Shihāb al-Dīn Abū al-‘Abbās Aḥmad b. Faḍl Allāh al-'Umarī (شهاب الدين أبو العبّاس أحمد بن فضل الله العمري), or simply al-‘Umarī, 1300 – 1349) was an Arab historian, born in Damascus. al-Umari visited Cairo shortly after the Malian Mansa Kankan Musa I's pilgrimage to Mecca, and his writings are one of the primary sources for this legendary hajj. In particular, al-Umari recorded that the Mansa dispensed so much gold that its value fell in Egypt for a decade afterward, a story that is often repeated in describing the wealth of the Mali Empire.
al-Umari also recorded Kankan Musa's stories of the previous mansa; Kankan Musa claimed that the previous ruler had abdicated the throne to journey to a land across the ocean, leading contemporary Malian historian Gaoussou Diawara to theorize that Abubakari reached the Americas years before Christopher Columbus. Some of his work can be found in the Corpus of Early Arabic Sources for West African History.
Its French translation by Gaudefroy-Demombynes says: "In the North of Mali there live white Berbers under their ruler. Their tribes are Antasar, Yantar'aras, Meddusa and Lemtuna ... I asked their ruler Sultan Musa Ibn Amir Hajib (who was in Egypt returning from the pilgrimage): "How had you become ruler?" He replied: "We belong to a family where the son succeeds the father in power. The ruler who preceded me did not believe that it was impossible to reach the extremity of the ocean that encircles the earth (meaning Atlantic), and wanted to reach to that (end) and obstinately persisted in the design. So he equipped two hundred boats full of men, as many others full of gold, water and victuals sufficient enough for several years. He ordered the chief (admiral) not to return until they had reached the extremity of the ocean, or if they had exhausted the provisions and the water. They set out. Their absence extended over a long period, and, at last, only one boat returned. On our questioning, the captain said: 'Prince, we have navigated for a long time, until we saw in the midst of the ocean as if a big river was flowing violently. My boat was the last one; others were ahead of me. As soon as any of them reached this place, it drowned in the whirlpool and never came out. I sailed backwards to escape this current.' But the Sultan would not believe him. He ordered two thousand boats to be equipped for him and for his men, and one thousand more for water and victuals. Then he conferred on me the regency during his absence, and departed with his men on the ocean trip, never to return nor to give a sign of life."
This, however, does not mention Akubakari.
- Kingdom of Mali - Boston University: African Studies Center
- "Echos of What Lies Behind the 'Ocean of Fogs' in Muslim Historical Narratives". muslimheritage.com. Retrieved 27 June 2015.