GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT OF MALI
Two very important historical personalities dominated the history of Mali Empire. Mali growth and development revolves around three personalities. They are Sundiata (1230 – 1255) and Mansa Musa (1312 – 1337). A great deal of development can be attributed to them, but the various interpretations given to events in their reigns and their achievement represent the dichotomy which become pronounced in the evidence, for the history of the Sudan particularly after the adoption of Islam as an imperial cult. There is a tendency for the Ulama (Muslim scholars) to underplay the development of those leaders who were hostile to Islam while lauding to the skies those who openly professed Islam. In the context of Mali Empire, has been given little regard by the Ulama who hailed Mansa Musa, a more devot Muslim as the architect of the Empire.
THE REIGN AND DEVELOPMENT OF SUNDIATA
However, whatever may have been the contribution of these two men, Mali like Ghana, started from small beginnings among the Madinka living on the upper reaches of the Niger and the Senegal. The Madinka people were organized in small villages or Dugu with rulers called Dughtigi; it was these small villages which coalesced into the state of Kannada by the end of 20th century. Sundiata was from one of these villages and he succeeded in defeating the neighboring Susu state of Kaniaga, and finally capturing Ghana itself in 1240.
Sundiata established a new capital in Niani and thereafter started a career of conquest which was to lead to the emergence of Mali and his own transformation from a Dugutgi to a Mana or emperor. By the time of his death in 1255, Mali had embraced an extensive country including the former dependence of Ghana and some territories to the east, it controlled the source of most of the important articles of trade such as the salt mine of Taghaza, the copper mine of Takedda and gold mines to the south. He also brought under Mali dominantion such important trading town of Walata and Gao.
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