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"But never try to pierce the mystery which Mali hides from you. Do not go into the dead cities to question the past, for the spirits never forgive. Do not seek to know what is not to be known."
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Sundiata Keita (c. 1217 – c. 1255), nicknamed the Lion of Mali, was the first mansa of the Mali Empire, which he founded in 1235 after his victory over the Sosso Empire. His legendary life has been passed down for centuries by generations of Mandinka griots in the epic oral poem, the Epic of Sundiata. He leads the Malians in Civilization VI.

Sundiata Keita’s wealth is not as great as his descendant, but it is still large enough to compete with Russia’s quest for Great Writers.


Sundiata Keita, Lion of Mali, your griots sing your praises! You rose from humble beginnings to fulfill the prophecy of your people. You are a hunter and a magician; now the time has come to be a king! Bring Mali from its humble beginnings to the empire it is destined to be.


Sundiata Keita's unique agenda is Lion of Mali. He focuses on generating Tourism Tourism, liking civilizations with low Tourism Tourism and disliking those who compete with him in Tourism Tourism.

His leader ability is Sogolon. He can patronize Great Person Great People with Gold Gold for 20% less, his Markets gain 2 slots for Great Work of Writing Great Works of Writing, and each Great Work of Writing Great Work of Writing grants +4 Gold Gold and +2 Production Production.

Detailed Approach[]

The two things Sundiata Keita is best at are Gold Gold and Great Work of Writing Great Works of Writing. Mali’s Songs of the Jeli hurts his Production Production, but gives back in Gold Gold generation. He receives even more Gold Gold from the Suguba’s adjacency bonuses and Mandekalu Cavalry’s Gold Gold from kills. Sundiata Keita’s epic ability to purchase Great People cheaper is best focused on purchasing Great Writers who can create even more powerful Great Work of Writing Great Works of Writing. Culture Victory is the best purchase Sundiata Keita can make.


Sundiata Keita is voiced by Amadou Sissoko. He speaks Maninka.


Codename Quote (English translation) Quote (Maninka) Notes
Agenda-based Approval Wisdom is contained in words, songs, and stories - the words, songs and stories of Mali.  ?
Agenda-based Disapproval With your people, everyone thinks that they know the true stories, but true wisdom is held in memory.  ?
Attacked As long as I breathe, Mali will never be your thrall.  ?
Declares War After the war of mouths, swords must decide.  ?
Defeated Alas, my city, my home, is now a place for the guinea fowl and partridge bathe in the dust.  ?
Greeting I am Sundiata Keita, my light overleaps the mountains and shines out from Mali upon the world.  ?
Quote from Civilopedia But never try to pierce the mystery which Mali hides from you. Do not go into the dead cities to question the past, for the spirits never forgive. Do not seek to know what is not to be known.  ? This is a quote from the book Sundiata: An Epic of Old Mali by Djibril Tamsir Niane.


Delegation: My kingdom is not yet rich - perhaps my grandchildren may make it so. But we send to you lamb in peanut butter stew, that we call tiguadege na, and a leopard-skin chair to sit upon while you eat.

Accepts Player's Declaration of Friendship: A great king forgets nobody.

Rejects Player's Declaration of Friendship: A great king forgets nobody.

Requests Declaration of Friendship: You cannot chose your relatives, but we may choose our friends. I choose you.

Player Accepts Declaration of Friendship: Our deeds are nothing without a friend to tell the tale!

Player Rejects Declaration of Friendship: Kings forget their humility. It is only natural.

Denounced by Player: A serpent that remains hidden will grow old. You have revealed yourself.

Denounces Player: They call me a lion. I have heard you called a jackal.

Too Many Troops Near His Border: Your warriors stray far from their hunting grounds.

Invitation to Capital: Here, you may hear the griots' song directly from their mouths!

Invitation to City: You have heard the songs echoing across the plains, no? Shall we tell you their source?

Civilopedia entry[]

The Malian Empire arose from the ashes of Ghana (Wagadou). Mali existed as a small state on the edges of the Sahel, that arid region at the southern fringe of the Sahara. But as Wagadou collapsed, these smaller powers saw their chance. And, for Mali, around 1230, it was Sundiata Keita, the Lion of Mali, on whose shoulders this burden fell.

According to the Epic of Sundiata, the Lion’s origins were not auspicious. His mother, Sogolon, was a commoner unflatteringly called “the buffalo woman.” But this was part of the point; according to prophecy, if the Mande king Nare Maghann Konate married such a person, she would bear a great king.

