Mansa Musa (1280 – 1337)


He is the richest man to ever exist on this planet & you may have heard about him in a rap lyric from 
Jay-Z himself on “Mood 4 Eva”. More popularly known as Mansa Musa stories about this emir from the 14th century continues to live on. When Musa took over the throne from his predecessor, the Malian Empire consisted of territory previously owned by the Ghana Empire, present-day Southern Mauritania and in Melle(Mali) including the immediate surrounding areas
The Mali Empire, created by Sundiata Kieta was the largest & wealthiest empire West Africa has seen yet. Mansa was the grand nephew of Sundiata. The Empire amassed riches through being a trade hub; trade routes between the mediterranean & the southern coast of west Africa.
Salt was a major commodity traded in the north while the south brought about gold & ivory. Mansa was the Malian title meaning king. Mansa Musa was a devout muslim. Most indigenous rulers adopted Islam from interacting with Arab merchants & as a result, the Mali Empire played a huge role in the spread of Islam across West Africa. Under Musa’s rule the Mali Empire grew & extended making it only second in size compared to the Mongol Empire at the time. The Mali Empire controlled lands up to the Gambia & lower Senegal. Mansa Musa was able to maintain Mali’s vast empire with the help of a talented general;  Saran Mandian, &  an army numbering around 100,000 men, including an armored cavalry corps of 10,000 horses. He divided the Empire into provinces with each one ruled by a farba (governor) appointed by Musa. The Mali Empire grew in wealth through taxes on trade, they controlled copper & gold mines. The economic standing of the Malian people grew too. The outside world was yet to hear about Mansa Musa until, like many devout muslims, he went on a pilgrimage to Mecca in 1324 CE. In July of that year Musa arrived to Cairo & evidence of this wealth caused an absolute sensation, when he arrived to Egypt the Sultan was astonished. Mansa Musa gave 50,000 gold dinars to the Sultan of Egypt merely as a first-meeting gesture. Some accounts say Mansa Musa’s camel caravan consisted of 100 camels, each carrying 135 kilos (300 pounds) of gold dust while 500 slaves each brandished a 2.7 kilo (6 pounds) gold staff, in addition to hundreds of other camels loaded down with foodstuffs & textiles, & horse riders waving the huge red & gold banners of the king. After Cairo, Musa travelled to Arabia. There he purchased land & houses so that pilgrims from Mali following his footsteps would have a place to stay. The King was so inspired by the holy sites & architecture that once he returned to Mali he built a dazzling audience chamber at Niani & mosques at Gao & Timbuktu. The Djinguereber Mosque still stands today in Timbuktu, Mali. The University of Sankoré, still standing, was also created, as Musa was also influenced by the universities he saw along his pilgrimage. He brought back to Mali books & scholars, staffing the University of  Sankoré with jurists, astronomers & mathematicians. By the end of his reign the university had been fully staffed with the largest collections of books in Africa since the Library of Alexandrai. Mansa Musa sent native religious scholars to Fez in Morocco to learn what they could & then return to Mali as teachers. Mansa Musa was succeeded by his 1st son Mansa Maghan I after his death in 1337. 
Mansa Musa’s wealth adjusted for inflation was said to be a fortune of $400 billion.


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