I was invited to Muslimfest 2010 held at Mississauga, Ontario. This was an amazing event and throughout the weekend I was greeted with such sincere hospitality. I met many inspiring artists who confirmed the reasons why I love attending such events. All my thanks go to the wonderful organizers and volunteers!
This specific mural invites viewers to reflect on the contribution of all the different civilizations in the creation of humanity and our common histories. This is primarily displayed through a depiction of the Empire of Timbuktu, whose many adventurers landed on the shores of the Americas years before Columbus.
The mural “History or His Story” seeks to highlight the oft over-looked contributions of Muslims in the story of our civilization. Whether accidentally or purposefully neglected in the mainstream historical narrative, the Golden Age of Islam and the Empire of Mali have not been given due credit for their advanced knowledge of the world and their discoveries. Decades before Christopher Columbus was even born, other peoples and Empires had reached the continent of the Americas. Such people include the Phoenicians, the Vikings and the Mandinkas, whose Malian Empire revolved around the ancient city of Timbuktu. Therefore, it is an unfair statement to claim that Columbus ‘discovered’ the Americas in 1492, but rather, that the Americas discovered them – to their own peril.
Led by the King Abou Bakr 2, the Mandinkas people reached the Americas in the early 14th century. Numerous detailed accounts of such voyages have even been recorded in Christopher Columbus’s memoires! Columbus himself acknowledged the undeniable evidence that situated the Mandinkas people in America well before 1492. Such revealing facts have been hushed or swept aside by our cultural imaginary, which has now become a universal phenomenon due to the onset of globalization and an era of cultural and psychological colonization. The constructs of such a hegemonic historical narrative must be questioned and rectified in order to re-balance the agency of different peoples, cultures and religions; not just in order to re-read history, but also to empower those disenfranchised in our current age.