Medieval Africa

Important People By Samantha

Mansa Musa



  • Mansa Musa ruled AD 1312-1337.
  • He ruled West Africa empire of Mali.
  • Mali became a great center of education commerce and the arts under his rule.
  • Bragged he had such a vast empire that it would take a year to get from one end to the other.
  • Even though Mali had enormous size and wealth, the kingdom was not well known, so Mansa Musa had a pilgrimage to Makkah in 1324 to announce his wealth and riches.
  • He was joined by many people including 8,000 enslaved people, 100 camels, and 24,000 pounds of gold.
  • He spent so much gold in Cairo that the value of gold in Cairo dropped and did not recover for 12 years.
  • Mansa Musa's famous pilgrimage brought attention to his kingdom, and Mali was put on the maps by 1339.
  • Many other kingdoms in Africa and the Middle East wished to establish trade connections with Mali.




Ibn Battuta

  • Ibn Battuta lived AD 1307-1377; he was a young Arab lawyer who set out to see the Muslim world.
  • He traveled for almost 30 yrs. and covered more than 73,000 miles of land.
  • When he arrived in West Africa in 1352, Islam had been practiced for hundreds of years, but not everyone followed Islam.
  • People in the countryside still followed traditional African religions.
  • Ibn Battuta found many things in West Africa that surprised him.

Sunni Ali


  • Sunni Ali ruled AD 1464-1492; he was the leader of Songhai.
  • He drove out the Berbers that came into Timbuktu after Mansa Musa died.
  • He seized the control of river trade of the Niger River by sending out war canoes.
  • His armies went westward in the Sahara Dessert; this is where he took control of the Berber salt mines.
  • By the time of his death in 1492 he had built the largest empire in Africa.



Queen Nzinga

  • Queen Nzinga ruled AD 1623-1663.
  • She was known for her military leadership, and she was the daughter of the king of Ndongo.
  • She was very good at archery and hunting.
  • She was intelligent and a natural athlete.
  • The king failed to notice his daughter because he was to busy defending the kingdom from the Portuguese that wanted to buy enslaved Africans and ship them overseas.
  • Nzinga knew she would be a good leader.
  • Even though didn't want to she learned the enemy's language, she did because it would soon benefit her.
  • She became queen in 1623 and declared her territory free territory.
  • For 30 years she led her people in battles against the Portuguese.
  • She allied with other African kingdoms to seal trade routes that are used to ship enslaved Africans.
  • In 1662 she negotiated a peace agreement with the Portuguese.
  • She died a year later at age 81.