Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Bill Gates combined would not have come close to this West African ruler

More famous names such as American business magnates John D. Rockefeller, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Henry Ford and the Russian Imperial Romanov family also had toppling fortunes.

The richest person of all time, did beat the world’s greatest rulers – Augustus Caesar (US$6 trillion), William the Conqueror (US$5 billion) and Akbar I (incalculable), per The Times of India?

According to historians, the richest person ever to walk the earth was a man named Mansa Musa, a 14th century West African ruler, whose wealth was simply “indescribable” and “incomprehensible”, per the BBC.

Mansa Musa was the sultan of the Mali Empire

In Mandinka, “Mansa” means sultan or emperor.He was born into a family of rulers and came into power in 1312 CE. He became the ninth sultan of the West African kingdom

His kingdom was rich in salt, gold and land

Historians estimate that the Mali Empire was at that point the largest gold producer in the world, owning more than half the world’s total supply, according to the British Museum.

Under his rule, the kingdom grew immensely, stretching over 3,000km (1,864 miles) from the Atlantic Ocean to modern-day Niger, annexing over 24 cities, including Timbuktu.

He made the most extravagant pilgrimage of all time

As a devout Muslim, Musa began his voyage to Mecca from 1324-1325, which is now referred to as the “most extravagant pilgrimage in human history”, according to Magnates Media.

BBC reported that the king left Mali with about 60,000 men and women, from royal officials to camel drivers and slaves. who were decked in head-to-toe in Persian silk and gold brocade. 

How else did he splash his gold?

The journey took Musa and his companions through the Sahara desert and Egypt, reaching Cairo, where the emperor would generously splash his cash – or gold.

Mansa Musa’s legacy …

Upon his return, Musa made it his mission to revitalise the cities in his kingdom. Thanks to his architectural developments in the region, his reputation continued to flourish.

He also built schools, libraries and mosques and helped Timbuktu become an epicentre for culture and education, per the BBC.

So how rich was he, really?

Some estimates put Mansa’s modern day net worth at US$400 billion to US$500 billion, though it can be difficult to fairly calculate a fortune based on gold, salt and land.

Nevertheless, Mansa Musa will be remembered not just for his mountains of gold, but also for his generosity and commitment to his Islamic faith, promotion of education and financing his empire’s greatest cultural developments.