The Battle of Kirina (also, Battle of Krina), fought c. 1235, was an armed conflict which took place between the Sosso led by king Sumanguru Kante (also Soumaoro Kante) and the Mandinka―a number of kingdoms in what is today’s Mali which had already existed several centuries before their unification as a small state just to the south of the Ghana Empire―led by prince Sundiata Keita. The battle, won by Keita’s forces, saw to the end of Sosso dominance, and to the emergence of the new Mali Empire ruled by Sundiata Keita.

Prelude and Battle   

Before the late twelfth century, various factors had threatened the unity and strength of the Ghana Empire. By the late twelfth century, following repeated invasions by the Almoravids in the eleventh century; however, the formerly dominant empire had collapsed.

In the wake of the collapse, a number of smaller neighbouring states rushed to fill the power void. These included the Sosso people of the Takrur region, the Mandinka of the Upper Niger, etc. The Sosso under Sumanguru Kante, seized Koumbi Saleh, former capital of the Ghana Empire, and expanded outward, conquering the Mandinka among others.

Following harsh treatment from the Sosso and the exile of prince Keita, the Sosso had earned themselves a strong resentment from the other peoples. Organising a coalition of smaller kingdoms under his command, Sundiata keita moved to oppose the Sosso who also organised their own forces under Sumanguru Kante.

Both armies met in the Koulikoro Region of today’s Mali, around 1235. Sundiata Keita’s forces won a decisive battle, and marched on to raze Sosso. The period in which Sundiata Keita defeated the Sosso if often cited as the beginning of the Mali Empire, which controlled most of West Africa for about two centuries.

Aftermath

It is not immediately known what became of Sumanguru kante after the battle. However, what is known of the aftermath of the battle is detailed and retold on the Epic of Sundiata, widely considered Mali’s national epic.

In it, Sumanguru Kante is an evil sorcerer-king who oppresses the Mandinka people. However, when prince keita discovers that his sacred animal to be the rooster, he is able to wound the king with an arrow tipped by a cock’s spur. The Sosso king then flees the field, disappearing into the Koulikoro Mountains.

(By; Ejiofor Ekene Olaedo)

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