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Terence M. Mashingaidze

nationalist politician, first titular president of independent Zimbabwe, statesman, peace broker, clergyman, author, soccer administrator, academic, poet, and journalist, was born on 5 March 1936 at Esiphezini, in Essexvale (now Esigodini) District near Bulawayo in Southern Rhodesia. The versatile Banana’s father, Aaron, was a migrant laborer from Malawi while his mother, Jese, was a Zimbabwean Ndebele woman. Banana married Janet Mbuyazwe in 1961; the marriage produced three sons and a daughter. Banana attended Mzinyati primary school and Tegwani High School. He trained as a teacher at Tegwani Training Institute and then attended Epworth Theological Seminary, resulting in his ordination as a Methodist preacher in 1962 Subsequently he worked as a Methodist schools manager principal chairperson of the Bulawayo Council of Churches and member of the Rhodesian Christian Council and World Council of Churches In the 1970s Banana attained a BA with honors in theology through distance learning from ...

Article

Matthew LeRiche and John Young

Sudanese journalist, politician, and government official, is the son of a Dinka chief from Twic Mayardit County in the province of northern Bahr El Ghazal, in southern Sudan. Bona has pursued careers in journalism, academia, and most prominently, politics. After the 2010 national election, he was named advisor to President ʿUmar al-Bashir, of the National Congress Party (NCP).

An accomplished student and athlete, Bona went to the US on scholarship. While there, he earned an MA in journalism and communications before returning to Sudan, where he became a leading southern Sudanese nationalist. Building on his academic training, Bona became the editor-in-chief of The Advocate, an early publication defending the human rights of southerners and calling for devolution of power to the south. He was a cofounder of the Southern Front and served as its first secretary-general. He was then elected to the national assembly in 1968 only to ...

Article

The son of slaves, Juan Gualberto Gómez was born in Santa Ana, Cuba. His parents bought his freedom, a practice allowed through manumission laws in Cuba. He was educated under the tutelage of mulatto (of African and European descent) poet Antonio Medina y Céspedes at a local religious school that was known to be a refuge for black children. Sensing that his racial background would limit his opportunities in Cuba, Gómez left the island in 1869 for Paris, France, where he studied the art of cabinetmaking and, later, engineering. Poverty soon forced him to leave his studies and pursue a career in journalism, a profession that would provide him with an outlet for expressing his political and social views.

Gómez's stay in Paris was a formative experience in his life. He became acquainted with various eminent members of Cuba's expatriate community, including separatists such as Vicente Aguilera ...

Article

Olutayo C. Adesina

Herbert Babington Macauley, born on 14 November 1864, was a Nigerian nationalist, journalist, and politician who played a significant role in defining and mobilizing anticolonialist proto-nationalist forces and strategies from the first decade of the twentieth century. Between 1891 and 1894, Macauley studied land surveying and civil engineering in England. On his return to Nigeria, he joined the colonial administration in Lagos as Surveyor of Crown Lands. In 1898, apparently resentful of the racial discrimination in the civil service, he resigned his appointment to go into private practice as a licensed surveyor.

He also began to emerge as the voice of opposition to British rule in Nigeria. He became a leading advocate of traditional rights in Lagos. His political career flowered immeasurably in 1923 when he established Nigeria s first political party the Nigerian National Democratic Party NNDP His political advocacy his mastery of the ...

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

Roy Doron

Nigerian general, military ruler, and president, was born Olusegun Mathew Okikiola Aremu Obasanjo in Abeokuta in southeastern Nigeria. His parentage has been the source of some controversy and speculation. After attending Abeokuta Baptist High School and the Mons Officers Cadet School in England, Obasanjo enlisted in the Nigerian army in 1958 and served in the British Cameroons, where he was commissioned a second lieutenant and was sent with the United Nations (UN) force to the Congo in 1959. After independence, Obasanjo remained in the military and was sent for further training at the Indian Defence Staff College and the Indian Army School of Engineering and was subsequently given command of the only Nigerian engineering unit and promoted to captain in 1963.

