Mansa is a Mandinka word meaning "sultan" (king) or "emperor". It is particularly associated with the Keita Dynasty of the Mali Empire, which dominated West Africa from the thirteenth to the fifteenth century. Powers of the mansa included the right to dispense justice and to monopolize trade, particularly in gold.
Sundiata Keita was the first to assume the title of mansa (emperor), which was passed down through the Keita line with few interruptions well into the 15th century. Other notable mansas include his son Wali Keita and the powerful Mansa Musa (Kankan Musa), whose hajj helped define a new direction for the Empire. The succession of the Mali Empire is primarily known through Tunisianhistorianibn Khaldun's History of the Berbers.
^Jansen, Jan (1998). "Hot Issues: The 1997 Kamabolon Ceremony in Kangaba (Mali)". The International Journal of African Historical Studies. 31 (2): 253–278. JSTOR221083. (Registration required (help)). On page 256, Jan Jansen writes: “Mansa is generally translated as 'king,' 'ruler' or 'ancestor.' The Griaulians, however, often translate mansa as 'God,' 'the divine principle' or 'priest king,' although they never argue the choice for this translation, which has an enormous impact on their analysis of the Kamabolon ceremony.”