Mansa Musa was emperor of the Mali Empire in the fourteenth century. He is famous for being the first Muslim ruler in West Africa to make the journey to the holy city of Mecca, four thousand miles away.
Musa became emperor in 1312. He received the name Mansa, meaning king, at his coronation. Mansa Musa, a devout Muslim, embarked on his pilgrimage in 1324 accompanied by a retinue of thousands of servants, as well as a significant amount of gold from the mines of West Africa. He gifted much of this gold to the people of the places his expedition visited, which brought the Mali Empire and Mansa Musa to the attention of Islamic and European leaders. Soon after, Spain, Italy and Germany began to add Mali their maps of the world, often with references to Mansa Musa.
Upon the completion of his pilgrimage, Musa returned home with a number of Arab scholars, government bureaucrats and architects. The notoriety generated by Mansa Musa's journey encouraged increased commerce and the immigration of scholars, poets and artisans, whose contributions led to the Mali Empire becoming a cultural center in the Muslim world.
Mansa Musa ruled for 25 years and died in 1337, succeeded by his son.