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Units of History – Mali Cavalry – Knights of Africa (1235) DOCUMENTARY



History documentary on the Mali Cavalry, Knights of Africa! Dive into this period with the book “Griots Tell No Lies” (US link (UK link

In this Units of History episode we turn our attention beyon the traditional confines of medieval history to explore the realm of West Africa and in particular the African Knights of the Mali Empire. We begin with a general overview of the region’s geography which spans the vast, diverse lands between the Sahrara desert and the Atlantic ocean.

We then explore the rise of the Ghana Empire which set the stage for our story. Upon this great power’s fall in the 11th century of Medieval Africa, the region would fall into conflict. For a time the Sosso rose as successors. However they would be challenged by the southern Mandinka people. Their clash for the fate of the realm would be decided by the charge of heavy cavalry. But to understand the dynamics of this fight we cover the equipment, training, tactics, and organization of these Knights of Africa.

Spring, Christopher, African Arms and Armour, British Museum Press, 1993
Walker, Robin, When We Ruled: The Ancient and Medieval History of Black Civilizations, Black Classic Press, 2011
Diop, Cheikh Anta, Precolonial Black Africa, A Cappella Books, 1988
Niane, Djibril Tamsir, Sundiata: an Epic of Old Mali, Pearson Longman; 2nd edition, 2006

“Desert Night” by Luke PN
“Heart of Africa” by Luke PN
“Life in Africa” by Luke PN

Research = J. Bela
Script = Invicta
Narration = Guy Michaels
Art = Penta Limited

Other Units of Africa
Nubian Archers
Numidian Cavalry
Sacred Band of Carthage
Carthaginian War Elephants

00:00 Intro
02:57 West Africa
07:00 Origins
10:08 Equipment
15:29 Blacksmithing
16:43 Training
20:53 Organization
22:56 Service History
26:20 Outro

#africa #history #documentary


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  1. @InvictaHistory

    April 6, 2024 at 3:21 pm

    I LOVE diving into topics I'm not familiar! A huge thanks to J. Bela for not only suggesting this topic but also helping to provide the research. He just published a historical fiction book set in this period which you should definitely check out: "Griots Tell No Lies" (US link (UK link

  2. @kmaclub143

    May 15, 2024 at 4:21 pm

    You left out they came by all the money for that army through slavery of his fellow man. The king was the biggest slaver in history that's why he was so rich.

  3. @West.African.Liberian-my-love

    May 16, 2024 at 1:34 am

    We the mande people, the legendary Mali empire descendants thank you ❤😂

  4. @ThursonJames

    May 16, 2024 at 2:27 am

    Where did Mansa Musa get all that loot?

  5. @TheSeer101

    May 17, 2024 at 12:21 am

    Literally all the knights of Europe were black. Blacks ruled Europe till the 1500's when we had a massive war amongst ourselves. We wiped each other out then the white man came out of caves and moved into our cities!

  6. @saadmanh

    May 17, 2024 at 9:13 pm

    The NFL. The NFL are the knights of Africa.

  7. @Roman.Leave.Me.2.My.Circles

    May 17, 2024 at 11:32 pm

    Sofa (The original Ottoman lol) is a Mandinka term for slave soldiers who served in the army of the Mali Empire. The word sofa translates into English as "father of the horse" (so means horse, and fa means "father") or "guardian of the horse". This term stems from the original function of the sofa as a caretaker for the horse or horses of a cavalry commanders Muslim Berbers and Mamluks as European style heavy Calvery and their trusty Sofa

    Mansa Musa came to power in 1312 C.E., after the previous king, Abu Bakr II, disappeared at sea. Mansa Abu Bakr II had departed on a large fleet of ships to explore the Atlantic Ocean, and never returned. (oh really maybe they washed up in Portugal) Mansa Musa developed cities like Timbuktu and Gao into important cultural centers. He also brought architects from the Middle East and across Africa to design new buildings for his cities. Mansa Musa turned the kingdom of Mali into a sophisticated center of learning in the Islamic world empire. What about this says West African people other then location. It does say Canaanites.

    You see Carthage in antiquity grew to become the greatest power of the mediterranean as the centuries passed they became the masters of commerce to understand what happened to them briefly you must understand this the word Punic can be used to describe one of two different things it's an adjective it could be used to describe well Carthaginians because Punic meant that something was Phoenician descended from Phoenicians and of course the mythical phoenix that obtains new life by rising from the ashes of its predecessor, You know the Phoenician language was called Punic, Punic as an adjective can also mean TREACHEROUS. I would like you to call your craziest uncle and ask him what he thinks of the Jews do it I dare you

  8. @saninkontron925

    May 18, 2024 at 7:34 pm

    Hey Netflix, this is a story worths telling: "The emperor against the prince", "Kante vs Keita" !

  9. @ultimateme3049

    May 19, 2024 at 1:42 pm

    Glad to know about the Mandinka, i'm half Cape Verdean and on the Isles is common to see people wearing tribal clothes on carnival representing this group of people, but when i asked family members about it, nobody knew a thing!

  10. @Smitty753

    May 20, 2024 at 8:51 pm

    I'm still waiting for the next episode of this LOL

  11. @dsrama777

    May 21, 2024 at 11:17 am

    Modern descended ethnnicities of Mali look like north african berbers and not black sub-saharans. Why are you depicting them as black sub-saharan, just like Hannibal wasn't black either but arabic like the arabic moors. Sub-Saharan blacks never had written language, enduring cities or even invented the wheel. Seems inaccurate. (My replies are being censored so I cannot reply. Take care.)

  12. @ashleynicole7255

    May 22, 2024 at 9:50 am

    Thanks for talking about this topic. Im so tired of Africa's true history being purposely ignored and overshadowed, especially when life began there.

