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How Musa I of Mali Aka Mansa Musa Became The Richest African Emperor Of All Time?

Published Fri Aug 16 2019 By BluePrince
How Musa I of Mali Aka Mansa Musa Became The Richest African Emperor Of All Time?

In today's world when everyone is fighting to be crowned as the richest man of the world, the long-dead king Musa I aka Mansa Musa of the 14th century still remains as the undisputed wealthiest man of the world.

The amount of wealth he held within his treasury vaults would even put today's billionaires like President Donald Trump , Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk,and Bill Gates, and many others to shame.

What Was Musa I's Net Worth?

Although there is no actual figure as to what amount of wealth the emperor held during his time of reign, Time magazine took the liberty to name him the richest people in history.     

King Musa I aka Mansa Musa
Musa I aka Mansa Musa

They reported,

There's really no way to put an accurate number on his wealth.

According to various sources, during Mansa Musa's tenure as the sultan, Mali was the largest producer of gold, which was at the time the heavily demanded commodity.   

Who Is Musa I Aka Mansa Musa?

Musa I was born during 1280 as the son of Faga Laye in Mali. His name appears along with different manuscripts and literature of history as Kankou Musa, Kanku Musa and Kankan Musa which means " Musa whose mother was Kankou". The King had a wife named Inari Kunate.

Mansa became the emperor of the Mali Empire after the death of his predecessor Abu-Bakr II. He served as the deputy general under Abu's reign, Bakr II went missing after he undertook a voyage to find the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. 

The wealthiest man of the world, Musa I aka Mansa Musa
Musa I

Musa came in power just in time when the European nations were struggling for existence due to the raging civil wars owing to insufficient resources. 

At the time the Mali Empire prospered enormously due to surplus resources of gold and salt.

Under Mansa's rule, the Mali Empire spread over to a huge part of West Africa extending from the Atlantic coast to Timbuktu and also touched parts of the vast Sahara desert. 

The Mali Empire

After conquering Timbuktu, the city soon became the global center of trade, culture, and Islam.

Along with the growth of territory, the economic standard of the citizens also flourished.

It was during his reign, that he build Sankore Madrasah, modern-day University of Sankore. He also built the Hall of Audience.

Musa I's Travel To Mecca

But it wasn't until 1324 that the world knew of Musa's immense riches. Being a devout Muslim, Mansa Musa set off to Mecca to fulfill his Hajj requirement. But the King wasn't traveling alone.

The King set on his journey of 4,000 miles to Saudi Arabia accompanied by a troop of thousands of soldiers, slaves and novelties all of whom were clad in Persian silk and carried long golden staffs. 

Musa I's march to Mecca
Musa I travelling to Mecca with his army, slaves and court attendants

The long procession consisted of 60,000 people, including 12,000 slaves, each of who carried 1.8 kg of gold bar. 

His company had 80 camels, all of whom were ladened with 23-136 kgs of gold dust. Musa gave the gold to the poor whom he met along the way; every city he passed by, including Cairo and Medina. 

The glorious march was a sight too hard to miss. The display had a huge impact on the onlooking Egyptians, who wouldn't forget it in the years to come. 

On arriving in Cairo, Egypt's capital, the King was invited over by al-Malik al-Nasir at his castle but Musa declined the proposition on grounds that he was only passing by.

The Sultan's generosity had a great effect on the economy of the regions that he passed. The sudden flow of gold in Cairo led to the decrease in its value for the next decade.

However, to rectify the value of gold in the market, Musa I on his way back borrowed all the gold he could carry from Cairo at very high interest.

This time of Musa's travel has been recorded in history as the time when one man single-handedly controlled the price of gold.

On his visit to Mecca, he also conquered Gao which belonged to the Songhai Kingdom. His empire deepened into Senegal, Niger, Nigeria, Gambia, and Guinea.

Death Of Musa I

According to historians, Musa's reign lasted for almost 25 years and he died around 1337, while some claim that the Emperor died after his return from Mecca in 1325.

Some scholars like Ibn-Khaldun exclaim that Mansa was alive during the time when Tlecemen in Alegria was captured in 1337.

He says that the King had sent his representative to congratulate the conquerors on their victory.