Mansa Musa, also known as Musa 1 of Mali (Mansa implying “King of Kings”), is a noteworthy ruler in Africa and the tenth ruler of the Mali Empire, West Africa.
He reigned in Mali between 1312 C.E. and 1337 C.E. when Mali became one of the wealthiest kingdoms in Africa and the largest empire in the world.
People gave him various names while he was ruling, and the titles included “Lion of Mali,” “Emir of Melle,” “Kankan Musa,” “Conqueror of Ghanata,” and “Lord of the Mines of Wangara.”
He is notable for his discoveries, riches, and accomplishments in Mali. These remarkable findings are mainly about his integration into the Islamic World and his renowned wealth.
Above all, we will be discussing the 20 interesting findings of King Mansa Musa of Mali.
Mansa Musa’s discoveries include;
1. The Still-existing Djinguereber Mosque
Musa recruited architects from Andalusia in Spain and Cairo to build the Djinguereber Mosque, a famous knowledge center for thousands of Muslims.
The still-standing mud-colored centuries-old mosque in Mali is among the various madrassas (educational institutions of the Arabic people).
The Djinguereber or Djingareyber was built in 1327 and anciently designed by Abu Ishaq Al Saheli.
2. Mali’s Timbuktu
At the return of Musa from Mecca in 1327, Mansa invigorated cities in his kingdom like Timbuktu, a regional center of knowledge and trade in Mali.
He also constructed several public buildings, mosques, universities in this city, making it a significant commercial hub connecting with important trade centers in North Africa, including Egypt.
It thus became a trade hub of medieval times for exchanging salt for ivory, gold, and slaves, among others.
The reputation of the Mali Empire grew at the end of Musa’s city revitalization and administration.
3. Gao City
Among the discoveries by Mansa Musa include Gao city, also called Kawkaw or Gawgaw, the capital of the Gao Region, situated on the River Niger, 320 kilometers east-southeast of Timbuktu on the left bank.
Mansa did not just discover Gao but developed it to standard, enriched it with history, and became an important commercial and cultural center involved significantly in trans-Saharan trade.
He revitalized this city by building notable mosques and public buildings after returning from Mecca around 1325.
4. The Sankore University
Mansa Musa made the Mali Kingdom a sophisticated center for learning through the building of Sankore University.
Timbuktu became a center of education, drawing Muslim scholars in Africa and the Middle East in what is presently called Sankore University.
Under Mansa’s reign, the staff of the University of Sankore was re-employed with jurists, mathematicians, and astronomers.
5. The Highest Library for the People of Mali
Musa, the empire ruler, built an ancient library that holds more than one million manuscripts and 25,000 scholars, popularly called a treasure house of centuries of Malian history.
Musa, the king, is frequently accredited with starting the tradition of education in West Africa.
The most extensive library made Mali the fundamental point of education and culture in the Muslim world.
6. Introduction of Urban Revolution to Mali
The reign of Musa laid the foundation for modern urban civilization between cities like Timbuktu and Gao.
The urban revolutions include constructing buildings along the Niger Delta and introducing culture to Mali’s 400 cities.
He introduced diverse cultures through education and wonderfully constructed architectural edifices, attracting merchants from different cities such as Genoa, Granada, and Venice for trading goods for gold.
7. Put Mali on Catalan Atlas National Map of 1375
At the end of his pilgrimage, Mali becomes appeared on the world maps for the first time.
Mansa and Mali appeared on a Catalan Atlas map, where his picture drawing appeared sitting on a golden throne as a king while holding gold.
Catalan Atlas, the Middle Ages’ most essential map and the zenith of Medieval map-work, is a medieval world map also called Mappa Mundi, initiated in 1375 showing the world that is familiar to a fourteenth-century European.
His gifting and storming of Cairo with benefactions made the European cartographers include Mansa Musa on essential maps.
The Mansa’s picture on the map turned Timbuktu into an African El Dorado, captivating the interests and attention of people coming from all works of life.
8. Improved Level of Education
The pilgrimage of Mansa was more than about faith and wealth display; it raised the people’s level of education.
It was more like a mission for Mansa to conscript the brightest minds he cuts across throughout his journey and expedition.
During the trip, he was sure to employ Muslim leaders and teachers that would spread the teachings of the Quaran in his kingdom.
The positive mission made him well respected by raising Mali’s to a high bar so that travelers would see the country as a knowledge center of all times.
Notably, while he was returning from the Mecca pilgrimage, which made the world aware of his wealth, he came with various great Egyptian scholars that contributed to developing the level of education in Mali.
15 Facts about Mansa Musa – the Richest Man in History
Apart from the findings and discoveries of Mansa Musa, there are several interesting facts about him you should also know.
Mansa Musa was the richest in history.
According to historians, Mansa Musa was the richest man of all time.
His riches came from the mining of momentous salt, elephant ivory, gold deposits, and the already wealthy kingdom he inherited.
He is the nephew of Sundiata Keita that started the Mali Empire, and his net worth would be 400 billion U.S. dollars.
Mansa is the 14th-century West African ruler who lived from 1280-1337.
Apart from his indescribable wealth, he’s very famous for his Hajj that made Islam widely sprayed.
