Musa I or Mansa Musa, was the tenth Mansa (which translates to “sultan”, “conqueror” or “emperor”) of the Mali Empire, an Islamic West African state. He was born around d year 1280 C.E in the Mali Empire.He became emperor in 1312. He was the first African ruler to be widely known throughout Europe and the Middle East, and is regarded as the richest person to have ever lived. His wealth greatly surpassing anyone today.
According to Ibn-Khaldun’s comprehensive history of the Malian kings, Mansa Musa’s grandfather was Abu-Bakr Keita (the Arabic equivalent to Bakari or Bogari, original name unknown − not the sahabiyy Abu Bakr), a nephew of Sundiata Keita, the founder of the Malian Empire as recorded through oral histories. Abu-Bakr did not ascend the throne, and his son, Musa’s father, Faga Laye, has no significance in the History of Mali.
His pligrimages: Mansa Musa came to the throne through a practice of appointing a deputy when a king goes on his pilgrimage to Mecca or some other endeavor, and later naming the deputy as heir. According to primary sources, Musa was appointed deputy of Abubakari Keita ll the king before him, who had reportedly embarked on an expedition to explore the limits of the Atlantic Ocean, and never returned.
Mansa Musa was the great nephew of Sundiata Keita, who was founder of the empire. He is famous for his Hajj (1324–5). His caravan was said to consist of 60,000 people carrying supplies and bags, 500 slaves each carrying a gold staff, and 80 to 100 camels each carrying 300 pounds of gold dust. On his journey, he is said to have given out millions of dollars worth of gold. He gave out so much gold in Cairo that the value stayed relatively low for many years. Mansa Musa stopped at multiple locations during his journey. These placed include Timbuktu, Gao, and Mecca.
In Timbuktu, Mansa Musa made it a center of trade, culture, and Islam, which also helped increase the spread of Islam throughout Western Africa.
After Cairo, Mansa Musa would travel on to Arabia where he purchased land and houses so that pilgrims from Mali who followed in his footsteps might have a place to stay. The king was inspired by the holy sites he saw there and on his return to Mali, he built a dazzling audience chamber at Niani and mosques at Gao and Timbuktu. These included the ‘great mosque’ in the latter city, also known as Djinguereber or Jingereber. The buildings were designed by the famous architect Ishak al-Tuedjin (d. 1346 CE and also a noted poet) from Andalusian Granada, who had been enticed from Cairo following Mansa Musa’s visit there – the inducement included 200 kilos (440 pounds) of gold, slaves, and a swathe of land along the Niger River. The mosque was completed by 1330 CE, and al-Tuedjin lived the rest of his life in Mali. A royal palace or madugu was built in the capital city and Timbuktu, along with fortification walls to protect the latter city against raids by the Tuareg, the nomads of the southern Sahara. Due to the lack of stone in the region, Mali buildings were typically constructed using beaten earth (banco) reinforced with wood which often sticks out in beams from the exterior surfaces.
Mansa Musa was also inspired by the universities he had seen on his pilgrimage, and he brought back to Mali both books and scholars. The king greatly encouraged Islamic learning, especially at Timbuktu, which, with its mosques, universities, and many Koranic schools, became not only the holiest city in the Sudan region of West Africa but also an internationally famous centre of culture and religious study. In addition, Mansa Musa sent native religious scholars to Fez in Morocco to learn what they could and then return to Mali as teachers. With these education links there were, too, diplomatic ones with Arab states, as well as the flow of investment into Mali, as Egyptian traders and others sought access to the lucrative movement of goods across West Africa.
Marriage: Musa was married to Inari Kunte. He had a son Maghan I who was a mansa of the MaliEmpire, following his father Kankan Musa I’s death He reigned for only four years before being succeeded by his uncle Suleyman in 1341.
Death: The death date of Mansa Musa is highly debated among modern historians and the Arab scholars who recorded the history of Mali. When compared to the reigns of his successors, son Mansa Maghan (recorded rule from 1337 to 1341) and older brother Mansa Suleyman (recorded rule from 1341 to 1360), and Musa’s recorded 25 years of rule, the calculated date of death is 1337. Other records declare Musa planned to abdicate the throne to his son Maghan, but he died soon after he returned from Mecca in 1325.According to an account by Ibn-khaldun, Mansa Musa was alive when the city of Tlemcen in Algeria was conquered in 1337, as he sent a representative to Algeria to congratulate the conquerors on their victory.