Black History Month is not just about the struggles that certain peoples went through. There is more to Black history than slavery and emancipation. This post on the empire of Mali was inspired by this post entitled: Africa before Slavery
The Mali Empire (c. 1230 – c. 1600) was one of the wealthiest empires in Africa and larger than any empire in Europe at the time. Timbuktu became one of the great cultural and trade centers of the world, with people coming from all over Africa and the Middle East to partake in its riches. While England was fighting Scotland and being ravaged by the Black Death in the 1300’s, large libraries and Islamic universities were being built in Timbuktu. It was an important trade center for salt, gold, sugar, kola nuts, and slaves. Because of Malis importance, it appeared on a European Map of North Africa in 1375. Mansa Musa helped the spread of Islam, and made the Hajj to Mecca in 1324. It is estimated that he brought 60-80,000 slaves and servants with him on this long journey. Mansa Musa ruled Mali from 1312 – 1337, and travelled to Egypt where he made it rain:
This man [Mansa Musa] flooded Cairo with his gifts. He left no court emir nor holder of a royal office without the gift of a load of gold. The people of Cairo made incalculable profits out of him and his men in buying and selling and giving and taking. They exchanged gold until they depressed its value in Egypt and caused its price to fall – Mansa Musa described by al-Umari, quoted in Levtzion & Hopkins 1981: 270-271
In fact, Celebrity Net Worth calculated (not quite sure how) that Mansa Musa was the richest person ever, with a fortune worth $400 billion. All this a couple of hundred years before the Spanish decided to destroy the Aztecs for their wealth.