Songhai Empire was a very important empire that commanded the respect of her neighbours. When the empire was established, it fought wars of conquest against small kingdoms and made them part of the empire. The Songhai Empire’s army was so powerful that it quickly overran the neighbouring kingdoms.
Songhai leaders’ conversion to Islam helped relations with the Berber Muslim traders, who controlled the caravans and played major roles in the economy of the empire. There was also diplomatic relations with other Muslim empires and kingdoms in the Western Sudan.
Songhai fought several wars of expansion in the Western Sudan. For example, Sunni Ali used his military power to embark on geographical expansion. The empire also raided the Tuareg enclaves in the north and Mossi in the south and exacted tributes from them.
Songhai Empire extended its religion, ideology, culture and language which gained prominence at the peak of its growth. As a result, the neighbouring states imbibed the tradition of the empire. It also made use of some of the neighbouring states like Berber territories of mine salt.
The slaves that served in the Songhai Empire and in the trade along the Sahara were obtained from neighbouring villages mostly from the non-Muslim states.
The empire established peaceful relations with its neighbours, who were either conquered or felt threatened by its powerful influence.
In some cases, Songhai Empire extended support to some of its neighbours. For instance, the empire had banking facilities for the use of foreign merchants and Arab traders.
Songhai Empire’s relationship with its neighbours was basically in the interest of the empire. It was this relationship that contributed to its rise and also was responsible for its downfall later.