Dark Crescent - A Timeline of the Mande Empire

Table Of Contents
Dark Crescent
- A Timeline of the Mande Empire -


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Table of contents

Prologue - Death of a King
Chapter I - The Plot
Chapter II - The Long Game
Chapter III - A Reminiscence

Chapter IV - War
Chapter V - The Old Man Speaking
Chapter VI - Last Glance

Chapter VII - End of an Era

*****
How does that work (aka POD)? In OTL Mali had one King that was no member of the Keita clan by birth, Sakura. While he was generally considered of the realm's best ever, after his death the title of Mansa reverted back to the Keita Clan - and his succesors were generally not up to the task with the notable exceptions of Mansa Musa, the one Mansa everyone knows.
In this Timeline, Sakura meets a scholar in Makkah. I loosely based him on IbnChaldun, namesake of this account and on of the brightest mind in the entire Muslim World. This companionship leads to the Son of Sakura taking the throne instead of it reverting to the Keitas.

Here my story begins, it is by AH. com standards rather fictionalized and rooted a bit less in reality than many other Tls on this forum. Still, the assumptions are entirely logic and, I assure, realistic.


*****

When I first joined AH.com I started this Timeline. Quite soon I became unhappy with it and put it on hiatus. So, recently I have started working on another Timeline and I happened to read this one here again. And well, honestly I quite liked it.

So I will restart working on it. Still, it most certainly will play the second fiddle to Three Sisters' Brother, the TL I'm writing currently and receive less frequent updates. The more prosaic writing style I employ here is just more time consuming to write - and let's face it: My knowledge of this time and place is not up to the one I have on French Canada.
*****
Thanks for reading :)
 
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0. Prologue
Prologue: Death of a King

Everyone dies the same. As does the farmer on his soil, as does the merchant along his wealth – and so does the King. The certainty of death means loneliness. Lost in the knowledge of a certain fate there is nothing left to hope for in this world.

This man was no different. Lying on the encrusted earth burned by the sun he knew it was all over. Bloodied by the Spear in his side, face distorted in agony, the great Mansa Sakura knew he would die.

It seemed impossible. The emperor of the Mande Empire, commander of more than 100.000 warriors killed by a some rogue bandits in desire of his gold. But here somewhere by the shores of the bab el-mandeb he was no more than every traveler.
A slave at birth, he had earned everything the hard way. From servitude to freedom, from freedom to the leadership of an army. Yet the lineage of the Keita were not content with their privileges. The sons of Sunjata were no lions like their father anymore. They had turned into fat, malicious cats squabbling over every mouse unlucky enough to cross their path.
So when Sunjata died all of them wanted everything. The throne, the goldfields of Bure, control over the biggest army south of the great desert. As thousands and thousands died for their greed, the land descended into anarchy.
One by one Sakura and his army sent these wannabe kings into the nothingness they deserved. And after the last was gone, there was a kingdom with no king – and one man with an army.
What had the ordinary men cheered when he took the throne. For their good he had taken it, not for his own. And no way it was allowed go back to those Keita vermin.

Mukhtar”, he uttered. “Mukhtar, I must ask a last favor!” The tall, bearded man already knelt beside his dying companion, trying to cast a little shadow on Sakura. “I beg you”, the dying king continued, “to keep teaching. Tell my son everything you told me. Teach Ouali to be a worthy heir of mine.

Mukhtar immediately understood what this would mean for him. This was a lifetime appointment. Never again would he return to his small hometown just outside Garnatah, never again would he see his family. Giving up his entire life for a man he only knew for a few months? On the other side, never before had he seen someone so interested in his ideas. Most scholars in the madrasat of Makkah had outright laughed at his ideas on society or the importance of such mundane subjects as economics.

But when this foreign king heard him argue, he listened. He not only listened, he also wanted to learn. “Mukhtar”, Sakura spoke again, “Mukhtar, I want to write”. The Andalusian stood up to fetch paper and quill.
When he came back, he had made up his mind. “My king, let me write. My hand has much more experience with it” Sakura was barely literate, he remembered. And so the dying king began to speak:

My beloved son Ouali….”

