Caravan routes have passed through
Mali since A.D. 300. The
Malinke empire ruled regions of Mali from the 12th to the 16th century. The rulers of Mali came to be called Mansa; meaning “emperor,”
or “master.” Mansa Musa (1307-1332) became the most accomplished and famous
of all the emperors of Mali. He was the grandson of Sundiata’s half brother.
Musa ruled Mali at its peak, a time of great prosperity when trade tripled.
During his rule he doubled the land area of Mali by uniting smaller
city-states. At its height during the 14th century, Mali was a larger kingdom
than all of Europe at the time and only smaller than the Asian kingdom of
Genghis Khan at the time.
As Mali's power waned,
Songhay, which had been an important trade center, asserted its independence
and rose to power, making Gao its capital. Under the Songhay king Sunni Ali
Ber, who came to power in 1464, Songhay became dominant and overtook
Tombouctou and Djenne. Later, a leader named Askia Mohammed Toure extended
the Songhay kingdom farther than Ghana or Mali had before and brought an
organized system of government to the area. From the early 15th to the late 16th century, Songhai
was one of the largest African empires in history. This empire bore the same
name as its leading ethnic group, the Songhai. Its capital was the city of
Gao, (on the Niger River, east of Tombouctou) where a small
Songhai state had existed since the 11th century. Its base of power was on
the bend of the Niger River in present-day Niger and Burkina Faso.
Morocco conquered Tombouctou in
1591 and ruled over it for two centuries. Subjugated by France by the end of
the 19th century, the land the territory took the name of Soudan Français in 1894. The name was
changed into Sénégambie et Niger in 1902 and became a colony in 1904.In 1906
the name was changed into Haut-Sé’négal et Niger but in 1920 the original
name of Soudan Français was reintroduced. In 1946 became part of the French
Union. In 1959 it was joined with the Republic of Senegal in the Mali
Federation. On June 20, 1960, it became independent under the name of
Sudanese Republic. However, Senegal seceded from the federation on Aug. 20,
1960, and the Sudanese Republic then changed its name to the Republic of Mali
on Sept. 22.
Detail of the portolan of Angelino
of our knowledge about the Mali empire is based on oral history and the
manuscripts of Ibn Batuta who traveled in the Western Sudan in the fifties of
the 14th century but almost no visual documents exist about its mediaeval
history. On the maps of Catalan navigators, the socalled portulans,
the north of Western Africa appears in the beginning of the 14th century. The
oldest picture of a Malinese king is on the map of Angelino Dulcert (1339).
On this map a king is depicted, sitting on his throne, on his head a turban
his right forefinger raised and in his left hand a sceptre. The legend Rex
Melly identifies him as the king of Mali. This picture is copied in
different ways on later portolans. On the map of Abraham Cresques, called the
“Atlas Catalan” (1375, now in the national library of Paris), the king is
definitely black and the turban is exchanged for a golden crown. Of course we
should be very careful to accept that this picture actually depicts an
African king because crown and regalia resemble too much the European regalia
of the time. Nevertheless, the author seems to be quite sure that there was
an important king in this region (which he calls Ginyia), and near a
city called tombukh (Tombouctou), somewhat north of a lake in the
Niger River (called Rio de Oro in contemporary literature).
copy of this map, made by Mecia de Viladestes in 1413, identifies the black
king as REX
MUSAMELI, in whom we may recognize the Malinese king Mansa
The King of Mali on the
Atlas Catalan (1375)
Mali appears in heraldry only in the last years of French rule.
A flag was adopted for French Sudan on the
24th of November 1958. It consisted of the French tricolore with a black
human figure added in the middle. This flag was abandoned on the 4th of April
of 1959 for a new one of the same design but in the pan-african colors green,
yellow and red. On 20th of January 1961 the black human figure, called a kanaga,
was removed as a result of muslim opposition which considered it as a heathen
symbol. The kanaga was a symbol of the temporal and cosmic order
originating in Dogon-culture, one of the main cultures of Mali. It can also
be interpreted as a symbol of the ancient Mali empire.
mask can be interpreted in various ways by the initiates, the dancers and the
witnesses. For some, it represents the bird kommolo tebu, for others
a crocodile, a cow, an antelope, or
the blacksmith-sculptor himself. All depends on the interpretation of the
dancer's attributes (headdress, purse, cane, costume …) and in the way
in which the mask dances. The deeper meaning of the kanaga mask
apparently pertains both to God, the crossbars being his arms and legs, and
to the arrangement of the universe, with the upper crossbar representing the
sky and the lower one the earth. Then inert and secular, the mask became the
attribute of a dressed up dancer which gave it life and word. Because of this
it is only through the movement, and through the dancer more particularly,
that the mask finds its effectiveness.
This kind of
mask is allotted to the male initiation society awa, closely related
to ancestors' cult and dama ceremonies. For the Dogon, these
ceremonies give access to the universal vital force and to the reincarnation
of the departed. The symbolic system of interpretation by the initiate
reveals the creator, indicated by the dancer's gesture in the sky and the
ground 18th / 19th century.”
A coat of arms for the Republic was created
after the gaining of independence in 1960. It was circular with a representation
of the Djenné-mosque in the centre, a vulture in chief and a rising sun and
two bows and arrows in the base. The disc surrounded by the legend REPUBLIQUE DU MALI / UNE
PEUPLE UN BUT UNE FOI. ( One People, One Goal, One
the field of the arms was red, the vulture white, and the mosque, the
bows-and-arrows and the rising sun yellow. The legend was on a green bordure.
