Thursday, October 29, 2009

Leo Africanus 1

This book takes a very different perspective on history than the previous two books, it is told through the eyes of one man and his experiences. In this week’s reading, Hasan introduces himself and his family. He talks about his father’s multiple wives and about his birth celebration. He first explains the dynamics between his father’s two wives, one being his mother and the other woman being a slave girl. His mother and father were cousins and engaged to be married from an early age. At the time of Hasan’s birth, he said it was Ramadan and people broke the fast celebrating his birth. Also, he talks about the Sultan Albu’l-Hasan ‘Ali that held military parades to exhibit his power in Granada. Hasan said that on the 10th day of the parade, there were many fights breaking out and one man was killed and several were wounded. The sultan did not care so much about his country, but rather only pleasuring himself with fortune and slave girls. The sultan was extremely disliked and ended up being removed from power July 14th, 1482.

I thought the dynamics between Salma and Warda were interesting. Salma hears a quote from Gaudy Sarah stating, “For us, the women of Granada, freedom is a deceitful form of bondage, and slavery a subtle form of freedom,” This quote was really interesting because even though Salma was the free woman, she envied Warda being a slave because she was able to go out “unveiled, sing, dance, pour wine, wink her eyes…” It is interesting because society does not have high expectations for how a slave girl should act and thus, in a way she ends up having the freedom to be herself without restraint.


  1. I really like that you brought up this quote, I forgot about it while blogging, but it really made an impression upon me as well. I feel very badly for Salma and the tons of other women in her position at this time and throughout all of history. It is so sad to see how men expected their wives to be nothing but their child-bearer / homemaker. Being a wife in the 15th century must have been better than being an unmarried outcast, but still, being a wife must have been painful. . .although there was really no other option. Women generally didn’t know of a life of freedom or choice, so although I’m sure they were not satisfied or happy with their lives, “you can’t miss what you never had”. I would bet that Warda did have a much more enjoyable life than Salma. She had all the luxuries a wife had, with less of the burden of supplying a child because her life really did not depend on it. She was allowed to do what she wanted and act how she wanted without the constraints or stress of fear of rumors or her husband’s wrath.

  2. Yeah, if you exclude the whole part where she was bought and forced to have sex with some guy who would endanger the lives of his first two unborn babies by dragging them up and down the street at a dangerous hour. At least Salma knew what she was getting into. Then again it wasn't as if Salma's marriage was much of a love match either.