The World Anthem




or who was the first man to circumnavigate the globe?

by edward gibbons, donplaypuks® intrepid correspondent for historical affairs

                                                                           ferdinand magellan

A couple of years ago my son brought home his class history test paper and got the answer right for the question 'Who was the first Malay to sail around the world?"

I thought the correct answer was was Dato Azahar Mansor. Boy, was I wrong. My son's History textbook said the right answer was 'Panglima Awang.' This piqued my curiosity and so I Googled it and was surprised at the volume of postings in both English and Malay on the subject. 

So, read, research and make up your ow mind!

For some early information at China History Forum click here .

"Over the years, there has been considerable debate about who actually was the first man to sail around the world. We were all taught this historic honour belongs to Ferdinand Magellan (Fernao de Magalhaes, in his native Portuguese) who led the expedition of five ships and over 270 men out of Spain in 1519 and sailed westwards, reaching the Philippines, where he was killed. However, Magellan was thought to have travelled to as far as Sabah before, and one can argue that he had indeed actually completed circumnavigating the globe. There are also those who argue that the accolade should rightly belong to Sebastian del Cano, a mutineer from Magellan's crew, who led the one surviving ship, Victoria, and 17 other men, and limped back to Spain on September 8, 1522.

However, only one individual can truly claim to have been the first man to leave his home, sail around the globe and arrive at a part of the world where his mother tongue was spoken. That man was a Malay, Magellan's able servant and interpreter, called Enrique of Melaka or Henry the Black.

If there is any single Malay ever who has had the greatest impact on world history, it would probably be Enrique. It is therefore ironic that we know so little of the man. He is called Panglima Awang in Malay literature but there is no mention of him in any credible Malay historical records. There is brief mention of Enrique in the official Spanish crew lists, as well as Magellan's last will and testament. Almost all of the certain facts that we know of Enrique come from the most comprehensive chronicle of Magellan's voyage, the narrative by Antonio Pigafetta, an Italian volunteer who joined Magellan's crew.

Here's Wikipedia's notes on the same subject. click here :

"Enrique of Malacca was a native of the Malay Archipelago who became a slave of the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan in the 16th century. Italian historian Antonio Pigafetta, who wrote the most comprehensive account of Magellan's voyage, named him "Henrich" (which was Hispanicized Enrique in official Spanish documents). Pigafetta explicitly states Henrich was a native of Sumatra. His name appears as "Henrique", [1] which is Portuguese, and is what probably was written in his baptismal certificate, as he was baptized a Roman Catholic by his Portuguese captors. His name appears only in Pigafetta's account, in Magellan's Last Will, and in official documents at the Casa de Contratación de las Indias of the Magellan expedition to the Philippines....."

Local amateur historian Sabri Zain gives a more detailed account of events under the title"Enrique of Melaka: Was the first man to travel round the world a Malay?"  click here .

"If there is any single Malay who has had the greatest impact on history, it would probably be Enrique.......if he had indeed made his way home, he would have arrived home earlier than del Cano making the Malay the first man to sail around the world rather than Magellan or Del cano... Little was nown about him until 1958 when the writer Harun Aminurrashid published one of the greatest novels in modern Malay fiction..'Panglima Awang'.."

Know your history and donplaypuks® with history, man!


Mej. A R Ramachandran (Retired) said...

my word, what an enlightenment.Thanks DPP.

rance said...

I wonder whose name will be in malaysian history books, to be the first malaysian to reach Mount everest.

Anonymous said...

Panglima Awang was a very high ranking official in the Malacca sultanate. At the same time he was also a Portuguese collaborator. He had never been a slave throughout his life except for being the subject of the Malacca Sultan to whom Panglima Awang had served loyally. Panglima Awang changed his allegiance to Alfonso de Albuqueque and thus become another King of Portugal's subject on 16 July 1511. Panglima Awang fought on Portugal's side and eventually help Alfonso de Albuquerque capture Malacca in late August 1511.

Donplaypuks® said...


I think you have not researched your facts well.

We only have Portuguese records to rely on and these show Magellan's will where he authorised Awang's release as a slave after his (magellan's) death.

Everything else is pure conjecture.