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Walter Clarke

nationalist leader and first prime minister of independent Djibouti, was born in the Mabla mountain area north of Obock, Afar. Ahmed Dini Ahmed was fired by an intense sense of social justice and fairness and worked at one time or another with all of Djibouti’s early preindependence leaders with the objective of facilitating an independent government in which all ethnic groups would work together for the betterment of all citizens. The failure of his close friendship with Hassan Gouled Aptidon immediately after independence was a personal blow to both of them, but was probably inevitable in two such committed but divergent individuals. Ahmed Dini had a political career roughly parallel to that of Hassan Gouled. He completed his primary school in Djibouti and then worked as a nurse’s aide. He became interested in politics at a young age. In 1959 after Gouled had been elected to the French National ...


Richard A. Bradshaw and Juan Fandos-Rius

prime minister of the Central African Republic (CAR), was born 15 December 1930 to a Yakoma father at Bangassou in southeastern Ubangi-Shari. He attended the Collège moderne (modern middle school) in Bambari, then the École normale (teacher training college) at the École des cadres supérieurs (school for training upper-level cadres) in Brazzaville. On 24 September 1951, he joined the civil service of French Equatorial Africa (FEA) as a secretarial assistant and was sent to Ubangi-Shari, where he worked at Bangui’s payments department from 1951 to 1954. In 1954 he was promoted to secretary and then served as a finance agent for Fort Crampel from 1955 to 1957. From 1957 to 1958, he was head of Bimbo district, located southwest of Bangui.

Ayandho studied at the École nationale de la France d’outre-mer (ENFOM; French national school for training administrators for service overseas) in France from 1958 to ...


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 ...


Eric Bennett

Unlike other members of the northern Nigerian elite that he was to join, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa was born into a low-status, non-Fulani family. He attended primary and secondary school in Bauchi State and then enrolled at Katsina Higher College. In 1933 he became a schoolmaster, and in 1934 he published Shaihu Umar, a novel.

Balewa’s political career began in 1943 when he cofounded the Bauchi General Improvement Union, a group that promoted modernization and criticized British colonialism in Nigeria. Less radical than his cohorts, Balewa won election in 1946 to the northern legislature and became vice president of the Northern People’s Congress (NPC). The government appointed him minister of works in 1952 and minister of transport in 1954. In September 1957 Balewa became the prime minister of Nigeria under British control, a position he held until 1959 He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II of ...


Owen J. M. Kalinga

physician and president of Malawi from 1964 to 1994, was born in about 1896 at Mphonongo, approximately 18 miles (29 kilometers) east of the headquarters of the present-day Kasungu district. Given the name, Kamunkhwala, denoting the medicine that his mother took to enable conception, Banda attended two local junior elementary schools of the Livingstonia Mission of the Church of Scotland. In 1908, he went to the more established school at Chilanga Mission where, in that year, Dr. George Prentice baptized him as Akim Kamunkhwala Mtunthama Banda. He was to drop all three names and replace them with Hastings Walter (after a Scottish missionary, John Hastings), before finally settling on Hastings Kamuzu Banda, substituting kamuzu (root) for Kamunkhwala.

In 1914 Banda passed three standard exams a mandatory step to continue to the full primary school level the satisfactory completion of which was the highest qualification one could attain ...


Known as the “Lion of Malawi,” Ngwazi Hastings Kamuzu Banda was also known as the dictator who showed so little appreciation for his country’s people and culture that he was sometimes suspected of being an American impostor. Kamuzu Banda was born to Chewa peasants in a village near Kasunugu, Nyasaland (present-day Malawi). No birth records were kept at the time; while his official year of birth is 1906, other sources cite 1898. As a child Banda left the household of his maternal grandmother and entered a newly established school built by Church of Scotland missionaries. Influenced by his uncle, Hanock Phiri, Banda converted to Christianity and adopted the surname of missionary John Hastings.

Shortly after completing primary school, Banda traveled with his uncle to South Africa (supposedly walking the 1667 km [1000 mi]), where they initially worked in a coal mine in Dundee, Natal. Upon reaching Johannesburg ...


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 ...


Ryan Irwin

South African Prime Minister (1978–1984) and executive state President (1984–1989), was born 12 January 1916 on a farm near the town of Paul Roux in Orange Free State. An Afrikaner by birth, Botha is commonly referred to as either “P.W.” or “Die Groot Krokodil” (The Great Crocodile). His parents, Pieter Willem and Hendrina, were influenced greatly by the South African War (Second Anglo-Boer War).

Upon completing his education in the early 1930s, Botha worked as a reporter and a National Party organizer in South Africa’s Western Province. He flirted briefly with a pro-Nazi organization named Ossewabrandwag in the years before World War II but ended his connections to the group in 1941. Following a stint as a government information officer during the war, Botha was elected to Parliament as a National Party representative in 1948 He was appointed Deputy Interior Minister ten years later ...


Alonford James Robinson

Pieter Willem Botha was raised in a militantly nationalistic Afrikaner family in the Eastern Cape. His mother’s first husband was killed in the Boer War (1899–1902), in which his father also fought for the Boers. At an early age Botha himself became an Afrikaner nationalist, leaving the University of Orange Free State Law School in 1935 to help found the National Party. A year later he became public information officer for the party and served on the Sauer Commission, the agency that helped to formulate the National Party’s racial program.

