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Some sources claim that Malian soldiers arrived in the Americas in 1311 CE. For example, in Silicon Africa: 100 African Cities destroyed by Europeans:

Malian sailors got to America in 1311 AD, 181 years before Columbus. An Egyptian scholar, Ibn Fadl Al-Umari, published on this sometime around 1342. In the tenth chapter of his book, there is an account of two large maritime voyages ordered by the predecessor of Mansa Musa, a king who inherited the Malian throne in 1312. This mariner king is not named by Al-Umari, but modern writers identify him as Mansa Abubakari II.”

And according to 100 things that you did not know about Africa:

Malian sailors got to America in 1311 AD, 181 years before Columbus. An Egyptian scholar, Ibn Fadl Al-Umari, published on this sometime around 1342. In the tenth chapter of his book, there is an account of two large maritime voyages ordered by the predecessor of Mansa Musa, a king who inherited the Malian throne in 1312. This mariner king is not named by Al-Umari, but modern writers identify him as Mansa Abubakari II.

And in Born Black Magazine:

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.

Wikipedia only has this to say about it:

North African sources describe what some consider to be visits to the New World by a Mali fleet in 1311.[71]. According to these sources, 400 ships from the Mali Empire discovered a land across the ocean to the West after being swept off course by ocean currents. Only one ship returned, and the captain reported the discovery of a western current to Prince Abubakari II; the off-course Mali fleet of 400 ships is said to have conducted both trade and warfare with the peoples of the western lands. It is claimed that Abubakari II abdicated his throne and set off to explore these western lands. In 1324, the Mali king Mansa Musa is said to have told the Arabic historian, Al-Umari that "his predecessors had launched two expeditions from West Africa to discover the limits of the Atlantic Ocean."

All seem to source the claim to a 1342 book by Ibn Fadi Al-Umari, but the sources who describe this account seem to be mostly from an African perspective. That doesn't mean it's false, but I wonder why I don't get "normal" history sites when looking for this. Is this account of history generally accepted among historians, or should it be categorised as pseudohistory? Or is it more subtle than that?

BBC Source - http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/1068950.stm

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    Wikipedia's article on "Abu Bakr II" also writes: "The consensus among mainstream archaeologists, anthropologists, ethnohistorians, linguists, and other modern pre-Columbian scholars is that there is no evidence of any such voyage reaching the Americas ..." – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Nov 12 '14 at 18:45
  • No one knows if they came or not no one lived in 1311 who is still alive to answer this question for you so no there is no evidence to support this claim – SSpoke Jan 8 '15 at 14:02
  • I briefly searched for some sort of online treatise about Thor Heyerdahl's Ra Expeditions in 1969-1970, hoping they would provide links to historical records. Unfortunately, I found nothing substantial. Having read a couple of Heyerdahl's books, though, I would assume that his one on these expeditions would survey the historical record and folklore that motivated the expeditions, however. – Daniel R Hicks Feb 2 '18 at 20:32
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The originator of this version of history was Ivan van Sertima.

He authored They Came Before Columbus: The African Presence in Ancient America

A rebuttal of this work was published as Robbing Native American Cultures: Van Sertima's Afrocentricity and the Olmecs Current Anthropology vol. 38 pages 419-441. (alternative link)

There is hardly any claim in any of Van Sertima's writings that can be supported by the evidence found in the archeological, botanical, linguistic, or historical record.

  • There are some botanical indices. For instance a Capsicum frutescens (chilli pepper, a species native to South America) has been found in archaeological layers pre-dating Columbus. – liftarn Sep 7 '16 at 9:04
  • @SVilcans Found where? If Africa? – Kevin Wells May 23 '17 at 19:18
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    @KevinWells No, in Lund in southern Sweden actually. Found in a layer from the 13th century. The archaeobotanist Hakon Hjelmqvist also said that Capsicum was described by the Greek Theophrastus (370–286 BCE) in his Historia Plantarum, and in other sources. Around the first century CE, the Roman poet Martialis (Martial) mentioned "Piperve crudum" (raw pepper) in Liber XI, XVIII, allegedly describing them as long and containing seeds. – liftarn May 24 '17 at 9:55
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    So that is an indication that someone went to the America's before Columbus, but it isn't really evidence of the claim at hand, which is that African explorers were the ones to go there – Kevin Wells May 24 '17 at 15:31
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I'll try and take a stab at this, though I don't know if I have found enough non-circumstantial evidence to prove my conclusion. However, I also doubt that anyone without knowing Arabic or French and having access to select universities around the world could come up with more, as those are the only translations of Ibn Fadi's book I could find.

My conclusion: That this is a false claim based on research of the supposed source of the claim Ibn Fadl Al-Umari.

My only clear evidence comes from here: Cartographic-Images.net.

As you can see on the maps in the text there is no mention or thought of anything to the west of Africa.

Reading though the text, which is about the veracity of a specific set of maps. The maps are attributed to our above author Ibn Fadl Al-Umari, and an encyclopedia he compiled in 1342 from papers he had written in the late 1330's. The thought is that the maps are authentic and accurate copies of the originals.

