Emperor Mansa Musa ruled a very wealthy 14th-century empire in the heart of Western Africa. Specifically, he provided inspiration and financing to turn the small and nomadic village of Timbuktu into an economic and intellectual center that is situated deep inside the African continent. Explorers from Europe did not set foot on this region for another 500 years, and Mansa Musa led the spread of Islamic civilization and law in the region. His leadership and achievements contradict all claims that little was accomplished in black Africa until the whites arrived. Here are the accomplishments of Mansa Musa:
1. He Made Timbuktu One Of The Leading Islamic Financial And Academic Centers In The World.
On his way to Cairo, Egypt, Musa engaged in lavish spending and distribution of alms with the help of his massive group of followers flooding the city with gold. The Egyptian financial market, which was one of the most important in the world, plunged, and it required more than a decade for the gold prices to recover. Now, with his gold, Musa persuaded the leading Islamic builders and scholars in Cairo to follow him back home across the Sahara Desert to Timbuktu.
These new followers then built Timbuktu into one of the world’s foremost Islamic academic and financial centers, trading gold, slaves and kola nuts. In fact, by the 15th century, Timbuktu rivaled the leading European cities of Milan, Paris and Venice in economic and intellectual activity. However, such golden age then faded into obscurity, making Mali one of the poorest countries in the world.
2. He Managed To Create a Vast Empire.
Musa’s empire spread towards the east from the Atlantic Coasts, which is known today as Senegal and Gambia, including the agriculturally rich Niger River delta and the hot and dry Sahara Desert, to a region that is the modern-day Mauritania, which formed the northern border of his empire. To its south lays the tropical jungle that stretches down to the steaming Guinea coast.
3. He Embarked On An Extravagant Pilgrimage To Mecca.
Reveling in his empire’s surplus gold and glory, Musa embarked on one of the five essential Muslim duties, which is to make a pilgrimage to Mecca, in 1324. However, there are varying reports about the extent of his expedition through Egypt, Sudan and across the Red Sea to reach Mecca. One source states that his entourage numbered as many as 80,000, which includes 500 slaves bearing golden staffs and a hundred camels that each transported 300 pounds of gold.
4. He Led Timbuktu To Emerge As a Multicultural Commercial Center.
While a lot of regions in Europe fall victim to plagues and wars, Timbuktu emerged as an urban center of learning and commerce, with the world’s second largest imperial court, under Musa’s guidance. According to Arabic historians and geographers, Musa claimed that his own rise to power came from the actions of his predecessor, Muhammad, who sailed into the Atlantic Ocean to explore the limits of the water, leaving Musa in charge of the kingdom.
There you have it—the accomplishments of Mansa Musa, though there are more to find out in detail that you can do with more research.