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Central Africa was rules for many centuries by the Mali Empire. Since ~1400 however, the Power of it began to crumble, and its former vassals (like Songhay / Gao) gained more power.
1465, Songhay was strong enough to take Mali's capital Timbuktu.
During the 1540s, many Moroccan warriors flee to Songhay, after the Quadruple Monarchy defeated their uprisings, introducing gunpowder weapons to the country.
After having enforced its army with these weapons, Songhay attacked the Fula people in Senegal in 1607. Their typical cavalry was added to the Songhay army. 1626, Jolof was conquered by Songhay, which now extends to the coast.
During 1651-58, Kanem-Bornu was conquered by Songhay empire; and in the 1670s, they subjugated the Mossi. Now they reigned all of West Africa between the Sahara desert and the jungle (which was unsuited for cavalry).
In the early 18th century, Songhay introduced the Printing Press, getting help from Seljuk Egypt. At the same time, after the defeat of the Portuguese made the waters of West Africa safer for Muslims ships, Songhay sent ships to the Kongo kingdoms, starting trade and cultural exchange.
1733-36, Spain and Songhay fought a war. The Songhay had to fight with outdated weapons, but their numerical superiority and the hard climate gave them victory. France also helped them with advisors and selling modern weapons.
1756: Igbira kingdom built the fortress of Lokoja, which controlled the place where the Benue river meets Niger river. Thus, Songhay was cut off from the sea and had to pay a toll.
1760 Border clash of Labé with Songhay.
1764 Songhay defeated Macente, forces them to pay tribute.
1781: Songhay conquered Gwari.
1782: Songhay attacked Igbira, besieged Lokoja. Idoma become independent again.
1783: Songhay retreated, when uprisings in other provinces began.
1788: Jukun and Songhay divide Bauchi.