Mansa Musa, The King of Timbuktu (1280-1337)

Mansa Musa

Mansa Musa, fourteenth-century emperor of the Mali Empire, is the medieval African ruler most known to the world outside Africa. He is also one of the wealthiest men in human history.

In 1312, Musa assumed the emperor role, following the death of his predecessor, Abu-Bakr II. He was given the name Mansa, which means “King,” after his coronation. Mansa Musa was described as a Muslim traditionalist who fluently spoke Arabic. He became the first Muslim ruler in West Africa to make the nearly four thousand mile journey to Mecca.

His leadership of Mali stretched across two thousand miles from the Atlantic Ocean to Lake Chad. His authority of Mali stretched two thousand miles, from the Atlantic Ocean to Lake Chad. The empire included all or parts of modern-day Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Chad. Mansa Musa was vital in ensuring decades of peace and prosperity in Western Africa.

Mansa Musa Pilgrimage exposure

In 1324 Musa began his pilgrimage with an entourage of thousands of escorts. Preparing for the expedition took years and involved the work of artisans in numerous towns and cities across Mali. He also brought considerable amounts of gold, which he distributed along the journey.

His elaborate pilgrimage to the Muslim holy city of Mecca in 1324 introduced him to rulers in the Middle East and in Europe.

Musa’s pilgrimage to Mecca brought the attention of Europe to the Mali empire. Following the next two centuries after the pilgrimage, the Italian, German, and Spanish cartographers produced world maps that showed Mali, which often referenced Mansa Musa. The first of these maps appeared in Italy in 1339 with Mansa Musa’s name and likeness.

Mansa Musa twenty-five-year reign came to an end when he died in 1337, his son, Maghan I succeeded him.

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