Lesson Plan

Lesson 4: Trekking to Timbuktu: Mansa Musa Takes a Trip (Student Version)

Timbuktu from the terrace of the traveller's house in 1858.
Photo caption

Timbuktu from the terrace of the traveller's house in 1858.

Mansa Musa, an ardent Muslim, was the first emperor of Mali to make a pilgrimage to Mecca. He certainly left a powerful impression among the people he encountered in Cairo, Mecca, and Medina, opening their eyes to the dignity of the Malian rulers as well as the great wealth of their empire. When he returned home, he brought with him a Muslim architect, al-Sahili, who introduced a new style of architecture to West Africa. The mosques built at this time would become centers of scholarship as well as worship.

You've heard about Mali's famous emperor, Mansa Musa, but you want to learn more about this fascinating figure. You've traveled by time machine to Timbuktu. It's the year 1324. You are disguised as a member of the royal court. There's a great deal of commotion today, because everyone is getting ready to accompany the emperor on his pilgrimage to Mecca. You'll go along, too. This is an invaluable opportunity to learn all about the great man first hand, with the added bonus of seeing some of the cities that lie beyond the eastern horizon.

Guiding Questions

Why did Mansa Musa travel to Mecca?

To what extent was Mansa Musa welcomed in Cairo?

What decisions did Mansa Musa make about his own realm during and after his pilgrimage?

What is the legacy of Mansa Musa's reforms in Mali?

Learning Objectives

Analyze the causes and effects of Mansa Musa's pilgrimage.

Analyze the nature of Mansa Musa's relationship with leaders in the region. 

Evaluate Mansa Musa's leadership and the effects of his decisions.