“African Glory”: within the footsteps of the Mandinka explorer emperor Aboubakari II | EUROtoday

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IOnce upon a time… Except that few individuals know this story. It is that of the Mandinka Empire within the Middle Ages and its legendary navigator king, Aboubakari II, who undertook to cross the Atlantic with an armada of two,000 ships. It was 1311, 180 years earlier than Christopher Columbus. Did he succeed? Nobody is aware of. By lifting a nook of the veil on this epic within the documentary African GloryThierry Bugaud invitations us to ask ourselves questions and to rethink the historical past of the world. African Glory has already toured a number of festivals and gained awards. On May 23, the one-hour documentary was screened at UNESCO, on the event of African Week. It can even be broadcast in prime time on Canal+ in Africa, on Sunday May 26.

The synopsis opens a collection of questions: “Why was this story cursed within Mandinka culture? Why did the emperor want to mount such a gigantic expedition? He never came back, was he successful in his business? Has the American continent kept traces of the arrival of Aboubakari II on its soil? Could Christopher Columbus himself have known about his predecessor's expedition? Did the African man set foot in America as a king and not as a slave? »

Between fiction and reality, the documentary restores the Mandingo Empire to its rightful place in history: that of a powerful, expanding empire, rich from an economic, cultural and scientific point of view. Like a tale, it invites us to the heart of history, into the extraordinary adventure of Aboubakari II to cross the Atlantic. “I have been carrying out this project for more than twenty years,” says Thierry Bugaud. Filming in northern Mali, a nomad tells him the historical past of the Mandingo Empire. Subsequently, he’ll meet the good musician Cheick Tidiane Seck, who agrees to accompany him in his mission. Not solely does Cheick Tidiane Seck compose the music for the movie, however he additionally performs the daddy of Aboubakari II. “It is the voice ofAfrican Glory. »

The seal of secrecy and denial

Above all, to be able to tell this story, it was necessary to obtain authorization from the powerful brotherhood of hunters. This very old brotherhood (Mandingo secret society which holds traditional political powers) has kept the story of Aboubakari II secret. “I therefore had to obtain authorization from this brotherhood to open the doors of knowledge,” explains Thierry Bugaud. In the documentary, he movies his assembly with the chief of the hunters, within the sacred forest of the village of Kangaba within the south of Mali.

The griots didn’t sing about this journey of the explorer king who didn’t return. The disproportion of the mission – 1000’s of timber felled to construct the boats loaded with gold and meals, 1000’s of males on board – constituted a trauma. “Imagine the empire brutally deprived of its best men, who boarded these ships never to return. This is why in the Malinké tradition, and until today, this story is cursed and forbidden,” reveals the documentary. “I also encountered blockages and resistance within the scientific community which, until today, generally refuses to give credence to the evidence available to us,” the director additionally reveals.

If the story was not transmitted orally, a written hint exists. In the encyclopedia of the Arab geographer Al Omari, thought-about a dependable supply, a chapter describes the assembly between the Emperor of Mali, Kankou Moussa, and the Mamluk Sultan of Cairo. During this assembly, Kankou Moussa gave an in depth account of the extraordinary expedition initiated by his brother, Aboubakari II.

Fact and fiction intertwine

Could Christopher Columbus have recognized about his predecessor's expedition, the movie asks. At the tip of his life, the Genoese – performed by the good actor Michael Lonsdale – wrote the Book of Prophecies. In his work, round ten pages had been torn out. Instead, an inscription claims that they contained the very best of his revelations. Fiction takes priority. Christopher Columbus encloses his “revelations” in a bottle which he throws into the ocean.

“It was we who pushed this projection project within UNESCO, on the occasion of African week,” explains Amadou Opa Thiam, Mali’s ambassador to UNESCO, suggesting that this has no won’t have been as apparent as that. “The documentary was produced with great finesse. It opens up to reflection. Everything has not yet been said. The lifting of secrecy by the brotherhood of hunters was essential,” he feedback.

“Canal+’s support for co-production and broadcasting allowed us to make this project a reality,” acknowledges Thierry Bugaud. For her half, Grace Loubassou, director of institutional relations and CSR Africa at Canal+, insists: “We support a story that needs to be known. It is a part of history that has been forgotten or hidden. » She also observes that “unlike the series, this documentary will remain”.

“I will not come back, but my name will come back,” had been the final phrases of Aboubakari II earlier than his departure on the ocean. A parable that takes on which means by way of this documentary.

* African Glorya documentary by Thierry Bugaud to look at this Sunday, May 26, on Canal+ Première.