By Mueni wa Muiu, Guy Martin (auth.)
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Extra info for A New Paradigm of the African State: Fundi wa Afrika
Gold was exchanged for wool, copper, and beads with merchants from Morocco. Mali also imported blades, horses, and silk from Egypt. Cities with which Mali traded included Kano (present Nigeria), Tripoli, Cairo, Murzuk, and Ghat. Mali entertained diplomatic relations—and exchanged embassies, emissaries, and gifts—with various North African states, including Morocco, Libya, and Egypt, as well as with the Kingdom of Portugal. Progressively, various parts of the empire fell under the control of foreign people.
Ibn Batuta in Black Africa, 58 Introduction African political systems and institutions were traditionally based on kinship and on lineage (that is, on common ancestry), sanctioned by a founding myth. First, they were based on an elaborate system of checks and balances. Second, political succession was carefully institutionalized in such a way that family, clan, and ethnic competition for power was minimized. Third, the basic political unit was the village assembly, where major decisions concerning the society were adopted.
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. A person’s heirs were his sister’s sons, not his own sons. Maninka women enjoyed a high social status and a high degree of freedom. Thus, until the middle of the fourteenth century, the first wife of mansa was the second most senior person in the politico-administrative hierarchy of the empire.