The African king who is the wealthiest person ever


Many have never heard of him and most, probably, never will, but when browsing through the net for ‘the richest person to have ever lived’, one name tops all the lists; Mansa Musa I.

With an inflation adjusted fortune of $400 billion, just over five times more than that of Bill Gates, Mansa Musa I is the wealthiest person to have ever graced planet earth.

Born 736 years ago, Musa I ruled the Malian Empire which covered modern day Ghana, Timbuktu and Mali in West Africa.

According to media reports, the 14th century African King got his alarming wealth from his country’s vast production of more than half the world’s supply of salt and gold.

A devout Muslim, Musa I built numerous mosques across his empire, some of which are still standing today, seven centuries later.

While media reports on his death vary from 1331 to 1337, what is clear is that his wealth didn’t last after his passing. His heirs were not able to fend off civil war and invading conquerors which saw an end to the $400 billion strong fortune two generations later.

This story was inspired by the response CNBC Africa received from its Twitter followers following a story we published on January 18 titled ‘Lessons from the richest man who ever lived’. All though it is clearly stated in the story that Jakob Fugger is in fact one of the richest (and not the richest), the title might have mislead our followers. This inspired our journalist to do an in depth research on who is the all-time richest person ever.