The Mosque of Uqba (Arabic: جامع عقبة), also known as the Great Mosque of Kairouan (جامع القيروان الأكبر), is one of the most important mosques in Tunisia, situated in the UNESCO World Heritage town of Kairouan. Built by the Arab general Uqba ibn Nafi from 670 AD (the year 50 according to the Islamic calendar) at the founding of the city of Kairouan, the mosque is spread over a surface area of 9,000 square metres and it is one of the oldest places of worship in the Islamic world, as well as a model for all later mosques in the Maghreb. The Great Mosque of Kairouan is one of the most impressive and largest islamic monuments in North Africa, its perimeter is almost equal to 405 metres (1,328 feet). This vast space contains a hypostyle prayer hall, a huge marble-paved courtyard and a massive square minaret. In addition to its spiritual prestige, the Mosque of Uqba is one of the masterpieces of both architecture and Islamic art. Under the Aghlabids (9th century), huge works gave the mosque its present aspect. The fame of the Mosque of Uqba and of the other holy sites at Kairouan helped the city to develop and repopulate increasingly. The university, consisting of scholars who taught in the mosque, was a centre of education both in Islamic thought and in the secular sciences. Its role can be compared to that of the University of Paris in the Middle Ages. With the decline of the city of Kairouan from the mid 11th century, the centre of intellectual thought moved to the University of Ez-Zitouna in Tunis.
Welcome to Africa, AKA the motherland! Check out African Internet Radio while you're scoping the panoramas.The earliest fossil of the homo sapiens family (human beings) was found in Ethiopia, dating back more than 200,000 years. Compared to this length of time, even the "ancient Sumerians" from 6000 B.C. are drooling toddlers.Let's mention a few African heroes you may have heard of, for inspiration in the face of the continued economic inequality and violence which plague Africa today: Nelson Mandela, first democratically elected President of South Africa, who fought against apartheid and served 27 years in prison while advocating freedom and peace. Haile Salassie, Emperor of Ethiopia, who resisted Mussolini and the fascist Italian invasion of WWII, and who is worshipped as an incarnation of God by the Rastafari movement. Kwame Nkrumah, first Prime Minister of Ghana, advocate of uniting Africa in Pan-Africanism. Fela Kuti, inventor of Afrobeat music, who declared his home to be an independent state, ran for president of Nigeria, and to whose funeral ONE MILLION PEOPLE came to pay their respects.In June 2001 the African Union was formed, consisting of 53 African States organized, like in the EU, around common economic and political development.Text by Steve Smith.