Sa’id of Mogadishu is the man history well documents as Africa’s first
ambassador to one of the Asian economic powerhouses China.
In modern times, Africa is majorly identified and branded as a tourism hub
that boasts of wildlife safari experiences among other beautiful and
Save for political turmoil bubbling from East to North Africa, the content is
highly regarded for its history that has shaped the world.
Take a look from the Pharaohs and Pyramids of Egypt to the kingdoms and
empires of West, North and Southern Africa and you will acknowledge
Africa’s rich history.
In this rich history, one man, despite being rarely mentioned in most
history books stands out for his achievements in pinning the continent in the world’s map.
This man who has not been mentioned in many debates on the continent’s
glittering past is the Sai’d of Mogadishu.
Sa’id was born in 1301 in Mogadishu, then a thriving town under the rule of
the Ajuran Sultanate.
The Sultanate was an empire controlled vast territories in modern-day
According to historical references about Sa’id, his childhood, and early life
However, it is stated he left Mogadishu as a young boy and went to the
Islamic Holy Cities of Mecca and Medina where he immersed himself in
education and religious teachings for 28 years.
In that period of close to a decade, Sa’id became a famous scholar.
This status earned him respect among rulers and princes in the Arabian
Scholars have written that Sa’id would get an audience with Amir’s of Medina and Mecca and in the process gained plenty of disciples who were inspired by his teachings.
It was during this time that Sa’id the scholar, was elevated to become a
He traveled the world, visiting regions like Bengal in modern India and further east to China.
It was during his visit to India that Sa’id met and interacted with Morrocan
explorer Ibn Battuta.
Ibn Battuta is famed, not only for his scholarly work but visits and exploration of a larger part of the Islamic world besides many non-Muslim regions, like Central Asia, Southeast Asia, India, and China.
Sa’id revealed to the Morrocan scholar power the Yuan Dynasty wielded.
According to scholar Peter Jackson, in his writings, Sa’id shared with Ibn
Battuta experiences on his travels to and in China.
It is from this information on landscape and succession of the Yuan Dynasty
that Battuta would eventually add to his own books.
This journey to China made scholars unanimously conclude that Sa’id was the first ambassador for Africa in China.
Sa’id is considered the first African to study Mandarin.
He translated many Mandarin literary works into Somali.
His life in China influenced trade and diplomatic activities between the Somali Coast and China.
The influence Sa’id made Somali merchants to be regarded as masters of
trade and commerce with South Asia and East Africa during the middle ages.
Sa’id’s year of death has been disputed by many historians with some
claiming he died in 1361 while others put it in 1365.