When Mansa Musa–Emperor of Mali— visited Egypt and Arabia in the early 14th-century, his wealth drew the attention of the European world who were determined to pass over the Arabs in order to access the wealth of Africa. This is what caused the Europeans to explore Africa’s coasts not long after Mansa Musa’s fame reached Europe.
Ever since, the Europeans have been on a quest to control the economy of Africa. At the top is France, whose control of Africa is like a teenager’s chokehold on an old man’s neck.
Presently, several West African nations are proposing that they will stop using the West African CFA Franc (which is printed in France and helps maintain French colonization in Africa). While this is certainly good, it means nothing because “money” is just a piece of paper; its power is conceptual and not within the piece of paper whether printed in France or Africa. Thus France still maintains its power even after the removal of the African Franc because its conceptual power remains.
While West Africa might not rely on France to print the paper, we still rely on them to “value” the paper, and most importantly, we still rely on the French and their language for government, business, technology, and education. Those are the chains linking West Africa to France as our master, not just the symbolic pieces of paper we call money. Money is not a power by itself; in fact, money’s value is completely determined by the superiority of the technology of the nation printing the money.
What many don’t understand about Mansa Musa is that he was not motivated by showing off his money, everyone already knew he was rich. HIs motivation was to obtain the Mamluk Egyptian’s gun technology and Arabic masonry technology. However, Mali weakened a century after Mansa Musa because the nation began to focus on the religious dogma of Islam and not on its scientific schools. Similarly, after being colonized by France, we have focused on imitating its language, culture, and religion, not its science. We still don’t make hardly any technology of our own and we even export our brightest scientific minds to work in Europe or the USA. Let us remember the mission of Mansa Musa, which was about developing our own technology, not about illusions of money.