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"Sundiata" Mali’s First Ruler

Sundiata Keita (IPA (Mandinka, Malinke, Bambara) (c. 1217 – c. 1255[8]) was a puissant prince and founder of the Mali Empire. The famous Malian ruler Mansa Musa who made a pilgrimage to Mecca was his grandnephew.


  Sundiata was Mali’s first ruler The oral history of the griots says Sundiata was a sickly child who had trouble walking. Exercise and hard work made him strong. He became a great military leader.  Written sources augment the Mande oral histories, with the Moroccan traveller Muhammad ibn Battúta (1304–1368) and the Tunisian historian Abu Zayd 'Abd al-Rahman ibn Muhammad ibn Khaldun al-Hadrami (1332–1406) both travelling to Mali in the century after Sundiata’s death and both providing powerful testimonies of Sundiata’s existence. The semi-historical Epic of Sundiata by the Malinké/Maninka people centers on his life. The epic poem is primarily known through oral tradition, transmitted by generations of Maninka griots.



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