• Social factors: Mali Empire rose to prominence due to several factors, these include:
  1. Commissioning of great buildings like mosques in Timbuktu. This made the empire a famous centre of learning and spectacular architecture. The building of one of the centres of learning, the Sankore University library, contributed to the greatness of Mali, as this institution produced great astronauts, scholars and judges for the empire.
  2. Another factor that contributed to the rise of Mali was her influence on the West African coast. This allowed for the spread of its language, law and customs along the West African coast.
  3. Beyond dominating its neighbours, Mali grew in wealth and Timbuktu became a renowned Islamic centre in the world, which attracted several Arabs to the empire.
  4. The introduction and spread of Islam greatly influenced the state administration and its military institution. The Malian cavalry was greatly feared and it maintained Mali’s hold on the vassal states and trade routes for a long time.
  • Political factors: Several factors contributed to the rise of Mali Empire.
  1. Sundiata Keita provided unity among the people and built a strong army to secure the trade routes and maintain law and order.
  2. Mali Empire also produced capable leaders, for example, Mansa Musa who was reputed to be a very wise and efficient administrator.
  3. The conquest of some cities and its surrounding areas led to the expansion of the empire.
  4. Mali had a decentralized system of authority. This structure gave limited powers to each of the vassal states which led to harmonious government and prosperity. The vassal states concentrated on defence and building the army which gave the empire an upper hand in the trans-Saharan trade.
  5. Some of the leaders, such as Mansa Abubakar II, Mansa Musa, among others, launched successful military expeditions to expand the empire.
  6. The council of nine clan elders and delegate advised the king in governance, economy and cultural matters. This made for stable government.
  7. Mansa Musa ruled for approximately twenty-five years and doubled the size of Mali during his reign. He gave Mali a stable government for a long period of time.
  8. Mansa Musa’s pilgrimage to Mecca made people aware of the wealth of Mali and increased its fame in many parts of the world.

In conclusion, it is said that Mali rose to its peak due to its organized and powerful military, stable and political system and capable leadership

  • Economic factors: Mali Empire collected tributes from the vassal states which aided its economy.
  1. Taxes were collected from imported and exported goods which contributed to increase in government revenue.
  2. Mali control of the trans-Saharan trade routes boosted its economy. This made North African merchants settle in Mali Empire and promoted trade links with Sudan.
  3. The empire traded in gold with neighbouring states, North Africa and parts of Europe, this generated substantial revenue.
  4. Under Mansa Musa, Timbuktu became a very important commercial city and it had connections with trade centres in North Africa and the Mediterranean world.
  5. The control of the salt producing area in the northern part of the Empire led to the trade in salt, which was also a valuable commodity.