Black History Month 2018: The Richest Man Who Ever Lived


Mansa Musa I of the Mali Empire was the richest man who ever lived.

It’s true. Most White people don’t know the richest man who ever lived was black. He ruled a Medieval empire which was largely coterminous with what is today one of the world’s poorest countries. Mansa Musa’s fortune is believed to have been worth $400 billion dollars.

In my view, the story of Mansa Musa is a quintessentially African one. While the people of sub-Saharan Africa are desperately poor, they live on a continent that is endowed with enormous natural resources. In the case of West Africa, the natural resources are gold, diamonds and oil. Mansa Musa’s fortune was based on the early exploitation of one of the world’s largest gold outcroppings.


In Black History Month 2018: The Poorest Country On Earth, I wondered why a civilization never arose along the Niger River in West Africa comparable to Egypt on the Nile in North Africa. There were a series of large empires though along the Upper Niger and Middle Niger in Mali. The Ghana Empire, Mali Empire and Songhai Empire were among the largest states in the world in their time. Whereas Ancient Egypt’s economy was based on agriculture, these West African empires were gold rush empires.

The economies of the Ghana Empire, Mali Empire and Songhai Empire were based on a trade in gold, salt and slaves. The black slaves worked in the gold mines and on plantations along the Middle Niger River long before the arrival of Europeans. They traded these commodities with the Berbers in North Africa in exchange for salt which was also mined by black slaves in the Sahara. Around 9 million black slaves were exported from the Sahel and Sudan through the Trans-Sahara Slave trade.

Skip to 5:37 in this National Geographic episode.

It tells the story of Mansa Musa’s infamous hajj to Mecca. He traveled from Mali to Mecca in a caravan of 72,000 people. He came with camels that each carried 300 pounds of gold. His slaves brought an additional 24 tons of gold. He spent so much of this bling that he depressed the value of gold in the Medieval world. He owned all the gold in the Mali Empire as his personal property.


It’s true that Mansa Musa used this wealth to finance the “University of Timbuktu.” Mansa Musa was a pious Muslim and used his wealth to finance the construction of mosques. The Sankore Mosque dates to this period and the scholars there taught and studied Islamic law, theology and history. There isn’t anything really notable about this particular madrasa except (!!!) that it was located in Black Africa. Al-Azhar University in Cairo was established by the Fatimid dynasty in 972.


If you were ever forced to endure Black History Month in an American public school in February, you will probably remember learning about the “University of Timbuktu” and the thousands of Islamic manuscripts that were stored there while Europe was “still in the Dark Ages.”

The University of Timbuktu’s great claim to fame is that it is supposedly older than its Western European counterparts. Like the notion that the Ancient Egyptians were black, this is another laughable Afrocentrist myth. The University of Paris was established around 1150. Oxford University officially dates back to 1167. The University of Bologna in Italy was founded in 1088.

There were universities in Western Europe, Central Europe, and Eastern Europe during the High Middle Ages and Late Middle Ages. The “University of Timbuktu,” a complex built around three mosques and madrasas, dates back to Mansa Musa’s reign in the early 14th century. Europe’s universities were well established by that time and continued to multiply over the next two centuries.


The Songhai Empire succeeded the Mali Empire. It was expanded into the largest empire in West African history by Kang Askia Mohammad I. After he was overthrown by his son, the Songhai Empire fell into chaos and gradually weakened over the next several decades.

This attracted the attention of the Sultan of Morocco who ordered an invasion of the Songhai Empire. It was led by Judar Pasha, a blue-eyed Spanish eunuch, who marched into the Songhai Empire with long guns and English cannons and destroyed its army of 40,000 Africans armed with nothing but spears. The Songhai Empire collapsed and the region was dominated by a Moroccan elite for the next several centuries. By the 18th century, Timbuktu had ceased to be a center of learning and Mali had ceased to be the wealthy empire it had been in the past as the gold mines ran dry.

In hindsight, the wealth of the Ghana Empire, Mali Empire and Songhai Empire had been a mirage. It was a bubble that rested ultimately on a gold rush. Every gold rush eventually goes bust because the growth is unsustainable. The wealth of West Africa slipped through the fingers of Africans like the sand of the Sahara as the gold found its way through trade from Africa to Europe and Asia. Mansa Musa was no different from any of his 20th century African successors who made vast fortunes off commodities like oil or diamonds and who spent liberally in ostentatious displays of their social status.

