In commemoration of Black History Month

CAF celebrates the success and milestones of some African-Arabs who have made their mark in history

estevanicoEstevanico, also known as “Mustafa Zemmouri (c. 1500–1539) was born in Morocco and was sold into slavery in 1513 in the Portuguese town of Azemmour and later sold to a Spanish nobleman and taken in 1527 on the Spanish Narváez Expedition.  Estevanico was the first known person born in Africa to have arrived in the present-day continental United States. Estevanico, learned five Native American languages and sign language. He was also a self-made medicine man. Because of his talents, he became a scout and mediator between the Native Americans and the Spaniards. Later, Estevanico served as the main guide for a return expedition to the Southwest where he was killed in the Zuni city of Hawikuh in 1539.


antara‘Antara Ibn Shaddād al-‘Absī (525-608) was the son of Shaddād, a well-respected member of the Arabian tribe of Banu Abs. His mother, Zabibah was an Ethiopian woman, whom Shaddad enslaved after a tribal war. The tribe neglected Antara at first, and he grew up in servitude. Antara gained attention and respect for himself by his remarkable personal qualities and courage in battle, excelling as an accomplished poet and a mighty warrior. He earned his freedom during battle when his father said to him: “Antara fight with the warriors”. Antara responded “The slave doesn’t know how to invade or how to defend, but the slave is only good for milking goats and serving his masters”. Then his father uttered the famous words: “Defend your tribe O Antara and you are free”. Antara’s poetry is well preserved, and often talks of chivalrous values, courage and heroism in battle, as well as his love for Abla.


malikaMalika Zarra is a Moroccan-born, singer, composer, and music producer now based in New York City. Known for singing in Moroccan Arabic, Berber, French, and English, her music has been on the JazzWeek Top 20 radio chart in world music. Zarra’s music is influenced by traditional Berber music, Gnawa music, Chaabi, French popular music, jazz, house, funk, dance, and traditional African music.


moDr. Mohamed “Mo” Ibrahim, born 1946 in North Sudan is a British mobile communications entrepreneur and billionaire. He worked for several other telecommunications companies before founding Celtel, which when sold, had over 24 million mobile phone subscribers in 14 African countries. After selling Celtel in 2005 for $3.4 billion, he set up the Mo Ibrahim Foundation to encourage better governance in Africa, as well as creating the Mo Ibrahim Index, to evaluate a nations’ performance. He is also a member of the Africa Regional Advisory Board of London Business School. In 2007 he initiated the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership, which awards a $5 million initial payment, and a $200,000 annual payment for life to African heads of state who deliver security, health, education and economic development to their constituents and democratically transfer power to their successors.


bahiyaBahiya Mansour Al-Hamad was born on June 21, 1992 in Qatar. She is a Qatari rifle shooter and Olympian. Bahiya was the Qatari flag bearer at the 2012 Summer Olympics.  Bahiya was named by the Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) as “Best Female Athlete of the Year 2011-2012”. She qualified for the 1st Youth Olympic Games – 2010 Singapore, where she was the flag-bearer at the Opening Ceremonies. Bahiya made her Olympic debut for Qatar at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. She placed 17th out of 56 at the Women’s 10 Metre Air Rifle competition.


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