Sonni Ali, a native of Songhay, whose birthdate is unknown, was the eighteenth ruler in a line of kings dating back to A.D. 1010. At the time Sonni became king of Gai and its nearby Songhay lands in A.D. 1464, Mali was becoming weak, and many of its peoples were lclaiming their independence. Sonni Ali, an ambitious and skillful warrior, planned to unite the Mali territories into Songhay dependencies through his army and a a river navy which would wsubdue kingdoms aling the Niger River. In the earley years of his reign he was constantly engaged in battles. He began by fighting off the Mossi, the Dogon, and the Fulani. In 1469 he drove the Tuareg out of Timbuktu, which they had held since 1433.