The Empire of Mali

29 Oct, 2015 960 History of 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.

Play on BBC Sounds website


  • Amira Bennison 10 episodes
    Reader in the History and Culture of the Maghrib at the University of Cambridge
  • Marie Rodet No other episodes
    Senior Lecturer in the History of Africa at SOAS
  • Kevin MacDonald No other episodes
    Professor of African Archaeology Chair of the African Studies Programme at University College, London

Reading list

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    Bamba Suso & Banna Kanute (Penguin Classics, 1999) Google Books →

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Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. The Empire of Mali flourished during the European Middle Ages.