King of Kings, the lion of Mali

Musa I commonly known as Mansa Musa was the tenth Mansa, which translates to ‘King of Kings’. When he ruled in 1312 AD, Mali had firm control of the trade routes to the southern lands of gold and the northern lands of salt. The Malian Empire consisted of territory belonging to the Ghana Empire, Melle and immediate surrounding areas. With all those riches, Mansa brought the lands of the Middle Niger plus enclosed the cities of Timbuktu and Gao.

Mansa also successfully enclosed a large part of Western Sudan that Moroccan writer Ibn Batuta twelve years after Mansa’s death said he found “complete and general safety in the land” This made Mansa Musa one of the greatest statesmen in the history of Africa.

In 1324 Mansa began his pilgrimage to Mecca. His journey through the Egyptian capital of Cairo was long remembered as Mansa gave away so many golden gifts. His gifts were so generous that the sudden influx of gold devalued the metal for the next decade. Prices on goods and wares super inflated in an attempt to adjust to the newfound wealth that was spreading throughout local populations. To rectify the gold market, Mansa borrowed all the gold he could carry in Cairo at high interest. This was the only time recorded in history that one man directly controlled the price of gold in the Mediterranean.

Mansa Musa is recorded as being one of the richest men to ever walk the earth and was estimated to have been worth the equivalent of $400 billion in today’s currency. During his time as King Mansa maintained a huge army that kept peace and policed the trade routes for his businesses. He was also a major influence on the University of Timbuktu, the world’s first university and the major learning institution for not just of Africa but the world. 

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