Musa Keita I or Mansa Musa born in 1280, is the richest man in the history of the world. His story is often untold because glorifying African kingdoms means to admit the greatness of the continent and many are not willing to do so. However the story is sliced, ignoring history can never erase it.
Mansa Musa came to power in 1312, and amassed tremendous wealth during his reign. So much so that popular media continues to preface articles about him by questioning whether his wealth was exaggerated. I trust in facts, the facts show the mosques he built that still stand, the universities he constructed, and the stories that have endured generations.
Mansa I ruled the Mali empire in the 14th century. It is widely known that Africa possesses every natural resource known to man. This is why the continent has been raped and plundered for its resources from oil to hardworking innovative humans. Mali was rich in gold and the empire stretched 2,000 miles.
A devout Muslim, Mansa Musa made his pilgrimage to Mecca in 1324. He took much of his community with him. More than 60,000 people traveled a distance of over 4,000 miles alongside their king. It was a spectacle for as far as the eye could see. His slaves carried goal staffs, the women were wrapped in fine Yemeni silk, and he fed his people rare and fine delicacies along the way. Mansa Musa spent so much money in gold that he disrupted the economy and caused mass inflation.
The great leader passed on toward the rest of our ancestors in 1337. Leaving behind a legacy of greatness, global exploration, and wealth the world had never known.
As Biggie stated prophetically centuries later, “more money more problems.” This lyric came to pass when Mansa Musa’s pilgrimage earned him a shout out in the 1375 Catalan Atlas. His wealth made the kingdom of Mali a target and in the 15th century as the age of colonialism emerged the Portuguese raided the empire. It’s a testament to the achievements of the Mali empire that they became a target. The transatlantic slave trade would soon follow. To whom much is given much is required. We continue to stand in the shadows of African Kings and Queens.