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Mali, officially the Republic of Mali (French: République du Mali), is a landlocked nation in Western Africa. It is the seventh largest country in Africa. It borders Algeria on the north, Niger on the east, Burkina Faso and the Côte d'Ivoire on the south, Guinea on the south-west, and Senegal and Mauritania on the west. Its straight borders on the north stretch into the centre of the Sahara, while the country's south, where the majority of inhabitants live, features the Niger and Senegal rivers.
The area of present-day Mali was once part of three West African empires that controlled trans-Saharan trade: the Ghana Empire, the Mali Empire (from which Mali takes its name), and the Songhai Empire. In the late 1800s, Mali fell under French control, becoming part of French Sudan. Mali gained its independence, with Senegal, as the Mali Federation in 1959, becoming the independent nation of Mali in 1960. After a long period of one-party rule, a 1991 coup led to the writing of a new constitution and the establishment of Mali as a democratic, multi-party state.
Imazighen (in Kabyle and other Berber languages: Imaziγen) are the indigenous peoples of North Africa west of the Nile Valley. They comprise a large number of distinct ethnic groups forming a heterogeneous compound. They are discontinuously distributed from the Atlantic to the Siwa oasis, in Egypt, and from the Mediterranean to the Niger River. They speak various Berber languages, which together form a branch of the Afroasiatic language family. Between fourteen and twenty-five million Berber speakers live within this region, most densely in Morocco and becoming generally scarcer eastward through the rest of the Maghreb and beyond.
Many Berbers call themselves some variant of the word Imazighen (singular Amazigh), meaning "free men". This is common in Morocco, but elsewhere within the Berber homeland a local, more particular term, such as Kabyle or Chaoui, is more often used instead. Historically Berbers have been variously known, for instance as Libyans by the ancient Greeks, as Numidians and Mauri by the Romans, and as Moors by medieval and early modern Europeans. The modern English term is borrowed from Arabic, but the deeper etymology of "Berber" is not certain.
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Samori Toure (c. 1830 - 1900) was the founder of the Wassoulou Empire, an Islamic state that resisted French rule in West Africa from 1882 to his capture in 1898. Born in Manyambaladugu, the son of Dyula traders, Samori grew up in a West Africa being transformed by growing contacts with the Europeans. European trade made some African trading states rich, while growing access to firearms changed traditional West African patterns of warfare. Early in his life, Ture converted to Islam.
In 1848, Samori's mother was captured in the course of war by Séré-Burlay, of the Cissé clan. After arranging his mother's freedom, Samori engaged himself to the service of the Cissés where he learned the handling of arms. According to tradition, he remained "seven years, seven months, seven days" before fleeing with his mother. He then joined the Bérété army, the enemies of the Cissé, for two years before rejoining his people, the Kamara. Named Kélétigui ("war chief") at Dyala in 1861, Samori took an oath to protect his people against both the Bérété and the Cissé. He created a professional army and placed close relations, notably his brothers and his childhood friends, in positions of command.
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