Jakarta (Indonesia Window) – The Kingdom of Mali in West Africa was once led by a Muslim king who was an avid traveller, and had roamed all around his vast empire.
Mansa Abubakr II’s adventurous spirit raised a question in his mind, “What is laying beyond the Atlantic Ocean bordering his country to the west?”
Fulfilling his great curiosity, the king then summoned shipping engineers from Lake Chad to build ships with strong construction to cross the Atlantic.
Mansa Abubakr II’s fleet was strengthened by tough sailors, traders, engineers and builders, creative artists, brave warriors, and intellectuals.
On the voyage across the Atlantic Ocean, they were provided with rations for two years of travel.
Mansa Abubakr II ordered his crew not to return to Mali unless they had reached the end of the Atlantic Ocean, or had run out of food and water supplies.
The end of the voyage left only one captain with one ship returning to Mali, out of the 200 ships that were released.
The captain claimed that the other ships and crew members had been pulled into a current and disappeared.
The “failure” on the first mission did not make Mansa Abubakr II give up.
He even began to prepare another more powerful and larger fleet, and declared to make the journey himself.
The second fleet consisted of 1,000 ships carrying crew members, as well as 1,000 other ships which were supplies, including trade materials, crops, animals, and gold which are abundant national treasures in the Mali Kingdom.
Before leaving his kingdom, Mansa Abubakr II handed over leadership to his brother, Mansa Musa, who was also known as an adventurer.
Mansa Musa’s hajj pilgrimage journey from Mali to Makkah was legendary.
After all the supplies and equipment were ready, Mansa Abubakr II crossed the Atlantic Ocean in 1311.
The journey was recorded in history, but no one knows if he reached America.
Nonetheless, there many evidences that West African Muslims had set foot on their neighbouring continent.
The strongest evidence even comes from Columbus, who is believed to be the first outsider reaching America in 1492.
In his journal, he mentioned that Native Americans confirmed, “Black-skinned people had come from the south-east in boats, trading in gold-tipped spears”.
The natives described the spearheads as “guanin”, a word for “gold” in the Mandinkan, the language of the Mali Empire.
Chemical analysis of the spearheads found that the gold most likely originated in West Africa.
Columbus and his son also discovered that Native Americans used handkerchiefs like those used in West Africa.
The European sailor also mentioned that Native American tribes wore the cloths similar to Muslim Moors of Spain.
No one has ever known the fate of the Mansa Abubakr II’s fleet.
However, the signs confirm that African Muslims are the first to reach America, and not European sailors.
Mansa Abubakr II has been known as a rich king with a vast territory in the world, who devoted all his wealth and strength to pursue knowledge and discoveries.
His determination to reach the American continent clearly shows that the relationship between West Africa and America did not begin with slavery initiated by European colonizers.
The relationship between the two sides was established by Muslim sailors, explorers and kings on missions of friendship and peace.
Author: Indonesia Window