Learning history at school in Zambia was very interesting. We learnt about exotic people and places like Kublai Khan, the Kingdom of Sundiata, Thaba Bosiu and our icon for the month of May, Mansa Kankan Musa. A list compiled by the website, Celebrity Net Worth, places him as the richest man of all time with an inflation adjusted fortune of $400 billion. The King of the empire of Mali in the early 1300s made his fortune from his empire’s salt and gold wealth. Who was this man? This edited material from  and from al-Omari, Masalik al Absar fi Mamalik al Amsar, in the French version of Gaudefroy-Demombynes (Paris: 1927). Translated by Basil Davidson, The African Past (1964tell the story.



Mansa Kankan Musa

When Mansa (“king of kings”) Musa came to power (1312 AD), Mali already had firm control of the trade routes to the southern lands of gold and the northern lands of salt. Now Musa brought the lands of the Middle Niger under Mali’s rule. He enclosed the cities of Timbuktu and Gao within his empire and imposed his rule on trans-desert trading towns such as Walata. He pushed his armies northward as far as the important salt-producing place called Taghaza, on the northern side of the great desert. He sent them eastward beyond Gao to the borders of Hausaland and westward into Takrur.

Eventually, Musa enclosed a large part of the Western Sudan within a single system of law and order. He did this so successfully that the Moroccan writer Ibn Batuta, travelling through Mali about twelve years after Musa’s death, found ‘complete and general safety in the land’. This was a big political success, and made Mansa Musa one of the greatest statesmen in the history of Africa.

The Dyula (Wangara) traders were greatly helped by all this. Their trading companies began to travel in many parts of West Africa. These Dyula traders were men of skill and energy. But they also drew strength from being Muslims. Belonging to Islam gave them unity. They stuck together even when members of their trading companies came from different clans or territories.

Like the Mali kings before him, Musa was a Muslim. But most of his people were not Muslims, so he supported and allowed the religion of the Mandinka people as well as Islam. Different religious customs and ceremonies were allowed at his court in a display of religious tolerance and broadmindedness.

A pilgrimage to Mecca is a dream for every Muslim and Musa’s pilgrimage to Mecca, begun in 1324 became famous. His magnificent journey through the Egyptian capital of Cairo was long remembered with admiration and surprise throughout Egypt and Arabia, for Musa took with him so much gold, and gave away so many golden gifts, that ‘the people of Cairo earned very big sums’ thanks to his visit. So generous was Musa with his gifts, indeed, that he upset the value of goods on the Cairo market. Gold became so plentiful that in the cities of Cairo, Medina and Mecca, the sudden influx of gold devalued the metal for the next decade. Prices on goods and wares super inflated in an attempt to adjust to the newfound wealth that was spreading throughout local populations. To rectify the gold market, Musa borrowed all the gold he could carry from money-lenders in Cairo, at high interest. This is the only time recorded in history that one man directly controlled the price of gold in the Mediterranean. (Goodwin 1957, p. 110)

The North African scholar, Ibn Fadl Allah al-Omari, who lived in Cairo a few years after Mansa Musa’s visit and wrote about it, declared that of all the Muslim rulers of West Africa Musa was ‘the most powerful, the richest, the most fortunate, the most feared by his enemies and the most able to do good to those around him’. Behind these words of praise we can glimpse the power and reputation that Mali in the 14th century drew from its control of a very wide region of trade in precious goods such as gold, salt, ivory and kola nuts.

Kankan Musa’s preferred title was Lord of Mali. By then, Mali was a power of more than local or even regional significance. Under Mansa Musa, Mali ambassadors were established in Morocco, Egypt, and elsewhere. Mali’s capital was visited by North African and Egyptian scholars. On returning from his pilgrimage, Musa brought back with him a number of learned men from Egypt. These settled in Mali and Timbuktu. One of them, called as-Saheli, designed new mosques at Gao and Timbuktu, and built a palace for the emperor. The fashion of building houses in brick now began to be popular among wealthy people in the cities of the Western Sudan. At its height, the Malian Empire covered modern day Ghana, Timbuktu and Mali in West Africa. His kingdom and wealth didn’t last much longer after his death. His heirs were not able to fend off civil war and invading conquerors. Just two generations later, his world record net worth was gone.





About Tony Tokunbo Eteka Fernandez

Tony Tokunbo Eteka Fernandez is an International Award Winner, Published Author & Poet, Broadcast Journalist, MC and Youth Empowerment Consultant . He is also The CEO of AFRICA4U and The Founder of Africans in The Diaspora People also see him as a Cultural and Social entrepreneur, which means he is skilled in working with many different communities, bringing people together in successful focused events. Tony has organised many cultural events …involving both BME and mainstream communities. He is skilled in hosting events that reinforce community cohesion and bringing different kinds of people together. He has organised events in The UK, The U.S.A, Holland, Germany, Eastern Europe and Nigeria and has visited over 18 European Countries. Tony has also organised The Black History Month Celebrations at The UK House of Parliament for three years in a row (2013,2014 and 2015). He continues to promote the true life and success stories of Africans in Europe and Africans around the world and has organised several small scale literary and awards initiatives aimed at empowering young people. He has also spent time as an International broadcaster and was The Producer and Presenter for AFRICA4U International Radio Talk Show at Reading4u Radio Station for nearly three years. Tony has interviewed high profile Members of Parliament, Distinguished celebrities and some of Africas best musicians including Ivonne Chaka Chaka and Kanda Bongoman. He has also been a guest on BBC Radio on numerous occasions to discuss the community cohesion events he organises at UK House of Parliament and also to recite some of his published work in memory of Nelson Mandela, 50 Years Anniversary of The race relations act and major community issues. Tony has also a Guest on popular Radio stations in Nigeria and The States In the last few years he has been very passionate about Youth empowerment, community cohesion and cultural intelligence. Tony was born in South London and has lived in several parts of England and Nigeria . He started writing at the tender age of nine, a habit he expressed with creative enthusiasm. Tony writes Poetry, short stories and proverbs on personal development. He is currently working on his 4th book which will also be his first novel. He is also into Public Speaking at Special events and Social functions and is a Mentor for young people in the UK Community. He completed a Bachelor of Arts degree at The University of Lagos, Nigeria in English and World Literature. He later went on to attain a teaching qualification at The Frances King International Training Institute, South Kensington London, it was here he studied Teaching English as a Foreign Language. He also studied Web Design at The City University in London. He published his first book in June 1999 called “The Beauty in the Dark” (A Collection of Poetry which received critical acclamation in many circles around the world). .Tony’s aim in life is to inspire the young generation and to encourage the youth to make the very best of their dreams and aspirations,. He published a 2nd book in June 2009 called ” The Sound of Running Water” – A Family gift book of proverbs and quotations on Personal Development and Positive Thinking . In December 2009, he published his 3rd book called “One Moment of Peace”.- A collection of Poetry inspired by personal experiences and spiritual growth. Besides the fact that the Artist has won International online awards, he is mostly inspired by Life experience, love, music and cultural awareness. He was Resident Poet at the 5th London Poetry Festival in 2009 and has been a guest on BBC Radio on very many occassions including The famous Anne Diamond Show. He has also been a guest on a few SKY TV stations and several International Radio Stations around The World On Wednesday the 30th of October 2013, Tony Tokunbo Fernandez organised his biggest event ever- The Black History Month Celebration at the House of Parliament. The Special Guest on the day was The Minister for Sports and Equalities MP Helen Grant and Key Community Ambassadors in The Black Community
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