Mali Empire - Ancient History EncyclopediaActing as a middle-trader between North Africa via the Sahara desert and the Niger River to the south, Mali exploited the traffic in gold , salt, copper , ivory, and slaves that crisscrossed West Africa. Muslim merchants were attracted to all this commercial activity, and they converted Mali rulers who in turn spread Islam via such noted centres of learning as Timbuktu. In contrast to cities like Niani the capital , Djenne, and Gao, most of the rural Mali population remained farmers who clung to their traditional animist beliefs. The Mali Empire collapsed in the s CE following civil wars, the opening up of trade routes elsewhere, and the rise of the neighbouring Songhai Empire , but it did continue to control a small part of the western empire into the 17th century CE. Cereals such as red-skinned African rice and millet were grown with success, as were pulses, tuber and root crops, oil and fibre plants, and fruits. Fishing and cattle herding were other important sources of food, while local deposits of copper were exploited and used for trade. Similarly, gold was probably locally mined or panned and then traded, but concrete evidence from this period is lacking.
Mansa Musa and the Empire of Mali
The empire was founded by Sundiata Keita and became renowned for the wealth of its rulers, especially Musa Keita. The Manding languages were spoken in the empire. The Mali Empire was the largest empire in West Africa and profoundly influenced the culture of West Africa through the spread of its language, laws and customs. The other major source of information is Mandinka oral tradition , through storytellers known as griots. The empire began as a small Mandinka kingdom at the upper reaches of the Niger River , centred around the town of Niani the empire's namesake in Manding.
Musa I c. At the time of Musa's rise to the throne, the Malian Empire consisted of territory formerly belonging to the Ghana Empire in present-day southern Mauritania and in Melle Mali and the immediate surrounding areas. He was one of the richest people in history;  Time magazine reported: "There's really no way to put an accurate number on his wealth. Musa Keita was referred to and is most commonly found as Mansa Musa in Western manuscripts and literature. Abu-Bakr did not ascend the throne, and his son, Musa's father, Faga Laye, has no significance in the History of Mali.
A Visual History of Iconic Black Hairstyles
During that period, the Mali Empire flourished thanks to ample natural resources like gold and salt. And under the rule of Musa, the prosperous empire grew to span a sizeable portion of West Africa, from the Atlantic coast to the inland trading hub of Timbuktu and parts of the Sahara Desert. As the territory grew while Musa was on the throne, so did the economic standing of its citizens. A devout Muslim in a majority Muslim community, Musa set off on a journey to Mecca for his Hajj pilgrimage. Mansa Musa on his way to Mecca.