Brief History of Mali

Mali is a landlocked country in West Africa. It has been the center of might pre-colonial empires including the Ghana, Songhai, and the Mali Empires. It was colonized by France and gained its independence in 1960. However shortly after independence, the country went through a period of military rule.

After writing a new constitution, the country reverted back to civilian rule. However, for the last two years, the military has taken over the leadership of this landlocked country.

Prehistory of Mali

The Malian history goes back to thousands of years. Excavation of the Ounjougou complex, near Bandiagara located at the Dogon Plateau provided evidence that Mali was inhabited by hunters and gatherers around 150,000 years ago. Besides, more evidence make certain that between 70,000 to 25,000 years ago it was a humanoid home.

The Ounjougou complex dates back to about 9,400 BC.  The residents of Ounjougou independently invented pottery. The oldest ceramic in Mali was used around 9400 BC.

The nomadic herding of cattle in Mali goes back to around between 4000 and 3500 BC. This drawan form the evidence from excavation in Karkarichinkat.  In this prehistory Mali, animal kept were cattle, goats and sheep. All the above claims are based on the archeological evidence. Beside animal husbandry, hunting, gathering as well as fishing were also source of proteins for the Malians, back then. It is hypothesized that the success of pastoralism may have prevented crop cultivation adoption and development.

The Malian land dried up. The drying of the previous Savanna climate led to drying of lakes forcing the people to shift towards the less dry south. Consequently, after the northern lakes dried up, the population mostly moved south.

By now it’s known that at least three groups of prehistory civilization existed in Mali around 2000 BC. These were around Méma, while the others were around Canal de Sonni Ali and Windé Koroji. Windé Koroji is on the border between Mali and Mauritania.

In around 1500 to 1000 BC, the archeological site at Hassi el Abiod and Kirkissoy near Niamey in Niger is evidence enough that the area was inhabited thousands of years ago.

The cultivation of crops started with wheat growing in west of Sahara. By the end of 2000 BC, the inhabitants of Mali were cultivating millet. This is according to the Varves Ouest site. The pearl millet ( Pennisetum glaucum ) was the type of millet cultivated back then. Additionally wheat and emmer, had been grown much earlier in the east of the Sahara

Trans Sahara Trade and Monarchs of Mali

Mali was one of the mighty empires of West Africa. The empires controlled the lucrative Trans-Saharan Trade. One of these early empires included Ghana, Songhai and Mali.

The Mali Empire stretched to the southern and western part of the modern state. Major cities of the empire included Timbuktu and Gao. At its peak, in the 1500AD, the empire had an area of about 400,000 square kilometers or 50,000 square miles and controlled many smaller states including Kaaba; a Senegambia kingdom.

Back then the empire was a renowned center of art, astronomy, mathematics, and literature.  The fall of Mali Empire was closely followed by successive kingdoms such as Bamana Empire and Toucouleur Empire.

Colonial History of Mali

The remaining empires in Mali were dismantled by France. This was after its colonization following the 1884 Berlin Conference.  The 1884 Berlin Conference was subsequently followed by the Scramble and Partition of Africa by major European powers. The previous states in Mali were dismantled by France. Additionally, it was made part of French Sudan and named the Sudanese Republic. As its independence neared,  it was joined by another French colony; Senegal to make the Mali Federation.

Post-Colonial History of Mali

The Independence of Mali and military takeovers

This new state gained its independence in 1960. However this federation did not survive and in 1960, Senegal pulled out. Consequently, Mali then known as the Sudanese Republic declared its Independence renaming itself to the Republic of Mali on the 22nd of September of 1960.

The country’s first president was the former Mali Federation Prime Minister Modibo Keïta. He became the country’s first president from the 20th of July, 1960 to the 19th of November, 1968 when he was overthrown by a Lieutenant, Moussa Traoré. Traoré put Modibo Keïta in jail where he died on the 16th of May, 1977.

Amadou Toumani Touré, a Colonel in the Malian Military and head of the prudential guards overthrew the government of Moussa Traoré becoming the country’s third president.  He helped the country write a new constitution and re-established democracy and multi-party politics.

Return of democracy in Mali

Amadou Toumani Touré led the country for a short stint as acting president and handed presidency after a successful election to Alpha Oumar Konaré.  Oumar Konaré led the country as the 4th president of Mali from the 8th of June, 1992 to the 8th of June 2002.  

Amadou Toumani Touré won the 2002 election and led the country from 8th of June 2002 to 22nd of March, 2012 when the government was overthrown for a month by Amadou Haya Sanogo. This new leader led the country from the 22nd of March, 2012 to the 12th of April, 2012.

Dioncounda Traoré became the country’s interim president of Mali from the 12th of April, 2012 to the 4th of September, 2013. After an election, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta became the sixth president of Mali.

Return of the Military Rule

Boubacar Keïta and had been in office from the 4th of September 2013 to the 19th of August, 2020. He was removed from office after a military coup. Following the coup, Boubacar Keïta resigned. Shortly after, the military junta arrested him. Due to international and ECOWAS pressure, he was released on the 27th of August, 2020. The coup was headed by Colonel Assimi Goïta who is now acting as the country’s head. There has been pressure to handle power back to a democratically elected president.

The latest was the French threat to withdraw its forces from the country. French and the Malian forces have been fighting a secession war with Tuaregs and Muslim fundamentalists north of the country.