I love learning, and I always have. I love to read anything that I can get my hands on. I love watching Jeopardy, and I enjoy filling my mind with useless, and sometimes not so useless factoid's and trivia. One of my favorite kinds of trivia are list's. Top 10 most psycho, top 20 most likely to self destruct, the worlds dumbest criminal's. The list's goes on and on. Perhaps the thing I like the most about these ranking's or list's is the fact that every now and then I actually find something in which I take great pride in knowing.
Recently Forbes Magazine compiled a list of the richest men of all time. At the top of the list is a man that most of us have never heard of. His name is Mansa Musa, the 14th century emperor from West Africa. Musa was worth a staggering $400 billion. His wealth was largely due to the fact that he supplied most of the gold, and salt to the continent of Africa. These were the most valuable commodities in the world at that time. His net worth far exceeds that of the current world's richest man Carlos Slim Helu and his family. The Mexican Telecom magnate has a net worth of $69 billion, edging out Bill Gates whose net worth is $61 billion. These figures are astonishing and beyond imagination.
In 1334 (the 17th year of his reign) Mansa Musa, who was a devote Muslin, went on a pilgrimage to Mecca. His journey would be known as the most extravagant trip ever. He brought with him, 100 camel-loads of gold, each weighing 300 lbs., 500 slaves, each carrying a 4 lb. gold staff, and thousands of his subjects, as well as his senior wife, with her 500 attendants. Musa and his subject's gave out so much gold that they depressed its value in Egypt and caused it's value to fall. This is the equivalent of having so much wealth that you devalue everyone else's money. This is unfathomable, amazing, and a little known black history fact that proves that we as African-American's have a rich heritage which precedes slavery.
Musa had a great appreciation for literature, architecture, philosophy, and and admiration for intellectuals. In fact, when he returned from his pilgrimage he brought some of the greatest scholar's and architect's of that time with him to Timbuktu. Now known as a metaphor for a desolate no mans land, Timbuktu was a magnificent city of education, and learning. It was a cultural, and commercial center in which people from surrounding cities gathered to trade, read literature and study medicine. In addition to having a palace, and a university built there, Musa commissioned the design and building of several mosques. He also established Diplomatic relations and ambassadors were exchanged between Mali and Morocco, and Malinke students were sent to study in Morocco. Due to his political acumen and fore site he was able bring stability back to Mali, and during his 25 year reign he was able to greatly expand his empire bringing great prosperity to Mali.
The Mali Empire extended from the Atlantic coast in the west, to Songhai far down the Niger bend to the east, from the salt mines of Taghaza in the north to the legendary gold mines of Wangara in the south. Just to put this territory in perspective, it is like running roughly half of the continent.
This is not "textbook history", and today's teacher's probably have no idea. But knowledge of black history is integral in understanding history itself. Everything else are half truths, painted with a distorted brush.