African genius for state building and for bringing new societies into being was reborn in the Western Sudan (inner West Africa), where the third and last African Golden Age began.The first of the great empires of the Western Sudan to become known to the outside world was the Ghana Empire. It began as a small settlement during the second century of the Christian era. It would later develop into a state with a known history of more than a thousand years.
In Europe and in the Arab countries, Ghana was known as a country rich in gold. This was a natural attraction for the Arabs and later the Europeans. The country reached the height of its greatness during the reign of Tenkamenin, one of its greatest kings, who came to power in 1062 A.D. The king lived in a palace of stone and wood which was built to be defended in time of war. The Empire was well organized. The political progress and social well being of its people could be favorably compared to the best kingdoms and empires that prevailed in Europe at this time. The country had a military force of 200,000 men.
In one of a number of holy wars, or Jihads, Ghana was invaded by the Almaravides under the leadership of Abu Bekr of the Sosso Empire in 1076 A.D. This conquest brought as end to Ghana's age of prosperity and cultural development. The character of the country was slow to change. Nearly a hundred years later the Arab writer, El Idrisi wrote of it as being said: "Ghana ... is the most commercial of the black countries. It is visited by rich merchants from all the surrounding countries and from the extremities of the West."
In 1087 the country regained its independence, without regaining its old strength, state organization, and grandeur. The ruins of the Empire of Ghana became the Kingdoms of Diara and Sosso. The provinces of Ghana became a part of the Mali Empire and were later absorbed into the Songhai Empire.