A New Paradigm of the African State: Fundi wa Afrika by Mueni wa Muiu, Guy Martin (auth.)

By Mueni wa Muiu, Guy Martin (auth.)

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By the time of his death (1337), Mali was a wealthy, prosperous, and well organized empire, with cities renowned throughout the Sudan for their culture and learning. One of Kanku Musa’s successors, his brother Mansa Suleyman (1341–60), is well known to us thanks to the writings of Ibn Battuta. The Mossi invasion and pillage of Timbuktu (1337) marks the beginning of the decline of the Mali Empire. Mali was known for its intellectual center in Timbuktu. Mali was a matrilineal society, and succession was based on matrilineal descent; men traced their lineage to the brothers of their mothers rather than to their fathers.

Axum’s territory included present-day Eritrea and the northern highlands of Ethiopia (Tigray), and extended as far south as the middle Takkaze River. The power of Axum was based on military conquest. Its empire extended over northern Ethiopia, southern Sudan, and southern Arabia. Axum was well-placed to benefit from trade routes that connected the Mediterranean to northeast Africa and Saudi Arabia. Trade also involved northeast Africa and the Red Sea through Axum and Port Adulis. From the first to the seventh centuries AD, Adulis was the single major coastal port of Axum on the Red Sea through which all the kingdom’s trade flowed.

Nubians ruled the new kingdom that emerged after the conquest of Kush. Nubia acted as a link between central Africa and the Mediterranean. Toward the end of the sixth century, Nubia was a Christian country consisting of three regional kingdoms: Nobadia (north), Makuria (center), and Alodia (south). Located along the Nile, Nubia’s small kingdoms rose to power between the conquest of Kush and the Arab conquest of Egypt in 639 BCE. Makuria’s capital was Dongola, while Alodia’s was Soba. Both kingdoms had been occupied by Kush from the third century BCE to the third century of our era, and were thus strongly influenced by Kushitic culture.

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