 

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Unfortunately the Upload/ necessary Compression killed the colors quite a bit. (Any advise on how handle that is really appreaciated)
If you upload it to an external host like imgur and link it back in, you should be able to avoid that problem.

Anyway, interesting start. The medieval Islamic Sahel is a really interesting time and place to write in that not a lot of writers here choose to work with, so I'll be watching this with interest to see where it goes.
 
This is really good! For a non-native speaker you're English is quite good. I've always wanted a Tl on this topic actually but was too lazy to write one... Jazakallah Khairan!
 
Yes, your English is very good! I'm really interested in your timeline, though I don't know much about this time and place.
 
Thanks for all those kind replies! really appreciate them :)

If you upload it to an external host like imgur and link it back in, you should be able to avoid that problem.
Thank you!

Will we see Mali colonies in Brazil in the not-so-distant future?
So far they lack the seafaring capabilities, but quite probably there will be some Mande people in Brazil at some point. Even though i think a major colonisation effort would be a neither a possible thing to do nor a logical. Mali is rich with gold, copper, salt. Basically they have more wealth than they can use. Brazil hat nothing to offer in contrast. (Except a certain plant ;) )
 
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1. The Plot
Chapter 1 — The Plot

When Mukhtar finally entered Gao he was disappointed. A dried out town built from nothing more than mud. No sight to behold for a man used to the elaborate architecture of Andalusia.
Even less intrigued he was when he finally saw his future student, Ouali. A young man, not older than 25 was sitting by a lonely tree. The prince was certainly not an impressive sight. He looked so fragile, so short and slim. The only thing big about his, Mukthar thought with a certain amusement, was his oversized head.

As the young man was about to greet them, Mukhtars companion blurted out: “My Prince, your father has been killed”. For a moment Mukhtar was speechless about the insolence to interrupt a sovereign-to-be. Then he remembered that Salif Traoré had been Sakura's closest friend and most accomplished general.

The young man did not say a word. He sat there, back against his tree and starred into the distance. His mind seemed far away. Just to break the silence, Mukhar handed him the letter, not even knowing if he could read.

Ouali broke the seal and started to study the paper. After a remarkably short time, he put it aside. “Please sit down”, he said. Mukhtar was convinced: No way Ouali was literate, no way he had the capabilities to govern a kingdom. But the young man kept speaking: “Our Problem is called Qu[1] Keita. Hes a direct descendant of Sunjata. My rule would never be beyond question, if he lives. Some clans in the Gbara [2] will support him – if not today than later. We can not have another civil war!”.

Qu is a whoring wastrel that would ruin the empire – and everyone knows that”, Salif again blurted out.

They may know, but they will not care. Those who stand to lose something only act for their own good.”, answered Ouali.

Mukthar started to realize his first impression of Ouali had been totally wrong. Every word the man said was well thought out. Ouali knew its purpose, its reason and its effect. “We have a little time to think about”, Mukhtar said, obviously not intrigued by the prospect of a politcal murder, “the caravan with the body of your father currently is resting in Kuka[3]. They will be here in at least 6 weeks”.

The hot-blooded general didn't want to wait. “Qu has to die. The earlier the better. Just send a few bandits to get it done.” Mukhtar was shocked. He had witnessed enough of Salif's temperament on the journey, but stabbing a dagger into someones back? As he was about to break out into a rant, the calm yet scarily cold voice of Ouali interrupted him.
This would be against the law, against moral and against Islam. A despicable act. On the other hand – if we were to fight a civil war, thousands would be lost. Qu dying could save them all. However no one may ever know. No offense to you, you are a fine soldier but this situation requires more clandestine techniques.” Mukhtar was equally impressed with the clear logic in Ouali’s words as terrified by his cold demeanor. He was talking about murdering someone in the same way as he would talk about the weather.
The tribes in the north-east”, he continued, “have a very special relationship to their smiths. They venerate them for their profession, yet they fear them for their knowledge of poisons. Salif, I need you to do this personally. Take some men, but don´t let them know anything about your task. Find one of these poisonous smiths, and make him perform his craft. We need something that takes its time. Oh, and after the deed is done. Witnesses are a potential danger, I hope you understand...“