  13. @celestialhylos7028

    May 22, 2024 at 1:41 pm


    Do your fcking research and you won't need any rule of cool

  14. @StevenAlcaide-gw8mg

    May 24, 2024 at 3:04 am

    I wonder whether these African cavalry traditions evolved entirely independently or where initially introduced through contact with the Mediterranean world and the near east.

    Horses where domesticated on the Eurasian steppes and where likely introduced to to this region of Sub-Saharan Africa through trade by Mediterranean and north African based cultures like Carthage and the Numidia. In antiquity, north African cultures where famous for theire javelin wielding light cavalry. So there's little doubt about that influence.

    But I'm curious whether the "knightly" style way of war in this region of the world took the form it did independently, as in, it was present for as long as horses have been in the region since antiquity, or was it introduced through contact with the Islamic world.

  15. @JacobIvice

    May 24, 2024 at 4:09 pm

    I am now angry that we don't have a Total War game about this region and era. Thanks for highlighting this, it was never brought up during any of my education and it seems to be severely overlooked my western media and historians. Thank you for expanding my horizons!!!

  16. @jonathanviera1589

    May 24, 2024 at 4:12 pm

    Would love to see a series or movie about the rise of the Mali Empire just like it was described here very interesting.

  17. @tariizm1500

    May 24, 2024 at 7:24 pm

    i mean not every cavalry is knight

  18. @johnvonshepard9373

    May 25, 2024 at 6:30 am

    Not a Knight. Don't devalue that word pls.

  19. @UnDark1

    May 25, 2024 at 5:48 pm

    As expected. Once history expose actual organized Ancient West Africa, the racists are coming out to claim that these people were not Black. Seems like we’re running out of places where real Black people existed in Africa.

  20. @kenopsia6748

    May 26, 2024 at 11:10 pm

    they wuz kangz yo

  21. @erikm8372

    May 28, 2024 at 10:14 am

    Lol, at 3:18 Western Africa is “comparable to the size of Western Europe”, but it looks to me like you could fit a whole other Western Europe on that map! Seems more close to TWICE or 3x the size of Western Europe, if not just the size of all of Europe (minus Siberian Russia).

  22. @AFLaminCamara

    May 28, 2024 at 2:55 pm

    Hope this is the true version because at times you people explain our history very very wrongly

  23. @Supremeteamcaptain

    May 28, 2024 at 11:11 pm

    Historical fiction at its finest.

  24. @Supremeteamcaptain

    May 28, 2024 at 11:11 pm

    Funny how these stories only come out as being factual after George Floyd 👀

  25. @nathanlenas8671

    May 30, 2024 at 2:14 pm

    Can you do a video about the Asante people located in modern-day Ghana!

  26. @righteousviking

    June 5, 2024 at 9:49 am

    The skill with which the writers were able to craft a half hour episode about the medieval kingdoms of west African, and yet never mention the slave trade is a marvel of eggshell treading!

  27. @ComfortsSpecter

    June 6, 2024 at 2:26 am


    It’s almost like All of Humanity Typically Function’s Predictably and Similarly yet still Naturally Differently

    Everybody has Knights


    Samurai Are just Japanese Knights

    Elite Infantry and Noble Infantry Officers

    Beautiful Artstyle

    Amazing History Coverage

    Sad how People just Abandon massively Important Concepts like Africa just because There’s not enough Good Action Movies about Her

    So much Incredible Context and Culture

    So Useful for Practically Putting all History in Perspective

    So much to Ignore

    1:06 Madeup African Ultrasupremacist History Grovel Be Like:


    I’m waiting

  28. @PhoKingHell

    June 6, 2024 at 8:58 pm

    More of this, love it!

  29. @theblackgods4699

    June 7, 2024 at 2:42 pm

    Discussing african history with europeans is some of the worsy stuff ever the racism embedded into european culture is unbreakable . As africans we have to tell our own stories and become an independent station in the world these white people have zero respect for our history and us as human beings they dont believe we are acapable of anything . The racism in these comments showed me everything i needed to see .

  30. @quetzalsanchez683

    June 8, 2024 at 2:44 am

    Uhhh … we wuz knights n shiet

  31. @nostradamusofgames5508

    June 8, 2024 at 11:53 pm

    African history- rich, bountiful, and surprisingly interesting for outsiders. Afrocentricsts- nah nigga we wuz pharaoh, samurai, Māori, Mayans and came from space! Da huwite an ashun devils stole our shiet!

  32. @alexanderthompson5713

    June 9, 2024 at 4:22 pm

    This was great and really informative. I hope this gets seen by some of those "history buffs" out there who think that Africa and the rest of the world outside of Europe never progressed past the stone age.

  33. @user-gn1rz5lr3b

    June 9, 2024 at 10:32 pm

    As a person of African Descent, I am honored that you have recognized the higher levels of African culture and civilization.

  34. @user-gn1rz5lr3b

    June 9, 2024 at 10:45 pm

    Another vast African Empire was the " Kanem Bornu" civilization.

  35. @cytkl

    June 10, 2024 at 8:37 am

    Africans are the core of everything that is and everything that ever will be. The pales are a New species.

  36. @g4s9x28

    June 10, 2024 at 10:06 am

    We wuz nigtz n shii maen

  37. @Packless1

    June 10, 2024 at 5:26 pm

    24:00 …hmmm…sounds a bit like 'Agingcourt-but-the-other-way-around' to me…? 🤔
    25:50 …a single hit to decide a battle…who else finds this very 'Hastings-ish'…! 🤔😉
    …why is there so little african history here…??? 🤔🙁

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