When men of great substance and wealth are mentioned, we hear names like Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg, and many more with a very few Africans mentioned. But centuries ago, there lived an African emperor who topped the list of the wealthiest men in the world and even till this day, is still regarded as the wealthiest man ever to walk the surface of the earth. The wealth of today’s richest man has to be multiplied at least four times before it could match the wealth acquired by Mansa Musa, Mali’s tenth Mansa.
Who Was Mansa Musa?
Mansa Musa is widely known to be the richest man of all time. He lived from 1280 to 1337 and was the emperor of the Mali Empire from 1312 till his death. He was born as Musa Keita into the Keita dynasty and was the great-nephew of the founder of the Mali Empire, Sundiata Keita. The Keita dynasty was the first royal family in the Mali Empire. His father was FagaLaye and his grandfather was Abu-Barka-Keita, the brother of Sundiata Keita.
During the reign of Abu-Barka-Keita II as the Emperor of the Mali Empire, Musa was appointed as the deputy to the emperor. After Abu-Barka-Keita II went on an expedition to explore how far the Atlantic Ocean goes and never came back, his deputy, Musa was then named as the 10th Emperor of the Mali Empire. On Musa’s accession to the throne, he adopted the title of Mansa, which translated to “emperor”. As he became the Emperor of the richest Empire in the whole of West Africa, he appointed his son, Magha Keita as his deputy.
His kingdom initially comprised of the countries we now know as Mali, Ghana, and Mauritania. However, Mansa Musa was far from satisfied with the territory he controlled and wanted to expand his kingdom. He then expanded the Mali Empire by annexing Timbuktu and retaking control of Gao. He conquered over 24 cities and stretched his kingdom to over 2000miles, which covered parts of Nigeria, Chad, Gambia, Senegal, and Ethiopia.
Mansa Musa’s reputation and the abundant wealth his kingdom possessed was soon heard of in Europe and it helped secure Mali a spot on the world map as a rich kingdom. The wealth the emperor possessed, made him one of the most influential and powerful rulers of all time.
Mansa Musa ruled the Mali Empire for 25 years and even though the exact date of his death is inconclusive, scholars believe he died sometime in 1337. After his death, he was succeeded by his son and deputy, Mansa Magha Keita. Mansa Magha Keita ruled the Mali Empire from 1337 to 1341 and was succeeded by his father’s elder brother, Mansa Suleyman, who then ruled from 1341 to 1360.
After Mansa Musa’s death, his successors failed to defend his empire and fell to the northern invaders.
What is His Net Worth Today?
During Mansa Musa’s rule, it was virtually almost impossible to calculate the emperor’s wealth as it was enormous. He was the ruler of the wealthiest empire in the Western part of Africa and the main source of his kingdom’s wealth was gold and salt, and every gold and salt produced in the kingdom automatically became his.
According to calculations based on the value of dollar, Mansa Musa’s net worth as of today would definitely be over $450billion.
What are His Accomplishments?
– Under his rule, he brought Urban revolution to the Mali Empire, through education and architecture. So many famous buildings were constructed during his time.
– As a devoted Muslim, he went on several pilgrimages to Mecca. On every of his journey to Mecca, he would go with 60,000 men, soldiers, slaves, and followers. He also went along with 2000 camels carrying gold that he would give to the poor on his way to Mecca.
– At a certain time, he caused unintended inflation in Cairo when he gave out so much gold to the poor in the city that the value of gold in Cairo crashed and the cost of goods in the city went overboard. It took several years for the economy in Cairo to be restored back to stability.
– On each of his pilgrimage to Mecca, every Friday, wherever he and his men stopped to rest, Mansa Musa would build a mosque at that location.
– He made Timbuktu a center for commerce and education.
– He established the University of Sankore.
– He also made Europe aware of the wealth the Mali Empire possessed, making other nations eager to go into trade with Mali.
– He left behind the legacy of being a giver and one who cherished education.