Back in the 13th century, the three richest places on earth were China, Iran/Irak, and the Mali empire in West Africa. From all three, the only one which was still independent and prosperous was the Mali Empire.
Eventually China and the whole of the Middle East were conquered by Genghis Kan Mongol troops which ravaged, pillaged, and raped the places.
The Mali empire lived on under the rule of the richest man ever in the history of humanity, Mansa Musa, emperor of the 14th century Mali Empire which covered modern day Mali, Senegal, Gambia, and Guinea.
The Mongols had never heard about Mali, otherwise they won’t have wasted time trying to conquer Europe, which they found so poor that when the news reached the troops that their khan Ogodei died, they left never to return.
At the time of Mansa Musa death in 1331, he was worth the equivalent of 400 billion dollars, making him the still standing richest man in history. At that time Mali Empire was producing more than half the world’s supply of salt and gold.
Mali was rich and prosperous. In the 14th century the city of Timbuktu in West Africa was five times bigger than the city of London, and was the richest city in the world.
The library of Timbuktu, and the famous manuscripts of Timbuktu which cover all areas of world knowledge were written during his reign.
Witnesses of the greatness of the Mali empire came from all part of the world. “Sergio Domian, an Italian art and architecture scholar, wrote the following about this period: ‘Thus was laid the foundation of an urban civilisation. At the height of its power, Mali had at least 400 cities, and the interior of the Niger Delta was very densely populated.’
The Malian city of Timbuktu had a 14th century population of 115,000, 5 times larger than mediaeval London.
National Geographic recently described Timbuktu as the Paris of the mediaeval world, on account of its intellectual culture. According to Professor Henry Louis Gates, 25,000 university students studied there.
“Many old West African families have private library collections that go back hundreds of years. The Mauritanian cities of Chinguetti and Oudane have a total of 3,450 hand written mediaeval books. There may be another 6,000 books still surviving in the other city of Walata. Some date back to the 8th century AD. There are 11,000 books in private collections in Niger.
In Timbuktu today, there are about 700,000 surviving books. They are written in Mande, Suqi, Fulani, Timbuctu, and Sudani. The contents of the manuscripts include math, medicine, poetry, law and astronomy. The world’s first encyclopedia was created in Mali in the 14th century, eons before the Europeans got the idea four centuries later.
A collection of one thousand six hundred books was considered a small library for a West African scholar of the 16th century.
Professor Ahmed Baba of Timbuktu is recorded as saying that he had the smallest library of any of his friends – he had only 1600 volumes.
Concerning these old manuscripts, actor Michael Palin, in his TV series ‘Sahara’, said the imam of Timbuktu “has a collection of scientific texts that clearly show the planets circling the sun. They date back hundreds of years . . . Its convincing evidence that the scholars of Timbuktu knew a lot more than their counterparts in Europe. In the fifteenth century in Timbuktu the mathematicians knew about the rotation of the planets, knew about the details of the eclipse, they knew things which we had to wait for 150 almost 200 years to know in Europe when Galileo and Copernicus came up with these same calculations and were given a very hard time for it.”
The old Malian capital of Niani had a 14th century building called the Hall of Audience. It was an surmounted by a dome, adorned with arabesques of striking colours. The windows of an upper floor were plated with wood and framed in silver; those of a lower floor were plated with wood, framed in gold.
Malian sailors got to America in 1311 AD, 181 years before Columbus. An Egyptian scholar, Ibn Fadl Al-Umari, published on this sometime around 1342. In the tenth chapter of his book, there is an account of two large maritime voyages ordered by the predecessor of Mansa Musa, a king who inherited the Malian throne in 1312. This mariner king is not named by Al-Umari, but modern writers identify him as Mansa Abubakari II.” Excerpt from Robin Walker’s book, ‘WHEN WE RULED’
Those event were happening at the same period when Europe as a continent was plunged into the Dark Age, ravaged by plague and famine, its people killing one another for religious and ethnic reasons.
Today, Timbuktu is 236 times smaller than London. It has little to show of a modern city. Its population is two times less than 5 centuries ago, impoverished with beggars and dirty street sellers. The town itself is incapable of conserving its past ruined monuments and archives.
What happened to Mali?
I called that the Mansa Musa Syndrome, or the showing off syndrome.
In 1324, king Mansa Musa went on a historical pilgrimage to Mecca. It was a global show of wealth and success. 60 000 people accompanied him. He carried so much gold, and spent them so lavishly that the price of gold fell for ten years. He was so much into showing off that on his way back home he was broke and have to beg for food and loans to feed his men.
Nevertheless, Mansa Musa pilgrimage event was so spectacular and sensational, that the news traveled the whole world, without the need of Facebook.
Unfortunately, in the medieval world, plundering and looting was the biggest business model.
Entrepreneurship schools taught kids how to build team of scary fighters and raise money to go attack wealthy towns and cities to loot and plunder. Heroes were plunderers, looters not shampoing and smartphone sellers.
After Mansa Musa Mecca trip, looters and plunderers from all over the world came in horde, attacked the city and destroyed everything.
Why am I writing this?
The Mansa Musa syndrome is stil persistent in the Africans. You know Africans are like the fish, they never learn. They read history not as a guide to future, but for sensational conferences on panAfricanism.
Until today, African are still carrying the Mansa Musa syndrome. They have this urge to show off the little success or progress they are making. And like Mansa Musa, they often go broke at the end and lose it all, attracting plunderers and looters of the modern world.
Going to Mecca is bad for Africans since Mansa Musa.
(Know how to hide before learning how to run)