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Mansa Musa: The Richest King From Africa



Some people have riches that we even never even dreamed about. The little-known medieval ruler of the empire of Mali Mansa (king) Musa from the Keita dynasty is considered the richest king in Africa and also the wealthiest person of all time. From this article, you will find out interesting facts about his reign.

Experts of American magazine Times and online publication Celebrity Net Worth are unanimous in the opinion of the title of the richest man in history. The latter publication published a compilation of a list of richest 25 leaders. The name, Mansa Musaw as first on this list after overtaking such famous names as Rothschild and Rockefeller. According to experts, in 2012, his fortune exceeded 400 billion US dollars.

For five years, no one managed to beat his record, so this person remains the richest king in Africa 2017 and throughout the world. It seems that for a long time the situation will be just the same. In modern society, it is difficult to hide such a state of wealth and not to attract the attention of the tax service.

Who is the richest king in Africa? Features of his reign

The reign of Mansa Musaw as between 1312 and 1337 (in some sources 1332). He was the tenth person to occupied this position. The date of his death is not reliably established in spite of the fact that the personality of the ruler and his activity are rather well described by his contemporaries – Arab chroniclers.

His great relative Sundiata Keita, leader of Mandingo people was the propagator of Islam and the first ruler of Mali. In the West Africa history, he is a great person. Contrary to the stereotype that the heirs of great people are usually less talented, his followers developed the country and multiplied his wealth.

This man served as the deputy to Emperor Abubakar II. When Abubakar went on a journey and did not return, it became necessary that he take full authority.

The reign of Musa was the heyday of the empire of Mali, the most powerful state in West Africa, under the rule of which were the territories of modern Guinea, Gambia, Mauritania, Mali, and Senegal.

Three most important factors determined the wealth of the empire:

gold mines of Western Sudan, directly controlled by Mansa Musa;

caravan routes, on which goods from the Mediterranean coast came, also under his vigilant supervision;

peace prevailing in the state.

To achieve the latter, a number of Mali troops was of decisive importance: ten thousand cavalry and one hundred thousand infantry. In addition, the chronicles glorify the tolerance of Mansa Musa, who sought to maintain good-neighborly relations with both his subordinate and neighboring states. As a follower of Islam, Musa was also distinguished by his religious tolerance.

The chroniclers wrote about this king mostly with admiration, but some chuckled at his appearance. He loved excesses in everything and sometimes lost a sense of balance by dressing tastelessly and ridiculously. His pants were sewn from twenty stripes, and the end of his turban fell on his face. No one else would have ventured to go to a high society in such a costume.

Near the platform on which he was sitting were huge elephant tusks and a weapon of pure gold. Above the head of the lord was an umbrella made of silk with a golden top. In all of this, excessive luxury is felt. Some considered it strange and unnecessary, while other people envy and also would like to get these unusual attributes.

Wasteful hajj in Mecca

Tellers of the story Musa discussed his most famous hajj in Mecca in 1324, after which the fame of Mali and its ruler reached even the shores of Europe. The memory of this event was preserved both in written sources and in oral tradition. It is mentioned that Mansa was accompanied by a retinue of 60 or even 80 thousand people. Tons of gold (partly in the form of golden sand and partly made of sticks) were used to provide this mass of people with all the luxury to which they were accustomed for the period of the pilgrimage.

Even crossing the Sahara, the ruler did not tolerate the slightest inconvenience: he received fresh vegetables and fish, and when his capricious wife suddenly wanted to swim in the pond in the middle of the desert, more than 8 thousand of Mansa’s servants dug a pool for her. This episode is mentioned in Arabic chronicles, as well as in oral traditions. One of the chroniclers reports that 500 girls from the queen’s suite rushed to bathe along with her.

In every city in which the ruler of Mali and his entourage arrived that Friday, Mansa ordered them to build a mosque. Incredible, isn’t it?

The most important stopping point for the travelers after crossing the Sahara was Cairo. From there, rumors about the wealth of Mansa Musa flew to all points of the earth. According to the chroniclers, even a decade after his hajj, the memory of the generosity of the ruler of Mali was still quite fresh. There wasn’t a single official or courtier to whom he would not have given gold, not to mention the royal gifts for the Sultan.

Everyone noted the extraordinary modesty and dignity of Mansa. He did not know Arabic at that time and always came to the Cairo palace with an interpreter. He told the Egyptians that his empire is so huge that it is impossible to cross it even in a year, and so rich that they can’t even imagine.

The Cairo merchants shamelessly took advantage of the benevolence and ignorance of Mansa Musa by setting exorbitant prices for any goods they bought. In the end, the ruler realized that he was being subjected to robbery. This worsened the relations between the people of Mali and Cairo. However, gold, lavished by his generous hand, eventually aggravated the economy of Cairo, shaking the established system of prices.

Although the entirety of Musa’s money wasn’t left in Cairo, he had almost no means left and had to borrow from one of the local merchants. However, this circumstance did not prevent the ruler of Mali upon arrival in Mecca from buying houses and lands for the black pilgrims. Their return to the native country in 1325 was accompanied by Islamic teachers and scholars of the Sharia. In Islam, Mansa Musa saw an important opportunity to raise the culture of his country.

Rumors about the wealth of this Mali Empire and its ruler reached medieval Europe decades after his death. On the Catalan Atlas – a world map of 1375, created by a cartographer from Majorca named Abraham Cresques, commissioned by Aragonese King Juan I, Mansa Musa is portrayed as a bearded man sitting on a throne of an European type and in a golden crown. In his hands are golden attributes of power.

Musa’s heir was his son Maghan, who, however, did not sit on the throne for long – only four years. Then the power passed to Musa’s brother Suleiman, whose death in 1360 was the beginning of the gradual decline of the Mali Empire.

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