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Klaas van Walraven

prime minister of Niger, was born in Soudouré, west of the capital, Niamey. Although he was the son of a village chief, Bakary was a talaka (a commoner), since his father did not hail from a noble family. Bakary was related by blood to Hamani Diori, Niger’s later president. Although he was a member of the Zarma ethnic community, many people in western Niger regarded Bakary as a Songhay, a closely related ethnic group. Later, he used this to mobilize political support along the Niger River valley.

At the age of 7 Bakary was taken by his uncle to the city of Tahoua central Niger where he was enrolled in a colonial primary school A diligent student he learned to speak Hausa before continuing his education in the capital It was here that his political consciousness began one day he met his father who had been sentenced to forced labor ...


Ari Nave

Born in Quatre Bornes, Mauritius, Paul Bérenger was raised in a Franco-Mauritian family. He became interested in Marxist politics while studying philosophy, French, and journalism in Wales and in Paris, France. Upon returning to Mauritius, he immediately became involved in the independence movement. Finding the politics of the Mauritius Labour Party (MLP) too conservative, he created the left-wing Club des Étudiants Militants and began organizing demonstrations against the MLP and allied parties. He also became a union organizer, leading a series of strikes.

Bérenger envisioned a country unified by a common language and culture rather than divided by ethnic tensions. In 1969 he founded a new political party, the Mouvement Militant Mauricien (MMM), together with Dev Virahsawmy, a Telegu, and Jooneed Jeerooburkhan, a Muslim. The party’s socialist platform and nonethnic orientation appealed to the large working class, particularly dockhands, plantation workers, and unemployed youth.

In response to Bérenger s disruptive ...


Bill Nasson

farmer, general, and first prime minister of the Union of South Africa, was born on 27 September 1862 near Greytown in the British colony of Natal. His paternal grandfather, Philip Rudolph Boot (or Both), was of German settler descent and had participated in the 1830s Boer Great Trek into the interior. The son of migrant trekkers Louis Botha and Salomina van Rooyen, Louis was the ninth of thirteen children. In 1869, the Botha family left Natal and settled on a farm near Vrede in the Orange Free State, where Louis lived until the age of twenty-two. Earlier, he had been schooled at a local German mission where he received only a very basic education.

Botha’s minimal formal learning proved to be no handicap to the development of his exceptional aptitude for fieldcraft and understanding of the working of the highveld terrain. In 1886 he settled on his ...


Jeremy Rich

first female prime minister of Senegal, was born in the coastal city of Saint Louis, Senegal. She came from a family of lawyers, including her father, one brother who worked for the Supreme Court of Senegal, and another brother who received an advanced law degree, became a professor of international law, and eventually became the head of the University of Dakar. Boye herself attended primary school in her home city before graduating from the Lycée Faidherbe secondary school and enrolling in an undergraduate law degree program at the University of Dakar in 1963 She then studied law at the Centre National d Études Judiciaries CNEJ in Paris Once she finished her studies in France she returned to Senegal and began to work as an assistant prosecutor for the government Boye became an assistant judge in a court at Dakar and later rose to be president of the Senegalese Court ...


Kenneth P. Vickery

lawyer, politician, vice president (1970–1973), and prime minister (1973–1975, 1977–1978) of independent Zambia, was born in Nampeyo, an area near Monze, in the Southern Province of Zambia (then Northern Rhodesia), on 21 January 1930. He was the son of Hameja Chilala, a spiritual leader, legendary hunter, and Tonga chief—though “chiefship” in this region is problematic and probably owes as much to British colonial rule as to indigenous origins. His mother was Nhandu. Chona attended the local school sponsored by the main Catholic Jesuit mission in Southern Province, Chikuni, and then Chikuni itself, before completing secondary education at Munali, the elite Lusaka high school founded by the Northern Rhodesian colonial administration in 1939 He was clearly an outstanding student After graduation he worked for a time as an interpreter for the High Court in Livingstone and this may have fueled his desire to become a lawyer He found time ...


Frances B. Henderson

Mozambican politician and prime minister from 2004 to 2010, was born in Tete Province, Mozambique. Diogo held one of the most powerful positions in Mozambique, and was among the first women to break through the gender barrier into the upper echelons of political office in Africa. She has also been a tireless advocate of accountability and good governance in southern Africa. Diogo is widely credited with facilitating economic growth and development in Mozambique.

