oa Africa Insight - The Mali Empire

Volume 17, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0256-2804



According to Fage the word 'Mali' and its variants (e g Mallei, Mel, Melit) are really foreign forms (Berber and Fulani) of a word which for the southern Mande, the Mandinka of the Niger Valley and further south, is Manding, and for the Soninke is simply Mande. It means the place where the king (mansa) lives. According to Fage, there is evidence that the great state created by Sundiata and his successors was by no means the first Mande kingdom in the upper Niger Valley. What was new in this empire was its size and the fact that it consciously took up the role of successor to ancient Ghana as the major political and commercial power in western Sudan.

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