Mali is one of the lovely countries located in Africa. The history of modern-day Mali is divided into:
- Pre-Imperial Mali
- Modern Mali
Pre-Imperial Mali is a record of the time before the 13th century. It is the history of the eponymous Mali Empire and the Songhai Empire.
Mali shares a border with French Sudan, drawn in 1891. An artificial border unites part of the larger Sudan with parts of the Sahara desert. Thus, Mali is multiethnic and has a large population of people who are Mandé peoples.
The trans-Saharan trade plays a huge role in connecting West Africa and Maghreb. Timbuktu is a representative of this. It is located at the edge of the Sahara and close to the Niger River.
Over 300,000 years ago, the Sahara and its environs, used to be extremely dry and uninhabitable for humans.
The inhabitants of Mali hardly settled in one place because the region was unsuitable for cattle farming during the rainy season. Apart from cattle herders, the people of Mali survived by fishing, collecting wild grasses and hunting.
The Mali Empire is the principal empire in West Africa and played a major role in influencing West African culture through the spread of its language, laws and customs.
Timbuktu was the most important outpost at the southwestern border of the Muslim world. It was a major hub of the trans-Saharan slave trade.
The Mali Empire was created by Sundiata Keita and was known for the wealth of its sovereigns, one of whom was Mansa Musa I. it has deep cultural influences on West Africa and along the River Niger. There were many vassal kingdoms and provinces.
The Story of the Many Empires
In the story of the history of Mali, there are many empires whose stories you will hear told, of fights and conquests.
The fall of the Mali Empire in the 16th century led to the rise of the Songhai Empire. They took their independence and made Gao their capital. They began to expand towards the Sahel.
Towards the end of the 16th century, the Songhai Empire gave way to the Moroccan Saadi dynasty. Morocco gained control of Timbuktu.
Moroccans were only to occupy a few portions of the country and there arose small successor kingdoms.
The Bambara Empire existed as a centralized state from 1712 to 1861. A second Bambara state was created also known as the kingdom of Kaarta that exists in Western Mali today.
The Senufo Kenedugu Kingdom arose in the 17th century and was located in the area that is Burkina Faso and Mali.
In 1862, an Islamic-motivated uprising led to the creation of a separate state. The Toucouleur Empire was founded in 1864 and this empire ruled the territory that is Mali until the French conquered the region in 1890.
The Wassoulou Empire ruled for a short while until Mali fell under French Colonial rule in 1893. They were under French control by 1905.
They became a part of French Sudan and helped the French colonies on the coast of West Africa. In 1959, the Sudanese Republic and Senegal formed the Federation of Mali. In 1960, France agreed for Mali to become fully independent. They became fully independent on June 20, 1960, and Modibo Keita became its first president.
After withdrawal from Senegal, the former Sudanese Republic became the Republic of Mali on 22 September.
Between 1962 and 1964, there was a Tuareg insurgency in northern Mali. Between a bloodless coup and a new constitution in 1974, Mali stabilized politically in 1982. They remained calm until a brief war over a border clash between Mali and Burkina Faso.
In 1990, a unified opposition movement emerged. The increasing tempestuous political situation led to the return of large numbers of Tuareg to Mali.
Mali continued to demand a multi-party system, an independent press and independent political associations. Students and government workers took to the streets to riot. The Malian constitution was suspended.
After many false starts, in January 2012, another insurgency was begun. Rebel troops from the military seized control of the country announcing unrest and improper handling of the conflict with rebels. The president went into hiding.
The result of this unrest is that the military government controls only a southern third of the country while the rebels control the northern part of Mali.
Sadly, the rebels controlled Timbuktu.
The Involvement of ECOWAS
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) responded by freezing the assets and imposing an embargo on the country leaving citizens with only days of fuel.
Mali is dependent on fuel imports from Senegal and Ivory Coast. From July 17, 2012, their allies and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb pushed out the Tuareg rebels.
Ninety-two thousand refugees at Mbera Mauritania say that the Islamists intend to impose an Islam of lash and gun on Malian Muslims.
The Islamists living in Timbuktu went ahead and destroyed about twelve revered aboveground tombs of holy men. They claimed the tombs are contrary to Shariah.
There was never any successful peace treaty between the Malian government and the Tuareg rebels.
In 2020, there were more street protests calling for the resignation of President Ibrahim Keita. Soldiers arrested the president and prime minister on 18 August 2020. The president resigned and left the country.
Another coup and another group took over Mali again. The National Committee for the Salvation of the People agreed to an 18-month political transition to civilian rule on 12 September 2020.
Then Bah N’Daw was named interim president. On May 25, 2021, Colonel Assimi Goïta sacked the president and the prime minister.
The History of Mali continues.
Also read: kiiThe History of Sierra Leone