Tuesday 2 July 2024

Did you know the Mandinka people also wrote a bill of rights in the 13th century?

The Mandinka people, also known as the Mandingo or Malinke, are one of the largest ethnic groups in West Africa, primarily located in countries like Mali, Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea, and Ivory Coast. Historically, they are known for their rich oral traditions and notable empires, such as the Mali Empire.

The Mali Empire, under the leadership of Sundiata Keita in the 13th century, is famous for the "Manden Charter" or "Kurukan Fuga." This charter, sometimes referred to as a constitution, was a set of oral laws and guidelines that governed the empire. It is considered one of the earliest examples of a charter of human rights. The Manden Charter was proclaimed at Kurukan Fuga after the Battle of Kirina in 1235. It covered aspects of social justice, property rights, and the environment.

While the Manden Charter was primarily an oral document, its principles have been preserved through oral tradition and later transcribed. Thus, although not a written constitution in the traditional sense, the Manden Charter represents a foundational legal and ethical document for the Mandinka people and the broader region of the Mali Empire.

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