In any basic history lesson, the Italian Sailor/explorer Christopher Columbus has a famous name as the discoverer of the new world. Till date, this has been of global acceptance as for over 500 years. Education has been in the hands of the Europeans, who many believe imposed what profited them while scorning or amending what did not.
As the waves of knowledge keep spreading, the acclaimed achievements of a number of “European” expeditions are now being observed with scepticism. One of such expeditions is the true ownership to the discovery of America.
Citing the book written by the famous Egyptian scholar, Ibn Fadi Al-Umari in 1342, there were two large voyages across the Atlantic Ocean preceding that of Columbus. Both Expeditions were pioneered by one man, Abubakari or to give him his rightful name, Mansa (King) Abubakari II.
In the time of the Malian Empire, the general conception was that on the other end of the Atlantic lied the end of the world. This delusion took its roots from then primitive Europe. Abubakari on the other hand was far from convinced. If the Niger had its beginning and its end, then the Atlantic Ocean must have its end with people living on its shores. He also felt this could be a sea root to Mecca.
With the quest for knowledge burning in him, Abubakari sent out 200 ships. Their duty was to sail across the Atlantic, with the aim of finding out what lied beyond. It was recorded that only one of the ships returned. Its captain claiming to have turned around when he saw the other ships disappear into the wild ocean.
Abubakari was not convinced by the captain’s testimony. This further increased his thirst to discover what lied on the other end of the Ocean.
13th century Mali was a centre of excellence in Abubakari’s time, though reaching its peak after his era with Timbuktu having the second oldest University at that time with students numbering more than that of the University of New York. Courses such as mathematics, geography, history, astronomy, chemistry as well as Islamic studies flourished in Timbuktu. Mali was a center for trade, the exact spot to meet all who made the world spin. With the aid of the ship builders from Egypt and Mali, Abubakari built ships off the coast of Senegambia. His ships were 2000 in number. With this, he was to use to discover the end of the ocean. Abubakari was no coward. He insisted on accompanying the ships across the ocean.
In the year 1311, Abubakari abdicated his thrown to Mansa Musa. Not a son of his (contrary to contemporary literature). Abubakari equipped 1000 of his ships with the finest men, sorcerers, physicians, sailors and navigators. Every ship had supply ship attached to it. The number of ships totalled 2000. The other 1000 ships were loaded with foodstuffs, drugs, fruits and drinks to last his team for 2yrs. It was believed that Abubakari arrived on the other end of the Atlantic in the year 1312. Proof of the Malian expedition can be noted in the names given to places in Haiti as the Malians renamed places after themselves. Examples of such are Mandinga Port, Mandinga Bay and Sierre de Mali.
Lots of other proof abound and many more keep unfolding. There is also a Malian folktale which gives reference to this great expedition.