In the chaos of the post Wagaduan West Sudan, there emerged a tyrant named Sumanguru who dominated the weak successor states of the fallen empire. However, the Mandingo prince Sundiata keita led a coalition of forces against him, defeating him the battle of Kirina circa 1235. With his opponent defeated, Sudiata was crowned Mari Djati I. Ultimately, Mari Djati’s empire would stretch 1,000 miles from the Atlantic to the Niger Delta region. Mali, unlike Wagadu, incorporated within its territory the gold mines which were outside of Wagadu’s borders.
The wealth of Mali was immense in gold, salt, agricultural goods, ivory, and slaves. The emperors of Mali were Muslim and devoted much wealth to the propogation on the Islamic religion within their borders. In 1325, the Malian Emperor Mansa Musa made a pilgrimage to Mecca. His vast caravan under the imperial banner of red and gold consisted of 60,000 men, 12,000 slaves, and 80 camels. As Musa travelled, he distributed gold to the poor. Unfortunately, this had the effect of drastically reducing the value of gold and otther precious metals in local markets, setting off a massive cascade of hyperinflation that threatened to devastate the economy of North Africa. The hyperinflationary maelstrom was finally halted when Mansa Musa reach Cairo, realized his error, and borrowed all the gold he could afford, at high interest, to restore balance to the market. In effect, Emperor Mansa Musa cornered the entire Mediterranean gold market. However, Musa’s most precious commodity that he purchased on his pilgrimage was knowledge. Muslim scholars from throughout Africa, Asia, and Europe (mostly Spain) flocked to the expanding Madrassas of Mali. In addition, Musa’s gold also indirectly helped finance the beginnings of the European Renaissance.