The History of the Great Mali Empire in the 13th Century

Posted: July 9, 2012 by phermc10 in Context of Film

The truly ancient African civilizations, which in their times, were as huge and grand as any one of us on the planet. As you watch Keita, you can learn a way to look at the histories and glory of ancient Africa.

The Mali Empire of the Mande or Mandinka came into existence in West Africa during the 13th century. The Mali Empire was situated in the vicinity of gold mines and the fertile areas of the delta of the Niger River. The region was under the domination of the Ghana Empire until the mid-11th century. When Ghana Emperor deteriorated, many brief kingdoms strived to influence over the western Sudan region.

In 1235, the small state of Kangaba which was headed by Sundjata Keita or Sundiata Keita conquered the neighboring kingdom of Susu at the confrontation of Kirina. The tribes of the heartland were brought together under the strong and dynamic Sundjata who later became the head of Mali Empire. The Mali rulers were said to have converted to Islam, but this did not harm the survival of the beliefs and customs of the traditional Mande religions.

The Mali Empire, located on the upper reaches of the Senegal and Niger rivers, was the second and most wide-ranging of the three massive West African empires. It proved to be an example of governance for many kingdoms to follow after its fall in the 15th and 16th centuries. It had many great cultural impacts on West Africa, with the spread of its language, laws and traditions along the Niger River. Under the ruling of Sundjata and his successors, Mali Empire quickly grew to the west until the Atlantic Ocean, to the south into the deep forest ranges, to the east elsewhere of the Niger River and to the north along the Sahara’s mining areas.

At its glory, Mali was allied with three independent states, namely Mali, Mema and Wagadou and 12 stronghold provinces. Mali’s ‘Lion Prince’, Sundjata Keita, was the cultural champion and ancestor of the Mande peoples, founder of the glorious Mali Empire, and a great source of inspiration of famous oral epic tradition of the griots in western Africa. He died in 1260.

Thal Sandy Tun

  1. […] continent began as early as 12,000 BC. There were many glorious empires such as Ghana (750-1076), Mali (1235-1645) and Songhai (1275-1591) […]

  2. […] Sotigui Kouyate, one of the first actors of Burkina Faso whose cinema is a significant part of West African film industry with its establishment of the film festival FESPACO in 1969. He was the father of the film’s director Dani Kouyate, belonging to the Mandinka ethnic group, one of the largest ethnic groups in West Africa as well as successors of the Mali Empire. […]

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