Great News: Gujarati Sailor named Kanji Malam has helped Vasco da Gama to reach India
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MANDVI: When Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama discovered Europe-to-India sea route in 1497, he had a Gujarati by his side to show him the way. Historians and scholars gathered at Gujarat's port town Mandvi are discussing how a Kutchi sailor, Kanji Malam, navigated the commander to Calicut from Malindi on east African coast. Malam hailed from Mandvi, a ship-building hub, where a three-day maritime conference 'Gujarat and the sea' is in progress.
Scholars and research institutes from France, Portugal, China, Singapore and Sri Lanka are taking part in the event. At Malindi, Gama's crew roped in a pilot who could guide the expedition to Calicut . Historians have differed over the identity of the sailor, calling him a Christian, a Muslim and a Gujarati. According to another account, he was the famous Arab navigator Ibn Majid. Some historians suggest Majid could not have been near the vicinity at the time. German author Justus says it was Malam who accompanied Vasco.
Italian researcher Sinthia Salvadori too has concluded that it was Malam who showed Gama the way to India. Salvadori has made this observation in her 'We Came In Dhows', an account written after interacting with people in Gujarat. "Malam's role in the Vasco expedition has largely been overlooked by historians. It is high time we studied this," says historian Makrand Mehta, who will address the conference on Sunday. On Saturday, scholars like Lotika Varadrajan, Manuel Joao Ramos, Alok Tripathy, Paul Lunde and Vishwarao Sonawane discussed aspects of Gujarat's maritime history.
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