Forget today’s tech billionaires, the richest man ever lived in Mali during the 14th century. The likes of Bill Gates and Elon Musk are doing pretty well today but it seems improbable even for them to match Mansa Musa, the ruler of the Mali empire during the first half of the 14th century. His total wealth is estimated to be around a staggering 400 billion USD, largely due to the flourishing of his empire on account of ample resources like salt and gold.
As a devout Muslim, he set off on a journey to Mecca for his Hajj pilgrimage. The voyage, which would span an estimated 4,000 miles, was travelled by Musa and a caravan that included tens of thousands of soldiers, slaves and heralds, draped in Persian silk and carrying golden staffs. The reason behind why this tour is called biggest waste in human history is it resulted in a massive inflation in the Egyptian economy. The Egyptians took more than a decade to recover.
Musa’s generosity and purchase of foreign goods left the Egyptian market flooded with gold. Soon, the precious metal became abundant lowering its value and nearly destroying Egypt’s economy. The situation became so critical that Musa had to recollect the wealth to bring a balance.
This was one of the biggest waste in human history which although well-intentioned, did more harm than good.