Mansa Musa: Black History Icon

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Mansa Musa was a  black Muslim who lived in modern day Mali. He was also the richest person in global history. According to one source, “King Mansa Musa wasn’t just the 1% of the 14th century — he may be the richest person of all time. As the obscure ruler of West Africa’s Mali Empire, Musa amassed a jaw-dropping $400 billion during his reign from 1312 to 1337, according to a new inflation-adjusted list. That outranks the Rothschild family, whose European banking dynasty landed them second on the list with $350 billion, and John D. Rockefeller, the American industrialist worth $340 billion.”

His story directly contradicts the modern stereotype of Africa always being a place of poverty. When Mansa Musa made his Hajj to Mecca, he gave out gold to every poor person he came across on the route. He also financed a mosque to be built every Friday. But he was so generous that the frequent gold he gave out destabilized the entire economy by lowering the value of the commodity. Mansa Musa’s generosity was clearly influenced by Islam’s emphasis on charity.

He also financed professors to teach in the University of Sankore in Timbuktu which became a great center which drew Muslim scholars from Africa and the Middle East. Concerning the level of scholarship there, one traveler who visited Timbuktu noted that the archives have “a collection of scientific texts that clearly show the planets circling the sun. They date back hundreds of years . . . Its convincing evidence that the scholars of Timbuktu knew a lot more than their counterparts in Europe. In the fifteenth century in Timbuktu the mathematicians knew about the rotation of the planets, knew about the details of the eclipse, they knew things which we had to wait for 150 almost 200 years to know in Europe when Galileo and Copernicus came up with these same calculations and were given a very hard time for it.”

There is even evidence that Mansa Musa made oversea voyages to the Americas. In one work Mansa Musa Writes:

“The ruler who preceded me did not believe that it was impossible to reach the extremity of the ocean that encircles the earth (the Atlantic Ocean). He wanted to reach that (end) and was determined to pursue his plan. So he equipped two hundred boats full of men, and many others full of gold, water and provisions sufficient for several years. He ordered the captain not to return until they had reached the other end of the ocean, or until he had exhausted the provisions and water. So they set out on their journey. They were absent for a long period, and, at last just one boat returned. When questioned the captain replied: ‘O Prince, we navigated for a long period, until we saw in the midst of the ocean a great river which flowing massively. My boat was the last one; others were ahead of me, and they were drowned in the great whirlpool and never came out again. I sailed back to escape this current.’ But the Sultan would not believe him. He ordered two thousand boats to be equipped for him and his men, and one thousand more for water and provisions. Then he conferred the regency on me for the term of his absence, and departed with his men, never to return nor to give a sign of life.”

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http://africanknowledge.com/MendeMansaMusa.aspx

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/king-mansa-musa-named-richest-history-article-1.1186261

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