REIGN AND DEVELOPMENT OF MANSA MUSA
In about 1312 – 1337 A.D, Mansa Musa a member the royal family, emerged as the ruler of the Mali Empire. He was a devot Muslim and therfore a great favorite of the Ulama who attributed to his reign the period of greatest prosperity for the empire. It was certainly a period of great economic prosperity and increased Islamisation. Recent evidence has shown that a great deal of important conquest, such as Timbuktu, Jenne and Gao, attributed to Mansa Musa were undertaken by Sundiata and some of his successors and that of Mansa Musa was only building on the achievement of others.
In the filed of administration too, Mansa Musa’s contribution has often been attributed to the attachment of Islam. There is not doubt that it was under Mansa Musa that Islam received its greatest boast, and that his pilgrimage to Mecca in 1324 gave a new fillip to the religion. It serves to advertise the wealth of Mali and to attract to the state more traders and Muslim scholars who contributed to the economic and cultural development of the country.
Mansa Musa established diplomatic relations with other Islamic nations. He took the initiative in developing close relations with the Muslim world in other ways. For instance, he established diplomatic relations with the Merinid Sultan of Fez in North Africa. Mansa Musa also employed Muslim adviser.
Some scholars posit that it was under Mansa Musa that enclosed a large part of the Western Sudan with a single system of law and order. This was a big political success, and made Mansa Musa into one of the greatest statemen in the history of Africa. The Wangara traders were greatly helped by all this. Their trading companies began to travel in many parts of West Africa. The Dyula (Wangara) 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.
Under Mansa Musa, Mali was now a world power, and recognized as such. Maid’s ambassadors were established in Morocco, Egypt and elsewhere. Mali capital was visited by North African and Egyptian scholars on returning from pilgrimage, Musa brought back with him a number of learned men from Egypt. One of them, called As-Saheir, designed mew mosques at Gao and Timbuktu, and built a palace for the emperor.
Niani, the capital of the empire was described in the last 16th century, by a Moroccan traveler Leo Africanus as a place of “six thousand hearts” and it’s inhabitants as “the most civilized, intelligent and respected of all the people of the Western Sudan.” It is also impute note that as a result of the spread of Islam, Mansa Musa also introduced new methods of rule in Mali. He established court of law for Muslims alongside the court of law for those who were not Muslims.
Finally, the reign of Mansa Musa was accompanied with economic prosperity. The empire had a very effective control of the Trans-Saharan trade routes. During his reign Timbuktu and Niani grew into flourishing commercial centers. Thus, the prosperity and greatness of Mali was maintained during the reign of Mansa Suleiman (1341 – 1360). Mansa Musa famous pilgrimage to Mecca exposed Mali to the world and brought her world fame. This is what led to Mali appearing in world map.
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