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500th Anniversary of Magellan-Awang Global Circumnavigation

ISTAC Special Forum: Panglima Awang@Enrique de Malacca
September 2019 is a significant moment in the history of global circumnavigation. It marks the 500th anniversary of Ferdinand Magellan's first circumnavigation of the earth expedition (1519), which was also participated by his right hand man cum navigator and interpreter, Enrique@Henry the Black@Panglima Awang - the famous Malay slave taken from Melaka 
(Some claimed that Awang was from Sumatra, but most authoritative sources agreed that he was a native of Melaka).

Some historical context or prelude to the mission:
1492 marked the end of the Muslim rule in Spain. This soon led to the Treaty of Tordesillas which literally divided the world into two; Portuguese and Spanish (The other expedition was led by Columbus, who "founded" the "New World"). 

20 years later, Melaka fell to the Portuguese colonisers in 1511. A few years later Awang (his real name is unknown. Awang is regarded as a common Malay name, named by Harun Aminurrashid in his novel) was captured by the Portuguese and taken to Lisbon, Portugal where he served as a loyal slave and sailor to Ferdinand Magellan in his globetrotting expedition.

Magellan however did not complete the mission as he was killed in Cebu, Philippines, by the native folks. The fact that Awang succeeded in reaching the Malay world from Europe - thus completing his journey from Melaka to Europe back to the Malay world (westward) - is indisputable among scholars. The only question is whether he successfully went back home to Melaka, from the Filipino islands.

Among the first men to complete the mission was Magellan's fellow traveler, Juan Sebastián Elcano, and most importantly, the Italian scholar and chronicler, Antonio Pigafetta, who wrote the book, "First Voyage Around the World by Magellan". 

Without him we would know nothing about Magellan's expedition and the existence of Enrique@Panglima Awang.

[Image: Forum on Panglima Awang by Prof Murad Merican (third from left) and Prof Salleh Yaapar (partially hidden), moderated by Prof Osman Bakar. Notable guests: Prof Farid Alatas (left) and Prof Zaleha Kamaruddin (second from left)]

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