Mansa Musa, the Hero: Stephen Atalebe Has Gone Back into History and Picked King (or Mansa) Musa of Mali as His Hero. He Was a Great Ruler Who Succeeded in Establishing Peace and Order in Mali, Promoted Trade and Education, and above All Made the Name of Mali Known throughout the World

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MANSA KANKAN MUSA WAS the 10th king (or mansa) of Mali. He ruled Ancient Mali or Melle Empire from 1307 (the same year King Edward II assumed power as the 11th king of Britain) to 1337. This period saw the climax of the Mali Empire whose foundations had been laid by Mansa Musa's grandfather, Sundiata, after he invaded and conquered the old Ghana Empire in 1240 AD.

Mansa Musa extended the frontiers of Mali and had a more effective system of governance and business. He conquered and opened up cities like Gao and Timbuktu and embarked on a large building programme.

He built elegant palaces in Timbuktu and Gao and mosques across western Sudan. While the first university in Europe had not been built, King Musa built and equipped, with scholars, the Sankore Madrasah or University of Sankore. He constructed the renowned "Hall of Audience" in Niani, a building adjacent to the Royal Palace, which Arab writers described as an "admirable monument". Sergio Domian, the Italian art and architecture scholar, wrote that "at the height of its power, Mali had at least 400 cities".

Mansa Musa came to the world's attention during his famous pilgrimage to Mecca, which lasted from 1324 to 1325 and also saw Mali rising as a centre of commerce and civilisation.

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This hajj, according to Ghana's history professor Adu Boahen in his History of West Africa, was undertaken on a scale unheard of. "According to [to the Islamic writer] Al-Umari, Mansa Musa left Mali with the fantastic amount of 100 camel-loads of gold. He had a huge entourage for his personal service. Five hundred slaves were said to have gone before the king, each carrying a gold staff weighing four pounds."

In his caravan, there were 60,000 people dressed in fine silk and 12,000 servants. …