Saturday, December 29, 2012

Leo Africanus

Leo Africanus born al-Hasan ibn Muhammad al-Wazzan al-Fasi, an explorer best known for his book "Descriptions of Africa" ... Was part of the Moorish people (usually black muslims from North Africa ) born in Spain in 1494 in the province of Granada, which was allowed to practice religious freedom even after the Spaniards kicked out Jews and Muslims in 1492... His mother was a Black Jew(Hebrew), his father may have always been a Muslim(black Moor).... Leo was considered both a muslim because of his father and jewish because Jewish lineage is passed down through the mother. His family later moved to Morocco in Africa after the Catholic church of Spain became increasingly intolerant; there Leo converted to Islam. He enjoyed traveling and writing down what he saw, heard, and experienced on the continent of Africa. Later he was captured and taken to Rome where he converted to Christianity ( there is debate whether he did so freely or was forced).... He was Christened by the Pope as Johannes Leo de Medicis but preferred the Arabic version "Yuhanna al Asad" both basically meaning "John the Lion". and was later known as "Leo Africanus" because of his dark skin .... Leo was the first to propose that the name "Africa" comes from the Greek meaning "without cold or fear".... His book describing Africa exposed Europe to the city of Timbuktu in Mali with its great universities and academics, and the Songhai empire of West Africa which rivaled the greatness of Rome; this book was written in Arabic, Hebrew, and Latin but only the Arabic portion survived. Leo was captured primarily because the Romans recognized that he was educated and had many detailed maps of Africa; he later taught Arabic and eventually escaped back to North Africa. You can read more at :

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