, Research Paper
In 1235, in the battle of Kirina, Sundiata, the king of Mandinke people, led his army to revolt against Sumanguru, the king of Ghana. Sundiata defeated Sumanguru and overthrew Ghana; he then created the Kingdom of Mali, which would eventually turn into the next major power of ancient West Africa. After defeating Sumanguru, Sundiata went back to his home and concentrated on improving his people s lives. Sundiata first set to restore the gold trades that had been interrupted during the war. Mali was able to gain control over Bure s gold mines. With the transportation of the Niger River, the gold could be quickly transported to the interested merchants in nearby cities.Niger River was the commerce link that tied East and West Africa. It has brought Mali prosperity and economic growth. Since Mali had rule over the river, it was able to control many trade routes that lay near the river. Through trades, many merchants from Arabia came to Mali to exchange their goods. In addition of trading goods, there merchants also taught Islam to the people of Mali. Many Mandinke people converted to Islam, including the kings, such as Mansa Musa, although most of them still kept the African traditions. Islam eventually became the state religion.The followers of Sundiata were able to expand the territory of Mali, look at the map on the right to see how much Mali had out grown Ghana. One of the most famous kings of Mali was Mansa Musa. His wealth demonstrated the power of Mali and astounded the Europeans when he made the pilgrimage to Mecca. The legend had it that Mansa Musa was accompanied with hundreds of servants, each servant had a staff of gold. During the trip, Mansa Musa was so generous that he gave away so much gold that the economy of Cairo in Egypt was affected for 20 years. After seeing the wealth and power of Mansa Musa, European mapmakers quickly put Mali onto their maps. Mansa Musa died in the 1337. In the time of Mansa Musa s rule, Mali occupied 12 provinces. Though the provinces had great deal of freedom, King of Mali had strict rule over the people s life. The king controlled trade, food production, and finance. To help ruling the Empire, the king had numerous subjects in his court. The most important of all was the king s griot. The king didn t speak directly to his subjects. He would talk to the griot in low voice, and griot would repeat King s words out loud to the subjects. An interesting fact of Mali was that the king walked on ground paved with cloth, because the people of Mali believed that the king was so divine that his feet could burn the ground. Other than griot, the king also had a close circle of advisers. Each adviser was corespondent to a specific area of government, such as military, trades, finances and etc. The sophistication of government exceeded the level seen in Ghana.
Mali probably had about 100,000 soldiers. A substantial Calvary helped to enforce the rule of the king. Each horseman was armed with long spears and sabre along with his bow and arrows. The Calvary was under direct control of the king, other foot soldiers were commanded by minor nobility. After the reign of Mansa Sulleyman in 1360, his followers failed to control the Empire. During the 14th century, Mali Kings began to spend vast amount of money on luxurious goods. The Empire began to decay. Even though Islam remained to be the state religion, some tribes resisted and fought for their ancestral religions. Mali suffered from the outside invaders while internal clashes became more and more servere. Finally, the group of people called Songhai rose into power and replaced as the next major Africa power.Mali didn t simply ceased to exist; it only lost its formal power. The Dogons of Mali continued to practice the artistic traditions. When the Europeans came to Africa, Mali was able to hold off the French for 15 years in the 19th century. After World War II, Mali was reborn by turning into a modern republic in September 22nd, 1960.