By Natural Philosopher Mike Prestwood

Was the richest person in history an African just before colonial slavery?

Spend just one minute and meet the wealthiest man in history. His riches were so vast, they shifted economies with a mere gesture. Fascinated? Dive deeper into Africa's history before the transatlantic slave trade.

Yes. Emperor Mansa Musa was the richest man in history, and yes, he was black. Born in 1280 CE, Mansa Musa was the king of the Mali Empire in West Africa. He was known for his extraordinary wealth, primarily due to the abundant gold and salt resources within his empire. In 1324, the renowned pilgrimage to Mecca by the 44-year-old devout Muslim caused quite a stir. Mansa Musa distributed so much gold that it destabilized local economies along his route. Prior to the European lead transatlantic slave trade, Africa had many centuries of up and down wealth and prosperity. Just like the rest of the world. For a deeper exploration, take the 6-minute deep dive: Africa Before the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

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