Mali was already a dirt poor area when the French arrived in the 1890s. The glories of the Mali Empire and Timbuktu had begun to fade three centuries before the creation of French West Africa:


The story of Colonial Mali is essentially the same as the story of Colonial Niger. The French only had a thin administrative presence in the region. The colony was of no economic value to France and had been acquired out of geopolitical rivalry in the Scramble for Africa. France suppressed the most explicit forms of slavery and was distracted in the 20th century by the First World War and Second World War.


The French cobbled together what became the Republic of Mali after independence in 1960. Although it hasn’t grown as dramatically as Niger, the population has grown from 5.2 million to 18 million. The economy of Mali was also once comparable to that of South Korea. Both Ghana and Mali implemented ‘African socialism’ which was a development strategy that attempted to emulate the state-owned enterprises of the Soviet bloc and East Asia. Unlike Japan and South Korea, state-owned enterprises in Africa proved to be a gargantuan failure due to corruption and incompetence.

In recent years, Tuareg separatists in northern Mali have attempted to breakaway to create the independent state of Azawad. They occupied Timbuktu and Gao which were the heart of the Mali Empire. After they were forced to withdraw, they destroyed many of the surviving manuscripts at the “University of Timbuktu” and the shrines of 300 Sufi saints. The destruction of a major part of Mansa Musa’s legacy was a reminder of how what was once one of the wealthiest kingdoms on earth had managed to fall to #175 in the UN Human Development Index.


There are still slaves in Mali. There are still negroes mining salt. There are still gold mines in Mali which is Africa’s third largest exporter of gold behind South Africa and Ghana. Anyone who visits Timbuktu or Gao today though will find a Third World country the rest of the world has left in the dust.

About Hunter Wallace 12381 Articles
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Occidental Dissent


  1. He looks like an Arab who just happened to be sitting on a pile of gold in the area. Where is all this gold today?

  2. This was in 1300 and after they came into contact with Arabs and White people and traders. They probably told them about the gold and how to mine it and that it was worth something and could be used to buy cool things with.

  3. In Eastern Europe I once knew a guy named Mokna, who was a student from Mali. Although I don’t buy all the Afrocentric garbage I still find the Sahel countries fascinating. What’s next, Mauretania or Senegal?

    It saddens me what the jihadist scumbags did in Bamian, Palmyra, Timbuctou and in ancient cities in Iraq.

    The US bears major responsibility for the damage done in Iraq and Syria.

    • Haven’t decided.

      I’ve been taking a closer look at some of the countries that I haven’t written about much in the past. We’re going to get to all of the obvious ones this month.

  4. Isn’t there a Mayan type step pyramid in the jungle of West Africa, at the continent’s closest point to South America? I’m guessing there was contact between the Mayans and the Ooga-Boogas in pre-Columbian times.

  5. While killing a little time in a library one afternoon, I came across a book about the decolonization of Africa. I wrote the title down, with the intention of purchasing a copy, but I have not done it as of yet. I’m not even certain what I did with the scrap of paper. Anyhow, there was a very amusing story about the independence of Guinea. When the vote for independence was carried, De Gaulle responded by stripping the buildings of wiring and other improvements, down to the lightbulbs. He initially took a hard line, and essentially told them that they were on their own. Suddenly, the Africans discovered how much they needed French assistance, and they protested as loudly for help as they had for self determination. Sadly, De Gaulle, under International pressure, relented. I’m going to have to go back to that library and write the title down again.

    • It’s actually based on food surpluses.

      For a dozen men to make tools, another to mine, another man to soldier another man to write, another to do the accounting, another man to sculpt etc etc someone has to farm intensively enough to create a calorie surplus.

      That means you need water, a good growing season with Sun and nice thick soil and people with enough brains and motivation to manage a farm.

      Europeans and European derived whites seem to have been the best at this farming thing.

    • Haha! As Harry Truman once said, there’s nothing new in this world except the history you haven’t read yet.

  6. Trump was supposed to ban black history month. What a fraud! If not for Trump, Black History Month probably wouldn’t even exist. We should respond by pulling out politics altogether, ceding all political territory to the yankees and leftists and just wait for ZOG to collapse which it totally definitely will. Nothing could possibly go wrong with that plan. It’s a great plan. The BEST plan. You’re not even going to BALIEVE how great this plan is.

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