If someone asked you who the richest person in human history was, who would you name?
Perhaps an internet entrepreneur like Jeff Bezos, or a business magnate like John D. Rockefeller. But it isn’t quite like that. Those 2 aren’t even in the top 5 richest men of all time.
Who is the richest person in human history?
How about the African King Musa Keita I?
Mansa Musa (Musa I of Mali) was the ruler of the Kingdom of Mali from 1312 C.E. to 1337 C.E, after the previous king, Abu Bakr II, disappeared at sea. Abu Bakr II was his brother and was really passionate about exploring the limits of the world. He abdicated and set on a journey, followed by 200 boats full of men, as well as others full of valuable goods. Unfortunately, they never came back and some claim that he would have reached a new land, and by that I mean America.
Back to Mansa Musa
The kingdom he inherited was already a prosperous one that helped him a lot in gaining “the richest person” title. During his reign, Mali was one of the richest kingdoms of Africa and Mansa Musa was among the richest individuals in the world. Most of his resources came from mining, as his territories possessed gold and salt deposits. He also traded elephant ivory, which even in those days was a major source of income.
The ancient kingdom of Mali with its capital at Niani spread across parts of modern-day Mali, Senegal, the Gambia, Guinea, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Mauritania, and Burkina Faso. Mansa Musa developed cities like Timbuktu (where he built an Islamic university) and Gao into important cultural centers. He also brought architects from the Middle East and across Africa to design new buildings for his cities. Mansa Musa turned the kingdom of Mali into a sophisticated center of learning in the Islamic world.
He is best known for his impressive pilgrimage („hajj”) from Niani to Mecca (holy city, which can be found in the Sirat Mountains, western Saudi Arabia). It is believed that his caravan was composed of 60.000 men. All of them wore noble fabrics like silk and brocade. The king rode on horseback, followed by not less than 500 servants. Moreover, it is said that he brought on 80 camels so much gold that its value dropped significantly. 12 years later the market was not still recovered.
Even though he is mostly known as the richest person that has ever lived, Mansa Musa remains in history as a generous and kind ruler. He had exemplary behaviour and his interest in culture and education development is commendable even today.
If nowadays Jeff Bezos is the world’s richest person, with a net worth of $182 billion, some say that Mansa had a net worth of $400 billion. However, this supposition cannot be proved by no means, as Mansa Musa’s wealth couldn’t have been measured properly.