How African Regions

How African Regions are Connected Thorough Trade Religion and Language

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How African Regions are Connected Thorough Trade Religion and Language


After Asia, Africa is the second largest continent in the world. At times, Africa is referred to as the Mother Continent because it was the first continent to be inhibited on earth. Human beings and their ancestors have existed in Africa for over five million years. According to the United Nations Statistics Division, the African continent is divided into five regions, namely Western Africa, Eastern Africa, Southern Africa, Central Africa, and Northern Africa. The Northern region comprises seven countries, Central Africa nine countries, and Southern Africa five countries. Additionally, the Eastern African region comprises nineteen countries, while Western Africa has seventeen countries. While the African continent has been largely thought to be geographically restricted, various aspects connect the African regions. This essay discusses how African regions are connected through religion, language, and trade.

How Trade Connects African Regions

Trade played a critical role in connecting African regions and becoming the economically endowed countries they are today. Worth noting trade played a critical role in steering the economies of most African empires. For instance, goods being traded in Central Africa from Western Africa were transported using trade routes. The trade routes helped transport the goods to far areas even outside Africa in the Middle East, Europe, and India. The main items being traded were salt and gold. The gold mines in West Africa were a huge source of wealth to the Western African Empires of Mali and Ghana. Other items that were transported included beads, clothes, kola nuts, slaves, ivory, and metal goods. During African civilization, the major trade centers in Western Africa were Djenne, Timbuktu, Agadez, Gao, and Sijilmasas. The main trade routes helped move goods across the Sahara desert between the port trade centers in the Mediterranean Sea and Central and Western Africa. One such trade route started from Timbuktu and ended in Sijilmasa via the Sahara Desert (Ndiema, 2019). On reading Sijilmasa, the goods would be moved to Tunis, Marrakesh, or the Port. Another trade route was the route starting from Gao, to Tunis, to Cairo to Agadez. Worth noting, while crossing the Sahara desert, traders would travel in huge groups known as caravans. Camels were the main source of transportation at the time. They were used to transport both people and goods. At times the camels would carry slaves too. The purpose of having large caravans was to keep people protected from attack by bandits. A normal caravan had up t0 1,000 camels, with some having over 10,000 camels (Kiguru, 2019). The flow of gold through the Sahara desert paved the way for economic trade, boosting the economies of the countries in the regions. They benefited from infrastructure and their populations kept growing.

How Religion Connected African Regions

Just like trade, religion had a huge impact in connecting African regions. Notably, even today continues to connect individuals in various corners of the world. African civilizations had one common factor; religion which unified them. Religion is a system of behaviors and beliefs that help in explaining the reason for existence for human beings. The more people continue to share a common set of practices and beliefs, the more they continue to interact and know each other, and this way, they often find common ground to build respect and trust. For example, during the African civilization, Islam religion spread across Western Africa through the traders. When Muslim traders traveled across cities transporting goods and slaves, their interactions with the natives left a mark on their lives. Slowly people would convert to Islam following encounters with Muslim traders and this way, the Muslim religion spread far and wide. Worth noting Islamic religion was helpful because it helped reduce the rate of crime in the city through their Islamic law and by bringing a common language (Arabic). The Muslim traders who ended up settling in West Africa came to be referred to as the Dyula people and were considered part of the merchant caste.

How Language Connected African Regions

Language is another avenue that in which African regions during civilization became connected. Worth noting, there is no main language that is used in Africa, Arabic is a popular language in Africa. However, other languages range from Shona, Zulu, Portuguese, Igbo, Oromo, and Zulu. Africa is known as the home of ancient languages, and most people agree that Ancient Egyptian is the oldest language. From the 11th to 17th centuries, Africa expanded largely in the area of trade. The Swahili merchants seized the opportunity and used the trade winds to travel and engage people from various places, including the Middle East, in trade relations. Arab traders introduced Islam for the first time along with the Swahili coast in the 9th century. To show appreciation for religious values, the Swahili people that taking up their neighbors’ religion would help cement trade relationships and grant them access to their trade networks (Shaw, 2017). Although the Swahili people adopted Islam, they infused it with tradition to make it their own. From mosque spaces to burials they created they own Islamic traditions, which depicted their own African culture. Islam shaped the region leading to the development of the Kiswahili language, which helped increase the people’s literacy. People were interested to learn other languages so that they could read the Koran. Classes began to be offered, offering people a chance to get educated leading to cultural advancement.


In closing, trade language and religion played a significant role in connecting African regions during civilization. The trade routes helped in transporting the goods to far areas even outside Africa. Trade routes transported gold, salt slaves, kola nuts, clothes, and beads to other regions. Traders transporting goods from Western Africa to the Mediterranean crossed the Sahara desert from Timbuktu to Sijalmasas. The traders would travel in large groups called caravans. Muslim traders helped convert the people they met into Muslim religion, and that way, the religion spread fast. Languages such as the Swahili language were also adopted from traders who, to help people read Koran, had to learn the language first.


Kiguru, D. (2019). Language and prizes: Exploring literary and cultural boundaries. In Routledge Handbook of African Literature (pp. 399-412). Routledge.

Shaw, T. M. (2017). Transnational Africa (s): Ali Mazrui and culture, diaspora and religion. Perspectives on culture and globalisation: The intellectual legacy of Ali A Mazrui, 37-63.

Ndiema, E. K. (2019). Tracing Prehistoric Trade and Economic Links between the East African Coast and East Asia. China and East Africa: Ancient Ties, Contemporary Flows, 23.

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