This week's black history facts explore two African cultures that, unknown to most people, have popped up throughout Africa’s history, growing into powerful empires. These vast nations united Africa, managed wealthy trade routes, and controlled a potluck of cultures.
The Mali Empire was a major African civilization that thrived between the 13th and 16th centuries. Founded by a man named Sundiata Keita (aka the Lion King), the empire was located near present-day West Africa.While the Lion King was an impressive ruler, the empire flourished the most under Mansa Musa, who holds the title of the richest man in history. His fortune was worth a whopping $400 billion—an amount that puts Bill Gates to shame. Musa also made Timbuktu, the Mali capital, the main center for education and culture in Africa, allowing scholars from all over the continent to come and study.Like Benin, Mali was successful in trade because of its location by the Niger River. However, it was plundered by invaders from Morocco in 1593. This weakened the empire, and Mali soon ceased to be an important political entity.