The Kingdom of Mali was located in Western Africa. It was formed along the Niger River and eventually spread over 1,200 miles away, from the city of Gao all the way to the Atlantic Ocean.
Its northern border was located just south of the Sahara Desert, though it did not occupy much of southern Africa. It covered land now owned by the modern African Countries Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Guinea.
The Mali Kingdom was founded in 1240 AD when a man named Sundiata Keita overthrew the Kingdom of Sosso (a 55-year government who had controlled this part of Africa before the Mali.)
Though the Mali Kingdom was wealthy and powerful, the largest kingdom of its kind ever seen before in Africa, it began to lose power in the 1400s and fully collapsed in 1610 when the Songhai Kingdom rose to power.
But what was it that made the Mali Kingdom so powerful, and why is it still remembered today?
Well, for starters, the reign of the Mali Kingdom saw the region reach new levels of wealth in terms of territory controlled, and because of their authority over regional trade routes.
Acting as the middle-man in all trade between North Africa and the regions across the Sahara to the south, the Kingdom of Mali took taxes from traders in the form of gold, ivory and even slaves.
The spread of Islam also played a big part in the booming Kingdom – as the traders spread Islam and the language of Arabic across Africa, the leaders of the Mali Kingdom were converted, and the implementation of Islamic law helped to keep crime rates low and peace high.
After Sundiata Keita captured the old capital of Sosso, it was decided that he was to be the “supreme monarch” (or king) of this new kingdom and that all future kings would be taken from his bloodline.
During the Mali Kingdom, the king was called the “Mansa.” The Mana would be assisted by an assembly of politicians and loyal advisors. The King was also the one who oversaw all trials in the kingdom, and he conducted trials with the aid of a large number of legal advisors.
The Mansa oversaw the government, but to make things easier to organize, the government was broken into a variety of cabinets and control was delegated to ministers.
This, in a way, is quite similar to the system of government we have nowadays.The role of the Mansa had quite a number of superstitions associated with it; for example, nobody was allowed to be in the king’s company while he ate, and all who came to visit him had to be barefoot, bow at his feet, and pour dust over their heads.
Because the government concentrated power so singularly in the hands of one figure, the fortunes of the kingdom were almost entirely dependent on the abilities of each king.
The greatest Mansa of them all was Mansa Musa I, who ruled in the first half of the 13th century.
With an army of 100,000 men, Mansa Musa was able to extend the kingdom, doubling its territory overall.
Because of this, the Mali Kingdom came to include many different religious groups, most of whom spoke different languages. To solve the problems associated with this, Mansa Musa divided the kingdom into provinces (regions) ruled over by governors.
He personally appointed these governors to ensure that they were suitable rulers. These decisions contributed to the success of the kingdom under his rule, but it was really his lavish trip to Mecca in Saudi Arabia that made him famous.
Mecca is the holy city of Islam and Mansa Musa decided to visit there in 1324. During this trip, Mansa Musa spent a huge amount of gold, but he also brought back a lot of architects, poets, and teachers who helped to improve his kingdom.
The Mali Kingdom began to weaken shortly after the death of Mansa Musa I. In the 1400s, the kingdom began to lose control of the regions along its borders, and in the 1500s, an opposing regime (the Songhai Kingdom) came to power and overthrew the Mali Kingdom.
The final Mensa, Mahmud IV, died in disgrace, and the Mali Kingdom came to a sudden end.
– Western Africa.
– The Niger River.
– 1240 AD, by a man named Sundiata Keita.
– The Mansa.
– Rich. The Kingdom took taxes from traders in the form of gold, ivory, and slaves, and made a great deal of money as a result.