Mansa Abubakari II, the Emperor of Mali who travelled to America

We are going to speak about one of the greatest sagas of the African history. We are going to speak about a king who was obsessed about what was on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. We are also going to tell you whether the Blacks of Africa – who were the first inhabitants of America before the Asians, who contributed to inspire the pre-Columbian civilizations of America throught the Egyptian-Sudanese and who went to America during the Arabic hegemony 1100 years ago – had really gone back to America or not during the reign of Abubakari, 180 years before Christopher Columbus.

Mansa Abubakari II at the head of his flotilla, crossing the Atlantic Ocean Illustration by Khephra Burns, edited by Leao and Diane Dillaon
Probably Mansa Abubakari Keita II at the head of his flotilla, crossing the Atlantic Ocean
Illustration by Khephra Burns, edited by Leo and Diane Dillon

The following text is a summary of the narration of the brilliant African-Guyanese historian Ivan Van Sertima, father of the historiography on the African presence in Ancient America. His narration is based on the testimony of Emperor Kanku Musa recorded by the Arab Ibn Amir Hajib and transcripted by Al Omari in the 14th century in Egypt during the pilgrimage of Musa, on the description of the empire of Mali made by Ibn Battuta in the 14th century, on the studies of Time Magazine and Celebrity Networth concerning the wealth of Mali, on the testimonies of Christopher Colombus, and on archeological evidences collected in America. The following article does not replace the great and well-detailed speech spoken by Ivan Van Sertima about the travel of the emperor of Mali.

The time was 1310 and Abubakari is walking around in his palace. He is bored. His generals call out to him about the conflict with the city of Jenne, which refuses his authority. ‘Leave Jenne alone’ said the king, fed up. His griots tell him that his 2 to 3 million km2 empire is as powerful as the Roman Empire. The Mandingo Emperor reigns over a great part of West Africa, so why fight Jenne? ‘Oh Mare Djata Konate (Sundjata), may your ka (energy) admire what I am doing with the empire you have founded!’ Sundjata Keita lives within everyone’s memories. He has built a state bigger than Wagadu (Ghana). However, would also Abubakari II live within everyone’s memories?

It is about time to go listen to the people. The richest king of the world goes down his palace’s stairs, bearing gold from head to toe, dragging his European silk-coat. This incredible luxury has become a routine. Walking between his 300 guards carrying javelins, the Mansa (Emperor) gets to his throne. The people do not have much to complain. They already live in material sufficiency. The king yawns bored. Then Abubakari’s mind escapes and dreams about unknown lands, about an exceptional trip. What about going to Mecca for a pilgrimage? Not really. His younger brother Kanku Musa likes it more. In fact, his ancestors’ spirituality always touches him more than anything else does. He is a strong practionner of the African Religion. Abubakari thinks about the land on the other side of the great water; what is at the end of that trip? What is then that land which would make him a more powerful king than Tenkamenin and Sundjata? He has made up his mind. He will cross the ocean.

‘Fari yo Fari yo Fari yo (Pharaoh! Pharaoh! Pharaoh)’. The moment the griots were to start narrating another story in Bambara, Abubakari promptly stood up from his Ben-bi (throne) and left them there. He needs ships, navigators and provisions in order to put his flotilla on the sea. The Mansa calls people from all Kama (Africa) to fulfil his desire. He even wants the engineers of the Lake Chad who still know how to build ships like the Egyptian ancestors. All the ships on the rivers Djoliba (Niger) and Senegal are studied. Colossal material and human resources are assigned to this project.

The palace is full of tens of experts. Abubakari does not care about the administrative formalities. He does not sleep anymore, obsessed by the idea to leave his prints in history. Everybody thinks he is crazy. Before the difference of opinion between the experts, the Mansa decides that the flotilla will be composed of boats of all sizes. When the ‘D’ day came, he left his capital Niani and travels to the port of the Atlantic Ocean. His heterogeneous flotilla composed of 200 boats is incredible. The ships are loaded with gold, presents, dried meat and fruits conditioned for the travel. The sailors get on board. Abubakari tells them to come back only when they would reach land. The Mansa sees his dream becoming true. The flotilla left the coasts of Senegambia and the king goes back to his palace and waits.

It has been months since the men left and still no news from them. What happened? No one came back to tell him so. The people are not allowed to mention the flotilla before the king, for it is a sensible subject. He does not even show any interest for his great royal spouse. Abubakari is hopeless when… ‘Mansa, a man came back!’. The king rushes to get news. The man he sees is frail. He is the captain of the last boat at the queue of the expedition. The man tells the king that after several days on the sea, the ships were sucked up by a sort of river with a powerful flow on the ocean and all the ships disappeared at the horizon. As he was afraid seeing it, the man turned back.

