Being rich is the most basic form of having bragging rights. I mean sure, people will tell you that money doesn’t make you rich in a holistic sense, and a house made of gold won’t fill the hole in your heart, but the point is – people will remember you if you’re rich.
Take Mansa Musa I for instance, an African ruler from the 1300s who is considered the richest man who ever lived. His net worth was $400 billion. Billion with a ‘b’.
That’s a whole lot of money, which is why this man was also known as the ‘King of Kings’. Just look at that swag.
His wealth vastly surpassed any living person today, and in the Middle Ages, he was emperor of the Mali Empire, an Islamic West African state.
His reign lasted between 1312–37, during which the Malian Empire covered modern day Ghana, Timbuktu and Mali.
Musa’s immense wealth can be attributed to the fact that Mali produced staggering quantities of salt and gold. The man is most famous for his 6500 km trip to Mecca accompanied by a caravan of 60,000 people.
The pilgrimage to Hajj is one of legend. His entourage included thousands of servants, carrying over 20 tonnes of gold, along with elephants horse, camels, and mules. It apparently took a full day for the entire caravan to pass.
Musa would build several mosques during his rule, as he was a devout Muslim. He would also give away large quantities of gold, so much so it would destabilise entire economical structures.
What’s interesting to note is that even his servants wore fine Persian silk and brocades. Along the way, Musa helped the poor people he encountered by giving them the gold they carried.
Some people posit that this massive procession was a way to draw attention to the wealth and flourishing economy of Mali, however this cannot be ascertained for sure.
Regardless of whether it was his intent or not, the method worked, as his caravan was so massive it was literally included in a map – the 1375 Catalan Atlas.
Musa would also go on to establish many more mosques, madrassas, and other educational institutions and universities through the rest of his life. The exact date is not known, but it is thought that he died shortly after returning from Mecca in 1325. I wonder what happened to all that treasure…