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Article

Michael Kevane

Burkinan author, canton chief, and civil servant, was born in Sao village, about 60 kilometers northwest of Ouagadougou, in the Mossi region of the present-day country of Burkina Faso. His mother was Datoumi Yaaré, from the village of Kaonghin; and his father, Gueta Wagdogo, was the son of Yiougo, the naba (Mossi chief) of Sao. Naba Yiougo supported Mogho Naba Wobgo (Boukary Koutu), the principal king of the four Mossi kingdoms, against a rebelling vassal, the naba of Lallé. In 1896, Mogho Naba Wobgo supported Gueta Wagdogo to attain the chieftaincy (whereupon he assumed the name “Naba Piiga”) after the death of Naba Yiougo. The meaning of Dim Delobsom’s name, “The king has returned the favor,” acknowledged the relationship between the two rulers.

Naba Piiga was unable to help his suzerain when the French column led by Captain Paul Voulet seized Ouagadougou on 1 September 1896 Mogho Naba ...

Article

David M. Carletta

Anténor Joseph Firmin was born in Cap-Haïtien in northern Haiti. He was a gifted child who attended Haiti's premier preparatory schools. After studying law, Firmin became the inspector of schools in Cap-Haïtien. He married Rosa Salnave, daughter of the former president Sylvain Salnave, in 1881. Two years later the government of Haiti sent Firmin to France as a diplomat. He was admitted to the Anthropological Society of Paris and became perhaps the first scholar of African descent to write a systematic work of anthropology.

In 1885 he published The Equality of the Human Races, a response to Count Arthur de Gobineau's four-volume set The Inequality of Human Races and to the racialist anthropology of the nineteenth century. Published between 1853 and 1855 de Gobineau s famous work was the first to assert the racial superiority of Aryan peoples while simultaneously reinforcing ideas of black inferiority Firmin ...

Article

Michael Dash

Joseph Antenor Firmin was born in 1850 in the town of Cap Haitien in the north of Haiti. He was a lawyer, a minister of government, and a diplomat. Haitian politics in the late nineteenth century were dominated by two major groups: the nationalist and liberal parties. These parties representing black and mulatto factions fought for supremacy in the 1870s and 1880s. The nationalist party championed a black ideology and claimed to speak on behalf of the masses against the elite. The liberal party played down the color question and advocated that Haiti be governed by the most competent. Firmin is particularly interesting because he was black and associated himself with the liberal party. He was a liberal candidate for the legislature in 1879. In 1889 he became a cabinet minister under President Florvil Hyppolite and as foreign minister he worked with Frederick Douglass to foil ...

Article

Benedicte Boisseron

Cameroonian novelist and statesman, was born on 14 September 1929 in N’Goulémakong, a small village near Ebolowa in southern Cameroon. His mother, Mvodo Belinga Agnès, a pious Catholic woman, separated from Ferdinand’s father, Etoa Jean Oyono, when the latter, though baptized, opted for a polygamous lifestyle. The young Ferdinand and his sister, Mfoumou Elisabeth, were raised by their mother who, after the separation, supported the family as a seamstress in Ebolowa. To help his mother, at the age of ten, Oyono joined the Catholic Mission as a choirboy and a houseboy at the service of missionaries. His early intimate experience with Catholic missionaries fueled his revolutionary imagination as an anticolonial writer well known for his satirical portrait of priests and colonial officials.

When Oyono earned his primary school certificate his father an educated city official learned of his son s success in the newspaper which published such educational results and ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Congolese (Brazzaville) politician, was born on 12 January 1915 in the town of N’Gaya-Binda in the Kouilou coastal region of Congo-Brazzaville near Pointe-Noire to a Vili-speaking family. Like many other Vili boys of his generation, he attended the Catholic mission of Loango. At fifteen, he found work on the newly created Congo-Océan Railway that connected the Congolese port of Point-Noire to the federation capital of Brazzaville. From 1930 to 1936, Tchitchelle continued to work on the railway. In 1936 he became the stationmaster of Pointe Noire despite being only twenty one years of age By World War II Tchitchelle found work as a clerk for the large Compagnie Française de l Afrique Occidentale He became drawn to the embryonic trade union movement in Congo Brazzaville as well as the cause of reform promoted by his older Vili political mentor Jean Félix Tchicaya His brilliant oratory and espousal of ...

Article

Maxim Zabolotskikh

Ethiopian intellectual, politician, civil servant, diplomat, and writer, was born in June 1884 in Seyya Debr (Shewa, Ethiopia) to a family of Christianized Oromos.

Tekle grew up in his mother’s care until he was five. At the age of six he began to study in a church school. When his elder brother Gebre Sadiq moved to Harar to become a secretary of Ras Mekonnen, Tekle (nine at this time) went with him and continued his education there. He stayed in the household of Ras Mekonnen, where he was raised with other children, among whom was also Teferi (future Emperor Haile Selassie).

When the Italians invaded Ethiopia in 1895, both Tekle and Gebre Sadiq accompanied Ras Mekonnen to the front. Gebre Sadiq was killed, and Ras Mekonnen decided to do something special for his younger brother entrusting him to a member of the Russian Red Cross mission Count ...