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Mali Kingdom Overview

History Year 8 Summer Pre-Reading
West African Kingdoms
West Africa has been home to some great kingdoms and empires. The earliest of these
kingdoms belonged to the Nok people. They were farmers, potters and metalworkers who
settled near the River Niger around 500BC.
The kingdom of Ife developed in the rainforest in the 600s. Its art and religion influenced the
culture of the kingdom Benin, which began in the 900s and reached the height of its power
between the 1400s and the 1600s.
Between 700 and 1600 there were three great empires in the centre of West Africa: Ancient
Ghana, Mali and Songhai. They all grew immensely rich by trading in gold. One of the last
great kingdoms was Asante. It was founded around 1700. The Asante people were famous
for their work in gold.
1. Name three Kingdoms in West Africa from the text above. (Hint: these are in bold)
The Kingdom of Mali
The founder (creator) and first ruler of the Kingdom of Mali was Sundiata Keita. We know
about him through the writings of a 14th century North African historian named Ibn Khaldun.
Sundiata expanded (made bigger) the kingdom to include the Kingdom of Ghana and
West African gold fields.
2. Who was the founder of the Kingdom of Mali?
Who was Mansa Musa?
Mansa means King. The most celebrated king of Mali was Mansa Musa. He ruled from
around 1280 to 1340. He became famous in distant regions throughout the Muslim world
through his pilgrimage (religious journey) to Mecca, which is Saudi Arabia today. They were
amazed by his wealth. Mansa Musa travelled to Mecca with a procession (parade or large
group) of 60,000 men and 12,000 slaves! Each of the slaves carried a heavy gold bar. He
also took 80 camels loaded with sacks of gold dust. Musa gave away gold to all the poor
people he met on his route.
3. What does Mansa mean?
4. Who was the most celebrated King of Mali?
5. What made Mansa Musa famous?
A primary source image of Mansa Musa from the Medieval period.