Rabu, 18 Januari 2023

The Forgotten Kingdoms of Africa (Part 2): The Mali Empire and the Songhai Empire

So far, Europeans have thought that they were the center of civilization, while other nations, such as Africa, were considered barbarians. Indirectly, there is a stigma that Africa can know technology and science after the arrival of white people on the black continent. Long before the arrival of Europeans in Africa, various civilizations had taken place. Not only in Egypt but in various other areas in Africa. The following will present the seven most famous Ancient Kingdoms in Africa:

3. Malian Empire

After the fall of the Kingdom of Ghana, the Mali Empire dominated the West African region. Located on the Niger River and west of Ghana (present-day Niger and Mali), this empire reached its peak in the 1350s.

The Mali Empire was founded by Mansa (King) Sundiata Keita and became famous for its wealth, especially Mansa Musa who was the grandson of Sundiata's half-brother. It was Mansa Musa who succeeded in bringing Mali to its wealth, where trade tripled from the previous era. During his reign, Mansa Musa had managed to expand his territory by two times, so that the kingdom was larger than in European kingdoms at that time.

Mali's cities became important trading centers throughout West Africa, and were known as centers of wealth, culture and education. Timbuktu, an important city in Mali, is one of the important cultural centers not only in Africa, but throughout the world. Extensive libraries and Islamic universities were built. So this city became a meeting place for the best poets, scholars and artists from Africa and the Middle East.

Territory of the Empire of Mali

The Kingdom of Mali has a semi-democratic government with a constitution being the oldest in the world which is called “The Kurukan Fuga”. This book was created in 1235 by nobles to create a government for the newly founded empire.

“The Kurukan Fouga” was distributed by the new empire to the representatives of the ruling clans at a large gathering called the Gbara. The Gbara is the deliberative body of the Mali Empire consisting of 32 members from all 29 tribes. They are given a voice in government. The Gbara and Kurukan Fuga continued to exist for over 400 years until 1645.

The Great Mosque of Djenné


4. Songhai Empire

The Songhai Empire, was the largest empire in African history and the most powerful of the western African states during the Middle Ages. The territory of this kingdom began to expand during the reign of King Sonni Ali in the 1460-1500s, from Cameroon to the Maghreb.
Previously, in 1360 succession disputes weakened the Mali Empire. This allowed the Songhai Empire, which was previously under the control of the Mali Empire, to become independent in 1430. About thirty years later, Sonni Sulaiman Dama attacked Mema (a province of Mali west of Timbuktu). This success paved the way for his successor, Sonni Ali, to transform his country into one of the largest empires sub-Saharan Africa has ever seen.
It expanded rapidly starting with King Sonni Ali in the 1460s and by the 1500s, it increased to stretch from Cameroon to the Maghreb. In 1360, succession disputes weakened the Mali Empire, and in the 1430s, Songhai, formerly a Malian dependency, became independent under the Sonni dynasty. Some thirty years later, Sonni Sulaiman Dama invaded Mema, the western Mali province from Timbuktu, paving the way for his successor, Sonni Ali, to transform his country into one of the largest empires sub-Saharan Africa has ever seen.

The territory of the Songhai Empire

The Songhai Empire reached its peak during the reign of King Muhammad Askia the Great. At its peak, the city of Timbuktu developed into a cultural and commercial center. Arab, Italian and Jewish merchants all gathered at the place to trade. In 1500, the Songhai Empire covered an area of ​​over 1.4 million square kilometers.


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