A New Paradigm of the African State: Fundi wa Afrika by Mueni wa Muiu, Guy Martin (auth.)

By Mueni wa Muiu, Guy Martin (auth.)

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An imperial council made up of the court’s dignitaries, the Sunna, advised the Askiya on the governance of the empire. As a devout Muslim, Askiya Muhammad encouraged the works of Muslim scholars. Under his rule, Timbuktu, Jenne, and Walata flourished as centers of religion and learning. Trade also prospered and brought added wealth to Gao and Timbuktu. Sudan gold, slaves, ivory, ebony, and ostrich feathers continued to flow northward; in exchange came copper, iron, brassware, sword blades, cloth, and salt.

The name “Axum” refers to both the state and to the city that became the administrative capital and religious center of Africa’s oldest Christian empire. Axum, as the capital, became a particular center of monumental buildings, including a multistory royal palace. At its height, Axum’s kings ruled from the upper Nile Valley in the west to Yemen in the east. This empire was considered one of the four great empires (with Rome, Persia, and China) that divided Eurasia and Africa between them. By the middle of the third century, Axum had acquired an empire that included modern Ethiopia and southern Arabia.

By the Fourth Dynasty, Egypt was a centralized monarchy. It relied on the Nile for agriculture and developed dyke construction to prevent floods. The population increased as a result of bountiful food production. All foreign trade, mining, and quarrying—as well as production and distribution—activities were controlled by the state. Private individuals could engage in commercial activities without any middlemen. The only commercial agents were in the service of the king and the temple. In principle, the kings’ religious duties were to preserve the cosmic order and to ensure the security of Egypt and happiness of its people, both in the present and afterlife.

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