Tuareg boy with animal skin on head.
Timbuktu, Mali. Corel photo.

Where the vast curve of the African river Niger meets the Sahara desert, great kingdoms of black-skinned peoples ruled from the 8th to the 16th centuries. These were the kingdoms of Ghana and Mali and the Empire of the Songhai. The Songhai Empire was founded in 1468 when Sunni Ali Ber wrested Timbuktu from the nomadic Tuaregs who held it at that time.

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