Monday 21 August 2023


Kankau (Mansa) Musa, the richest man in the world in medieval times and the emperor of Mali died in 1337 CE. Inari Kunate was the name of his wife and her Son Magan was the first to inherit the throne.

But he only ruled for 4 yrs, before his uncle, Suleiman stroke, killing Magan and taking over the throne for himself. Such an "illegitimate act enraged the Lords of the empire and each brought forth their contesting claims for the throne.

What followed was a succession crisis that destroyed the unity of the empire" suddenly Mali's strong, united Army split into factions, the empire began to fight itself. Perhaps, sensing weakness, horsemen of the Mossi tribe from the south began raiding the borders of the empire.

Enshrouded in a bitter civil war, the Malians were unable to react and the raids on their borders got bolder. Soon the clients kingdoms of the empire took notice. Among them was the the distant coastal kingdom of Wolof, which was the first to declare independence.

When Mali failed to move to restore Wolof to the empire, other client states who wanted independence saw their chances and took it. Among these were the hardy Songhai people of the city-state of Gao.

Suleiman soon died and passed the throne to his son who was in turn overthrown by another who was overthrown by another. During this time, each ruled for only a few years. In about 1366, the man on the throne was Mansa Musa II.

But he was only king in name, his uncle Mari Jeta, the royal vizier, was the one ruling. At one point, Mari Jeta even threw the young king in prison to put him out of the way.

The bitter situation that followed culminated in the irreversible fall of the empire which was later absorbed by the Songhai empire, centred around Gao which had been a client state of the empire, but grew strong in the ensuing crisis.

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