By Mueni wa Muiu, Guy Martin (auth.)
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Extra resources for A New Paradigm of the African State: Fundi wa Afrika
In 1496, Askia Muhammad set out on a pilgrimage to Mecca with an escort of 1,500 (including a cavalry of 800), where he arrived in 1497. From his treasury of 300,000 dinars, he gave 10,000 gold pieces as alms for the poor, and for the creation of a hostel for Western Sudanese pilgrims. He also received official recognition of his position as emperor of the Songhay and was appointed Khalife (religious leader) of the Western Sudan. On his return from Mecca, Askia Muhammad set out to extend his empire.
From the first to the seventh centuries AD, Adulis was the single major coastal port of Axum on the Red Sea through which all the kingdom’s trade flowed. Restricting the activities of foreign merchants to Adulis allowed efficient collection of the custom duties that supported the state and its military power. The foreign policies of the kings of Axum focused on two key objectives: to control the African outlets of the Red Sea trade, and to bring the South Arabian land routes of the trade into the Axumite sphere of influence.
One of Kanku Musa’s successors, his brother Mansa Suleyman (1341–60), is well known to us thanks to the writings of Ibn Battuta. The Mossi invasion and pillage of Timbuktu (1337) marks the beginning of the decline of the Mali Empire. 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.