Pub. date: 2012 | Online Pub. Date: May 31, 2012 | DOI: 10.4135/9781452218458 | Print ISBN: 9781412981767 | Online ISBN: 9781452218458| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Mali Empire: Prehistory to 1400: Africa
Khonsura A. Wilson
Mali was defined by its large and powerful military; its generous, competent and ethical leaders; and its highly creative people. Mali, which means ‘where the king resides in the Mande language, started as a small Mandingo or Malinke community called Kangaba. It was located in the western part of the southern savanna, around the Upper Niger, and included ancient Ghana and the newly discovered gold fields at Bure. The worldview of the Malinke was spiritual; that is, like many west Africans, they paid reverence to the ancestors and spirits. Traditionally, the Malinke relied on spiritual contact with their ancestors to keep in touch with the original settlers, or the original “spirits of the lands” to ensure successful crop production. The community leader or Mansa had to be a direct descendant from the earliest farmer, and therefore the most directly linked to the land. As guardian of the ancestors, the mansa ...