 
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2. The Long Game
Chapter II – The Long Game

Tragedy struck on a usual morning in 1301 [1]. Servants were running around the residence, desperately trying to find an explanation why their master wasn't awake, not even responding to their calls. Was he still recovering from the feast the evening before? Was he ill? Hours passed before someone entered the chamber. This brave woman, a slave whose name no one remembers, discovered the horrible truth. The prince was dead. It looked like he was just sleeping. “The master is dead”, she informed the others, “Qu has died.”
The news spread like wildfire. From the capital in Niani to the goldfields of Bure, in Jenne, Timbuktu and Gao, even in the remote western province of Tekrur – soon everyone of importance knew what happened.
When a week later finally the caravan with the mummy of Mansa Sakura arrived in Gao, there was no one left to challenge the authority of Ouali.
There was some speculation about Qu's untimely death. The healthy prince had died quite suddenly and a week later the old Mansa's dead body comes into play? It was suspicious enough, but the were no hard proofs for a possible murder.

***

Under these circumstances, the confirmation of Mansa Ouali went smoothly. When the Gbara discussed the successor of Sakura, Ouali pointed to the fact that the Kouroukan Fouga [2] explicitly states primogeniture as the law of succession. Combined with the fact that there were no real claimants, the Gbara voted for him unanimously.

After his coronation as Mansa Ouali II he wasted no time. He had reforms on his mind. “What are your thoughts on our administration?” has asked Mukhtar. The scholar remembered what he had been told about it.
First the realm consisted of a dozen provinces and each province chose their own ruler. This ruler subsequently oversaw the local administration. As long as he sent taxes and – in wartime – soldiers, the mansas were content. If a local ruler was to misbehave, the Mansa could order a civil official, called Farba, to either oversee the local government or take away power entirely. When a new region was conquered, a military officer, called Farin, would be appointed. After peace was ensured, power would be handed back to a local ruler. Only territories of integral strategic or economic interest would stay under direct control from Niani. Another really important institution was the ever-present Gbara, the powerful legislative assembly of around 30 clans.
It is, my King, a rather complex government to run”, he finally concluded, “it is more of a federation than an empire. There is a clear benefit with this. It keeps people from rebelling in good times.
However – if there is a weak ruler it will crumble. When the oversight of distant territories declines in times of crisis, it will crumble.

This system works well in good times, but in the hard times, when you need a stable government the most, it will crumble
.”

What would you do?” Ouali asked the man who already had become his closest adviser.

My King, let me introduce you to the concept of ʿAsabiyya [3]. It is the very fabric that holds together everything. Fundamentally, it equals loyalty. It is the bond between a family, the bond between kinsmen. Without this, there can be no society.

This bond is the stronger, the closer the relationship of those it connects.

Here lies the root of the issue: When you call upon their loyalty of your subjects, they will instead honor the loyalty to their tribe, to their family and to their clan. This can be a dangerous situation, if your wish goes against the one of the family or tribe
.”

I understand. So we have to find a way to impose direct loyalty on provinces and their subjects?

Indeed. And there is another source of Asabiyya. It it rooted in the religion. Make them owe you loyalty by accepting your religious superiority.”

And the Gbara? How would they react to such a step? We have to avoid angering them. They already removed a Mansa from the throne before [4].”

This takes time. Find your strength in religion. And you need a power base that is strictly loyal to you and not to anyone else. A personal army to control the provinces and clans funded by your gold!“

In the following time, things changed. More and more Jonow [5] were seen carrying weapons around Niani, more and more often province governors were reprimanded for minor infractions of their duties. These reprimands often corresponded with the deployment of a Farba, usually one of the jonow. More and more the real power in the provinces shifted to Ouali's loyalists.