Abubakari concluded that his crews did not know to manage it. So, against all odds, he decided to handle things by himself. Surprised, his ministers and his traditional priests wondered silently ‘won’t this catastrophe make him give up?’. Nobody dares to contradict the most powerful man of Kama. Abubakari sets a new expedition with a new flotilla of 2000 boats built by the gigantic construction sites of Senegambia. Dressed in white and head dressed with a turban covered up with jewels, he points Kanku Musa as the temporary king and who may become the new king in case he does not come back. Wanting to mark his empire forever, he takes a last look on it. Mansa Abubakari Keita II takes place on the throne on the biggest boat and goes to meet his destiny.

The Mandingo Presence In Ancient America

They were from ‘warm countries’. They were ‘those who return’. They were often extremely black men who used to trade numerous objects. This was how the Indians used to describe the Mandingos whose one trader caste luxuriously dressed ended up becoming the supplier to the south and Central America’s markets 80 years before Christopher Columbus arrived. Those traders contributed to build temples in America, married native women, brought a contribution to the rise of the Aztec civilization. They enriched the Native American spirituality, which roots are essentially of African, and introduced by the first black inhabitants of America.

Mandingo head. Recognizable thanks to its large earrings West African women use, as described by the European explorers at that time. Source: They Came Before Columbus, Ivan Van Sertima, page 137.
Mandingo head. Recognizable thanks to its large earrings West African women use, as described by the European explorers at that time. Source: They Came Before Columbus, Ivan Van Sertima, page 137.

The divinity Quetzalcoatl is sometimes represented in Mexico as a Black man with a beard, dressed in white, who arrived 6 cycles after the last man who came from the foreign lands. This image, as well as the chronology seems to correspond to Abubakari’s arrival. Elements from the specific feathered snake cult of the Bambara people, called Dasiri, are found in America. Both cults call out for the rains. One can find the same ceremonies of auto flagellation of both sides of the Atlantic during this celebration at the beginning of the year. In addition, on both sides people were dressed in black to do so.

The high Mandingo priests as well as the Native Americans used to wear a Persian conical hat called Ko-fil-a in Bambara and Co-pill-I in Mexico. In both cultures, they used to practice black animals’ sacrifices. The cult of Nama-tigui or Aman-tigui of the Mandingo, which has a hyena for totem, corresponds exactly to the Aman-teca one for the Mexicans whose totem is the coyote. They also have the same sorcery practices, like hammering needles in dolls, wrongly attributed to the voodoo’s saint cult. The divinity Haure in the Caribbean has numerous similarities with the Mandingo Hore.

Black head from ancient America. Recognizable by its forwarded jaw (prognathism). Maybe mixed with Asian (native American). One can notice the scarifications common to African people. One can also notice the conical hat the Mandingo and Native Americans use. This sculpture is therefore a Mandingo representation. Source: They came before Columbus, Ivan Van Sertima, page 138
Black head from ancient America. Recognizable by its forwarded jaw (prognathism). Maybe mixed with Asian (native American). One can notice the scarifications common to African people. One can also notice the conical hat the Mandingo and Native Americans use. This sculpture is therefore a Mandingo representation.
Source: They came before Columbus, Ivan Van Sertima, page 138

Pochteca, the name the Indians used for the typical Mandingo merchant who would come regularly from 1407, is composed of Poch and Teca. Teca is a declination of Tigui that means ‘Master’. Poch declines from the Maya Polom that means ‘Merchant’. Polom-teca would be ‘Master of merchants’; what corresponds to Folom-tigi in the Mandingo world. Finally, the divinity Ek-Chuah, master of the merchants, is represented in America as Black, carrying merchandises on its head as African women do until now days. Many Mandingo words from the Arabic, taken during the contacts with the Arab merchants in Africa, have reached America, taken there by the rich African merchants.

This is a non-exhaustive list of the numerous similarities between the Native Americans and the Mandingo Ivan Van Sertima revealed. They prove that the Africans have returned to America a fourth time, 180 years before Christopher Columbus. Exchanges would continue until the time of the Songhay Empire, which was built with the conquest of Mali. These exchanges stopped with the African and Native American holocaust perpetrated by the Europeans.

Christopher Columbus himself reported that Portuguese sailors knew about boats leaving the West African coasts in the direction of America. He wrote that the Native Americans of Haiti told him Blacks were coming in big boats selling spears. Columbus analyzed one of these spears back in Spain, which ended up having the same composition of metals the spears of West Africa had “18 parts of gold, 6 of copper, 6 of silver”. It was obviously sold by the African merchants to Native Americans. Finally, Columbus himself and many other conquistadors reported to have seen Blacks in central America. The fifth contact, as we all know, was much more dramatic.

Obviously, it is necessary to read Ivan Van Sertima’s books, which are an absolute wonders, in order to get more information about this major chapter of the Kamit history.

Hotep!

By: Lisapo ya Kama © (All rights reserved. Any copying or translation of the text of this article is strictly forbbiden without the written approval of Lisapo ya Kama)

Notes :

  • They Came Before Columbus: the African presence in ancient America, Ivan Van Sertima.
  • Early America Revisited, Ivan Van Sertima
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