Songhai

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Songhai

or

Songhay

(both: sŏng`gī`), largest of the former empires in the western Sudan region of N Africa. The state was founded (c.700) by Berbers on the Middle Niger, in what is now central Mali. The rulers accepted Islam c.1000. Its power was much increased by Sonni Ali (1464–92), who occupied Timbuktu in 1468. Songhai reached its greatest extent under Askia Muhammad I (c.1493–1528). He was deposed by his son, and in the subsequent conflicts among his successors the empire slowly began to decline. The breakup of the state was accelerated by a Moroccan invasion in 1591.

Songhai

 

(Songhoi, Songoi), a people living along the banks of the Niger River, in an area from the city of Djénné in the northwest to the confluence of the Sokoto and Niger rivers, in the Republic of the Niger, Mali, Upper Volta, Nigeria, and Benin. The Songhai, who number 1.4 million (1973, estimate), have their own language and are Sunni Muslims. In the Middle Ages, the Songhai created the Songhai state, which reached its apogee in the 15th and 16th centuries. The Songhai grow rice, sorghum, and millet and engage in fishing and livestock raising. Those in the cities also engage in handicrafts and trade.

REFERENCES

Narody Afriki. Moscow, 1954.
Suret-Canale, J. Afrika Zapadnaia i Tsentral’naia. Moscow, 1961. (Translated from French.)
Rouch, J. Les Songhay. Paris, 1954.
Boubou, H. L’Histoire traditionnelle d’un peuple: les Zarma-Songhay. Paris, 1967.

Songhai

 

a medieval state in West Africa, whose ethnic nucleus was the Songhai people. The date of the founding of Songhai has not been established, but it is known that the city of Gao became the capital in the late ninth or the 11th century. In the 15th and 16th centuries, Songhai was the most important state of West Africa; it stretched from the upper course of the Sénégal River in the west to the Aïr Plateau in the east, from the rapids at the city of Bussa in the south to the Central Sahara in the north, covering parts of Senegal, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and several other modern states.

Songhai reached its apogee during the reigns of Sonni Ali (1464–92) and Askia Muhammad I (1493–1528). Feudal relations were highly developed in the state. The economy was based on farming settlements of people who were close to being serfs in their degree of dependence. A large part of the state’s revenue was derived from trade in gold, ivory, and slaves. Gao, Tom-bouctou (Timbuktu), and Djénné were major trade, handicraft, and cultural centers.

In 1591, Songhai was invaded by forces of Sultan El Mansur, who ruled Morocco from 1578 to 1603. In the early 17th century the state ceased to exist.

REFERENCES

Ol’derogge, D. Zapadnyi Sudan v XV-XIX vv. Moscow-Leningrad, 1960.
Kubbel’, L. E. Songaiskaia derzhava. Moscow, 1974. (Bibliography.)
Mauny, R. Tableau géographique de l’Ouest Africain au moyen âge. Dakar, 1961.
Sarr, M. “Les Songhay.” Etudes Maliennes: Revue périodique de l’Institut des Sciences Humaines, no. 4. Bamako, 1970.

Songhai

 

the language of the Songhai people, spoken in the inland delta regions of the Niger River by approximately 1.2 million people (1970, estimate). Songhai constitutes an independent branch of the Nilo-Saharan language family. The major dialects are Songhai, Dyerma (Djerma), and Dendi. The phonetic features of Songhai include two series of palatals (a k’ series and a f series) among the consonants, numerous geminates, and nasalized vowels. Grammatically, the language is characterized by the presence of the agglutinative suffixal word and word-form derivation. The word order is subject-object-predicate. Genitival attributes are preposed and adjectival attributes are postposed. The vocabulary includes many Arabisms and borrowings from the Mande languages.

REFERENCES

Prost, A. La Langue sonay et ses dialectes. Dakar, 1956.
Westermann, D., and M. Bryan. Languages of West Africa. London, 1970.

N. V. OKHOTINA