Sunni Ali became emperor of the Songhai empire in 1464 CE... and as soon as he occupied the throne he went to war, conquering the surrounding national groups around the former Mali empire. National groups like the Mossi and the Fulbe and wolof who had been the first to rebel against the Mali empire during its era of internal turmoil, a situation that had eventually collapsed the empire after series of wars and political upheavals of the Mali royal Princes.
Sunni Ali enhanced the efficiency of the Songhai calvary. It was recorded in the TARIKH Al FATASH, the chronicles of the seeker, written down in Timbuktu in medieval times that, the Songhai soldier often carried a spear with a gold tip that gleamed in the sun.
It was often contented that Sunni Ali was reputed to often order someone's execution and then change his mind at the very last moment. From historical records, there was a contention over opinions from historians on whether Sunni Ali was suffering from a disorder. He had several times ordered the execution of Askia Mohammed, one of his commanders in his army who was the 'Lord of the mountains' and had repeatedly changed his mind at the last minute. Sunni Ali died in the mountains on the border with the Mossi people in what is today the border between Mali and Burkina Faso. He was buried before any in his royal court knew of his death. The story of his death was recorded that he was 'swept away by a current that caused a landslide' in the Niger River. This landslide was common along the Niger river. Askia Mohammed was the Lord of the Mountains at this time and he became the second emperor of the Songhai empire after Sunni Ali's death.