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The Empire of Mali

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the empire of Mali, famous for the wealth of its rulers such as Mansa Musa and the largest empire in west Africa.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Empire of Mali which flourished from 1200 to 1600 and was famous in the wider world for the wealth of rulers such as Mansa Musa. Mali was the largest empire in west Africa and for almost 400 years controlled the flow of gold from mines in the south up to the Mediterranean coast and across to the Middle East. These gold mines were the richest known deposits in the 14th Century and produced around half of the world's gold. When Mansa Musa journeyed to Cairo in 1324 as part of his Hajj, he distributed so much gold that its value depreciated by over 10%. Some of the mosques he built on his return survive, albeit rebuilt, such as the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Great Mosque of Djenne.


Amira Bennison
Reader in the History and Culture of the Maghrib at the University of Cambridge

Marie Rodet
Senior Lecturer in the History of Africa at SOAS


Kevin MacDonald
Professor of African Archaeology
Chair of the African Studies Programme at University College, London

Producer: Simon Tillotson.

Available now

43 minutes

Last on

Thu 29 Oct 2015 21:30


Amira Bennison at the University of Cambridge

Marie Rodet at SOAS

Kevin MacDonald at University College London

West Africa: Word, Symbol, Song – British Library

Sorotomo: A Forgotten Malian Capital?

Mali Empire - Wikipedia

Musa I of Mali - Wikipedia 



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Stephen Belcher, Epic Traditions of Africa (Indiana University Press, 1999)

David C. Conrad (ed.), Sunjata: A West African Epic of the Mande Peoples (Hackett Publishing Company, 2004)

Ross E. Dunn, The Adventures of Ibn Battuta, A Muslim Traveler of the 14th Century (University of California Press, 2004)

Roxanne Euben, Journeys to the Other Shore: Muslim and Western Travelers in Search of Knowledge (Princeton University Press, 2008)

Said Hamdum & Noel King (eds.), Ibn Battuta in Black Africa (first published 1994; Markus Wiener Publishers, 2012)

John Hunwick, West Africa, Islam and the Arab World (Markus Wiener Publishers, 2006)

Nehemia Levtzion & Jay Spaulding, Medieval West Africa: Views from Arab Scholars and Merchants (Markus Wiener Publishers, 2002)

Nehemia Levtzion, Ancient Ghana and Mali (Methuen, 1973)

N. Levtzion & J. Hopkins, Corpus of Early Arabic Sources for West African History (Cambridge University Press, 1981)

D. T. Niane, Sundiata: An Epic of Old Mali (first published 1965; Longman, 2006)

Roland Oliver (ed.), The Cambridge History of Africa, Vol.3 (Cambridge University Press, 1977), especially ‘The hegemony of Mali in the Western Sudan’ by N. Levtzion

F. D. Sisoko (trans. J. W. Johnson), Son-Jara: The Mande Epic: Mandekan/English Edition with notes and Commentary (Indiana University Press, 2004)

Bamba Suso & Banna Kanute, Sunjata: Gambian Versions of the Mande Epic (Penguin Classics, 1999)


Role Contributor
Presenter Melvyn Bragg
Interviewed Guest Amira Bennison
Interviewed Guest Marie Rodet
Interviewed Guest Kevin MacDonald
Producer Simon Tillotson


  • Thu 29 Oct 2015 09:00
  • Thu 29 Oct 2015 21:30

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