Dark Crescent Rising - A timeline of the Mande Empire

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Ibn Chaldun, Oct 21, 2018.

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  1. Threadmarks: Table Of Contents

    Ibn Chaldun Death To Dill

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    Oct 21, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2018
  2. Threadmarks: 0. Prologue

    Ibn Chaldun Death To Dill

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    Oct 21, 2018
    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 hard, encrusted earth burned by the sun he knew life was 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 few 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 sons of the Keita were not content with their privileges. The lineage of Sundjata were no lions like their father, they had turned into fat, malicious cats squabbling over every mouse crossing their path.
    So when Sundjata died all of them wanted everything. The throne, the goldfields of Bure, control over the biggest army south of the great desert. While thousands died for their greed, the land descended into Anarchy. One by one Sakura and his army beat these wannabe kings. After the lasgt was gone, there was a kingdom with no king – and a 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 compagnion, trying to cast a little shadow on Sakura to shield him from the merciless sun. “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 the importance of economics and his ideas on society. But when this foreign king heard him argue, he listened. He not only listened, he also wanted to learn. “Mukhtar”, Sakura ended the scholars thoughts, “Mukhtar, I want to write”. The Andalusian stood up to fetch paper and pen. 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….”



    mali.jpg


    Here a little map of out current Mande Empire. Songhai, Mossi & Tuareg should not be seen as unified states, more so as ethnic groups of interest

    Unfortunately the Upload/ necessary Compression killed the colors quite a bit. (Any advise on how handle that is really appreaciated)
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2018
  3. dakkafex Make Posts Not War

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    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.
     
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  4. I'tikaf Mufti of Rome

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    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!
     
  5. Contrary Well-Known Member

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    Yes, your English is very good! I'm really interested in your timeline, though I don't know much about this time and place.
     
  6. Alexander Helios Heir of Kiskeya and Olympus

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    Will we see Mali colonies in Brazil in the not-so-distant future?
     
  7. Sceonn Peace at a Bargain Price

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    I really hope you continue with this, Mali has always been a favorite of mine. :closedeyesmile:
     
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  8. Ibn Chaldun Death To Dill

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    Oct 21, 2018
    Thanks for all those kind replies! really appreciate them :)

    Thank you!

    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 ;) )
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2018
  9. Threadmarks: 1. The Plot

    Ibn Chaldun Death To Dill

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    Oct 21, 2018
    Chapter 1 — The Plot

    When Mukhtar entered Gao he was a little disappointed. A dried out city built from mud. Not a sight to behold for a man used to the architecture of Andalusia.

    Even less impressed was he when he finally was introduced to Ouali. A young man, not older than 25, sitting by a lonely tree, he was not an impressive sight. Rather short and really slim with an oversized head.

    As the young man was about to greet them, Mukhtars companion blurted out: “My King, your Father was killed”. For a moment Mukhtar was speechless about his insolence to interrupt a sovereign. Then he remembered that his companion Salif was of the Traoré clan and had been Sakura´s closest friend and best 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 Ouali was literate. Ouali broke the seal and started to study the paper. After a remarkably short time he put the letter 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 Sundjata. My rule would never be beyond question and 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 replied. “They may know, but they will not care. People 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 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 the words of Ouali, at the same time he was terrified by his cold manner. 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 real intentions. Find one of these poisonous smiths, and make him perform his craft. We need something that takes its time...“

    ---
    [1] More common writing is Gao. but i decided to go with Qu to prevent confusion with the City. He is
    the true successor of Sakura IOTL
    [2] Assembly of clans that had quite a bit of influence - essentally the legislative of the Realm.
    [3] Town in Bornu, close to the Lake Chad.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2018
  10. Threadmarks: 2. The Kings Way

    Ibn Chaldun Death To Dill

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    Oct 21, 2018
    Chapter 2 – The Kings Way

    Tragedy struck on a usual morning in 700 AH [1]. Servants were running around the residence, desperately trying to find an explication 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. It went from Niani to the goldfields of Bure, it went down the Senegal River to the remote coastal region of Tekrur. And also down the Niger. To Jenne, to Timbuktu and finally to Gao.

    When a week later finally the caravan with the mummy of Mansa Sakura arrived to Gao, there was no one left to challenge the authority of Ouali.

    There was some speculation about Qu´s death however. The healthy prince had suddenly died and a week later the Mansa´s dead body comes into play? It was suspicious enough, but the were no hard proofs for a possible murder.

    Forging a true empire
    Under these circumstances, the confirmation of Mansa Ouali went smoothly. When the Gbara discussed on the successor of Sakura, Ouali pointed to the fact that the Kouroukan Fouga [2] explicitly states primogeniture as the form 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 decided on local administration. As long as he sent taxes and – in Wartime – soldiers, the mansas were content. If a local ruler misbehaved, the mansa could order a Farba to either oversee local administration or take away power entirely. When a new region was conquered, a Farin was 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 assembly of around 30 clans.
    “It is, my King, a rather complex government to run”, he finally replied, “It is more of a federation than an empire. There is a clear benefit with this decentralization. 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 had become his closest adviser.

    My King, let me introduce you to the concept of ʿAsabiyya [3]. It is the fabric that holds together society. This bond is what keeps every society and every realm together. In its strongest from, we find it in tribes and we find it in Families. As a result loyalty is at its greatest among these groups. Here lies the root of the issue: When you call upon their loyalty of your subjects, they will instead honer the loyalty to their tribe, to their family and to their clan. This can be a dangerous situation.”

    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. The caliphs in Kahire are weak, not much more than puppets of the Mamluks. I think you could claim their Title and aggressively proselytize the pagans.”

    And the Gbara? How would they react to such a step? It would be a direct attack on their authority. They already removed a Mansa from the throne before [4].”

    “So you need a power base that is strictly loyal to you and not to anyone else. A slave army to control the provinces and clans!“

    Calm before the storm
    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 slaves. Years passed and slowly Ouali decisions changed the realm. It was a slow process, but not as clandestine as the mansa had hoped.While the mansa was playing his political game, Mukhtar wasn´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 rather 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 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 he 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 breeding”.



    ---
    [1] 1301. I will use use islamic dates in this timeline
    [2] Contitution of Mali Federation.
    [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] Slaves


    Couple of notes:
    If there is, i would really appreciate if you had some feedback on my work so far. Thanks for reading :)
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2018
  11. Wolttaire Well-Known Member

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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?
     
  12. Ibn Chaldun Death To Dill

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    Oct 21, 2018
    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
     
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  13. Wolttaire Well-Known Member

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    this ignorant commonor does not know ibn chaldun teaching could you enlighten me
     
  14. Ibn Chaldun Death To Dill

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    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.
     
  15. Wolttaire Well-Known Member

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    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
     
  16. Ibn Chaldun Death To Dill

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    Oct 21, 2018
    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?
     
  17. Philip One L only

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    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.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2018
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  18. Wolttaire Well-Known Member

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    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
     
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  19. Ibn Chaldun Death To Dill

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    Oct 21, 2018

    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.
     
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  20. AJNolte Life keeps getting in the way of writing.

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    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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