External Contact and Influences of the People of the North
External Contact and Influences
It was largely through commerce that these early
kingdoms had contacts with the outside world. For
purposes of trade, the state-forming peoples established
market-places. The chief ones were at Gambaga,
Walwale, Yendi, Gyarepanga, Buipe and Salaga.
There were well-established trade routes to all these
markets, particularly Salaga, which came to be the
most important market in the north. Mossi and Hausa
traders from the north and Asante traders from the
south visited Salaga and exchanged their goods. The Asante merchants
brought kola nuts and carried back
cloth, shea-butter, and livestock. Because the north lay across the trade
routes which led from Asante in the
south to the Mossi and Hausa states in the north, it
became an important link in the economic life of both
the forest regions and the western Sudan.
With the murchants inevitably came cultural influences.
The Mossi and the Hausa brought their
religion, Islam, and won many converts. So important
were these converts that their spiritual leader, the
Imam, became one of the chief advisers of the paramount
and divisional chiefs. The Hausa also introduced
the fashion of court musicians who, as they do today,
sang their songs of praise in Hausa which has become
the most widely spoken language of West Africa. The
Asante brought two main influences; the talking drum
and the Kambonse or wing of musketeers in the state
army. There were also northern influences upon the
Asante; for instance, the wearing of coats stiched with
amulets, which were supposed to deflect the enemy's
bullets, came from the north.
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