Manden Charter: How has this constitution shaped and continues to shape the history of our world?

The Manden Charter continues to draw attention today as one of the most inspiring sets of laws in the 13th century, even still influencing certain practices in this age. Despite this, not everyone may be familiar with its name and how it has managed to shape our world. To find out more about this historical Charter and how it has been incorporated into the modern-day period, read on for further discussion and start educating yourself today!

What is the Manden Charter?

It might be worth establishing what the Manden Charter is to make more sense of how it has managed to positively impact our planet and help people see things from a better perspective. Often, subjects taught in schools don’t cover important aspects of African history. Unfortunately, this means that fewer people are drawn to the historical pivotal points that took place in the ancient ages and how they came to impact our civilisation today. However, sometimes, being educated and aware of the messages can help us learn from valuable African histories and come to realise and appreciate the formation of the world around us. Discovering this can give you a greater perspective on life and can help you reflect on what is really important. With this being said, let’s find out what the Manden Charter is.

The Manden Charter was made in the 13th century Malian Empire, setting out the laws that the clans of Mali would live by. As one of the most dated charters from around the globe, this charter stresses the importance of social peace, the sacredness of life, and freedom of speech. It also touches on the significance of a wide range of other important topics such as education, food security, protection of the environment, and the abolition of slavery. Targeting matters both in Mali and across the world at the time, some of these issues still linger today, although the charter still managed to achieve a huge positive impact.

So, what did the Manden Charter actually manage to do?

The Manden Charter effectively gave equal human rights to people, including slaves and women, and it also encouraged the protection of our environment. In this way, it raised more stability in society, expanded peace, and welcomed diversity. It managed to impact our world today, even continuing to regulate and lay the foundations for certain aspects of community life in Mali. This charter was even put on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2009, highlighting its clear significance.

Furthermore, the Manden Charter also managed to contribute to prominent practices taking place today. It contributes to preventing disputes and creating peaceful resolutions to conflicts within the region, with the charter drawing attention to the importance of individual human rights, the freedom of movement and owning property, and the freedom to enjoy the fruits of one’s labour.

Ceremonies to celebrate the Manden Charter take place every year, backed by Malian local leadership. The recognised charter symbols of love and peace are projected in these celebrations, clearly reflecting the charters dedication to promoting unity and justice in inclusive communities. In turn, this creates a positive and welcoming atmosphere for everybody within society, teaching them significant values from which they can learn to help themselves as well as each other. Having the comfort of this history at hand can help people from Mali discover inner peace and cooperation with others, allowing love and friendship to blossom in what might have otherwise been a place of conflicting ideas.

The history of the Manden Charter

In Kurukan Fuga, the founder of the Mandingo Empire and his assembly of nobles proclaimed the new Manden Charter. It established the clans of Mali under one government and ruled how this body would operate. This took place in the early 13th century after the Battle of Krina, with the charter being named after the place situated above the upper Niger River basin. This is located in between modern-day Mali and Guinea. This document is one of the oldest constitutions in our world, although it did take place principally in oral form.

Despite the disappearance of the Empire today, the words of the Manden Charter and its associated rituals are still presently transmitted through speech from generation to generation of clans in Mali in a codified way. The fact that the charter is still managing to influence society’s centuries after it was established clearly demonstrates how significant this constitution and its values actually are to our world.

The content of the Manden Charter

Whilst the main points of the charter have already been described so far, it might be worth sharing what is included in more detail. Containing 44 articles, the reconstructed charter is separated into four sections. This includes social organisation, property rights, environmental protection, and personal responsibilities.

The charter divided the emerging empire into ruling clans known as lineages, all represented at an assembly. 16 of these clans were quiver carriers responsibly for leading the empire. 4 clans were responsible for guiding the ruling clans in matters of faith. Additionally, 4 clans had control of certain trades such as woodwork, and 4 clans recorded the history of the new empire through song. These clans made up the assembly at the plain of Kurukan Fuga, with the 30th seat possibly being taken up by a female monitor. This is because the charter claimed that women should’ve been represented in government, offering developing and modernised ideas on gender values, which had, beforehand, not been stressed enough. This inclusion potentially sparked ideas of the need for increasing gender equality in other countries aside from Mali as time went on.

Products influenced by the African excellence of the Manden Charter

With the Manden Charter sparking such interest and influence on anyone educated by it, it’s no surprise that companies around the world have been inspired by the great histories of Africa, using the meaning of events to create innovative and highly sought-after products. Sweetlena is just one of these companies. If you are interested in purchasing products with a rich, meaningful history, taking a look at Sweetlena’s Kurukan Fuga product might be of particular interest to you.

Incorporating a Bogolan fabric design into this culinary masterpiece, Sweetlena manages to craft the everyday practicality of cutlery with a historical twist. Carefully made with a titanium layer on stainless steel, this product is durable in quality as well as intriguingly attractive.

Being both bold yet stylish, this 4-piece cutlery set, containing a knife, fork, tablespoon, and dessert spoon, takes every user back to the 13th century to where this revolutionary constitution made its mark on the world. Sweetlena sets to celebrate the important messages that the charter set out in its vision of the world, emphasising how it was clearly ahead of its ancient time in its modernised ideas of the abolition of slavery, integrity across regions, and cultivation of social peace. With these striking messages, this cutlery set is a sought-after product for anyone wishing to make a statement at dinner parties!


It could be argued that the positive impact the Manden Charter has had on this world cannot be stressed enough, bringing strong ideas of social justice and peace to an ancient, undeveloped world in need of modernisation. The fact that ceremonies are still held today to celebrate the establishment of this incredibly old constitution emphasises the mark that it has made on our world’s history.

Investing your time in learning about the history of Mali allows you to get closer to the values behind this 13th-century constitution. We can all learn something from the history of Africa and its contribution to our contemporary civilisation, with improvements to society being necessary all the time – even in this current age.


Did This Medieval African Empire Invent Human Rights? – Big Think

Manden Charter, proclaimed in Kurukan Fuga – intangible heritage – Culture Sector – UNESCO

The Mande Charter (Kouroukan Fouga) of 1235 – The Standard Newspaper Gambia