Today when asked who the richest people in the world are, we usually think the like of tech giants Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos. Truth is they are only the wealthiest as of modern day history and have yet to reach the massive finance account of a 4th century Emperor, known infamously as Mansa Musa I.
Musa’s journey to unequivocal wealth came only after his brother, Mansa Abu Bakr II of the Mali Empire, took for an expedition on the Atlantic Ocean never to return. Entering the seat of the throne in 1307, Musa set out to completely redirect he direction of the world’s wealth during a time when plagues and strife were rampant in medieval Europe and other parts of the global economy.
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The Golden Age
Musa’s reign marked a literal and figurative Golden Age as he controlled and traded two of the most valuable natural resources traded, gold and salt, driving Musa’s empire to unmatched heights. While one may automatically think of Mali as a small to medium sized West African country, making up just about five percent of the United States population, Musa’s influence and rule stretched over the collection of current day Mali, Chad, Niger, Senegal, Nigeria, Mauritania and Guinea and Gambia for almost the equivalent of today’s American population of about 332 million people.
Resources were overwhelming under Mansa Musa’s rulership. The exponential economic growth was said to cause a 12 year depression in Cairo as the immense upswing of trade within the expanding Malian empire after Musa’s glorious appearances throughout his journey to Mecca,left the streets littered in gold coin. Even his caravan of soldiers, heralds and slaves wall adorned in Persian silk and bejeweled staffs. The camels were said to have held each 300 blocks of solid gold.
For comparison purposes, imagine the US President handing out a minimum of ten Troy ounces of gold, more than one can hold in hand at once, to every citizen which is worth about $16,000, versus a measly $1200 stimulus package during a remarkably devastating economical crisis.
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Modernly, the richest people make their charitable contributions to causes structured by institutions under the classification of a 501c3 nonprofit organization. Obviously, 4th century operational fabric wouldn’t necessarily require such a system, however the manner is which Mansa Musa administered welfare to the people is a distinct characteristic of the laws of nature that resulted in his still holding the highest seat of wealth known to man.
On A Mission
A devout missionary of the Islamic faith, Musa set out to journey across the Sahara to pay respects in the Holy City of Mecca towards the end of his incumbency. By 1324, Musa took Hajj, a spiritual pilgrimage to Mecca, accompanied by an entire city’s worth of people and resources. An estimated 60,000 people including about 12,000 enslaved persons and 80 camels holding his people and not a corporation’s promise to administer Musa was admired by his subjects for the manner of novelty the emperor generously gave away gold and established cities filled with the world’s greatest architecture. With elaborate universities suited for over 25,000 students, more gold than one person can hold at once, and natural resources in abundance for the entire land including neighboring European countries are just the tip of what 4th century sultan Mansa Musa contributed to their society.
While most modern-day billionaires and the heirs to the wealthiest estates on the planet today have built their riches upon digital and fiat currencies, without legislation of a gold standard in place once President Franklin D. Roosevelt nullified the right to demand payment in gold in 1933, it is almost impossible to compare so-called dollars in history as the amount was, until now, always determined upon by actual possession or measurement in the weight of gold or silver.
According to reports from History.com, by the time Musa returned from Mecca to the well developed trading center in Timbuktu, he completed his career by building thousands of pristine mosques, universities and libraries in the city. Commissioning the most prominent artists, astrologers, scholars and leaders to teach the people. Upon its conception, Timbuktu was reported to accommodate a number close to 25,000 erudites and archived about 80,000 manuscripts accredited to Musa.
Totaling up a colossal $400 billion dollars, the tenth ‘Mansa’ of the dynasty, Musa has exceedingly set a strong standing height of the wealthiest man we know of today. Among his likeness are legends like Genghis Khan, oil tycoons The Rockerfellers, Augustus Caesar, Akbar I, and Andrew Carnegie.
If Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos have records of the most lavish lifestyle on the planet today, we could only begin to imagine how it looks, smells and feels tripled during the Musa reign amidst widespread famine.
Sources: Money, Britannica, History.com
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