Category Archives: Africa

Building pyramids of Trust? Christians and Muslims discuss co-existence

Top Muslim and Christian clerics from the Middle East gathered in Cairo on Tuesday for a two-day conference on promoting co-existence, as sectarian conflict continues to ravage the region. The “Freedom and Citizenship” conference is hosted by Al-Azhar, one of the leading Sunni Muslim authorities based in Cairo. It comes as Coptic Christians in Egypt’s […]

via Al-Azhar hosts meeting on co-existence between Muslims and Christians — A Center of Christian-Muslim Engagement for Peace and Justice: News and Views

Christmas and Id-al-Fitr – religious harmony in practice

Can’t resist posting this, our first blog, again this year!

Father Christmas

float used at the procession for the lantern festival on the eve of Id-al-Fitr (the end of Ramadan), taken by Humphrey Fisher in Freetown, Sierra Leone, January 12th, 1967. Freetown is on the Atlantic coast of Africa, and Humphrey spent Christmas 2013  with us on the Atlantic coast in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.

Reflecting on his life spanning Islam and Christianity, we decided to start this blog together.

Religious tolerance

has been a hallmark of Humphrey’s view of life. He has engaged with so many different Christian denominations in his life (spirituality) and in his research (Africa). While his academic career developed his focus on Islam south of the Sahara, his personal life drew him to become a Quaker and later to be ordained in the Church in Wales. And one of his earliest articles was on religious toleration among Muslim and other religious groups in West Africa, published in Patterns of Prejudice, a journal of the Institute of Jewish Affairs.

At this time of the birth of Jesus, so important in Islam and Christianity, we wish you

Joy &

Peace

at this time; may we nourish the seeds of

Hope

with love together throughout the coming year.

(posted by Thomas and Julie)

How Islam came to Sierra Leone: interview in Vai / English with al-Hajj Brimah, 1967

Humphrey’s main research interest during his 1966-67 trip to Sierra Leone was the arrival and subsequent history of Islam in that country. Here he recorded an interview with al-Hajj Brimah on 2/6/1967. Al-Hajj Brimah speaks in Vai, through a translator. He describes how the Muslim religion came to Sierra Leone: initially through the Mandingo people, who arrived from Guineau via Liberia.

To hear the interview, click on the white triangle below.

If this does not work in your browser, click HERE to open a new tab and hear the audio.

Humphrey’s 1967 journal describes this interview from page 1311 onwards: this will be added in a another post later this year.

The photo was taken earlier that year on 13/1/67, the feast of Id-al-Fitr at the end of Ramadan, in Klinetown, Freetown.

Atlantic currents?

Boxing Day, 2013, Howmore, South Uist
Boxing Day, 2013, Howmore, South Uist
Atlantic coast, York Beach, Freetown, 1967
Atlantic coast, York Beach, Freetown, 1967

Here is Humphrey, with son and granddaughter, on Boxing Day 2013 on the Atlantic beach at Howmore on the Isle of South Uist (Scotland) – here are Humphrey’s family (including the same son, Thomas?) and friends on York Beach in Sierra Leone almost 50 years earlier. Sand and rocks, grass and seaweed …

What should this blog be called, spanning Africa, Palestine, Canada, Peru, Wales? We thought of ‘transatlantic currents‘, but the war experiences cover Peru on the Pacific coast and Palestine and Egypt on the Mediterranean. In mentioning slaves in the context of Africa and the Americas, most people will automatically think of the transatlantic slave trade. But Humphrey’s research was on African slaves captured and owned by other Africans in Africa, drawing in particular on the extraordinary writings of the German explorer Nachtigal.  Nachtigal’s account in fact covered his travels over five and a half years in the Sahara to countries like Libya, Chad and the Sudan (including Darfur), but not his time in West Africa, where he eventually died. Humphrey himself visited the Sudan as an external examiner, a trip recorded in one of his many African journals.

Maybe an all-embracing title simply cannot capture the diversity of Humphrey’s life. (posted by Thomas and Julie)

Christmas and Id-al-Fitr

We celebrated Christmas 2013 with Humphrey on the Atlantic coast in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.  Reflecting on his life spanning Islam and Christianity, one of his early photos caught our attention: the Father Christmas float used at the lantern festival on the eve of Id-al-Fitr (the end of Ramadan) in another Atlantic country – in Freetown, Sierra Leone, January 12th, 1967.

Religious tolerance has been a hallmark of Humphrey’s view of life. He has engaged with so many different Christian denominations in his life (spirituality) and in his research (Africa). While his academic career developed his focus on Islam south of the Sahara, his personal life drew him to become a Quaker and later to be ordained in the Church in Wales. And one of his earliest articles was on religious toleration among Muslim groups in West Africa, published in Patterns of Prejudice, a journal of the Institute of Jewish Affairs. (posted by Thomas and Julie)

Click here for Welcome to Humphrey’s blog

Welcome to Humphrey Fisher’s new blog.  Humphrey turned 80 in 2013, and this blog of his celebrates the diversity of his interests and contributions.  These range widely from his childhood experiences as a war child evacuee to North America to his academic career at London University specialising in Islamic history in Africa south of the Sahara.  They also cover very diverse religious experiences across different faiths, particularly Christianity and Islam,  Humphrey’s engagement with a hugely important African explorer, Gustav Nachtigal, as well as Humphrey’s own travels in Africa, and tales from the Welsh borders, where Humphrey has lived since 1986.  Much of this material constitutes valuable primary historical source material for future generations.

We hope you enjoy travelling with Humphrey through his blog.  Do take the opportunity to stop at passing places on the way, and to post your own comments!

This blog was set up with Humphrey by his son and daughter-in-law, Thomas and Julie in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland (where the photo was taken).  It will grow with contributions from Humphrey,  his family, his friends as well as his great computer teacher, Marianne Hall.  Thanks go to Gordon Wells and the Island Voices project, for giving us much advice.

The archival sound recordings and slides, especially from Africa, which will gradually appear on this blog, were digitised at the Uist Digitisation Centre (in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland), where Julie used to work.  Many thanks to all the staff who worked so diligently and carefully on this archival material.