In modern times when you hear the term richest in the world, you think of rich celebrities or businessmen like Bill Gates or Elon Musk. Surely no one has ever amassed the same amount of wealth as these modern time businessman? It may surprise you then that currently, the person credited with being the richest man ever to have lived was the emperor of Mali in 1312.
Mansa Musa, I was able to amass his considerable amount of wealth by trading gold and salt that were in abundance at the time in West Africa. He largely flew under the radar even though he had the biggest fortune in the world. This all changed when he decided to go on a pilgrimage to Mecca. This is when the world saw the extent of his riches and treasures.
Reports say his caravan was a procession of over 60,000 people, think of when Aladdin enters Agrabah in the Disney classic but everything is multiplied by ten! The caravan traveled through Cairo then on to Medina and finally to Mecca, all the time with his huge entourage. Not to mention the hundreds of animals and huge amounts of gold. His followers were just giving gold away to people on the streets!
Economists and historians believe that this trek across Africa to Mecca actually completely changed the global economy for some time because Musa bought so many goods that the circulation of gold in the world completely increased. Imagine having the wealth to change the course of history. And by all accounts that is what Musa did attempt to do.
A proud and giving religious man, he is remembered for having built thousands of mosques. In fact, some people say that during his reign, every Friday he built a new mosque. At Least that what the legend says! But with the amount of gold he had at his disposal, it is entirely credible that he could pay the workforce that would make this a reality. What we do know is that he commissioned one of the most famous mosques in the world: Djinguereber Mosque in Timbuktu, Mali.
When you adjust his fortune with inflation, it is estimated that Musa’s wealth would have been around $400 billion. If you look at who is believed to be the richest man alive currently Jeff Bezos the Amazon CEO, he is estimated to have a net worth of $90 billion. So as it stands it looks like Musa will be holding the title of richest man to ever have lived for a very very long time!