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The richest man to ever walk the earth King Mansa Musa
Mansa Musa - The richest man on earth of ALL TIME!
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Mansa Musa I (1312-1337)
The Mandingo empire of Mali was one of the three great African empires of the medieval period. Although Mali’s history dates back to Paleolithic times, the empire did not reach its zenith until the thirteenth century. Mansa (Emperor or King) Musa I, was considered Mali’s greatest king, reigning from 1312 to 1337.
When Mansa Musa ascended the throne, Mali stretched from the mouth of the Senegal River, near the Atlantic Ocean, to the eastern bank of the Niger River. To the North, Mali reached deep into the Sahara. During Mansa Musa’s reign, Mali expanded considerably. At one point, it was as large as Western Europe.
Mali was an empire of great wealth. Its natural resources included gold, silver, copper, and salt. Major crops included cotton, corn, millet, yams, and kola nuts. The lifeblood of the empire was its trade routes. To protect his kingdom, Mansa Musa I had a standing army of over 100,000 and a calvary of 10,000.
During Mansa Musa’s reign, Mali was a highly sophisticated political state. Administratively, each province had a governor who was appointed by and accountable to the king. Under each governor a mayor, who administered the cities and leading towns. There were also vassal kingdoms that were not under imperial control. Further, there were several semi-autonomous kingdoms that were in direct alliance with the empire. At its zenith, Mali was so organized and powerful that it spearheaded West Africa’s Golden Age.
The people of Mali possessed rare beauty and the most admirable qualities. Not only were the women shown the greatest of respect, but royal lineage was also passed on through the mother’s brother. There was complete security from violence, and justice and truth prevailed. During this same period, Europe was coming out of the Dark Ages and was full of robbers, idolators, and warmongers.
Mansa Musa I was a devout Moslem. The most colorful event of his reign was his famous “hajj” (pilgrimage) to Mecca in 1324. The journey to Mecca is one of the five duties of members of the Islamic faith. Some say Mansa Musa’s royal caravan consisted of 10,000 traveler; others said there were as many as 60,000. To finance his trip, there were approximately 100 camels each of which carried 300lbs of Gold.
By July 1324, Mansa Musa and his entourage reached Egypt, where he received a royal welcome. Gold and other expensive gifts were given freely to the Egyptian officials. One Egyptian diplomat documented that it took Cairo’s gold markets nearly ten years to return to normalcy after Mansa Musa’s trip. From Cairo, Mansa Musa departed from Mecca.
His pilgrimage prompted European cartographers, in 1374, to publish an atlas showing the location of Mali. The following inscription accompanied the map; “This Negro Lord is called Mansa Musa, Lord of the Negros of Guinea. So abundant is the gold which is found in his country that he is the richest and most noble king of all the land.”
Mansa Musa persuaded Moslem scholars, architects, jurists, and others to return with him to Mali. As a result, the city of Timbuktu became a leading center of Islamic studies, and Arabic architecture was introduced into Mali. Thus, Mansa Musa can be credited with laying the foundation on which Islamic tradition was established in West Africa.
Mansa Musa I died in 1337. With his passing, rivalry for power, competition for wealth, and religious reform movements led to the decline of Mali.
Excerpt from A Salute To Historic African Kings & Queens.
This is only a summary of the life of King Mansa Musa I.