The Keita dynasty ruled pre-imperial and imperial Mali from the 12th century into the early 17th century. It was a Muslim Dynasty, and its rulers claimed descent from Bilal Keita (later named Bilal ibn Ribah Bilal).
Bilal Keita was a freed slave who accepted Islam and became one of the Sahabahs of the prophet Muhammad. Bilal Keita bears the distinction of being the first muezzin in Islam. According to Mandinka/Bambara traditionalist accounts passed down by djelis (oral chroniclers), Bilal had seven sons, one of whom settled in Manden (Mandinka traditional territory). This son, Lawalo Keita, had a son named Latal Kalabi Keita, who later sired Damul Kalabi Keita. Damul Kalabi Keita's son was Lahilatoul Keita and the first faama of the city of Niani. It is through Lahilatoul that the Keita clan becomes a ruling dynasty, though only over the small area around Niani.
There would be nine faamas of Niani prior to the founding of the Mali Empire. Its first mansa would be Sundiata Keita. This is when Mari Jata is crowned and Keita becomes a clan name. A couple of generations after him, his great-nephew, Mansa Musa Keita I of Mali, made a celebrated pilgrimage to Mecca which established his reputation as the richest man of his day. The dynasty he belonged to remained a major power in West Africa from 1235 until the breakup of the Mali Empire around 1610. Rivals from within the clan founded smaller kingdoms within contemporary Mali and Guinea. Today the surname Keita belongs only to one royal family in Africa. Of the members of these modern "daughter dynasties", the late politician Modibo Keita and the musician Salif Keita are arguably the most famous.
|b. 580—d. 640||Bilali Bounama||Ancestor of the Keitas, сompanion (sahabah) of the prophet Muhammad|
|Lawalo Keita||Oldest of 7 sons of Bilali Bounama. Left Mecca and emigrated to Manden (Mali).|
|Latal Kalabi||Son of Lawalo Keita|
|Damul Kalabi||Son of Latal Kalabi|
|Lahilatoul Kalabi||Son of Damul Kalabi. First sub-Saharan African prince to perform a hajj; robbed in the desert, returned after 7 years.|
|Kalabi Bomba||Son of Lahilatoul Kalabi|
|Kalabi Dauman||Younger son of Lahilatoul Kalabi. Preferred fortune, ancestor of traders.|
|c. 1050||Mamadi Kani||Son of Kalabi Bomba. Hunter king, inventor of the hunter‘s whistle, communicated with the jinn of the bush, loved by Kondolon Ni Sané.|
|Sané Kani Simbon, Kamignogo Simbon, Kabala Simbon and Bamari Tagnogokelin Simbon together||The four sons of Mamadi Kani.|
|1175—?||M’Bali Nene||Son of Bamari Tagnogokelin|
|Bello||Son of Bamari Tagnogokelin|
|?—1200s||Bello Bakon||Son of Bello|
|1200s—1218||Maghan Kon Fatta||Son of Bello Bakon|
|1218—c.1230||Dankaran Touman||Son of Maghan Kon Fatta. Niani conquered by the Sosso Empire under king Soumaoro Kanté.|
|1235—1255||Mari Djata I|
|1255—1270||Uli Keita I|
|1275—1285||Abubakari Keita I|
|1305—1310||Mohammed ibn Gao Keita|
|1310—1312||Abubakari Keita II|
|1312—1337||Mansa Musa Keita I|
|1337—1341||Maghan Keita I|
|1360—1374||Mari Djata Keita II|
|1374—1387||Musa Keita II|
|1387—1389||Maghan Keita II|
|1390—1404||Maghan Keita III
(also known as Mahmud Keita I)
|1404—c. 1440||Musa Keita III|
|c.1460—1480/1481||Uli Keita II|
|1480/1481—1496||Mahmud Keita II
(also known as Mamadou Keita)
|1496—1559||Mahmud Keita III|
|1559—c.1590||Unknown mansa or vacancy|
|c.1590—c.1610||Mahmud Keita IV||Empire collapses after death of Mahmud Keita IV.|
List of post-imperial mansas of Mali (capital — Kangaba)
|c.1610—c.1660||Unknown number of mansas|
|c.1660—c.1670||Mama Maghan||Capital moved from Niani to Kangaba after botched attack on Segou.|
- Cooley, William Desborough (1841). The Negroland of the Arabs Examined and Explained: Or, An Inquiry Into the Early History and Geography of Central Africa. London: J. Arrowsmith. pp. 63–64.
- Cooley, William Desborough (1966). The Negroland of the Arabs Examined and Explained. London: Routledge. p. 143 Pages. ISBN 0-7146-1799-7.
- Stewart, John (1989). African States and Rulers: An Encyclopedia of Native, Colonial, and Independent States and Rulers Past and Present. Jefferson: McFarland & Company. p. 395 Pages. ISBN 0-89950-390-X.