Sundiata: An Epic of Old Mali

Imperial Mali

After his victory at Kirina, Mansa Sundiata established his capital at Niani, near the present-day Malian border with Guinea.[40] Assisted by his generals, Tiramakhan being one of the most prominent, he went on to conquer other states. The lands of the old Ghana Empire were conquered. The king of Jolof was defeated by Tiramakhan and his kingdom reduced to a vassal state. After defeating the former ally of Soumaoro, Tiramakhan ventured deep into present-day Senegal, the Gambia and Guinea Bissau and conquered them. Tiramakhan was responsible for the conquest of the Senegambia.[41] In Kaabu (part of present-day Guinea Bissau), he defeated the last great Bainuk king (King Kikikor) and annexed his state. The great Kikikor was killed and his kingdom was renamed Kaabu.[42][43] Sundiata was responsible for the conquest of Diafunu and Kita.[41] Although the conquered states were answerable to the Mansa (king of kings) of Mali, Sundiata was not an absolute monarch despite what the title implies. Though he probably wielded popular authority, the Mali Empire was reportedly run like a federation with each tribe having a chief representative at the court.[44] The first tribes were Mandinka clans of Traore, Kamara, Koroma, Konde (or Conde), and of course Keita. The Great Gbara Assembly was in charge of checking the Mansa's power, enforcing his edicts among their people, and selecting the successor (usually the Mansa's son, brother or sister's son).[45] The Empire flourished from the 13th to the late 14th century[6] but began to decline as some vassal states throw away the yoke of Mali and regained their independence. Some of these former vassals went on to form empires of their own.[46]


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