Wati ruled (badly) for
just four years before being succeeded by this adopted brother,
a former freed slave, Khalifa Keita. In turned out that Khalifa
was to be an even worse leader reportedly spending time shooting
passers by with arrows for sport. It was an ugly precedent as he
ended up being assassinated and succeeded by his uncle and
Sundjata Keita's brother, Abubakari I, who had previously been
appointed to serve as regent until Uli was old enough to serve
as Mansa, but was usurped by Uli claiming the throne early.
The reign of Abubakari I
(1275 - 1285) saw the restoration of Mali's fortune's after the
mismanagement of his nephews. He was succeeded by former slave
and army general Mansa Sakura who seized the throne in 1285 who
reinforced the Mali empire's military position including the
conquest of Gao.
However he was assassinated in 1350 and succeeded by Sundjata Keita's
sister's son, Gao. Gao ruled until 1305 when he was succeeded by his son
Mohammed ibn Gao who himself ruled for a further five years before being
succeeded by his uncle Abubakari II in 1310. Abubakari II himself
abdicated in favour of exploration and there were unsubstantiated reports
that he had actually discovered the New World.
By this time the Mali rulers had converted to Islam and
Abubakari II's successor following his abdication, Musa I, was a
devout Muslim, who made an historic pilgrimage to Mecca in 1324,
promoting Mali along the way as a prosperous, educated and awe
On his return Musa
started a building program, constructing
universities across his fiefdom. By this time ancient Mali was
the source of half the world's gold ands its territory had
expanded north and west to the Atlantic ocean and, by the
fourteenth century, was about the size of Western Europe, and
the envy of many other African nations.
The reign of Musa is widely regarded as being ancient Mali's most powerful
period. He was succeeded by his son Maghan (1337 - 1341) who, in turn, was
succeeded by his uncle and father's brother Suleyman who ruled until 1360.
However these and subsequent kings were widely regarded as weak and unable to
maintain the integrity of the empire.
Over these and subsequent years Mali became fragmented and after the
death of Mahmud IV in 1610, there was no clear ruler with his
three sons fighting over his legacy. The Empire of Mali was
effectively over. There followed a long period of various groups
running the area which changed in shape and size over the
centuries until Mali came under French colonial rule in 1892 as
part of the scramble for Africa. The area, then known as French
Sudan, became the autonomous state of the Sudanese Republic in
1958 and gained full independence from France in 1960, forming,
together with Senegal, the Federation of Mali. However months
later Senegal withdrew from the federation and the Sudanese
Republic was renamed the Republic of Mali.