He had ultimate control over gold.
Mansa Musa has been the only man in history to have total control over the prices of gold.
During his reign as a ruler, the empire accounted for almost half of the Old World’s gold.
Musa left a memorable impression on Cairo by handing out gold from his caravan on his way to Mecca.
The caravan had 100 camels, each carrying 300 pounds of pure gold, and this plummeted gold price in Cairo for ten years after his 3-months visit.
In his pilgrimage, the depreciation of gold led to economic losses across the entire Middle East.
Mansa’s wealth unintentional inflation.
As a generous ruler, he spent his immense wealth extravagantly, giving away gold and other gifts, which caused inflation in the economy of the Mediterranean.
His great bounteousness involuntarily inflated the price of gold and related goods that it took a complete decade to alleviate their market value again.
He did not only give gold to the poor he met on his route; he also traded gold for souvenirs.
He traveled around with golden camels.
The embarking of Mansa Musa on a hajj included 100 camels with tons of gold in the entourage.
Being a city whose residents, including slaves clad in gold brocade, also had golden camels.
His extensive procession to Mecca included not just 60,000 men but camels that carried 23 to 136 kg of gold.
His pilgrimage caught the eyes of the world.
Mansa’s pilgrimage to Mecca made him high-flying because, during his journey, he flaunted massive wealth.
Though his empire was home to gold, Mansa needed the kingdom in the limelight and on the map hence his well-prepared trip to Mecca.
On the trip, the presence of his entire royal court, soldiers, merchants, griots, 12,000 slaves, train of goats and sheep for food was an indication of wealth, which alone made him famous.
Mansa ensured religious freedom to the people.
Even though Mansa is a religious man and a devoted Muslim, the freedom of religion was still present.
Regardless of his level of religiousness, there was never any effort to force the Muslim faith down to people’s throats.
Instead of a violent act, he tried to make it the religion of Mali’s nobility.
Mansa Musa was the Moses of Mali.
The doings of Mansa made the people of Mali attribute his name to that of biblical Moses.
Since Mali Empire is of the Islamic faith, Musa, a Muslim name and a generous being, were biblically equivalent to Moses.
He was a man of many names.
Initially, the full name of Mansa Musa was Kankan Musa Keita because he is part of the Laye lineage.
Besides Mansa, he was well-referred to as the Lion of Mali and Lord of the Mines of Wangara.
In addition to all these, he was also called Emir of Melle (Mali) and the conqueror of Ghanata.
Musa made a bighearted payment to its workers.
Mansa Musa paid the architect handsomely for his work on the Djinguereber mosque.
He paid about 200 kilograms of gold to Al Saheli, a poet and an architect that followed him during his pilgrimage.
He made a famous pilgrimage to Mecca.
From Mali to Mecca, Musa paid a spectacular long visit to the holy site between 1324 and 1325.
The most fabulous caravan in human history accompanied his stunning journey to Mecca.
The convoy that escorted him to Mecca had 60,000 men, loads of food for sustenance, and 80 to 100 camels.
Musa was from an imperial lineage.
Mansa Musa has the blood of royalty running in his vein because Sundiata Keita, the founder of the Mali Empire, was his grandfather’s brother.
Musa succeeded as the empire’s ruler after Mansa Abubakari failed to return from exploring the Atlantic Ocean.
Musa’s succession in 1307 resulted from his appointment as deputy till the return of the then Mansa of Mali, which never happened.
The majority thought Mansa was his name.
Many people believed that Mansa Musa was his name, not knowing that the “Mansa” is a title.
The word “Mansa” is a Mandinka term that transforms to a ruler, an emperor, or a sultan. Therefore, Mansa Musa meant something like Emperor Musa.
Musa, the famous ruler, was the 10th Mansa of the Mali Empire.
He ruled over 24 cities and regions.
Musa’s empire was among the largest in the world, and he can take one year to travel from one end to the other.
The Emperor, Musa of the Mali empire, ruled more than 24 cities from Timbuktu to the Atlantic Ocean, and it covered more than 439,400 square miles.
He ruled the regions currently known as Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Mali, Ivory Coast, Niger, Mauritania, and Guinea-Bissau.
People regard Mansa Musa’s reigning period as the apex of Mali’s power and status.
Mansa Musa was a successful military leader.
Throughout his lifetime, Musa defeated over 20 cities, with Songhai of Gao on the Niger River being one of them.
During Musa’s regime, the Mali Empire tripled in size and influenced present-day countries like Nigeria, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Senegal, and Chad.
Musa’s source of wealth.
Musa’s wealth and that of his empire were from valuables like gold and salt.
Underneath the kingdom, all gold pieces disclosed are authoritatively the property of the Emperor.
Though we see salt as nothing now, it was considered as dear as a precious metal during that period.
These gold and salt helped provide Musa with extraordinary wealth.
Indeed, Mansa Musa has fascinating facts during the period he lived as an Emperor, and it is still lingering till present.
Stories of his fabulous wealth and discoveries reached Europe and the Middle East, also through his pilgrimage to Mecca, the Muslims holy city, the rulers of these two continents got to know him more.