Despite holding the record for the richest man to have ever lived, Mali’s Emperor Mansa Musa’s impact on Africa was to cause the Colonization of Africa and to bring about the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade after his famous Hajj trip to Mecca during 1324-25.
The Impact Of Mansa Musa’s Hajj To Mecca On Africa
The impact of Mansa Musa on Africa following his Hajj to Mecca is best understood when we consider Africa’s Trade relations with the world before Mansa Musa’s Hajj to Mecca.
From the late 8th century Arab Traders regarded Mali and Ghana as lands of Gold because of the long lasting Trans-Sahara Trade in which Arabs exchanged Gold, Slaves and Salt amongst many other goods with the African Empires of Ghana and Mali.
However, during the years 1324-5 Mansa Musa, the Emperor of Mali embarked on a famous Pilgrimage to Mecca during which he distributed such a large amount of Gold that it lowered the value of Gold in Egypt for at least 10 years.
As a result, Mansa Musa’s trip to Mecca had the impact of triggering heightened European interest in Africa and initiated an era of European exploration of the West African Coast in search of the vast quantites of Gold they had seen Mansa Musa display on his pilgrimage to Mecca.
Mansa Musa’s Pilgrimage to Mecca impacted African Trade patterns because the West African Coast began experiencing more contact with European Traders in the mid-1400s, when Portuguese Traders arrived on the West African Coast in search of their share of the Gold Trade that had been the exclusive reserve of the Arabs in the era of the Trans-Sahara desert Trade.
Most of West Africa were still unknown to Europeans at the time Mansa Musa went on his Pilgrimage to Mecca but by the late 15th century and early 16th century European nations like Portugal had started to explore the West African Coast intensively.
Soon other European powers like France, Britain and Germany also sent Explorers, Traders and Missionaries to West Africa to obtain information about the terrain, African people and their culture as well as what resources could be obtained from Trade with Africans.
The Berlin Conference 1884
As a result of increased European interest and competition for territory in Africa due to the impact of Mansa Musa’s Hajj to Mecca on Africa, The Berlin Conference was held in 1884 in which Portugal and German Chancellor Otto von Bismark gathered the major European Powers interested in Africa to reduce conflicts over the control of newly discovered African lands by dividing Africa by agreement amongst the European powers.
Germany, Britain, Portugal, Austria-Hungary, Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Russia, and the United States of America amongst others all attended the Berlin Conference and the division of African territorries was agreed upon by the European Powers in attendance.
Thereafter efforts to colonize Africa as agreed between the European Powers at the Berlin Conference intensified, and the Colonization of Africa began in earnest most notably with the British conquest of the Asante Empire after a long series of resistance wars known as the Anglo-Ashanti Wars.
Ulimately, the main impact Mansa Musa had on Africa was to increase European interest in Africa after his Pilgrimage to Mecca because it is likely that without the African wealth that was displayed to Europeans during Mansa Musa’s Hajj to Mecca, the Colonization of Africa would have probably been delayed and the Trans-Saharan Trade with the Arabs would have continued uninterrupted.
However, Mansa Musa’s trip to Mecca had the impact of triggering an unintended series of events that raised European interest in Africa in a manner that would ultimately result in the Colonization of Africa and the destruction of some of Africa’s most Ancient Powers like the Asante Empire as European Powers now sought to replace the Arabs as Africa’s main trading partner.
For these reasons, Mansa Musa’s impact on Africa was to cause the Colonization of Africa and to bring about the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade after his famous Hajj trip to Mecca during 1324-25.