Mansa Musa and his adventures put the
kingdom of Mali on the map.
he took over as king, the empire of Mali had grown so big that Mansa
Musa knew he could not hear all the concerns of all his people. One
of the first things he did was to divide the empire into provinces.
He put a governor in charge of each province. Each village had a
mayor. Business that affected the empire was done by Mansa Musa and
his advisors. The day to day problems were handled locally. Mansa
Musa did not turn his back on his people. He made sure the local
governments were operating fairly and effectively.
was rich when Mansa Musa came to power. The army guarded the gold
mines. They guarded sections of the trade routes. There were usually
about 90,000 men on duty at any one time. Wealth in the form of gold
poured into Mali. Traders always stopped at Mali. They knew they
would be welcomed, fed, housed, and safe. Mansa Musa was generous.
Trade with Mali was always good for the traders who had come so
established religious freedom. Education was free and encouraged. He
even established a university. People came from all over the world
to study at this famous university. When Muslim scholars visited
Mali, they were surprised at the people's clothes. They didn't look
like Muslims. The women were unveiled. The clothes were colorful.
But Mansa Musa was a great host and a devout Muslim. The scholars
were understanding. They found their host delightful, if a bit
knew his people needed him to act like a king. Every time he left
his palace, he took about 300 guards and musicians and acrobats with
him. It was quite a sight. The people loved it. They gathered as
people would to watch a parade, which is exactly what it was. They
would cry out, "Mansa Musa!"
Mansa Musa wandered about, accompanied by his many guards and
performers, he gave out presents. Some people were handed
luxury goods. Others were given a small nugget of gold. The elders
of every town received special gifts. No wonder the people loved
him. He had so much wealth. He believed it should be shared.
Musa wanted to travel and see the holy city of Mecca. He felt safe
leaving his empire and his people in the hands of his advisors and
local officials. He was right. They did a great job during the year
he was gone.
On his way
to the city of Mecca, Mansa Musa did what he always did - he took
people and camels with him, along with a great deal of gold. On the
way, he shared his wealth with the people he met. By the time he
reached Cairo, in Egypt, word of his wealth had spread. People were
packed along the streets waiting for his arrival.
the time he was ready to return home, he had given out so much gold
that he needed to borrow some to get home. But many nobles were
eager to loan the king whatever he needed. They had no doubt they
would be repaid. And they were. He gave paid back everyone who had
loaned him gold to get home, more gold than he had been
put Mali on the map. After his trip to Mecca, there was almost no
one in the African world who did not know the great king, Mansa Musa.