Diogo was raised in Tete City and attended school there until she was fourteen years old. She attended high school in the capital city of Maputo at Maputo Commercial Institute, and she then went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in finance from Eduardo Mondlane University, also in Maputo. In 1983 Diogo went to London to continue her studies in financial economics at the University of London, where she earned a master’s degree in 1992 ...


Dag Henrichsen

Namibia’s first prime minister (1990–2002), was born on 3 August 1941 in the Grootfontein district of the Otjozondjupa region in central Namibia. He trained as a teacher at the Augustineum Training College in Okahandja between 1958 and 1961, where he became a student activist against the apartheid politics of the South African administration. He then also joined the newly founded South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) of Namibia, soon experiencing harassment by the South African police and thus fleeing into exile to Botswana in late 1962. Here he became the assistant to SWAPO’s representative in Francistown until 1964, when he was granted a scholarship to study in the United States. Initially he attended Temple University (1964–1966); he later graduated with an MA in international relations from the New School of Social Research in New York.

Simultaneously he became a SWAPO petitioner to the UN until 1971 at ...


Sterling Recker

Rwandan politician and prime minister is a Hutu who came of age under Belgian colonial rule Gitera was educated in a Catholic seminary which had been established by the Belgian colonial powers The institutions of colonialism and the Catholic Church had both favored Tutsi supremacy for most of Gitera s life which contributed to his ideological development and his determined focus on revolution and reform by the late 1950s Gitera was a businessman who went on to create a political party which was ostensibly based on class interests as opposed to the principles of ethnicity but nevertheless attracted only Hutu members He challenged the privileges that Tutsi held and demanded independence for Rwanda during the 1950s Gitera was attempting to appeal to all Rwandans regardless of ethnicity by using nationalist ideology to create a movement against the colonial powers and church influence both of which were supportive of the Tutsi ...


Kimberly Battle-Walters Denu

Ethiopian politician and prime minister, was born in the Wolayita Zone of southern Ethiopia, on 19 July 1965. His father, Desalegn Boshe, is an educator and political activist. Hailemariam Desalegn became the acting prime minister of Ethiopia on 20 August 2012, after the unexpected death of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who served as Ethiopia's prime minister from 1995 until 2012. A month later, on 21 September 2012, Hailemariam was confirmed as Ethiopia's new prime minister. Formally known as Hailemariam Desalegn, his given name is Hailemariam, an Orthodox name which means the power of Saint Mary. His last names, Desalegn Boshe, are Hailemariam's father's and grandfather's first names, which is customary in Ethiopia.

Hailemariam was first exposed to political ideologies and activism as a youth as he listened to political discussions and witnessed his father s participation in a political movement known as the ...


Juan Fandos-Rius

Central African prime minister, was born on 14 February 1936 with his twin brother Christopher Maidou at Bangui in Ubangi-Shari. His Gbanziri father, Maurice Maidou, was a nurse in French Equatorial Africa's health service. After primary school at Fort Sibut, junior high school at Bambari, and teacher training at Bambari, he taught at Kembé, Mobaye, and Bossembélé in the late 1950s. From 1960 to 1962 he attended a higher level teacher training institution in Brazzaville, then studied at a teacher training school in Rennes, France from 1962 to 1964. He earned a master's degree in geography after studying from 1964 to 1968 in Nancy, France, but failed his civil service entrance examination in 1969.

Maidou was qualified to teach junior high but not high school or university classes. However when he returned to the Central African Republic (CAR) in 1969 he had undergone more French ...


Percival James Patterson was the first black prime minister in the Caribbean island nation of Jamaica. After serving as deputy prime minister and finance minister, Patterson replaced prime minister Michael Manley when Manley resigned in 1992 As head of the People s National Party PNP Patterson remained prime ...


Born in Bois d’Oiseaux, Mauritius, Seewoosagur Ramgoolam grew up in the small village of Belle Rive. An Anglophile and ardent student even as a boy, he left home to attend Royal College of Curepipe, a prestigious Mauritian public secondary school, and then traveled to Great Britain for medical school. While in England, Ramgoolam met with Indian nationalist leader Mahatma Gandhi, joined the Fabian Society (a political group committed to Socialism and nonviolence), and became secretary of the local Indian National Congress chapter. Upon returning to Mauritius in 1935, Ramgoolam joined a vanguard of Indo-Mauritian intellectuals and founded a newspaper, the Advance.