In 1948 Botha proved instrumental in helping D. F. Malan and the National Party come to power. That year he won a seat in Parliament, representing the Eastern Cape district of George. As a reward for party loyalty, Botha was appointed to a series of cabinet positions in the apartheid-era governments of Hendrik Verwoerd and Balthazar Johannes Vorster ...


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 ...


Maxwell Akansina Aziabah

Ghanaian prime minister and sociologist, was born in Wenchi in the British Gold Coast colony on 11 July 1913. His mother was Nana Yaa Nsowaa, a prominent member of the royal Safoase Yefre matrilineage of Wenchi, and his father was Yaw Bosea. His mother later remarried, not long after Kofi was born. It is believed that Busia grew up under the tutelage of his stepfather, Kwabena Janso, since his biological father had little to do with him. At age six he was baptized Joseph Busia, a misspelling of his biological father’s surname that he would retain throughout his career.

As a boy Busia developed a keen interest in religious studies, which was bolstered by his contact with Wesleyan Methodist missionaries, notably the Reverend William Whittle and his wife Alice Whittle, a teacher. Busia impressed the Whittles, who encouraged his academic interests. In 1922 the Whittles brought Busia with ...


Martha King

Born a member of the royal family of Wenchi, Kofi Abrefa Busia attended the Kumasi Methodist and Mfantsipim Secondary Schools and Wesley College. He received a B.A. degree in politics, philosophy, and economics and then an M.A. degree in social anthropology from the University of Oxford. Busia wrote his doctoral thesis, titled The Position of the Chief in the Modern Political System of Ashanti, in 1951. He held teaching positions at the Ghana University College at Legon in the African studies and sociology departments.

Busia left the university to devote himself to politics in 1956. In the fall of 1957, he formed the United Party, composed of different parties in opposition to President Kwame Nkrumah He was outspoken in opposition to Nkrumah s government Busia fled to England in fear of the increasingly repressive government In exile Busia maintained his opposition to the Nkrumah regime ...


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 ...


Born in Soudouré, French West Africa (now Niger), Hamani Diori was the son of a Djerma public health official in the French colonial administration. Diori attended the distinguished William Ponty Teachers Training College in Dakar, Senegal. At that time, both Niger and Senegal were part of the French colonial territory of French West Africa. Diori worked as a teacher in Niger from 1936 to 1938 and then as a Hausa and Djerma language instructor at the Institute of Overseas Studies in Paris.

In 1946, while working as the headmaster of a school in Niger’s capital city of Niamey, Diori cofounded the Parti Progressiste Nigérien (PPN, or Progressive Party of Niger). It was a regional branch of the interterritorial Rassemblement Démocratique Africain (RDA, or African Democratic Rally), the party led by Félix Houphouët-Boigny of Côte d’Ivoire During the same year Diori was elected to the French National ...


Abdou Diouf, who served as president of the West African nation of Senegal from 1981 to 2000, was born in Louga. He studied in Senegal and France, receiving a degree in law and political science from the University of Paris in 1959 and a diploma from the French Overseas Civil Service School in 1960. Returning to Senegal, Diouf served as director of international technical cooperation, deputy secretary general to the government, and secretary general of the defense ministry in his first two years with the civil service. After joining the Union Progressiste Senegalaise (UPS) in 1961, Diouf quickly became known as the protégé of President Léopold Senghor. Between 1961 and 1970 he received appointments to a number of positions. He served as minister of planning and industry from 1968 to 1970. In March 1970 Senghor made Diouf Senegal’s prime minister.

Senghor left the presidency ...


Betty Sibongile Dlamini

prince and prime minister of Swaziland, was born in 1914 at Nkhungwini area in the Shiselweni region of Swaziland. A great-grandson of King Sobhuza I, he was the son of Prince Majozi Ndzabankhulu Dlamini. Makhosini Dlamini received his primary education at Bulunga Mission and graduated from Matsapha Swazi National High School. He obtained his teaching qualification from Umphulo Training Institute in Natal and served as a teacher between 1939 and 1949 in schools including Bethel Mission School, Franson Memorial Bible School, Lobamba National School, and Matsapha Swazi National High School. In some of these schools he served as head teacher and he was a pioneer and founder member of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT). In 1943 he was elected secretary general of SNAT. As a teacher he loved singing and conducting choirs.

In 1949 he left teaching and served as a development officer in the Shiselweni region ...


Richard A. Bradshaw

prime minister (1974–1976) of the Central African Republic (CAR), prominent business leader, and women’s rights activist, was born in Bangui, then in the territory of Ubangi-Shari in French Equatorial Africa, in 1925. She belonged to the Mbaka (Ngbaka) ethnic group from the Lobaye region in southwestern CAR. Although she attended elementary school, she never became proficient in French and so almost always spoke in the CAR’s national language, Sango, in which she delivered impassioned speeches at political rallies. Domitien married the European owner of a coffee plantation, and after he passed away, she married Jean Baka, a mayor in the Lobaye region. She became a wealthy businesswoman who owned plantations and conducted commerce in cloth and agricultural products. In the early 1950s she joined the Mouvement d Évolution Sociale d Afrique Noire MESAN Movement for the Social Evolution of Black Africa and supported Barthélemy Boganda and President David ...


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 ...