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Article

Jeremy Rich

historian and religious leader, was born on 24 June 1846. His father, Henry, was a member of the Saro community, a large group of people who had been liberated from slave ships by the British Navy and then resettled in the British coastal colony of Sierra Leone. Like many other Saro individuals, Johnson’s father originally came from a Yoruba-speaking community in southwest Nigeria. Henry Johnson came from a royal pedigree, as he was the grandson of Alaafin Abiodun, king of the Oyo Empire in the late eighteenth century. Johnson married a Saro woman named Sarah, and their son Samuel was born in the Hastings village near Freetown. Samuel was the third of four children.

By the 1850s, many Saro chose to return to their home regions, and the Johnson family followed this trend by moving to back to Yorubaland in December 1857 There Henry Johnson became an assistant ...

Article

Eric Young

A renowned civil servant, soldier, and labor organizer, André Matsoua’s career continued even after his death. As a youth he studied to become a priest but resigned in 1919 to join the colonial customs service. He later traveled to France and joined the army, serving in North Africa during World War I. In 1926 he settled in Paris, where he became involved in labor-union organizing and founded Amicale, a self-help organization. Seeking recruits and financial contributions, the movement spread to the French Moyen-Congo, where the colonial administration, upset by Matsoua’s outspoken opposition to the discriminatory indigenant, or indigenous, classification of many Congolese, arrested him in 1929.

Although Matsoua was by then a legal French citizen an African traditional court in Brazzaville sentenced him to three years in prison and a decade in exile in Chad Six years later he escaped was soon caught escaped again and found his way ...

Article

Stephen Cory

was a Moroccan Jew who served, along with other members of his family, as a representative to the Dutch Republic on behalf of the ʿAlawi sultan Mawlay Ismaʿil during the late seventeenth century. The success of the Toledanos as emissaries for the Moroccan government reflects the considerable influence that certain Jewish families possessed in Morocco at the beginning of the ʿAlawi period.

By the seventeenth century the Moroccan government already had a long tradition of using Jewish diplomats as their representatives in European capitals There were two major reasons for this policy First many Moroccans felt the need to avoid direct contact with European infidels since such contact was believed by some to defile a Muslim religiously Jews who made up the largest religious minority in Morocco and who were already considered to be infidels themselves were more willing to conduct business with the Europeans This preference was magnified by ...

Article

Matteo Salvadore

Ethiopian cleric, known in Europe as Zaga Zabo or Tsega Zabo, traveled to Lisbon and Bologna in 1527 as representative of Emperor Dawit II (1508–1540) to King João III (1521–1557). While in Lisbon he drafted a confession of faith that Portuguese humanist Damião de Góis (1502–1574) printed in 1540 as Fides religio moresque Aethiopum sub imperio Preciosi Ioannis degentium. The facts of Tsega Ze’ab’s upbringing remain unknown: when the 1520s Portuguese mission to Ethiopia led by Don Rodrigo de Lima (1500–?) reached Emperor Dawit II’s court, Tsega was already a distinguished cleric helping in the writing and translating of the emperor’s letters to João III, and he was later selected to represent Ethiopia at his court. To this purpose he joined the Portuguese party on its way back to Lisbon, which he reached in 1527 Traveling in the company of the mission s chaplain Francisco Álvares 1465 c ...

Article

Matthew K. Myers

Franciscan friar who converted to Islam and wrote polemical works supporting Islam against Christianity, was born in what is now known as Palma, Mallorca. Turmeda was his father’s only son and was possibly of Jewish descent. Mentioned as a witness in the will of James IV (c. 1336–1375), pretender to the throne of Mallorca, Turmeda’s father, Pere Silvestre, was a prominent figure in the community and a member of the weavers’ textile guild. Turmeda was conversant in both Catalan and Arabic as well as being experienced with Italian, French, Castilian, Latin, and Aramaic, allowing him to function as an interpreter and rise to positions of authority and prominence under the Hafsid Sultan of Tunis Abuʿl-Abbas Ahmad (r. 1370–1394) and his son Abu Faris ʿAbd al-Aziz (r. 1394–1434). The account of his conversion to Islam from Christianity is among the few such extant works.

Turmeda undertook training for the Christian priesthood ...

Article

Christine D. Baker

vizier of the Fatimid Caliph al-ʿAziz (d. 996) in Cairo, was born in Baghdad in 930. His full name was Abu al-Faraj Yaʿqub ibn Yusuf Ibn Killis. As a child, he traveled to Syria with his father where he eventually became a merchant’s agent in Ramla. Later in life, he traveled to Egypt, where he entered the service of the Ikhshid dynasty (935–969), who were nominal vassals of the ʿAbbasid Caliphate of Baghdad. In the service of the Ikhshids, Yaʿqub ibn Killis rose to preeminence as the chief of financial administration, but it was not until he entered the service of the Fatimid Caliphate in North Africa that he achieved his great renown.

Born a Jew Yaʿqub ibn Killis is famous for embracing Ismaʿili Shiʿism It is reported that he embraced Islam in 967 while in the service of the Ikhshids The Ikhshid governor Kafur 905 968 was so impressed ...