In 1940 Ramgoolam was nominated to the Council of Government as a representative of Hindu interests. With the extension of suffrage to all literate adults in 1948, Ramgoolam gained a seat in the Legislative Council. He was reelected in 1953 and joined the Mauritian Labour ...


Allen J. Fromherz

political leader born in September 1900 in the district of Flacq in Mauritius was not only the father of his nation his leadership helped establish the country as a model of multiculturalism and functional democracy in Southern Africa Humble beginnings secured his claim to represent an authentic Indo Mauritian experience His father was an immigrant laborer and indentured servant before becoming overseer of a sugar plantation He encountered personal struggles in his early life including the loss of his father and the blinding of his left eye This did not dampen his curiosity for medicine and politics As Mohandas Gandhi would note in one of his many articles on the plight of Hindu indentured servants many Indo Mauritians including the family of Ramgoolam lived in poor conditions with few social and political rights Indeed it was from one of Gandhi s disciples a man named Ratan who doubled as ...


Chloe Campbell

Siaka Stevens was educated at Albert Academy at Freetown and went on to study trade-union operation and industrial relations at Ruskin College, Oxford, England (1947–1948). He first gained national recognition through his work in trade-union organization. In 1943 he cofounded the United Mine Workers’ Union, after becoming a mine worker at the Marampa Mines with the Sierra Leone Development Company (DELCO). His energetic prominence in the labor movement resulted in his appointment to the Sierra Leone Protectorate Assembly in 1946.

In 1951 Stevens, Milton Margai, and several others formed the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP). The SLPP became a powerful force in national politics. In the same year Stevens was also elected to the Legislative Council and in 1952 went on to become minister of Lands, Mines, and Labour.

Stevens’s growing disillusionment with the SLPP culminated in him leaving it in 1958 and he then cofounded ...


Lansana Gberie

third prime minister and first president of Sierra Leone, was born in Moyamba District, in Southern Sierra Leone, on 24 August 1905. He was the son of James Tibin Stevens, a former soldier in the notorious West African Frontier Force, and Miatta Massaquoi, part of the household of King Siaka, a prominent Mende chief and a key participant in the slave trade. Stevens’s father was from the Limba people, in the north of Sierra Leone, who—Stevens bitterly wrote in his memoirs—were regarded by others “as backward and somewhat simpleminded.” His mother was a domestic servant in King Siaka’s compound. Apart from a brief spell at the Albert Academy in Freetown, Stevens had little formal education before joining the colonial police force in 1923.

Stevens joined the police in January 1923, attaining the rank of sergeant before leaving in 1931 He had applied and was rejected for ...


Jeremy Rich

Congolese politician, was born on 10 November 1919 in Musumba, Belgian Congo. His father, Joseph Tshombe, a member of the largest Lunda ethnic community and one of the most prosperous African businessmen in the entire colony, sent Tshombe to an American Methodist missionary school. Tshombe later recalled how his father had bought a 1928 Chevrolet automobile, thus making him the first Congolese man to own his own car. In school, Tshombe learned to follow in his father’s footsteps through his training in accounting and mathematics at the Methodist teachers’ college at Kanene. Tshombe also received a law degree through taking correspondence classes. In 1924 he married his wife Ruth, a daughter of Mwata Yamvo Ditende Yawa Nawezi III, the traditional ruler of the Lunda Kingdom. Eventually, they had ten children.

Tshombe supported his large family by establishing a chain of retail stores in Elisabethville the capital of the southern Congolese ...


Born in Musumba, the son of a wealthy businessman and descendant of Lunda rulers, Moise-Kapenda Tshombe was trained as an accountant under Belgian rule. When the Congo attained independence in 1960, he turned to politics, emerging as a spokesman for decentralization. In July 1960, supported by Belgian mining interests, he declared Katanga independent. The secession was crushed by early 1963, and Tshombe went into exile, having previously displayed to the world his formidable political shrewdness. Recalled by President Joseph Kasavubu in 1964, Tshombe served as prime minister until exiled following a military coup in November 1965. The victim of a plane hijacking in 1967, he landed in Algeria, where he was held under arrest until his death.

See alsoCongo, Democratic Republic of the.