Saturday, March 19, 2011

Real Men Of Genius

Bud Light presents: Real Men of Genius.


Today we salute you, Mr. Mansa Musa, 14th-century king of Mali.

(Mr. Mansa Musa, 14th-century king of Mali!)

You came to the throne of Mali through the practice of appointing a successor whenever the king, as ruler of a Muslim kingdom, made his pilgrimage to Mecca or left on some other adventure. Your predecessor had sent a fleet to cross the Atlantic Ocean, and when only a single man returned to tell him of the danger, he left with a fleet ten times the size of the first, and never returned.

(Well, BLOW me dooo-oown!)

Ruling as Musa I, you were extraordinarily wealthy and respected, with Timbuktu gaining the glamorous, mystical reputation as a center for trade and knowledge it still carries today, despite the fact that anyone who visits these days is quickly disabused of any such notions, and most of the trade centers around the illegal export of the city's trove of ancient manuscripts. Sometimes it's for money, sometimes it's just to get them out of town and recorded on something that isn't going to be rendered unreadable.

(Don't cram the tourists in all at once now!)

In 1324 you made your Mecca pilgrimage, and used it to put the wealth of Mali on full display. You carried 60,000 followers with you, including 12,000 servants (read: slaves), 500 of which had gold scepters, and 500 more of which were carrying scepters on behalf of your wife. 100 camels were loaded with 300 pounds of gold each.


And what did you do with all this gold? Well, what's gold good for if you can't spend it?

(It only goes up in value!)

Every Friday, wherever your caravan stopped, you would fund the building of a mosque. And it's a long way from Timbuktu to Mecca. It was even longer, because when you rolled into Cairo, you stopped for what can only be pegged as months, being what can only be pegged as generous.

(Lightening the camel's load!)

All that gold you brought with you was systematically transferred to the Egyptians like you were starring in a prequel to Brewster's Millions. Mark Twain may have asked "I wonder how much it would take to buy a soap bubble if there were only one in the world," but only you had the gumption to try and find out.

(How much for those cone things?)

In fact, you proved the inverse of Twain's words as well, because you spent so much gold that you devalued it in Egypt due to overabundance, tanking their economy for the next ten years.

(They've never been so ductile!)

You pushed your bank account to the absolute limit. Literally. When you returned to Cairo on the way back, a few accounts have you borrowing some of the gold back in order to relieve the Egyptian recession you caused, but it's much more likely that you just plain ran out of money and needed a loan to get home.

(Brother, can you SPARE a nugget?)

In the end, though, the extravagance did exactly what you intended for it to do: display Mali's vast wealth to the world.

(It worked OOOOUUUUT?!)

You brought home several advisors, experts and architects who applied what they saw on the pilgrimage to the Malian kingdom, including the construction of universities, libraries, and a mosque that still stands today.

(Wait, you made it out to me like he was some kind of moron!) (He is still singing, by the way.)

For centuries afterward, you were often displayed on European maps that included Mali, and Mali was as often included with a pile of gold. Timbuktu quickly became a jewel of the Muslim world.

(And what am I doing singing about medieval African royalty anyway? I'm from a freaking BEER commercial!)

So crack open an ice-cold Bud Light, oh, Trump of the Tuareg, (kshhh) for showing that when it comes to civic prestige, you get what you pay for.

(Screw you! Screw the whole establishment! I'm gonna go honor Mr. Ceremonial-First-Pitch-Thrower-Outer!)

You already did him.

(Mr. Mansa Musa can kiss my ass!)

Bud Light, Anheuser-Busch, St. Louis, Missouri.

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