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Article

Marveta Ryan

Poverty and racism forced Martín Morúa Delgado, born in Havana, Cuba, to a Spanish immigrant father and an ex-slave mother, to leave school at an early age and find work. He managed to educate himself, often by purchasing books with part of his salary. His experiences working in a barrel factory led him to become a labor activist. Besides organizing workers in several Cuban cities, Morúa made speeches and wrote newspaper and magazine articles on workers' rights, thus launching his career as a political leader and a journalist.

In the nineteenth century, paid readers read books aloud to factory workers while they engaged in nonmechanical tasks like rolling cigars. Even before slavery had been abolished, Morúa was the first man of African descent to become a professional reader in Cuba. He also became the first reader of color in New York, New York when he worked in ...

Article

David Dabydeen

Englishhistorian, writer, and active denouncer of the African slave trade. Roscoe was born in Liverpool and was repulsed by the slave trade and its ubiquity in his home town, where most of its wealth was derived from the trade. He became politically active in the 1790s, and in October 1806 he was elected member of Parliament for Liverpool. One of his earliest speeches called not only for parliamentary reform and peace with France, but for the abolition of the slave trade. He was spoken of highly by William Wilberforce. Wilberforce referred to Roscoe as ‘a man who by strength of character has risen above the deep‐seated prejudices of his townspeople and eventually won their respect’. Roscoe's first published work, Mount Pleasant, a Descriptive Poem (1777), deprecated the slave trade. In 1787 he wrote and published The Wrongs of Africa The poem promoted him ...

Article

Abiola F. Irele

The name of Leopold Sedar Senghor has become associated with the concept of Négritude, which provides the keynote of all his work, both as poet and as philosopher. There is a fundamental connection between the two aspects of his career and expression, for Senghor’s poetry represents an effort to invest Africa with poetic significance and thus provides the most sustained expression of Négritude’s imaginative revaluation of Africa. The thought processes reflected in the poetry are clarified in the ideological writings, which can be said to elaborate in discursive terms the themes expressed by means of images in the poetry.

Senghor was born in 1906 at Joal a coastal village in the Sine Saloum valley in central Senegal He began to learn French when at the age of seven he entered the Catholic elementary school in the nearby village of Ngasobil He received his secondary education at the Lycée van ...

Article

Janet Vaillant

Senegalese poet, philosopher, politician, and first president of Senegal (1960–1980), was born in Joal, a small coastal town south of Dakar in what was then the French West African Federation, now Senegal. His father came from the Serer people and was successful in the peanut export trade. His mother, one of several wives, came from a small country village, where Senghor spent his early childhood. His father sent him away for education when he was seven, and at eight he entered a Catholic mission boarding school. A pious and academically gifted child, he excelled in his studies, gaining support from the missionaries to continue his education in Dakar. He also acquired a deep Catholic faith, from which came his conviction that peaceful solutions exist for the most difficult of problems and from which he drew sustenance throughout his life. In 1928 he went to Paris to continue his education ...

Article

David P. Johnson

Demonstrating a rare combination of intellectual, artistic, and political skill, Léopold Sédar Senghor towered over modern Senegal, unlike any other figure in that country’s history. Senghor’s quest to find an artistic and political synthesis between African and European ways of life inspired his lifelong record of creative achievement. Although as a youth he immersed himself in French culture, his ultimate inability to become “a black-skinned Frenchman” led him to cultivate his “Africanness.” He helped to define two of the key political and intellectual movements of twentieth-century Africa: African Socialism and Négritude.

Born in Ndjitor, Senegal, to a Serer father and a Fulani mother, Senghor strove to represent all of Senegal’s peoples in his writing and politics. He attended Roman Catholic mission schools in what was then French West Africa, and in 1922 entered the Collège Libermann a seminary in Dakar where he intended to study for the priesthood He ...

Article

Cyril Daddieh

Ivorian student activist, rebel leader, author, and prime minister of the Ivory Coast, is a Senoufou born on 8 May 1972 in the village of Kofiplé, located in the Diawala county of the Ferkessédougou district in the north, just a few kilometers from the Malian border. His late parents were Muslim, although Soro is a practicing Catholic, having attended a Catholic seminary in Katiola and then the Lycée Classique in Bouaké.

A graduate of the University of Abidjan-Cocody with a degree in English, he was actively engaged in campus politics as a member of the radical student movement, Fédération Estudiantine et Scolaire de Côte d’Ivoire (FESCI), rising to become the secretary-general of the movement from 1994 to December 1998 He was replaced by Charles Blé Goudé his current nemesis and the leader of the Jeunes Patriotes Young Patriots the militantly partisan supporters of President Laurent Gbagbo who have been ...

Article

Martine Fernandes

Trained as a lawyer in Paris, Georges Sylvain founded a law school in Haiti in 1888 and worked in the Department of Public Education in 1894. As a great defender of culture he originated several writing and theatrical venues, including the influential L'Oeuvre des écrivains haïtiens (an organization for Haitian writers), and participated in the cultural events that celebrated the hundredth anniversary of the Haitian Revolution in 1904. Among his literary incursions, his collection of poems Confidences et mélancolies (Confidences and Melancholia) and his fables in Créole, Cric?Crac!, stand out for their beauty and passion.

He received the distinguished title of “Chevalier de la légion d'honneur” by the French government after he opened a branch of the “Alliance Française” in Haiti—an organization that sought to expand the influence of France abroad through the propagation of the French language and culture. From 1909 to 1912 he held ...