Sundiata was, in this way, born to Konate and Sogolon. He was not well-liked – he acquired his looks from his mother, and, further, his physical condition was such that he was unable to walk throughout much of his childhood. Sundiata struggled as a young man against his condition as well as against the resentment of his half-brother, born of a fully noble line. He struggled to walk, breaking the iron rods that blacksmiths had forged for him, and only through the steady command of his mother (or, in some tellings, the strength of a baobab tree) he forced himself to move.

But family struggles proved worse – upon the death of his father, Sundiata and Sogolon were exiled and wandered the Sahel seeking shelter. All tribes cast them out, except for one, the Mema kingdom. With shelter there, Sundiata learned to hunt and fight, and proved his worth.

In his absence, things were developing in the region. Soumaoro Kante, a sorcerer-king, had arisen and began conquering the remnants of Wagadou. In fear, the Malian people sought for their exiled, prophesied king, and found him – it should be noted that the young king was only 18 at the time! Sundiata returned to Mali, united the scattered kingdoms, and defeated the sorcerer.

This story, recorded in the “Epic of Sundiata”, has its biases. Later writings and tellings come mostly from Muslim sources and would be eager to cast any ruler following indigenous religions as a cruel and wicked sorcerer. Sundiata, in these stories, is a righteous Muslim king who founds a Muslim dynasty. But most Malians at Sundiata’s time were not Muslim, and his own religion was likely not Islam, though in just a generation or two, most of Mali’s elites were. Indeed, the explorer Ibn Battuta complains about the unorthodox practices at the Malian court nearly a hundred years later, though he notes that the nobles are all of the faith.

Mali under Mansa [king] Sundiata was not of the extent and richness it would become under Musa, his great-nephew. Nonetheless, Sundiata created a federated monarchy in West Africa, where various vassal kingdoms would send representatives to speak for their people. It was the beginnings of the successors to Wagadou, successors that would include Mali itself, Songhai, and others.

Mansa Sundiata died young, likely during a failed river crossing. His tomb is hidden, as are all tombs of the Malian kings.





Leader Spotlight- Sundiata Keita - Civilization VI- Leader Pass

Leader Spotlight: Sundiata Keita

Related achievements[]

Dawn of a Dynasty
Dawn of a Dynasty
Win a regular game as Sundiata Keita.
A reference to Sundiata Keita's founding of the Mali Empire.

See also[]

External links[]

Civilization VI Leaders [edit]
Abraham Lincoln1Alexander1Amanitore1Ambiorix1Bà Triệu1Basil II1Catherine de Medici (Magnificence Catherine1) • Chandragupta R&F-OnlyCleopatra (Ptolemaic Cleopatra1) • Cyrus1Dido GS-OnlyEleanor of Aquitaine GS-OnlyElizabeth I1Frederick BarbarossaGandhiGenghis Khan R&F-OnlyGilgameshGitarja1GorgoHammurabi1Harald Hardrada (Varangian Harald Hardrada1) • Hojo TokimuneJadwiga1Jayavarman VII1João III1John Curtin1Julius Caesar1Kristina GS-OnlyKublai Khan1Kupe GS-OnlyLady Six Sky1Lautaro R&F-OnlyLudwig II1Mansa Musa GS-OnlyMatthias Corvinus GS-OnlyMenelik II1MontezumaMvemba a NzingaNader Shah1Nzinga Mbande1Pachacuti GS-OnlyPedro IIPericlesPeterPhilip IIPoundmaker R&F-OnlyQin Shi Huang (Unifier Qin Shi Huang1) • Ramses II1Robert the Bruce R&F-OnlySaladin (Sultan Saladin1) • Sejong1Seondeok R&F-OnlyShaka R&F-OnlySimón Bolívar1Suleiman GS-Only (Muhteşem Suleiman1) • Sundiata Keita1Tamar R&F-OnlyTeddy Roosevelt (Bull Moose Teddy1Rough Rider Teddy1) • Theodora1Tokugawa1TomyrisTrajanVictoria (Age of Steam Victoria1) • Wilfrid Laurier GS-OnlyWilhelmina R&F-OnlyWu Zetian1Yongle1
1 Requires DLC

R&F-Only Added in the Rise and Fall expansion pack.
GS-Only Added in the Gathering Storm expansion pack.