• AE Learning Blog Team

The Battle of Kirina

The Battle of Kirina was a war which took place between military forces of King Sundiata and his Mandinka troops of the Mali Empire and their allies and the military forces of King Sumanguru and the Susu. From neighboring kingdoms King Sundiata Keita was able to create a force with a large amount of cavalry and equipt with war drums, lances and swords. Using his strong leadership and negotiation skills he was able to slowly gather the support of various Mandinka clans. King Sundiata was also able to gain support from the region of Tabon directly from the King of Tabon and his son who was named Fran Kamara.

Sundiata travelled with his troops and arrived at the mountains overlooking Tabon, he saw the area full of the Susu army. Although some of Sundiata’s generals were concerned requesting that any initial battle be delayed to the next day due to some fatigue the soldiers had. However, the king was keen to press forward and engage the enemy. He lead the army into battle to encourage them. This initial conflict took place near to Tabon between King Sundiata Keita and some of the forces of the Susu who were taken by surprise. Concerning the details of the battle the west African griots mention the following:

Sundjata was in their midst of the Susu like a lion among its prey”

The Susu troops were quickly defeated. The army of Sundiata celebrated their first victory and news of the battle and its outcome soon spread across the region reaching King Sumanguru and the neighbouring kingdoms. After this initial victory King Sundiata continued to press forward eventually engaging King Sumanguru and his army in a valley. The Mandinka soldiers used war drums and trumpets to intimidate the enemy as was the custom during battle at that time. This time Sumanguru himself was present at the battle and lead his army. Sundiata organized his army into a square formation with cavalry leading from the front and his archers at the rear. Sumanguru’s soldiers ran down into the valley attempting to encircle Sundiata and his men. However, Sundiata’s army was quickly able to manuver and reposition the archers to launch a volley of arrows at the Susu army.


The Susu began to retreat and Sumanguru decideds to end the engagement. The next day King Sundiata would again engage Sumanguru in battle early in the morning in the region called Koulikoro. Koulikoro is located in modern-day south western Mali. Yet again Sumanguru marched out to meet Sundiata. This final engagement was known as The Battle of Kirina and took place in 1235 AD. The drums sounded and the battle began. Sundiata and his army charged at the Susu with their soldiers on horseback as his archers shot a barrage of arrows. After much fighting back and forth between the two forces an opportunity was seized by King Sundiata which would deliver a psychological blow to his enemy. Sundiata drew back an arrow and aimed it directly at Sumanguru and released. He hit the Susu king and the now wounded Sumanguru begain to retreat. The forces of Sumangaru saw their king leave, and they in turned and fled. It was a complete victory for Sundiata.