Africa’s greatest explorer was an emperor from Mali who ruled during the 14th century. And there is evidence that he was even the world’s greatest explorer, with many historians believing that the emperor from Mali discovered the Americas before Christopher Columbus. Abubakari II ruled what was once thought to be the largest and richest empire on earth. His empire stretched across all of West Africa.
A book written by a Malian scholar Gaoussou Diawara notes that at one point he gave up all of his riches, gave up all the power and gold for the adventure of knowledge and discovery. Apparently, he left Mali with over 2,000 ships and intended to find out if the Atlantic ocean had another bank, like the great River Niger that went through Mali. In 1311, there are records that he handed the throne over to his brother and left on an expedition into the unknown.
There is of course evidence that the Vikings and even the Chinese did cross the Atlantic ocean far before the Mali emperor and Christopher Columbus. But records show Abubakari II left what would be known as Gambia today with boats filled with livestock, people and drinking water. Many believe he landed in Brazil in around 1312, at what would presently be known as Recife.
This is because Recife has another name, an ancient name, which is Purnanbuco which linguistics believe is a way of saying rich goldfields. And rich goldfields are what accounted to much of the wealth that caused the rapid rise of the Mali Empire. Historians also note that even Columbus’s own records mention that he found black traders already present in the Americas.
The most telling tale though is when scientists performed chemical traces on the gold found on spears in the Americas, which showed the gold had most likely originated from West Africa. The reason this amazing story is not really well known or well reported is due to how the original historians of Mali reacted. Known as the Griots they were charged with recording everything that happened in the Mali Empire, but they found his abdication shameful and decided to place a seal of silence on his story. This meant no songs or stories were told about the great African man.