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Least Known Facts About Mansa Abubakari II Exploration

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Is there an African leader today, who would hand over power to go on an exploration mission? As bizarre as it sounds, that’s what the former emperor of Mali, Mansa Abubakari II did during his tenure. He was the country’s ruler in the 1300s and was one of the wealthiest in the world. 

He traded in gold, cowrie shells, salt, and ivory among other items that enlarged the kingdom’s wealth. However, it’s his curiosity for adventure that bemused many and in this article, we examine the facts behind it.

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Going beyond the Atlantic Ocean

West Africa’s relationship with the Americas may have began with sailors, explorers and kings. Video Credit: IlmFeed

According to historians, Abubakari II was interested in finding out what lay beyond the Atlantic Ocean. He didn’t want to resign himself to the possibility that it was beyond human capacity to figure this out so he commissioned at least 200 to 400 ships to make a discovery. However, only one ship returned and the captain only had terrible things to say about the adventure.

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Abubakar II Dismissed the Fears

Despite a huge number of the fleet sent out not returning, the emperor didn’t investigate what happened. Instead, he ignored the stories that were told about the rough shores and dared to plan another mission.

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Abdicated Duty to Pursue the Atlantic Ocean

Mansa Abubakar’s II Voyage. Video Credit: Robert Wesley Branch

Abubakari II was convinced that he could successfully go through the Atlantic. After the initial mission failed, he handed over power to his brother Kankou “Mansa” Musa and set off to the sea. He left through the Gambia with 2,000 vessels along with food, water, wives and gold. He’s believed to have told his vessels not to turn back unless they ran out of resources.

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Abubakari II’s Disappeared

Unfortunately, the brave and bold Abubakari II never returned to share the tales of his travels. No one knows what happened to him or where he ended up but that hasn’t stopped people from speculating about his whereabouts. 

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In his book “The Saga of Abubakari II, Malian author Gadoussou Diawara believes he reached Brazil and lived there. He further claimed that the Griots, whom he describes as the original historians, know the true version of events and only they have an accurate picture of what happened. However, they refused to talk about it as they found Abubakari’s abdication of duty shameful.

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His Journey is Debatable 

Some historians believe that Abubakari II never made the journey across the Atlantic Ocean as there wasn’t any evidence. Nonetheless, many have agreed that it affirmed the existence of black Africans in America before Columbus reached there.

Mansa Abubakari II showed another side of him, that many leaders fail to show. He believed in something greater and not only did he send people out, he undertook the task himself. Even though he didn’t get the results he wanted, his determination and conviction are marks of a true leader. 

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Agnes Amondi
Agnes Amondi
Agnes Amondi is a sports enthusiast who enjoys sharing sports knowledge. Over the years, she has also written on different niches, and she now brings that experience at Spotcovery. She writes sports content and also, Arts & Culture, Recipe, Beauty and more.


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