Ordonnances n°s 56 and 57 of 20th of
October 1973 the seal and the arms of the republic were officially adopted.
(see text below)
colour of the background is described now as being light-blue, the vulture
dark grey, the mosque light light grey, the bows-and-arrows black and the sun
seal of state is also circular with a lion rampant in the middle, surrounded
by a garland of sorghum and rice and a buffalo´s head in chief. And as a
legend the same words as for the arms.
There is no picture of this seal available.
may be some confusion about the meaning of the charges of the arms. In the
decree of 1973 the bird is described as a “legendary vulture” but clearly a
dove is depicted which would symbolize the peace between the arab and black
communities living together in Mali. The rising sun symbolizes the longing
for a free Africa. The Djenné Mosque is interpreted as a symbol of the many
cities of Mali but also can be intrepreted as the symbol of Islam.
colors of the first arms are the pan-african colors of which the green
symbolizes nature, the yellow purity and national treasures and the red
valiance and the blood spilled for independence.
The lion rampant on the seal refers to the
leadership of a legendary king of Mali named Sundiata. Sogolon-Djata, or
Sundiata - meaning “The Hungering Lion”- was born into the royal Keita clan of
the Malinke people. The lion was the symbol of the Keita clan and Sundiata
became known in legend as the “Lion King.” He is credited with uniting a weak
and scattered people and ushering in a period of peace and prosperity.
The sorgum and rice symbolize the main crops
of Mali and the buffalo´s head the cattle breeding.
Le Sceau, les Armoiries, et la Devise du Mali
The Seal, the Coat of Arms and the Motto of Mali
n°57/CMLN du 20 octobre 1973 crée le Sceau de l'Etat du Mali.
L'ordonnance n°56/CMLN du 20
octobre crée les Armoiries de la République du Mali.
La Devise de la République du Mali
est « Un Peuple, Un But, Une Foi ». Elle est
déterminée par la Constitution.
Le Sceau de l'Etat
Sceau de l'Etat du Mali est de forme circulaire.
centre, un lion debout entouré d'un épi de mil, d'un épi de riz et d'une tête
de bœuf ;
Sur le pourtour, la légende
« République du Mali » au dessus « Un Peuple, Un But, Une
Foi », au-dessous.
Les Sceaux, Timbres secs sous
forme de presse et cachets des grands corps de l'Etat, des Ministres, des
Cours et Tribunaux, des Greffiers, notaires, huissiers, de toutes les
Administrations et Autorités Publiques portent les mêmes caractéristiques que
le Sceau de l'Etat. Toutefois, le titre de l'Administration ou de l'autorité
publique pour laquelle ils seront employés, remplacera la devise.
Le Ministre de la Justice est le
gardien exclusif des originaux des Sceaux.
Les Armoiries de la République du
Mali sont de forme circulaire.
Elles portent sur un fond
Au centre, la Mosquée de Djenné en gris-argile,
Au-dessus de la Mosquée, le Vautour Légendaire en vol plané en gris foncé ;
c) Au-dessous, le soleil levant,
en jaune-or ;
d) Devant le soleil, deux arcs
opposés tendus par leurs flèches en noir,
e) Sur le pourtour, en haut
« République du Mali », en bas « Un Peuple, Un But, Une
Foi » en lettres d'imprimerie noires.
Armoiries du Mali. Source: Grande
Chancellerie du Mali
Les actes, les papiers de
correspondances et enveloppes du Chef de l'Etat, du Président du
Gouvernement, du Président de l'Assemblée Nationale, des Ministres, du
Président de la Cour Suprême, des Représentants diplomatiques et consulaires
à l'Etranger, porteront les armoiries de la République.
La reproduction des armoiries par
quelque procédé que ce soit et sur quelque matière que ce soit est
subordonnée à une autorisation préalable du Ministère de la Justice, Garde
La Devise du
La Devise de la République est
" Un Peuple - Un But - Une Foi "
Elle est déterminée par l'article
25 de la Constitution.
Le sceau de l’Etat et les armoiries de la République
ont été modifiées par deux lois du 16 juillet 2001 afin de prendre en charge
les évolutions institutionnelles induites par la Constitution de la III ème
the proclamation of independence, one of the first institutions of the
Republic put in place, was the Assemblée Territoriale, this assembly seeing
the light of day following the adoption of the Framework Law in 1956.
Before,the country reached its national sovereignty, its representatives sat
in the national assembly and the French Senate. Following the pluralist
elections of 1957, the Assemblée
Territoriale was made up of 35 deputies from the Union Soudanaise,
section of the Rassemblement Democratique
Africain (US-RDA), the party of
Modibo Keïta, and 5 deputies from the (PSP), of Fily Dabo Sissoko. In
1958, the Assemblée Territoriale
was established as the Constituent Assembly of the Sudanese Republic which
became the Assemblée Constituante de la
République Soudanaise which bacame the Assemblée Législative de la République du Soudan It is this
Assembly which, by Law No. 60-35 / ALRS, proclaimed the independence of the
Sudanese Republic under the name of "Republique
du Mali". After that, the Assemblée
Législative de la République Soudanaise changed its name to become "Assemblée Nationale du Mali
Garde Républicaine / Garde Nationale
Armée de l’Air
On 17 september 1961 the Gendarmerie Nationale du
Mali was completely freed after the Independence of Mali ib 1960 when it was
called for the first time with a big
ceremony on the fields of the main barracks of the Balla Koné squadron of
© Hubert de Vries 2008.11.28 Updated 2008.12.22;