In the 14th century CE, Mansa Musa, the King of Kings, ruled the Mali Empire and amassed a fortune that possibly made him one of the wealthiest people in history. He strategically annexed Timbuktu and reestablished power over Gao, gaining control over important trade routes and expanding Mali's territory.
Mansa Musa is famous for his pilgrimage to Mecca, during which he spent massive quantities of gold on the poor, bought souvenirs, and even had mosques built. The journey reportedly took over a year, and tales of his amazing wealth spread to the ports of the Mediterranean, cementing Mali's legendary status.
As a devout Muslim, he took a particular interest in Timbuktu, having the great Djinguereber Mosque built there and establishing a major university that attracted scholars from all over the Islamic world. Under Mansa Musa, the empire became urbanized, with schools and mosques in hundreds of densely populated towns.
His rich legacy persisted for generations and to this day, there are mausoleums, libraries, and mosques that stand as a testament to this golden age of Mali's history.