In January 1966 a group of Igbo officers overthrew the civilian government in a bloody coup that virtually eliminated the entire political elite of the Northern ...

Article

Eric Bennett

Olusegun Obasanjo was born in Abeokuta, in Ogun State, Nigeria, to a Christian Yoruba family that lacked the means to send him to college. He excelled at the provincial Abeokuta Baptist High School, however, and when he enlisted in the army in 1958, it was partly with an eye toward further schooling. During his tenure as a soldier, he studied in both India and England.

Obasanjo specialized as an engineer and rose through the ranks of Nigeria’s Engineering Corps. Later, while serving as head of state, he credited this training for the systematic clarity of his thought. Between 1959 and 1976 Obasanjo advanced from second lieutenant to chief of staff, supreme headquarters. During this time he led Nigerian forces in the country’s civil war (1969–1970), and he accepted the surrender of the Biafran troops in 1970.

Obasanjo was devoted to military service but appeared to have ...

Article

Peter J. Duignan

fifth president of the Republic of Liberia, was born in Newark, Ohio, the son of John Roye, a wealthy merchant. His mother's name is unknown. His father died in 1829, leaving some personal property and land to Roye. He went to public schools in Ohio, attended Oberlin College, and taught for a few years in Chillicothe. He also tried his hand as a sheep trader and shopkeeper in various parts of the Midwest. After his mother died in 1840 he was influenced by the emigration movement to escape American prejudice. He rejected the idea of going to Haiti and instead traveled to Liberia in 1846 just before an independent republic was installed there in July 1847, taking with him a stock of goods.

At the time of Roye s arrival the new republic faced a variety of ills The dominant Americo Liberians remained a small minority threatened ...

Article

Haggai Erlich

Egyptian writer, was born in January 1872 to a landowning family in Lower Egypt. He attended a local traditional Islamic school (kuttab) and chose to go to the khedivial secondary school rather than to al-Azhar. Having read translated scholarly works, notably Darwin’s Origin of Species, he was admitted in 1889 to the Khedivial Law School, the alma mater of many of Egypt’s modern politicians and leaders. As a young student, he founded Egypt’s first law review, Majallat al-Tashriʿ (Legislative Review). He graduated in 1894, entered government service, and in 1897 began collaborating with the nationalist leader Mustafa Kamil, who had the support of Khedive ʿAbbas II. They advised him to go to Switzerland and acquire Swiss citizenship so that he would enjoy immunity as a journalist and would be able to criticize the British occupiers freely. However, in Geneva in 1897 he came under ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Rwandan politician, was born in 1963 to a Tutsi family in Rwanda In Kinyarwanda; his name means “chief shepherd.” His parents were both Seventh-Day Adventists. Sebarenzi’s father was a successful farmer with three wives, and Sebarenzi had a large number of siblings. Both his father and mother became fearful for their son’s life after the Rwandan government promoted widespread attacks on Tutsi families in 1973 and the systematic discrimination made against placing young Tutsi people in middle and high schools led Sebarenzi s parents to send their son to a school on Idjwi Island in Lake Kivu which was a part the Democratic Republic of the Congo He spent his remaining years in middle and high school on Idjwi Island and the large city of Goma Sebarenzi eventually received his undergraduate degree in sociology from a Congolese university He met a fellow Rwandan exile Liberata and the couple married ...

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 ...

Article

Toko  

Jeremy Rich

Very little is available about his early life Some traditions collected by researchers in the twentieth century suggest Toko was a slave or of partial slave descent Whether he was born on the coast of the Gabon Estuary or came from another part of the country Toko managed to become a prominent trader by the early 1840s He belonged to the Agakaza clan of the Mpongwe community that dominated trade on the northern bank of the Gabon Estuary Within Mpongwe society many people of partial or full slave descent could own slaves themselves and act relatively independently of their masters Toko s success in business made him one of the wealthiest Mpongwe men in the entire community Mpongwe merchants held a monopoly on direct access to visiting European Brazilian Cuban and São Tomean ships seeking slaves exotic woods ivory and other natural resources Toko lived near the village of Glass ...