Soundiata Keïta, fondateur de l’Empire du Mali

Soundiata Keïta, fondateur de l’Empire du Mali

Soundiata Keita est le fils de Naré Maghann Konaté. C’était un roi du Manding, ancien Royaume d’Afrique de l’ouest. Situé dans l’actuelle Guinée et au Mali.

Il reçut un jour la visite d’un chasseur devin. Ce dernier lui prédit qu’une femme laide lui donnerait un jour un fils qui deviendrait un grand roi.

Naré Maghann Konaté était alors déjà marié à Sassouma Bereté. En effet, il avait déjà un fils, Dankaran Toumani Konaté, héritier du trône.

Et on jour, selon la prédiction faite quelques années plus tôt:

  • Deux frères Traoré, chasseurs venant du pays de Do, lui présentent une femme laide et bossue. Sogolon Kondé (Sogolon Kedjou ou Sogolon « la vilaine »), que le roi épouse aussitôt.

La Naissance de Soundiata Keita

L’origine de son Nom

Cette deuxième épouse donne naissance à un fils baptisé « Diata » ou « Djata ».

L’additif « Sogolon » marque son appartenance matriarcale. En effet, c’est dans le but de le distinguer de tout homonyme. Et, cet ajout est également le fait de son infirmité.

En effet, la tradition orale rapporte que Soundiata Keita est né paralysé et qu’il marcha à quatre pattes jusqu’à l’âge de sept ans.

Or, selon les coutumes mandingues:

  • Si plusieurs enfants d´une même famille ont le même prénom
  • Ou qu’un enfant porte une caractéristique un peu spécifique:
    • Un handicap.
    • Ou une réputation par exemple.

Alors, ces enfants ajoutent le nom de leur mère à leur prénom.

Le prénom de Sogolon Diata signifie ainsi « Diata, fils de mère Sogolon » : cela devint par diminutif « Soundiata ».

L’Eveil du Prince Soundiata Keita

À la mort de Naré Maghann Konaté en 1218, son premier fils, Dankaran Toumani, prend le pouvoir. Et ce, malgré la volonté du roi défunt de respecter la prédiction.

Soundiata et sa mère, laquelle avait entre-temps donné naissance à deux nouvelles filles. Celle qui avait adopté le fils de la troisième femme de Naré Maghann Konaté. Tous, furent donc l’objet permanent du mépris du nouveau roi et de sa mère.

soundiata keita

Après un affront contre sa mère, Soundiata Keita, à l’âge de sept ans, réussit à se lever. En effet, il recouvra miraculeusement l’usage de ses jambes lorsqu’il toucha le bâton royal.

Mais la haine de Dankaran Toumani et de Sassouma Bereté conduisit Soundiata, sa mère et ses sœurs à l’exil au Royaume de Mema.

Soumaoro Kanté, le Roi du Sosso

Soumaoro Kanté

Ensuite, Soumaoro Kanté, roi du Sosso, attaque le royaume du Manding.

Et, Dankaran Toumani, craignant pour sa vie, se mit à fuir vers Kissidougou (en actuelle Guinée).

Selon la tradition, Soumaoro Kanté mena une dizaine d’expéditions. Au cours desquelles il massacra onze des fils de Naré Maghann Konaté, sauf Soundiata.

Les habitants du Manding allèrent donc ensuite chercher Soundiata dans son exil.En effet, ils lui demandèrent de prendre son héritage soit :

  • « Kien » (héritage)
  • Et « Ta » (prendre),
  • Qui est devenu « Kienta » (prends ton héritage) et par la suite «Keïta».
Soundiata
Image de “Soundiata Keita Le Réveil du lion”

Le jeune prince devient rapidement très populaire auprès des Mandingues.

En effet, ils espèrent qu’il chassera un jour les envahisseurs venu du Sosso.

C’est ainsi que sa popularité croissante inquiète Soumaoro Kanté, le Roi du Sosso, à qui des sorciers ont prédit :

Ton vainqueur naîtra au Mali.

La Patience du Prince en Exil

Pour échapper à sa vengeance, Soundiata se réfugie chez un souverain voisin et ami. Souverain régnant au sud de son pays.

Le Prince Soundiata Kaita
Le Prince Soundiata Kaita – Image de “Soundiata Keita Le Réveil du lion”

Là, il attend le moment favorable pour libérer son royaume.

Soundiata Keita était aguerri dès son plus jeune âge:

  • A la chasse.
  • Au tir à l’arc.
  • Et fut mithridatisé contre les poisons.

Il vécut pendant des années avec l’idée de se venger du massacre de sa famille.

Un jour, un émissaire lui apprend la révolte des Mandé (ou mandingues) contre Soumaoro Kanté, le Roi Sorcier.

Le Prince passe à l’attaque

Alors, Soundiata Keita rassemble ses guerriers, selon les traditions orales, il aurait organisé une armée composée:

  • De dix mille cavaliers.
  • Et de cent mille fantassins.

Les Guerriers de Soundiata

Il, conquiert le Fouta-Djalon, et lance des attaques sur le Sosso.

Sa sœur Nana Triban, que Soumaoro Kanté avait épousé de force, s’enfuit. Et, selon la légende, elle alla apprendre à son frère le secret du grand Roi Sorcier:

Seule une flèche portant un ergot de coq blanc pourra tuer le roi du Sosso.

Soundiata fait le nécessaire avec le secours des magiciens attachés à son service.

Rassemblant les forces de différents petits royaumes en lutte contre le Sosso, Soundiata Keïta forme une armée.

Il réussit à vaincre l’armée de Soumaoro Kanté en 1235 à la bataille de Kirina.

Son ennemi s’enfuit et finit par disparaître dans une montagne à Koulikoro.

Le Roi Soundiata Keita

Le Roi Soundiata KeitaSoundiata Keita réunit tous les royaumes pour constituer l’Empire du Mali.

Il est proclamé « Mansa » ce qui signifie « Roi des rois ».

Il établit sa capitale à Niani, sa ville natale (aujourd’hui un village en Haute-Guinée).

Lors de son intronisation, la confrérie des chasseurs du Mandé proclame la Charte du Manden.

Cette dernière abolirait l’esclavage et serait l’une des premières déclarations des droits de l’homme (il existe une controverse à ce sujet).

Vers 1240, le Roi Soundiata s’empare de Koumbi-Saleh, capitale de l’Empire du Ghana, et détruit la ville.

Il prend alors le titre d’Empereur et envoie ses lieutenants conquérir le Bambouk.

L’organsation sous Soundiata Keita

Soundiata est présenté comme un grand administrateur qui développe:

  • Le commerce,
  • L’exploitation de l’or et des cultures nouvelles
    • Introduction du cotonnier.

Il organise politiquement et administrativement les peuples soumis, en implantant une solide organisation militaire.

Les chefs de ses armées sont installés comme gouverneurs de province.

Soundiata, outre ses exploits guerriers, est connu pour sa sagesse.

Sa tolérance permet la coexistence pacifique de l’islam et de l’animisme dans son Empire.

Soundiata Keita meurt en 1255, noyé dans les eaux du Sankarani pour les uns.

Tué d’une flèche par traîtrise (ou accidentellement) lors d’une fête à Niani selon les autres.

À sa mort, l’Empire du Mali s’étend de l’Atlantique au Moyen Niger, et de la forêt au désert.

La Rédaction

La Rédaction

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