Who is the richest man who ever lived? Since the 1970s, the United States government has been looking the other way on trusts and monopolies. That has driven company sizes into the stratosphere. With that obnoxious consolidation of wealth, we have more billionaires than ever, and we’re on our way to the first trillionaire in history. That amount of wealth is unimaginable, unconscionable, and unsustainable. Be that as it may; Bezos, Gates, and Zuckerberg ain’t got nothing on Mansa Musa.
In 1312, Mansa Musa became emperor of the Mali Empire. The west African empire consisted of parts of modern-day Mali, Ghana, Niger, Burkina Faso, and several other countries. If you’re a black person in the United States (if we’re being honest, a bunch of white folks too), you probably have some DNA from the Mali Empire. Historically, it was one of the wealthiest regions in the world at the time. It was wealthy, powerful, and influential. It’s leader was the richest man who ever lived.
Mansa Musa Broke Economics
Every able-bodied Muslim is required to pilgrimage to Mecca, a hajj, at least once in his/her life. In 1324, Emperor Mansa Musa went on his hajj. About 4,000 miles separate Mali from Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The emperor took a massive entourage on his journey, weighed down with his lavish wealth. Along the way, he handed out ungodly gobs of gold. It’s not clear why, but it seems he was just flexing. In Egypt, he handed out so much gold that he actually created a recession in the country. The absurd influx of massive amounts of gold drove the price of gold through the floor. On his return trip, he actually tried to buy back some of the gold to attempt to halt the recession. Despite his efforts, the Mansa Musa recession persisted for 12 years in Egypt.
Mansa Musa traveled with about 12,000 slaves, each carrying roughly four pounds of gold. He also saddled his 80 camels with between 50 and 300 pounds of gold dust each. That means he traveled with between 52,000 and 72,000 pounds of gold. His actual amount of wealth is beyond anything that could be quantified in the 21st century. By contrast, though, Time and BBC consider Caesar Augustus to be the second-richest man in history with a net worth of $4.6 trillion.
Mansa Musa likely had a net worth in the trillions, he was a walking recession, and he was Black. Happy Black History Month to Mansa specifically. Mansa Musa was the richest man who ever lived.
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