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Africa and «the brutish museums»


Leo Afrikaneren
Caravans of Gold – Fragments in Time – Art Culture and Exchanges Across Medieval Saharan Africa
The Brutish Museums
The Whole Picture

CULTURAL HISTORY: It is necessary to relinquish ownership of the colonial loot. The treasures of European museums have been stolen. And what about the Cultural History Museum in Oslo – which is also on the list of museums that have Benin's stolen bronze sculptures?

When I saw them snow-covered a few years ago The Atlas Mountains from a rooftop in Marrakesh, in the south Morocco, I suddenly came to think of the descriptions of Leo Afrikaneren (ca. 1485–1554). Or al-Hasan ibn Muhammad al-Wazzan al-Fasi, as he was originally called when he was born in Granada, Spain. Like most Jews and Muslims, he and his family had to flee across the Mediterranean and to Africa when the Inquisition banned them in Catholic Spain from August 1492.

And that was where Leo the African came, to the mountains of present-day Morocco. He began studying in Fez, a little further north, at al-Karaouine University – founded as a madrasa (school) by the Muslim woman Fatima al-Fihri (d. 880) in the year 859.
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Dag Herbjørnsrud
Former editor of MODERN TIMES. Now head of the Center for Global and Comparative History of Ideas.

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