The Story of Emperor Mansa Musa Keita

The Story of Emperor Mansa Musa Keita

Owner of an incalculable fortune, the African king commanded the empire of Mali in the beginning of the 14th century known as Musa Keita, Emir of Melle, Lord of the Mines of Wangara, Conqueror of Ghanata and the Lion of Mali II. Many experts believe that Mansa Musa (1280-1337), the king of Timbuktu, was the richest person in history. According to historians the West African kingdom of Musa was probably the largest gold producer in the world at a time when gold was in high demand.

The Mali Empire was a pre-colonial African Empire, from the Middle Ages, existing between 1235 to 1670, in the Manden region, in present-day Mali, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea and the South of the Western Sahara. This Empire was one of the most powerful in the history of mankind and one of the richest in the Middle Ages. Musa Keita I assumed power in 1312 at a time of prosperity for several African kingdoms.

Upon assuming the government of Mali, he gained the title of Mansa (which means king) and expanded the wealth of the empire that was concentrated in the era of gold and salt, products highly valued at the time. At its height, the empire’s extension covered an area of approximately 1.2 million square kilometers. In 1324 he began a great journey to the city of Mecca, sacred to the Muslim people. With a caravan of 60,000 men, including soldiers, civilians and his servants, and with a hundred street vendors carrying gold bars.

During this journey, Musa stopped in Cairo, capital of Egypt, and decided to do a simple act of charity: donating gold. But he left so much gold that it caused an inflationary crisis in the country. It took some for the economy to recover. The Emperor died in 1337, after 25 years of power, leaving schools, mosques, libraries and museums as a legacy. The mosque of Djinquereber, still exists today… In 1375, Spanish Cartographers detailed his wealth in the Catalan Atlas.

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