The trans- Saharan trade route was what connected the world of GhanaSudan to the Middle Eastern world in the 11th century.
Mansa Musa was a ruler of Mali in 1312. Mali was a country that was formed out of the ashes of Ghana. Its territory spanned halfway across the continent of Africa.
Even rulers are not exempt from the pilgrimage to Mecca. Mansa Musa was a Muslim traditionalist. In 1324 he traveled west to the Middle east, which was 4,000 miles away from his Kingdom.
On his journey Mansa Musa traveled through Egypt. He carried so much gold with him that a pound could be given to every person in Egypt. He distributed the wealth among the people and he gave gifts to the Sultan himself.
The Middle Eastern hajj to Mecca brought many things to Mali including Arab scholars and architects. The pilgrimage made such an impression that it made Mali a destination.
Timbuktu became a place where education and architecture were a focal point. "Poets, mathematicians, astronomers, and theologians came to Mali from across the Arab world, drawn by the prospect of riches and the excitement of building a new empire of knowledge in yet another desert." (Judge pg. 255)
Mansa Musa's pilgrimage allowed the Muslim religion to become part of the region of Mali. Although their ruler was Islamic the kingdom of Mali did not completely succumb to the religion. they had a historically animist culture and this remained due to the fact that Mansa did not force a change.
Gold is a powerful thing. Wealth can sometimes overrule religion and belief. There is a though that Mansa did not force Islam on his people because it might affect the mining of gold.
Mansa Musa died in 1337 but his impact would remain forever over sub-Saharan Africa. For centuries the world would recognize Mali as an important place in the world.
Mali is still a part of the African landscape today. The animist culture is all bu gone. The main religion of Mali is Muslim. Mansa Musa's influence over a thousand years ago has shaped the modern day culture.