Mansa Musa I is a name that may not be familiar to most people. However, the name belongs to a man who is considered the richest man who ever lived on earth. Musa was originally from West Africa and became emperor of Mali in 1312. Through the trade of gold and salt, which were found in abundance in the region, Musa amassed an enormous fortune.
According to historians, Musa’s fortune was so great that he could afford to hand out gold in the streets. When he went on his pilgrimage to Mecca, his caravan consisted of 60,000 men, dozens of animals, and an enormous amount of gold. They purchased so many goods that they shook the world economy for a time because they greatly increased the amount of gold in circulation.
Musa also spent his gold to build mosques. According to one legend, during his reign he built one mosque every Friday. The most famous mosque he built is the Jingereber Cathedral Mosque in Tombouctou, Mali.
Musa’s fortune was so great that it is difficult to estimate it in today’s money. However, economists believe that his fortune, recalculated today, is about $400 billion. The only person who came close to Musa’s wealth was John Rockefeller, who economists estimate has accumulated about $336 billion (adjusted for inflation).
Despite all his wealth and influence, however, Musa is rarely mentioned in history. This is due to the fact that Africa and the study of its history do not receive the attention and recognition they deserve in world history.