The Mossi are the largest ethnic group in BURKINA FASO, making up almost half of the population. They speak Moore, which is used as a common language throughout the country. The Mossi arose from the merging of many different ethnic groups and formed several competing empires. Soldiers known as Mossi conquered the city of TIMBUKTU during the reign of Emperor MANSA MUSA of MALI in the 1300s. However, the modern Mossi may not be descended from these warriors.
In the 1400s, warriors on horseback arrived from the south and founded the first Mossi dynasty in what is now northern Ghana. Mossi nobles called nakombse led small groups out to conquer new areas. All later Mossi empires trace their origin back to the nakombse, who founded several major kingdoms, including Ouagadougou. Mossi empires had strong central governments and a hierarchical social structure. After the French colonized the region in the late 1800s, the nakombse rulers lost most of their power and privileges. Nevertheless, modern Mossi leaders are still respected in Burkina Faso both by political leaders and the population as a whole.