When we think of the wealthiest people in the world, we most often think of the Waltons (of Wal-Mart fame), Warren Buffett, John D. Rockerfeller or Bill Gates. However, if you go a bit further back in history, you’ll discover that the wealth of the kings, queens, and rulers of yester-year trumps the bank accounts of most modern day millionaires and even billionaires by a mile.
In fact, during his time, one man controlled more wealth than Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and the wealthiest member of the Walton family, Sam Walton, combined. That man was Mansa Musa I. With an adjusted net worth of approximately $400 billion, Musa is without a doubt the richest man to have ever lived. So who was he? And why haven’t you heard more about him?
Emperor Mansa Musa I, also known as Musa of Mali (Mansa actually means “King of Kings”), was born in Mali, sometime in the 1280s. Mansa Musa came to be king in a rather roundabout way. His grandfather, Abu Bakr, was the brother of Sundiata Keita, the man who founded the Malian Empire. Neither Abu Bakr nor his son, Faga Laye, ever took the throne, and Mansa Musa was appointed deputy ruler if the king ever went on an extended trip or pilgrimage to Mecca. He was appointed deputy under Abubakari II, who had visions of exploring the far reaches of the Atlantic Ocean.
Abubakari sent 200 boats out into the sea, ordering them not return from their voyage until they had reached the far side of the Atlantic, or until they ran out of food and water, whichever came first. Quite a long time later, one boat returned, with tales of a great whirlpool that had drowned everyone. Abubakari didn’t believe the captain’s story, so he took 2,000 boats, and appointing himself head of the expedition, set off to find the truth. As the King’s deputy, Mansa Musa became ruler in his absence. Abubakari II never returned, and Mansa Musa eventually inherited the throne. Read more