***

Slowly Ouali decisions changed the realm. It was a slow process, but not as clandestine as the mansa had hoped. While the king was playing his political game, Mukhtar didn't idle either. He traveled around the country and found a still shocking amount of pagans. It was his task to convert them.

These years he centered his life around the northern city of Timbuktu. At the local mosque he preached and quickly attracted a sizable following. Core of the teachings was a tolerant, yet firm interpretation of Islam. Soon he sent out his most talented students to spread the word of god. At the same time he more and more became occupied again with theology and even wrote a book, later known as the “Treatise on Islam, conversion and peaceful coexistence”. He almost forgot about the outside.

Ten years had passed since the coronation when Mukhtar received a letter from the mansa. “Urgent”, it read, “I need you in Niani”. When Mukhtar arrived in the capital, he realized that there was something happening. Jonow armed to their teeth were running around and regional levies were camping around the city. In this mess he suddenly heard the voice of Salif. “My friend”, the old general bellowed, “war is brewing”.


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[1] For the sake of understanding I will use Christian dates.
[2] Constitution.
[3] Concept (Wiki) Ibn Chaldun is famous for. The explication given in the text is really, really shortened.
[4] Mansa Khalifa. The Gbara had him killed and replaced with Abubakari I.
[5] A particular form of military slaves OTL. They developed kinda similar to the Mamluks OTL. ITTL they have a stronger position are better described as Ouali‘s loyalists than slaves.
 
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Cooupwl question what the pod and didn’t what Mali society do good and made it a empire that it wa tolerant and was there own form of Islam?
 
Cooupwl question what the pod and didn’t what Mali society do good and made it a empire that it wa tolerant and was there own form of Islam?
There are two POD as stated in the intraductory post. Ibn Chaldun´s ideas reach Mali by 1300 and are implemented by the son of Mansa Sakura, whom i called Ouali II.


The society of the Mande and other ethnic groups in the realm was still quite tribal- one of the reasons why in bad times the empire tended to suffer a lot. Islam in in OTL Mali was rather tolerant, for example there are multiple reports about women not being veiled or general tolerance towards pagans. In OTL they did not develop a distinctive branch of Islam. The Sunni Islam of the Maliki school was and still is predominant. However there was major interest for Sufi teachings in the past. These orders often were subject to syncretic ideas from old ethnic religions
 
There are two POD as stated in the intraductory post. Ibn Chaldun´s ideas reach Mali by 1300 and are implemented by the son of Mansa Sakura, whom i called Ouali II.


The society of the Mande and other ethnic groups in the realm was still quite tribal- one of the reasons why in bad times the empire tended to suffer a lot. Islam in in OTL Mali was rather tolerant, for example there are multiple reports about women not being veiled or general tolerance towards pagans. In OTL did not develop a distinctive branch of Islam. The Sunni Islam of the Maliki school was and still is predominant. However there was major interest for Sufi teachings in the past.
this ignorant commonor does not know ibn chaldun teaching could you enlighten me
 
Ibn Chaldun in OTL publishes the Muqaddima 1377. As part of the POD his literary equivalent lives earlier. This book contains multiple ideas, including what can be interpreted as a precedessor to the Scentific Method, several Economic theories, social theory (the Assabiyah i mentioned is probale the most known example).

Generally, very progressive ides for the time. He is not a saint though, there is some mention of racial stereotypes towards infidel sub-saharan people.
Also his arguments were still rooted in divine predetermination.
 
Ibn Chaldun in OTL publishes the Muqaddima 1377. As part of the POD his literary equivalent lives earlier. This book contains multiple ideas, including what can be interpreted as a precedessor to the Scentific Method, several Economic theories, social theory (the Assabiyah i mentioned is probale the most known example).

