We hear of the current plight in Mali at the moment with famine and conflict but did you know that Mali was, at one stage in human history, a major global power?
In fact, the richest man to have ever lived was a previous muslim ruler of Mali, known as Mansa Musa (c.1280 -c.1337). If you were to adjust his wealth and represent it in todays terms, it would be equivalent to $400 Billion, dwarfing Warren Buffets paltry $60-something-Billion.
Short Extract From Wikipedia:
"Musa was a devout Muslim and his pilgrimage to Mecca, a command ordained by Allah according to core teachings of Islam, made him well-known across northern Africa and the Middle East. To Musa, Islam was the foundation of the "cultured world of the Eastern Mediterranean". He would spend much time fostering the growth of Islam in his empire.
Musa made his pilgrimage in 1324, his procession reported to include 60,000 men, 12,000 slaves who each carried 4-lb. gold bars, heralds dressed in silks who bore gold staffs, organized horses and handled bags. Musa provided all necessities for the procession, feeding the entire company of men and animals.Also in the train were 80 camels, which varying reports claim carried between 50 and 300 pounds of gold dust each. He gave away the gold to the poor he met along his route. Musa not only gave to the cities he passed on the way to Mecca, including Cairo and Medina, but also traded gold for souvenirs. Furthermore, it has been recorded that he built a mosque each and every Friday.
Musa's generous actions, however, inadvertently devastated the economy of the region. In the cities of Cairo, Medina and Mecca, the sudden influx of gold devalued the metal for the next decade. Prices on goods and wares super inflated in an attempt to adjust to the newfound wealth that was spreading throughout local populations. To rectify the gold market, Musa borrowed all the gold he could carry from money-lenders in Cairo, at high interest. This is the only time recorded in history that one man directly controlled the price of gold in the Mediterranean.
At the height of its power, Mali had at least 400 cities, and the interior of the Niger Delta was very densely populated
Further, according to an account by Ibn-Khaldun, Mansa Musa was alive when the city of Tlemcen in Algeria was conquered in 1337, as he sent a representative to Algeria to congratulate the conquerors on their victory."
I thought this was a fascinating story more so because I had never heard of this figure before, considering he was the wealthiest human to have ever lived... And it just goes to show that no matter how strong an empire, it will never ever remain for good.