History Files
 

 

African Kingdoms

West Africa

 

 

 

Songhai Empire
c.AD 7th Century - 1901

The Songhai state has existed in one form or another for over a thousand years, from the first settlement in Gao on the eastern edge of the Mali empire, under which it was a semi-vassal status, through to its continuation in Niger as the Dendi empire.

Situated in modern Mali in an area called Western Sudan (not to be confused with the country of the same name), the Songhai empire was founded as a small state centred on Gao in circa 700 by Songhai Berbers on the Middle Niger, but it didn't become an empire until the fifteenth century, and reached the height of its power by around 1500, by which time it was the one of the largest African empires in terms of territory, stretching almost the entire length of the River Niger.

Za Dynasty in Kukiya
c.AD 690 - 800

There were fourteen Za dynasty rulers in the early period of Songhai history, although records are sparse for this early period, especially towards its end.

c.690

Alayaman

c.700

Zakoi

c.710

Takoi / Takay

c.720

Akoi / Mata-Kay

c.730

Ku

c.740

Ali-Fay

c.750

Biyu-Kumoy

c.760

Biyu

c.770

Za-Kuroy

c.775

Yama-Karaway

c.780

Yama

780 - 785

Yama-Danka-Kiba'u

786 - 789

Kukuray

791 - 800

Kinkin

800 - c.1010

Unknown number of kings

c.1010

The empire coverts to Islam. The capital is moved to Gao.

Za Dynasty in Gao
c.AD 1010 - 1275

Za Kusoy was the first Songhai ruler to convert to Islam. He also turned the small kingdom of Gao into a Muslim state. Gao began to attract North African merchants during his reign. Again, towards the end of the dynasty records become sparse.

c.1010

Kusoy Muslim Dam

Han-Kuz-Wanku-Dam

Biyu-Ki-Kima

Nintasanay

Biyu-Kayna-Kinba

Kayna-Shanyunbu

Tib

Yama-Dad

Fadazu

'Ali-Kuru

Bir-Fuluku

Yasiboy

Duru

Zenku-Baru

Bisi-Baru

Bada

c.1150

Bisi Baro Ber

c.1150 - 1260

Unknown number of kings

c.1260 - 1275

The Songhai empire is occupied by the Mali empire.

Sunni Dynasty
c.AD 1275 - 1492

The first great king of the Songhai was Sunni Ali. Ali was a Muslim like the Mali kings before him. He was also an efficient warrior who conquered many of the Songhai's neighbours, including what remained of the Mali empire.

Gao fell under the indirect control of the Mali empire during the reign of Sundiata. In around 1275, it seems that a Mali official fled to Gao and established his own dynasty. The kings were called Sunni or Sonni meaning 'replacement' or 'liberator' kings. Gao had to be continuously attacked by Mali to keep the new Sunni dynasty paying tribute.

c.1275

Sunni Ali Kolon

Sunni Salman Nari

Sunni Ibrahim Kabyao

c.1320

Sunni Uthman Gifo Kanafa

Sunni Bar-Kayna-Ankabi

Sunni Musa

Sunni Bakr Zanku

Sunni Bakr Dala-Buyunbu

Sunni Mar-Kiray

Sunni Muhammad Da'u

c.1275

Sunni Muhammad Kukiya

Sunni Muhammad Fari

Sunni Karbifu

1325

The Songhai empire is occupied by the Mali kingdom.

Sunni Mar-Fay-Kuli-Jimu

Sunni Mar-Arkana

1375

Songhai once more becomes independent.

Sunni Mar Arandan

c.1410 - 1440

Sunni Sulayman Dama Dandi

c.1440 - 1464

Sunni Silman Dandi

1464 - 1492

Sunni Ali

1468

With Sonni Ali Ber's accession the Songhai truly start to become empire-builders, eclipsing their former rulers, the Mali empire. Sonny Ali occupies Timbuktu.

1492 - 1493

Sunni Abu-Bakry Baro

Askia Dynasty in Gao
AD 1492 - 1592

Following Sunni Ali's death, Muslim factions rebelled against his successor and installed Askia Muhammad (formerly Muhammad Ture) to be the first and greatest ruler of the Askia Dynasty. Under the Askias, the Songhai empire reached its zenith, Timbuktu and Jenne flourished as centres of Islamic learning, and Islam was actively promoted.

1493 - 1528

Askia Mohammed Ture the Great

1528 - 1531

Askia Musa

1531 - 1537

Askia Mohammad Benkan

1537 - 1539

Askia Isma'il

1539 - 1549

Askia Ishaq I

1549 - 1582

Askia Daoud / Askia Dawud

1582 - 1586

Askia Al-Hajj

1586 - 1588

Askia Mohommed Bana

1588 - 1591

Askia Ishaq II

1591

A Moroccan invasion hastens the decline of the empire. The Songhai forces are routed at the Battle of Tondibi by Morocco's gunpowder weapons despite vastly superior Songhai numbers. Gao, Timbuktu, and Jenne (Djenné), are sacked and the Songhai are destroyed as a regional power. Morocco takes over control of Mali.

The Songhai themselves retreat to the Dendi region of Niger and reform a smaller kingdom.

1591 - 1618

Muhammed Gao

1670

Morocco eventually prove to be unable to control such a vast empire across such long distances, and soon relinquishes control of the region, letting it splinter into dozens of smaller kingdoms.

1670 - 1854

Taureg nomads control Mali until a new local power emerges in the form of the Tukulor empire.

Askia Dynasty in Lulami / Dendi Kingdom
AD 1592 - 1901

After the Battle of Tondibi, Moroccan forces destroyed the Songhai empire in Mali. The Askiya dynasty survived, however, and fled to their native Dendi region of Niger. They set up a new capital at Lulami and continued all the traditions of the Songhai empire, although the rule of many is fairly obscure. The gold trade from the region was a source of profit, with some of it reaching Granada in Spain.

1591 - 1598

Askia Nuh I

1598 - ?

Askia al-Mustafa

Askia Muhammad Surku Ilji

Askia Harun Dancette

Askia al-Amin

Reigned for 7 years.

Askia Dawud I

Reigned for 22 years.

Askia Muhammad

Askia Dawud II

Askia Muhammad Bari

Askia Mar Shindin

Askia Nuh II

Askia al-Barak

Askia al-Hajj

Askia Ismail

Askia Dawud III

c.1700 - 1761

Askia Hanga

1761 - 1779

Askia Samsu Beri

1779 - 1793

Askia Hargani

1793

Askia Fodi Mayrumfa

1793 - 1798

Askia Samsu Keyna

1798 - 1805

Askia Fodi Mayrumfa

Restored.

1805 - 1823

Askia Tomo

1823 - 1842

Askia Bassaru Missi Ize

1842 - 1845

Askia Bumi / Askia Kodama Komi

1845 - 1864

Askia Koyze Baba

1864 - 1865

Askia Koyze Baba Baki

1865 - 1868

Askia Wankoy

1868 - 1882

Askia Bigo Farma

1882 - 1887

Askia Dauda

1887 - 1901

Askia Malla

1901

The kingdom is conquered by the French.

1960

The region gains independence from France, and becomes part of a modern Niger.