Generally, very progressive ides for the time. He is not a saint though, there is some mention of racial stereotypes towards infidel sub-saharan people.
Also his arguments were still rooted in divine predetermination.
now since the mali have always taken the some stuff from islam and then leaves some stuff behind could we see that here like the tolerant part stay around and also index please
 
now since the mali have always taken the some stuff from islam and then leaves some stuff behind could we see that here like the tolerant part stay around and also index please
Yes this could happen. But as I’ve stated, Ibn Chaldun - their main influence - is not opposed to slavery and the Mande always have been slavers. We can’t just butterfly that longterm concern for any Islamic society away.

What do you mean by Index, if I may ask? A table of content in the first post?
 

Philip

Donor
What do you mean by Index, if I may ask? A table of content in the first post?
There should be a button for Thread Marks on your posts. You can give the post a label/title, and the forum software will build the index for you.
 
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Yes this could happen. But as I’ve stated, Ibn Chaldun - their main influence - is not opposed to slavery and the Mande always have been slavers. We can’t just butterfly that longterm concern for any Islamic society away.

What do you mean by Index, if I may ask? A table of content in the first post?
Oh i was not talking about slavery I meant more about the more parts that this guys was disgusted like women being allowed to be unclothed exc and
Screen Shot 2018-10-23 at 9.20.51 AM.png
that is what I mean
 
Oh i was not talking about slavery I meant more about the more parts that this guys was disgusted like women being allowed to be unclothed exc and View attachment 415940 that is what I mean

Oh I see. Sorry I misunderstood you there.

Yes you’re right there. The status of women could develop radically different ITTL. Especially as the traditional status of women in Mande culture was quite different compared to other Muslim regions. For example, the constitution I mentioned above explicitly states that there have to be women present at every level of government iirc.
 
I'm a big Ibn Khaldun fan, so this is awesome. Couple of thoughts/suggestions/questions, all revolving around the character of Mukhtar and his role as an Ibn Khaldun analogue:

-How much is Mukhtar like Ibn Khaldun, from a background perspective? Most of the biographers of Khaldun I've read argue that his time among the Bedouins as a Mamluk envoy played a key role in his development of assabiyya. Does Mukhtar have a similar experience with a tribal group in the Sahel?

-On assabiya: Khaldun explicitly states that the end goal of Assabiya is mulk (kingship). You're exactly right on how he would recommend building up the assabiya of the king strongly enough to achieve mulk: through a combination of religion and conquest. However, OTL, Ibn Khaldun was extremely pessimistic that mulk could survive. He's quite well-known for his theory of dynastic decay in four generations. So you'll need Mukhtar to be a bit less of a pessimist.

-On economics: yes, Khaldun gets pretty close to the labor theory of value, and is almost an Oakeshott conservative on a couple of other political issues [he's particularly skeptical of meddling philosophers, ironically]. Definitely the most sophisticated economic thinker in the Muslim world--and maybe the world entirely--for centuries. However, he was also, I think, building off a pre-existing Islamo-Persian tradition of the circle of justice/circle of power, which saw a link between security, tranquility and prosperity. So I think Mukhtar can definitely get there.

-Finally, there's some evidence--though it isn't conclusive I don't think--that Ibn Khaldun was influenced by Sufism. The easiest way to get Sufism into Mukhtar's thought is through Al-Ghazali, but Ghazali's skepticism about the utility of reason in interpreting revelation isn't conducive to your project. I'd say the second-best path might be some of the Andalusian mystics, but a couple of them were heretics by Muslim standards [a fact I learned, ironically, by studying Indonesia]. That leaves option 3: Malian pilgrims join Sufi orders while on hajj. Not as many style points as the first two notions, but it does have the virtue of being both a tried and tested way of achieving the goal on one hand, and a very effective way of converting local pagans to Islam on the other. So, could Mukhtar himself have been the figure who joined a Sufi order on Hajj?

Basically, I think you just need to back and fill a bit on Mukhtar's background; it will help the reader understand the roots of his ideas, and it will also help you figure out where to go in the future.
 
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