Amazon boss Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk the Tesla boss may often be associated with the title of world's richest man. In fact, these two richest people in the world were not the richest in human history.
A Muslim king on the western edge of Africa, Mansa Musa possessed a wealth unmatched even in today's modern era. Mansa is a title used to refer to a 'Sultan' or 'Emperor'.
Mansa Musa who also has the name Musa Keita I who is the 10th king of the Mali kingdom. An empire that controlled most of the important regions in the West African region.
Mansa Musa ruled the kingdom of Mali in the 14th century. Apart from being famous for his wealth, he was also a great military leader who had successfully extended his power to 2,000 miles.
Quoted from Business Insider, Monday (26/4/2021) The Kingdom of Mali used to control the territory which is currently known as Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, and Chad.
These countries are areas with abundant gold reserves, which in turn contributed to Mansa Musa's wealth.
At the time of Mansa Musa's leadership, most of Europe was struggling and facing a decline in gold and silver production. Meanwhile, many kingdoms in Africa developed rapidly thanks to abundant gold reserves.
During the reign of Mansa Musa, the Kingdom of Mali accounted for nearly half of the world's gold production at that time, according to the British Museum as quoted by the BBC. And all those gold reserves are under the control of the king.
"As a ruler, Mansa Musa had almost unlimited access to the most valuable source of wealth in the medieval world," said Kathleen Bickford Berzock, a lecturer in African studies at Northwestern University.
"The main trading center that trades gold and other goods is also on his territory and he amasses wealth from this trade," he added.
Journalist Jacob Davidson of Time magazine said the value of Mansa Musa's wealth was unpredictable. According to him, there is no way to accurately calculate his wealth, especially since his story has been going on for several centuries. Therefore the story of his wealth could be exaggerated.
Even so, a financial analysis site from the United States, Celebrity Net Worth, in 2012 estimated that Mansa Musa's wealth would reach USD 400 billion, equivalent to IDR 5,784 trillion.
With abundant wealth, Mansa Musa is also known to be not stingy with his wealth. He often gave gifts to officials he met.
While stopping in Cairo on a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, he spent so much gold on the poor that it caused mass inflation in the region he was in.
In addition, ownership of abundant assets is only one side of the material wealth owned by Mansa Musa.
He is a figure of a king who is known for his generosity and dedication to religion which later influenced the development of Islam in Africa.
He built the city of Timbuktu into an advanced Islamic civilization by building large schools, mosques and universities. Including the historical mosque in this city, the Djinguereber Mosque which still stands majestically to this day.
The king's rich legacy lasted for generations and to this day, there are mausoleums, libraries and mosques that stand as proof of this. His period of leadership is considered "the golden age of Mali's history," said Jessica Smith as mentioned in TED.
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Expensive Hajj Trips
Mansa Musa I
Illustration of Mansa Musa riding a camel. (Catalan Atlas of 1375)
Although it is not known exactly how much his wealth is, the existence of Mansa Musa as the richest person in the world has begun to be in the spotlight after 12 years of his leadership.
At that time, he managed to complete the Hajj by traveling far from his country to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Something African Muslims could not do at that time.
The journey to get to Mecca was done as far as 4,000 miles without the help of transportation as advanced as it is today. This journey was carried out by caravan and was expensive.
The numbers vary, but Mansa Musa's caravan reportedly contained 60,000 men which is said to include 1,000 officers, 100 camels with a load of gold, carrying many personal musicians for entertainment during the trip, as well as 500 slaves carrying golden rods.
Contemporary historian Ibn Khaldun later interviewed one of the men who had been on the king's pilgrimage.
The man claimed that, "At each stop, he would entertain us with rare foods and sweet treats such as confectionery. His utensils and furniture were carried by 12,000 private slave women, dressed in brocade dresses and Yemeni silk," he said.
Thanks to this expensive trip, he was entered in the Atlas Catalan 1375, one of the most important world maps in Medieval Europe.
The story of his wealth reached the ears of Europeans, especially popular with people in the Mediterranean region. This made the Portuguese, who in the 15th century incessantly invaded many countries with their sea power, then attacked Mali.
Ultimately, the emperor's lavish pilgrimages shaped the European view of Mali as "a place of splendor, wealth and sophistication," wrote historian Chris Strobel.
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