Songhai Empire Essay Grade 10 Guidelines for students

On this page, you will find Songhai Empire essay guidelines for students. Songhai Empire Essay is very common for Grade 10, Grade 11 and Grade 12 classes. This is mostly a Historical Studies subject essay.When writing an essay, you must always remember that an essay is, generally, a piece of writing that gives the author’s own argument, but the definition is vague, overlapping with those of a letter, a paper, an article, a pamphlet, and a short story.

Songhai Empire: It was from one of Mali’s former conquests, the kingdom of Gao, that the last major empire of the western Sudan emerged. Although the city of Gao had been occupied by a Songhai dynasty prior to being conquered by Mansa Musa’s forces in 1325, it was not until much later that the Songhai empire emerged. It began to rise in 1464 when Sonni ‘Ali Ber came to power. Sonni ‘Ali conquered much of the weakening Mali empire’s territory as well as Timbuktu, famous for its Islamic universities and the pivotal trading city of Jenne. Following Sonni ‘Ali’s death, Muslim factions rebelled against his successor and installed Askia Muhammad (formerly Muhammad Ture) as the first ruler of the Askia dynasty (1492–1592). Under the Askias, the Songhai empire reached its zenith, Timbuktu and Jenne flourished as centers of Islamic learning, and Islam was actively promoted.

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Songhai Empire Essay Guidelines


  • Briefly answer the question in your esay statement
    • Use keywords from the question
    • For example, “why did the Songhai empire become economically successful?”
  • Introduce your text(s) with an underline and include how they relate to the essay question
  • Introduce your three paragraph ideas

Body Paragraph #1

  • Present your first idea
  • Follow PEEL: Point, Evidence, Explain, Link

Body Paragraph #2

  • Present your second idea
  • Follow PEEL x3

Body Paragraph #3

  • Present your third idea
  • Follow PEEL x3


  • Restate your essay statement
  • Summarise your ideas
  • Give a concluding sentence on the essay question and text(s)

Songhai Empire Exam Questions and Answers

Why did the Songhai empire become economically successful?

  • Safe economic trade existed throughout the Songhai empire, with the 200,000 person army stationed in the provinces. 
  • Gold fields of the Niger River in Songhai empire. These gold fields, which were often independently operated, provided a steady supply of gold that could be purchased and bartered for salt.
  • Salt and gold consisted of the bulk of trans-Saharan trade and the Songhai dominance in these commodities solidified Songhai’s role as a leader in the trans-Saharan trade system.
  • The Songhai empire government was centralized by creating a large and elaborate bureaucracy to oversee the empire’s interests. 

What was the capital city of the Songhai empire?

The capital city of Songhai empire was Gao. Though the Songhai people are said to have established themselves in the city of Gao about 800 ce, they did not regard it as their capital until the beginning of the 11th century during the reign of the dia (king) Kossoi.

What caused the decline of the Songhai Empire?

  • Drought and disease had fallen upon the Songhai empire
  • Civil war over leadership succession significantly weakened the authority of the central Songhai government
  • Moroccan army (from North Africa) invaded Songhai with powerful weapons in search of gold
  • Inability of the disjointed smaller kingdoms to re-form a political alliance and reassert a strong central government. 

More Questions

Here are some more potential long essay questions related to the Songhai Empire:

  1. Discuss the rise and fall of the Songhai Empire, including the key events and figures that shaped its history.
  2. Analyze the political, social, and economic structures of the Songhai Empire, and explain how they contributed to its success or failure.
  3. Compare and contrast the religious and cultural beliefs of the Songhai people with those of other West African societies during the same period.
  4. Evaluate the role of the trans-Saharan trade in the development of the Songhai Empire, and explain how it influenced the empire’s relations with its neighbors and with Europe.
  5. Discuss the impact of the Songhai Empire on West African history, including its influence on the spread of Islam and its role in the development of West African civilizations.
  6. Analyze the contributions of Songhai scholars, such as Ahmad Baba and Al-Maghili, to the fields of science, literature, and religion, and explain their significance to the empire and to West African history.
  7. Evaluate the legacy of the Songhai Empire, including its impact on modern West African societies and its significance to the wider world.
  8. Compare and contrast the Songhai Empire with other West African empires, such as the Ghana Empire and the Mali Empire, and explain how it was similar to or different from these other civilizations.



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