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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

Chadian writer and politician, was born in 1927 in Abéché, the capital of the eastern Chadian sultanate of Wadai. Little is known about his early life, but he grew up listening to stories about powerful sultans of Wadai from times past, such as the early nineteenth-century ruler Sabun. By the late 1930s he was living in the southern Chadian town of Sarh (Fort-Archambault). There, he attended classes at the local Catholic mission with a French priest, Father de Belinay, in 1938 and 1939. Under de Belinay’s tutelage, Seid decided to switch from the Islamic faith of his family to Roman Catholicism. Seid’s parents brought the priest salted bread and oil on the day of Seid’s baptism.

Seid then attended secondary school and became involved in politics. He helped to establish the small Mutuelle Amicale Tchadienne political party in 1945 with Mahamat Yakouma Mustapha Batran Abdoulaye Toure Souleymane Naye ...

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

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 ...