In the present day, the average person probably does not hear or know a lot about Mali and its amazing and rich history. That was certainly not the case in the past as the country was not only one of the powerhouses of Africa but one of the largest empires in the ancient world.
The Empire of Mali was established in the mid-12th century and endured as an ancient superpower until around the 16th century.
The kingdom belonged to King Sundiata, and it expanded from the Atlantic coast to parts of the Sahara Desert, making it one of the largest empires in the history of Western Africa. The Empire and its people were rich in gold and the economy ran on the heavy taxation of gold nuggets from the citizenry.
It was around the 18th century when European and other western superpowers started their imperial missions in Africa looking to discover and colonise large parts of Africa.
What many people don’t know is that with this conquering of Africa came the looting and smuggling of thousands of important cultural artifacts that belonged to the late African kingdoms. Mali was not exempt from this theft and in fact suffered possibly the worst of it.
What Are Some Important Artifacts From Mali?
Amongst some of the important artifacts from Mali include the wooden terracotta sculptures of Djenne Djenno. These sculptures seemed to depict decrepit and twisted old men who looked to be suffering from some sort of illness. It is predicted that these totems were used in ancient Mali to ward off illness.
The people of ancient Mali donned some of the most interesting and culturally specific clothing known to the ancient world. Included in these are the headdresses of Ci Wara. These were carved out of antelope tusks and were worn by both Bamana men and women to symbolise the divine Ci Wara, who was believed to introduce humans to agriculture.
Timbuktu was a city in ancient Mali that was known to be the intellectual epicentre of Western Africa, hosting students and professors from all over the continent. A strong effort was made to preserve some of the manuscripts that came from the ancient academy that are worth as much or more as the jackpots you can win playing Canadian slots.
How Much Was Smuggled?
The Smithsonian reported that over 900 ancient artifacts have been decidedly smuggled into United States territory belonging to the ancient Empire of Mali. These artifacts symbolise the beautiful and special history and society that existed in Mali throughout the 12th-16th century.
The subjective nature of these artifacts and the fact that they mean more to the people of Mali than they do to the average American person. In other words, it is nearly impossible to ascertain the true value of these items or how much compensation should be paid to Mali as a result of the theft.
What cannot be disputed is that this smuggling is a crime that should not go unpunished.