Who was the Founder and Uniter of The Mali Empire?

Who founded the Mali empire and When? How did Prince Sundiata win the War? How was the Kingdom governed? Who was the Most Famous Leader of the Mali Empire? What were his Notable Works?

Numerous empires have been founded across the world. Some of them were successful and earned a name in history while others were abolished or faced downfall. The Mongol Empire was the largest empire in the world and it existed during the 13th and 14th centuries. Have you heard about the Mali Empire and if so, who was the founder and uniter of the Mali Empire? If you do not have the answer to all these questions, then worry not! We are here to help you. Read on to know when was the Mali Empire founded and the most famous leader of the Mali Empire. 

1. What is the Meaning of Mali?

The Mali Empire was also known by the names Mande, Manden, and Manding but these are the same words with different pronunciations in different languages. According to the researchers, in the Manding language, the term Mali was the name of the region which was the heartland of the Mali empire. (See Who killed Lapu-Lapu?)

2. Who was the Founder and Uniter of the Mali Empire?

The founder and uniter of the mali empire was the prince of the Malinke tribe in West Africa known as Sundiata Keita. He was born into the Malinke tribe but his bravery and capability made him the ruler of the biggest empire in West Africa. He not only founded the Empire of Mali but also conquered the neighboring kingdoms and united them together under his rule. (See Fall of Constantinople Effects)

3. When was the Mali Empire founded?

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By the time Sundiata gained his training, the kingdom of Sosso of the Ghana Empire was crumbling. Sundiata overthrows the last successor of the Ghana Empire. When was the Mali Empire founded? The Empire of Mali was founded after Sundiata Keita achieved victory over the kingdom of Sosso, circa 1180. During the 13th to 17th centuries. Sundiata Keita laid the foundation of one of the most powerful kingdoms of West Africa in 1235 CE with his capital in Naini. (See What are the 3 Types of History?)

4. How did Sundiata win?

Prince formed a powerful alliance by gaining the companionship of the chiefs of various tribes who were tired of the rule of Sumanguru, the Ghana ruler. Sundiata waged war against the Ghana Empire in 1230 and defeated Sosso in the battle of Krina in 1235. He formed a centralized government of tribal leaders along with influential Arab merchants. (See What were King Philip II of Spain Accomplishments?)

5. Who named the Kingdom Mali?

After reading about the founder and uniter of the Mali Empire, there is much more yet to know. The foundation of the new empire was laid; the assembly of chiefs declared Sundiata the supreme monarch and gave him titles like Mari Diata, which means Lord Lion. Sundiata Keita named his empire Mali, which meant the place where the King lives. He declared that every next ruler will be from the Keita clan but removed the necessity of the eldest son being the King. (See 8 Quinceañera History Facts)

6. How was the Kingdom governed?

The kingdom was governed by the Mansa or king himself. The King was assisted by an assembly of elders and loyal chiefs who stood by him during the war. King was the head of justice, but he never refrained from using the advice of legal advisors. King was the supreme head of everything in the kingdom and monopolized the key trade goods. Only kings can possess gold nuggets while the traders have to work with gold dust. It was believed that the King possessed certain attributes and that the rise and fall of the kingdom were completely dependent on the capabilities of the ruler. (See Video Summary: Venice and the Ottoman Empire: Crash Course World History #19)

7. What were the Conditions Of Trade?

The Mali Empire benefitted much due to its prime location, which was between the rainforests in West Africa and North Africa, the powerful Muslim Caliphates. The Niger River provided easy routes toward the interior of the continent. The Berber tribes were the controllers of the camel caravans that crossed the Sahara Desert. The kingdom was thriving under the founder and uniter of the Mali Empire. (See Why was Napoleon called The Little Corporal?)

8. How did the Kingdom gain Wealth?

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The Mali Empire was controlling the gold-bearing regions of Bambuk, Bure, and Galam. The kingdom was mining outstanding salt and deposits of gold. They traded gold dust for salt from the Sahara because European powers demanded gold and West Africa had rich deposits of it. Elephant ivory was another source of wealth. Also, the rulers earned their main income from taxes. Their main sources of income were: 

  • The taxes imposed on the passage of the trade goods
  • Buying goods at a fairly lower price and selling them at a higher price
  • Had access to their own natural resources

9. Which Ruler left a Mark in the History of the Mali Empire?

As you already read about the founder and uniter of the mali empire, note that there were many lacking rulers in the Mali Empire after the death of Sundiata. Then, during the rule of Mansa Musa (King Musa) I in the first half of the 13th century, the Mali Empire experienced golden days once again. He not only efficiently ruled the prevailing kingdoms but even doubled them. He became the first ruler of the Mali Empire to embrace Islam which was being preached by the Arab merchants. He was the grandnephew of King Sundiata. Consequently, Mansa Musa I left a significant mark in the history of the Mali Empire. Must read Who was the Greatest King of ALL TIME?)

10. Who was the Most Famous Leader of the Mali Empire?

Mansa Musa I is considered the best and most famous leader of the Mali Empire after the founder and uniter of the Mali empire, King Sundiata Keita. It was his intelligence and knowledge of politics and leadership that made him the most successful leader of the time. He inherited the empire in its bloom, but his decisions took the empire to its peak. He proved to be an efficient ruler making the already prosperous Mali empire doubly prosperous. Also, check out the names of the 20 Greatest Men who changed the World.

11. Was Musa a Good Leader?

Yes, undoubtedly, he was a good ruler. Mansa Musa is known to be the best and extremely successful military leader of the Mali Empire. He ruled for about 25 years and in this period, he tripled the empire in size and had a lasting influence on modern-day countries like Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Chad, and Senegal. He conquered more than 20 major cities including the Songhai prestigious Songhai capital of Gao. (See Who was the Most Hated Queen?)

12. How did his Pilgrimage Journey make the Impact?

Photo by Shahbaz Hussain Shah

Mansa Musa set on a long journey from Mali to Mecca between 1324 and 1325 to perform Haj. He made sure to make this a notable journey and his caravan is mentioned in history as the most impressive caravan that had 80 camels where each camel carried three hundred pounds of gold. He also had 60,000 men along with him, all of them adorned in brocade and Persian silk. He even recruited Muslim teachers and leaders during this journey to help him spread the message of the Quran (the holy book of Muslims) and Islam in his kingdom. This proved helpful for him and made him the most famous ruler after the founder and uniter of the Mali Empire.

His pilgrimage impacted Cairo’s economy; he poured Cairo with so much gold that the value of gold declined. The effect was still seen even after 12 years of Musa’s visit. (See What are the Characteristics of Ancient Art?)

13. What were his Other Achievements?

Mansa Musa left no stone unturned to make his empire the most notable and wealthy in the world. The stories of his wealth and large gold reserves were spread far and wide. His other achievements were: 

  • To make the city of Timbuktu a wealthy metropolis by constructing Djinguereber Mosque
  • The mosque became the major learning center that attracted both learners and scholars from the Muslim World
  • He maintained good trade relations with Cairo and other neighboring countries
  • Developed cities like Gao and Timbuktu were transformed into important cultural centers.
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