The Malian Empire: Mansa Musa (Black History 365)

So, we’re about to enter the month of February and it’s a month the U.S. “celebrates” a so- called Black History month when this history should be celebrated, taught and remembered throughout the year hence why on my last two posts depicting black history I had Black History 365 as part of the title. Also when in it comes to Black History we usually narrowly focus on the U.S. Black Americans experience when Black History is global and some and maybe many Black Americans are oblivious to the outstanding achievements Black people from Africa, the Caribbean and so forth have accomplished. With that said, this leads me to focus on this post about an African emperor named Mansa Musa that had the western region of the African continent thriving and was at one point arguably the richest man in the world. Before Mansa Musa ruled the Mali Empire he was given the temporary position to be the emperor due to then ruler Abubakri II taking a trip to explore the Atlantic ocean but he never returned. Being an “on – call” emperor at that time was equivalent to being a vice president in the U.S. However, Musa wasn’t a nobody and did have the credentials to become a ruler due to his great-uncle Sundiata Keita having founded the Malian Empire. Furthermore, as he was now the new ruler he gained his wealth from trading gold and salt which was abundant in West Africa and with the money he gained he strengthened Mali’s cultural infrastructure particularity Timbuktu which he annexed in 1324. Musa was a devout Muslim and when he took his Hajj to Mecca an important act in Islam the world became aware of the extent to his wealth as he spread and gave gold away to people in the streets, while simultaneously buying extensively to the point where it damaged the global economy for a while. So gold as we know it today is very high in value but when Mansa Musa began circulating the gold the value began to decrease. Moreover, this minor setback was evened out once he began borrowing from lenders in Cairo despite a high-interest rate was attached to it, and with this done he single handily had control over the gold in the Mediterranean. With all that wealth and money Mansa Musa accumulated what did he do with it? Well other donating it, he used a lot of to build mosques the holy place of worship for Muslims and legend has it that he built one every Friday! Friday is the holy day for Muslims to congregate like Saturday is for Jews and Sunday for Christians, so building a new one by the end of the week is unfathomable, the famous one being Djinguereber Mosque. With this, he expanded his reputation and brought it back to the Mali empire and put his region in Africa on the map for the world to know and visit. If you see any depictions of Mansa Musa you’ll see him surrounded in gold coloring and there is one famous drawing of him holding a nugget of gold.

So, how does Mansa Musa’s wealth compare to today’s millionaires that also contribute to philanthropic endeavors? When adjusted for inflation Mansa Musa’s wealth is believed to be around $400 billion, and the only person that came close to that numerical figure is John D. Rockefeller at $336 million. How much Musa made is well and good however the impact he made for the Malian Empire, Africa, and the global economy is where he left his legacy. In closing, as stated before Black history should not only be celebrated in terms of the history of African Americans in America but Black folk all over the world that ruled kingdoms that some of the slaves that entered the Americas and the Caribbean came from, but as with a lot of this kind of history it was discarded by the majority (White America) for Black folk to not learn about when entering schools. When we would learn about Black History month we would talk about a few figures MLK Jr, Rosa Parks, and so forth is only surface-level knowledge that doesn’t go deep into the roots of black identity and the movement for black liberation, but hey that’s why I’m glad I have a platform like this to bestow this information. Anyways if you’ve made this far into the post, great and I look forward to explore another important figure in my new series Black history 365 that some people may not know about. Comment if you feel the need to and leave a like and follow so you can stay up to date with my posts and my next post in this series if you enjoyed what you learned in this post. As always peace and keep it real.

Source material –

Mansa Musa

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