Culture The Beauty of Africa

Mansa Musa: The Wealthiest African Man Who Ever Lived

mansa musa History
Written by Teresa Mwangi

Picture a world where one man’s wealth surpassed that of any other in history. A man so rich that he could pave roads with gold and build mosques as magnificent as palaces. You may have Mansa Musa history in mind.

Musa was the tenth Mansa, or king, of the West African empire of Mali from 1312 to 1337 AD. It was during his reign that Mali reached its peak power and prosperity. He was a brilliant businessman and a devout Muslim who used his wealth to build mosques, libraries, and schools throughout Mali. He also patronized the arts and sciences, and his court was a center of learning and culture.

His wealth mindset charmed many people then and now and his legacy passes on to generations today.

Is Mansa Musa The Richest Person Ever?

A huge part of Mansa Musa history is based on his colossal wealth estimated to be $600 billion. Besides building mosques and schools across the Empire of Mali from his pocket, his caravan painted a picture of a wealthy man. In 1324, Mansa Musa embarked on a pilgrimage to Mecca, the holiest city in Islam.

mansa musa history

Mansa Musa. Photo/History – How stuff works

His pilgrimage was a lavish affair, with a caravan of over 60,000 people, including 12,000 slaves carrying gold dust. Mansa Musa distributed gold so freely along the way that its value plummetted.  His wealth came from Mali’s control of the gold trade in West Africa. His empire also produced salt and other valuable commodities and used his wealth to develop Mali.

Mansa Musa history captures a man who could travel with an entourage so large that it could deplete the food and water supplies of entire cities along the way. He was so generous to the core that gold was his way to thank people for their benevolence. His pilgrimage brought him international fame and recognition and his return to Mali a hero, and his reign continued to be a golden age for the empire. He died in 1337 AD, leaving behind a legacy of wealth, power, and cultural achievement.

How Did Mansa Musa Lose His Money?

Despite his huge fortune, Mansa Musa history captures details of how he lost some of his money. A case in point is during his pilgrimage to Mecca with a caravan of over 72,000 where his gold donations to people dipped their prices for over a deacade. Secondly, inefficiencies in his government led to wastage of resources which became an eye sore. Lastly, his numerous military campaigns gobbled up a lot of money.

How Rich Was Mansa Musa Today?

Mansa Musa’s wealth back in the 14th century is estimated to average between $400 – $600 billion in 2023. However, the empire he built with a lot of sacrifice all went down after his demise. Today, Mali is a pale shadow of the successful empire it was in the 14th century under Musa’s reign.

mansa musa history mali

Mansa Musa ruled the Mali empire in the 14th century. Photo/Vocal Media

Is Mansa Musa Richer Than Elon Musk?

In critical analysis, Mansa Musa is richer than Elon Musk who is among the world’s richest people. According to Bloomberg, Musk’s net worth in 2023 is $269.8 billion placing him as richest person in the world.  In contrast to Mansa Musa history in wealth – estimated to be $400 billion – he is theoretically richer than the SpaceX CEO. Most of the Emperor’s wealth came from trading in salt and gold which were treasured good back in the day.


Mansa Musa history is a charming anecdote of the wealthiest African ruler to ever live. This is the world of Mansa Musa, the wealthiest man who ever lived. Mansa Musa’s life is a story of unimaginable wealth, power, and ambition. He was a man who lived larger than life, and his legacy continues to fascinate people centuries after his death.


  1. Who is the richest man ever on earth?

Mansa Musa, an Emperor of Mali Kingdom in the 14th century remains the richest man to have ever lived. His fortune in today’s estimates is way above Elon Musk’s who is currently the richest man in the world.

  1. Why did Mansa Musa fail?

His legacy went to the drain after his death in 1337 and the Mali empire tumbled down due to poor governance. More trading centres also emerged and it eventually led to civil war.

  1. How long did Mansa Musa live?

He lived for 57 years. He was born in 1280 and he died in 1337.

  1. Who was the richest man in Africa gold?

Mansa Musa was the richest man in Africa gold. His caravan to Mecca dipped gold prices in Egypt for over 12 years because he gave it out for free to anyone he met.

About the author

Teresa Mwangi

Teresa is a journalist with years of experience in creating web content. She is a wanderlust at heart, loves travelling and telling stories about tour and travel in Africa by every angle.

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