So, you want to know who Abu Bakr II was?
Abu Bakr, also known as Abubakari was a Mansa ( a king or ruler) of the legendary Malian Empire.
To me, Abu Bakr was the first true African explorer cited in history. He was also a brave entrepreneur. He had a vision.
Now, let me tell you the story of this brave man.
Abubakari lived in the XIV century. He had a privileged position as a ruler in an empire that later became one of the largest of West African history. There is so much to tell about this amazing kingdom that we would have to dedicate an entire different blog to the topic. (if you want to learn something new, click here.).
I would outline these three aspects of Abu Bakr II´s story:
1) The Malian Empire consisted of various kingdoms. All of these kingdoms pledged allegiance to Mali by offering annual tributes. The government collected taxes from the citizens whereas the goods coming in and out were heavily taxed as well.
2)The legendary city of Timbuktu was famous as a centre of learning, cultural exchange and spectacular architecture.
3)“The Manden Charter,” also called Kurukan Fuga is possibly the first Declaration of Human Rights in history. Created in year 1235, as the constitution of the Malian Empire, one of the oldest ever created. This precious letter is on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Read it, and be surprised about the deepness of its content. The Manden Charter is an exquisite exercise of humanity promoting love, peace and fraternity for all humankind.
Abu Bakr II lived in this prosperous land surrounded by abundance and political stability. Therefore he had power and influence. Yet he decided to achieve an extraordinary goal, something that was not expected from a man like him. He dreamed of reaching the other end of the ocean.
The way I see it, he was impelled by ambition, hungry for success and,especially, driven by curiosity
He wondered what was on the other side, what peoples, goods, landscapes and opportunities laid at the reach of a boat.
- Expedition number 1: He then put together and sent out a team of two hundred boats full of men, as many others full of gold, water and enough provisions for several years. After a long period of time, only one boat returned. The captain of this boat referred to a big river that had swallowed up the rest of the vessels and related how he avoided the whirlpool by sailing backwards.
- Expedition number 2: After such a terrible occurrence, instead of moving on and forgetting about his dream, Abu Bakr II again reorganized his resources, instructing for two thousand boats to be fitted for him and for his men, and one thousand more for water and provisions. He then conferred the regency to Mansa Musa, boarded with his men and left to never again return or give a sign of life.
Nobody knows what happened to Abu Bakr II. However, we have learned the following about his character:
- He was an entrepreneur by heart.
- He was audacious and a little crazy in the eyes of his contemporaries.
- He wanted to leave his comfort zone, connect with others and challenge his own limits.
- He was authentic to himself.
- He did not conform with the role that was given to him by society.
- He decided to be the lead of his own destiny.
In my humble opinion what happened to him is not really what we should focus. What matters is how he tried and overcame obstacles, how persistent and loyal he was to his initial vision.
Can you imagine what would have happened if Abu Bakr II had indeed reached the extremity of the ocean?
and initiated a new route of cultural exchange and trade between Africa and America? How would history have changed by now?
I must confess that I have been impressed by the story of this man, which somehow has pushed me a little on this crazy venture of entrepreneurship. I thought if I shared it, it might say something to you too. My new friend Reyane from Kenia, though, believes this man to have wasted countless resources and lives, including his own, chasing “Fool’s Gold”.
Do you agree? Would things have been better off had he not tried to change his reality and that of the people that lived around him? How have the big changes in society been forged?
In my humble opinion his achievement was not about embarking on a project regardless of the consequences, but more about being brave enough to plan, organize, schedule and execute such a complex move, believing that it would improve people’s lives or at least make significant changes to the status quo in the place he lived. This is what an entrepreneur means for us. If you are one, click here.
I would like to ask you to think deeply what makes you want to be an entrepreneur: What do you want to achieve? What keeps you inspired and motivated each day?
At Frontae, this is our motivation.
Keep the dream alive!