The society in Charles Umerie’s novel, Across the Desert, was a society in which males had control of everything, and women were looked down upon. Wives were considered the husband’s property, and everyone wished for a son instead of daughter.

The men of Mali Empire in the 14th to 16th century preferred to have more wives, horses, lands and children. Those were the things that showed they were rich. It was a time of trade between the great empires (Morocco and Egypt) on the Sahara desert. They traded gold for slaves, gold for salt, copper for leather, etc.

The people of Mali Empire had the idea of Mande superiority. There were other cultures and languages in the Mali Empire, but any culture not Mande (the founders of the empire were Mande) was considered inferior. The people also mixed their traditional worship with Islam. Most of the rulers of Mali Empire only practiced Islam to maintain the trade with the Arab world.

Charles also discussed the economy and tradition of the Mali Empire people, and anyone wishing to know more about this empire should definitely get the book. It covers the social issues we face today, and it was handled in the most educative and entertaining way possible.

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