Not Quite Venus from the Waves: The Almoravid Conquest of Ghana in the Modern Historiography of Western Africa

Not Quite Venus from the Waves: The Almoravid Conquest of Ghana in the Modern Historiography of Western Africa

Masonen, Pekka  and Fisher, Humphrey J.

History in Africa, Vol. 23, (1996)


The Almoravid Conquest of 1076 AD is certainly among the most dramatic and controversial single events in the historiography of West Africa. It has been regarded as a crucial turning point, as the Battle of Hastings was for England, not only for the existence of Ghana, but also for the destiny of the entire area, opening the gates to a triumphant Islam in sub-Saharan Africa.

Yet the conquest and destruction of Ghana by Almoravid invaders constitute one of the myths which still populate African historiography, like the wonderful voyage of Hanno to the Bight of Biafra, which was carried over from classical Greco-Roman texts into modern European literature as early as 1533. Since the story of Hanno has been used for various purposes by western Africanists, for instance, to explain the diffusion of iron technology into sub-Saharna Africa.

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