Mansa Musa assumed the position of ruler of Mali during the 14th century, and later embarked on a journey to Mecca, becoming the first African ruler to do so. Mansa Musa was born in 1280 A.D., and died in 1337. His life achievements included promoting the Muslim religion, and supporting unprecedented growth of the arts and education.
Mansa Musa become emperor of Mali in 1312, earning the name of Mansa, which translates to "king," in the process. Historians classify Musa as a traditionalist Muslim. Musa promoted the Muslim religion through practices in his personal life and in promoting Islamic education. Musa set his sights on a pilgrimage to the holy land of Mecca shortly after assuming the role of emperor of Mali. Musa spent years preparing for the journey, eventually leaving the African continent with a large group.
Historians recognize Musa for his devotion to humanitarian efforts and promotion of equality. Musa acquired large volumes of wealth during his tenure as emperor. Rather than reserving wealth for himself, Musa set out for Mecca with precious stones and gold. Musa dolled out these items to the less fortunate en route to Mecca. He ultimately returned to Mali accompanied by professionals such as architects, historians and artists. Musa enlisted architects to create mosques in Gao and Timbuktu, the two largest cities in Mali.