Mansa Musa is known as the richest man in the world history. Most of this wealth that he had came from his monopoly of gold and salt businesses in Africa.
This image of Mansa Musa from 1312-1337 shows him holding a golden nugget, wearing gold, and sitting on a golden throne. This significant stock of gold that Mansa Musa had helped him with his journey to Mecca.
Today’s wealthiest companies in the world get their money from monopolizing a certain market of goods. An article “America’s monopoly problem, in one chart” from Vox as an example of monopoly in our modern day states that, “The Open Markets Institute report lists four cellphone providers that control 98 percent of the market — Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint”. This is just one example of a monopoly in the US. No matter what product you are looking for, food, clothes, cars, electronics, cat food, all of these industries have a couple of leading companies that control like 95% of the market.
A good example that would parallel with Mansa Musa is the Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos, known to be the richest person in the world with net worth of around $141 billion. The article says that, “…[Amazon] could eventually become so big that it can control what shipping companies such as FedEx and UPS charge it, and, in areas where it becomes a dominant buyer of labor, could contribute to pushing employee wages down”. Now if you ask yourself if that’s a good thing, what would you say. I would say that it is a good thing, and that everyone loves Amazon, and yet even if you don’t like Amazon, there are still plenty of other places like eBay and Ali Express where you can shop. And later in the article the author says that, “Amazon last month announced it would raise its minimum wage for workers to $15 an hour”, so we don’t have to worry about the wages going down.
Now, you might ask, is monopoly a good thing or a bad thing? Was Mansa Musa’s monopoly of gold and salt businesses a bad thing? My answer would be that I don’t know. It depends what perspective you are looking at it from. The pros of modern day monopolies could be a lot of job opportunities. These big companies have enough money to hire people and create more jobs and make more products. Or you could say that people are just used to the companies that control the most of the market. Everyone likes the prices, is pleased with the product and don’t want any changes. The cons could be that smaller companies that want to start a business in a specific field would just get destroyed by other giant companies, and would run out of business. Or some people don’t like the mainstream products, and want something new. But I don’t see any people being mad at modern day monopolies. Everyone is used to the way the things are, and still the leading companies offer a variety of products that you can choose from. So I guess that monopolies in our world are a good thing.
British Museum, The Kingdom of Mali, Sheet 2, Source 6: Mansa Musa holding a gold ingot from the Catalan Atlas, 1375
© Bibliothèque National de France https://shanesafricaproject.weebly.com/primary-source1.html
Emily Steward (Nov 26, 2018). “America’s monopoly problem, in one chart”. https://www.vox.com/2018/11/26/18112651/monopoly-open-markets-institute-report-concentration