It seems odd to me that someone who is the only attributed source for this claim, and someone who is a known important source of information on the African kingdoms of the time, would leave out any and all indication of a land to the west of Africa if he had a credible enough source to include the story in his encyclopedia.

(Alright so that wasn't as solid as I wanted but its only source material from his encyclopedia I could get my hands on.)

Source 2:A search of Literature of Travel and Exploration: An Encyclopedia edited by Jennifer Speake. This encyclopedia cites our author (Ibn Fadi) serval times in her work, not surprising since he had created his own maps and encyclopedia, and makes no mention to any expedition in 1311 by the Mali to the Americas.

Source 3: It is curious that a search for the author brings up many references to his work and autobiographies, clearly he is known in historical circles, yet none of them from legitimate sources mention his supposed story of the huge discovery of a land to the west by the Mali. Obviously a lack of evidence is not clear proof of no evidence but it does seem suspicious.*

Source 4: This focuses on a general search of medieval Mali. If the claim that Mali found the Americas is not included in a search then the single most mentioned Masa (king) from this time period is Masa Musa, and his incredible pilgrimage to Mecca. It is remarkable that such a well written about king does not get introduced (as far as I could find in several hours of research) with the story of his predecessor abdicating his throne to him so that he could travel across the atlantic to a new world.

As for the wikipedia article quoted above, according to the encyclopedia britannica Ibn Fadi did not come to Cairo until 12 years after Musa Mansa, and so could not have heard the story directly from the King, further casting doubt on the veracity of the story.

Finally I'll finish with the great find from @Tor-Einar Jarnbjo:

Wikipedia's article on "Abu Bakr II" also writes: "The consensus among mainstream archaeologists, anthropologists, ethnohistorians, linguists, and other modern pre-Columbian scholars is that there is no evidence of any such voyage reaching the Americas...

*Found some material from here including direct quotes from Ibn Fadi

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"An Egyptian scholar, Ibn Fadl Al-Umari, published Masalik ab Absar fi Mamalik al Amsar in Cairo around 1342. In the tenth chapter of this work, there is an account of two large maritime voyages ordered by the predecessor of Mansa Musa, a king who inherited the Malian throne in 1312. This mariner king is not named by Al-Umari, but modern writers identify him as Mansa Abubakari II."

http://www.whenweruled.com/?p=52

I'm not sure where one might find the book entitled "Masalik ab Absar fi Mamalik al Amsar", but it seems a bit dismissive to believe that the book never existing and the account in Chapter 10 was incorrect.

Here is a link to what appears to be an Italian language document at Academia.edu that references the book directly (judging by the dates being quoted).

http://www.academia.edu/1950791/Il_Marchese_di_Monferrato_nel_Masalik_al-absar_fi_mamalik_al-amsar_di_al-_Umari

Although, I'd be more apt to trust a direct translation from a native Arabic-speaker, of which there isn't a currently a shortage.

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    Welcome to Skeptics! This doesn't seem to answer the question. There is a big difference between "In 2004, a foreign academic mentioned a book from 1342, which describes a mariner king" and "In 1311, Malian sailors reached the Americas." It is not enough to "prove" the book exists. – Oddthinking Nov 28 '15 at 1:30
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There is scientific evidence to support Africans - specifically the Mali King Abu Bakr II landed in Mexico traded and possibly became stranded with the natives there.

Columbus's voyage and logs themselves document the presences of Africans in America before the conquest and colonization by European slavers.

  1. Pre-Columbian Mandika coins found in New Mexico and Arizona.
  2. DNA evidence of indigenous Mexican in the Olmec regions where Abu Bakr II and his men landed and traded with Ancient Mexicans.
  3. Carvings of Lions, Elephants and other African artifacts being unearthed in Mexico, Arizona and New Mexico.
  4. Linguistic studies of African and Native cultures in Mexico, Peru and Brazil reveal African Mandika inluences and connections.

Here are some non-Muslim & white sources that validate Africans came to America before Columbus.

  • H. Lawrence, Manding Voyages, 229-230, taken from Giles Cauvert, Les Berberes en Amerique, 100-101.

  • William Bowman A new and Accurate description of the Coast of Guinea (Liverpool, 1907) 73-74

  • Leo Weiner, Africa and the Discovery, 34

  • Peter DeRoo, African Discovery of America

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    @DenisStallings the sources are copied from this link: historyofislam.com/… , although the title for Peter DeRoo's work is "History of America before Columbus". – DavePhD Feb 2 '18 at 19:03
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    Regardless as to whether or not Malian sailors reached the Americas in 1311, the Vikings certainly did before that. – gerrit Feb 2 '18 at 20:10
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    @Hamza: Sorry, but we don't care about your political opinions. I have edited most of them away, to focus on the claimed facts. – Oddthinking Feb 3 '18 at 1:21
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    -1: It appears to me like the references have been plagiarised from other sources without reading them. If you genuinely do have access to these books, please include some relevant quotes, so we can see that they that support your position without spending hours hunting down the references. – Oddthinking Feb 3 '18 at 1:24

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