Every year Forbes releases its annual ranking of the world’s billionaires, and this year, like every year, I woke up, checked the list of the richest people in the world and decided I’d better go to work.
Amazon.com’s Jeff Bezos sits atop the list, passing Bill Gates, which makes sense because if you’re reading this on Internet Explorer or a Windows phone, you need to get your life together. Amazon, on the other hand, will soon make it unnecessary for me to leave the house. As soon as I can buy lemon-pepper wings and liquor on Amazon Prime, it’s a wrap.
But instead of focusing on the three-comma colonizers on the list, we decided to look at the members of the Billionaire Blacks Club from around the Diaspora. We noticed a few things about the black billionaires:
- Only three were from America, while the rest made their money in the continent of Africa.
- There were as many Nigerians on the list (from a nation where Donald Trump believes people live in huts) as there were African Americans.
- No one from Wakanda made the list.
11. Mohammed Ibrahim: $1.18 Billion
Ranking 1,999th on the Forbes list, Mohammed “Mo” Ibrahim founded Celtel, one of the first cellphone companies in Africa and the Middle East. He sold his company in 2005 and walked away with $1.4 billion and now spends his time fighting corrupt African leadership.
I wonder if he’d come over here and help us oust Trump?
10. Strive Masiyiwa: $1.39 Billion
Strive Masiyiwa launched his Zimbabwean cellphone company in 1998 and owns a majority share in his company as well as the corporation that provides fiber-optic networks and satellite services to telecom companies across Africa.
9. Mohammed Dewji: $1.54 Billion
Mohammed Dewji, Tanzania’s only billionaire, is one of the few people on the list to inherit his wealth. Dewji’s father founded METL—a conglomerate that trades in textiles, flour, beverages and edible oils—in the 1970s.
Dewji has signed the “giving pledge,” promising to give at least half of his fortune to charity.
8. Michael Jordan: $1.65 billion
Michael Jordan’s wealth comes from endorsements, his shoe empire and his ownership stake in the Charlotte Hornets. Jordan purchased a majority share of the NBA franchise in 2010 for $175 million. He now owns 90 percent of the team, whose value is estimated at $1.05 billion.
Apropos of His Airness’ financial success, most barbershop research shows that black people could afford gold-plated Cadillacs and blacks-only schools, put Walmart out of business, and resurrect the corpses of Jesus and Martin Luther King Jr. if we just stopped buying Jordans.
7. Folorunsho Alakija: $1.7 Billion
Beginning her business career with a fashion label, Folorunsho Alakija managed to secure an oil license in Nigeria in 1993. Now her oil-mining operation has partnered with Chevron and will likely keep pulling crude from the ground until 2024.
6. Patrice Motsepe: $2.5 Billion
In 1994, South Africa’s Patrice Motsepe bought a low-producing gold mine and made it profitable. By 2008 he had become the first black African billionaire, and he currently runs a private-equity firm and owns a soccer club.
He calls it football.
5. Isabel dos Santos: $2.6 Billion
Isabel dos Santos is listed as an independent businesswoman who represents her own interests, but she acquired her massive wealth when her father, José Eduardo dos Santos, transferred stakes in several Angolan companies to Isabel before stepping down in 2017... as president of Angola.
4. Oprah Winfrey: $2.7 Billion
Despite her OWN network, Harpo Productions, her return to TV as a 60 Minutes correspondent and her stake in Weight Watchers, most of Oprah’s fortune comes from her years as a TV host. She also owns O the Oprah Magazine, which recently announced that its groundbreaking March cover will feature ... hold on, let me check before I give you any erroneous information.
Yes, this month’s cover will feature Oprah Winfrey.
3. Robert Smith: $4.4 Billion
Apparently there’s a black guy in America who’s not a rapper or entertainer who’s worth more than three Jay-Zs, two Diddys and a Beyoncé. Robert Smith made his money in venture capital after leaving Goldman Sachs and Kraft Foods.
I’m sure this story is made up, because no one ever talks about this guy. Or maybe he has a secret vibranium mine. Now that I think about it, “Robert Smith” sounds like a name someone would make up if his name were really T’Challa.
Sure, “Bob.” I’ll see you in Wakanda.
2. Mike Adenuga: $5.4 Billion
You know that old joke about how every cabdriver in New York City is either wealthy or a surgeon back in his African homeland? Well, Mike Adenuga made that come true for himself. Adenuga, a native of Nigeria, supported himself by working as a taxicab driver in New York while attending Pace University for his MBA.
By the age of 26, he had made his first million selling lace and distributing soft drinks. Now he owns the second-largest cellphone provider in Nigeria and one of the country’s most profitable oil firms.
He uses Uber now.
1. Aliko Dangote: $14.1 Billion
Africa’s richest man didn’t make it by selling oil, shoes, television shows or stock. Dangote amassed his wealth by selling cement. His company produces 44 million metric tons annually and plans to increase production by 33 percent over the next two years. He also dominates the sugar market in his country.
Dangote’s great-grandfather Alhassan Dantata was also the richest man in Africa at the time of his death.