for a just and good life. On the everyday level, Islamic law regulates when and how a Muslim prays, what is considered permissible to eat, business transactions, almsgiving, fasting, and so on. For observant Muslims, Islamic law creates the structure, to varying degrees, by which they organize their lives and decisions; shari’a literally means “the way.”...

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The Transatlantic Slave Trade

The Transatlantic Slave Trade began in the late 15th century in Nigeria. By 1471, Portuguese navigators hoping to tap the fabled Saharan gold trade had reconnoitered the West African coast as far as the Niger Delta, and traded European commodities for local crafts as well as slaves, the latter which turned out to be highly lucrative. In the early stages, Europeans captured Nigerians in raids on coastal communities, but as the demand grew they relied on slaves to be supplied by local rulers, traders, and the military aristocracy, providing these agents with rum, guns, horses,...

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Hausa-Fulani

The Hausa-Fulani are an ethnic designation that includes the Hausa and the Fulani, ethnic groups that are spread throughout West Africa with smaller populations in other African regions. The combined Hausa-Fulani category refers to Hausa and Fulani living in northern Nigeria. The Hausa-Fulani make up 29% of Nigeria’s total population.

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