Gawgaw (Gao)

Ibn Battuta refers to the city by its old name, Gawgaw, but in modern times, the city is Gao. The city was founded in the 7th century by fisherman [1]. Gao in Mali was once the capital for the Songhai empire. The Songhai empire rose to power in the 14th and 15th centuries but was defeated by Ahmad al-Mansur of Morocco. In the 18th and 19th centuries, there was a rise in colonization, in which the French took control of Gao and Mali. Gao is a region in the southeastern portion of Mali.

Gao was the last major city Ibn Battuta visited in his thirty year journey. He spoke highly of the city, referring to it as “one of the finest and biggest cities” in Africa. He said the food there, and especially the cucumbers, were incomparable to anywhere else he had ever been. His stay in Gao was brief, yet he thought it was one of the finest cities he had seen in his trips to western Africa. He ended his travels in 1355 in western Africa, and returned to his home in Tangier. He died in 1369.




[1] Encyclopædia Britannica Online, s. v. “Gao,” accessed August 12, 2012,