MALI and SONGHAI
Centered on the upper reaches of the Senegal and Niger rivers, Mali evolved by the early 11th century from a group of Mande chieftancies. In the mid 13th Century, the
state began a period of expansion under the vigorous ruler Sundiata Keita. Soon afterward, the rulers of Mali appear to have converted to Islam. The high point of the Mali Empire was reached under Mansa (King) Musa, who conducted a pilgrimage to Mecca in 1324 and 1325, opened diplomatic relations with Tunis and Egypt, and brought a number of Muslim scholars and artisans to the Empire.
After 1400 the empire declined and Songhai emerged as the leading State in the Western Sudan. Although Songhai dates from before the 9th Century, its greatest period of expansion occurred under Sunni Ali and Askia Muhammad. During the latter's rule, Islam flourished at the Court and Timbucktu became a major center of Muslim learning, renowned for its University and its book trade.
tracted by its wealth, the armies of Al-Mansur of Morocco overran Gao, the Songhai capital, in 1591. Following the collapse of Songhai, a number of small Kingdoms - Macina, Gonja, Segou, Kaarta strove in the Western Sudan, but continual strife and economic decline were the only results
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