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Political and social movements organized to address environmental threats to health and livelihood. International conservation groups have focused worldwide attention on the threats to Africa’s wildlife and forests. These issues, however, are not necessarily the primary concerns of most environmental movements in Africa itself. Such movements tend to focus instead on threats to local or regional natural resources that are considered crucial to people’s health and livelihood. In some regions, people do consider wildlife a vital natural resource, but elsewhere they are more concerned with protecting land and water.

African environmental movements do not necessarily share the priorities of national governments For example some governments in wildlife rich regions of eastern and southern Africa have displaced farming and pastoral communities to create large wildlife reserves partly to meet the requests of foreign nations that donate aid and partly to encourage wildlife tourism Another kind of problem seen in all parts ...


The phrase environmental racism was first used to describe an incident in North Carolina in 1982, when authorities planned to collect about 27,000 cubic meters (32,000 cubic yards) of soil that had been contaminated with toxic chemicals known as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Contaminated soil from fourteen locations in the state was to be stored in a toxic waste facility in Warren County, on land that had been owned predominantly by blacks since the time of slavery. Local residents believed that this site had been chosen not for its environmental suitability but because it was located in a poor, predominantly black, and politically powerless community.

State officials had not counted on the outrage of local citizens or in their effectiveness in organizng a protest demonstration More than 500 people were arrested in a large public demonstration against the implied racism behind the choice of the Warren County location They viewed ...


Raymond Dumett

treaty maker, cartographer, and one of the great West Africans of his generation, was born to an African mother and a Scottish father in the central coastal town of Anomabu in the Gold Coast’s Fanti region in present-day Ghana. Like several prominent members of the African middle class, he was educated at the famous Wesleyan School of Cape Coast. He also attended school in Sierra Leone. On the basis of strong recommendations, Ferguson was selected to join the colonial government as a clerk in 1881. In 1884 he began his career as a mapmaker by drawing a map of the Gold Coast Colony and Protectorate which was of assistance to the governor in showing the approximate boundaries of various linguistic groups their states and chieftaincies Ferguson proceeded from strength to strength and with each new job effectively completed he was rewarded with greater responsibilities by the colonial government ...


David Killingray

Fantesurveyor and colonial agent born on the Gold Coast and educated in Freetown, Sierra Leone. He became a teacher and then a civil servant. As an employee of the Gold Coast colony he accompanied the Governor on a mission inland, producing a map that showed the ethnic divisions of the colony. He was entrusted with a further mission to the interior that resulted in Akwamu becoming part of the British protectorate. Ferguson's surveying skills were developed by his work with the British–German Boundary Commission of 1886. In 1887 he came to London and studied mining and surveying at the School of Mines, graduating with a first‐class certificate. During the 1890s Ferguson led important political missions to Asante and to the northern hinterland of what is now modern Ghana. By 1894 he had signed eighteen treaties of trade and friendship with northern rulers Ferguson s reports and precise ...


Juba II  

Duane W. Roller

king of Mauretania, was a significant political leader and scholar of the Augustan period, who ruled a wide area of northwestern Africa as a king allied to Rome, and as “rex literatissimus (most learned king)” (Lucius Ampelius, Liber memorialis 38.1) was responsible for a large number of literary works.

He was the heir to the Numidian throne, a distinguished indigenous monarchy of North Africa (his ancestors included Massinissa and Jugurtha), but when his father Juba I committed suicide in 46 BC after defeat by Julius Caesar, as part of the Roman civil war, Juba II, who was only an infant at the time, saw his inheritance provincialized. He was brought to Rome by Caesar and entered the household of Caesar’s grand-niece Octavia, where he lived for twenty years, an intimate of the developing Roman imperial family. Eventually he became a Roman citizen.

In the 30s BCE his talents as ...


Richard Erskine Frere Leakey's parents, Louis and Mary Leakey, introduced him to paleoanthropology, the study of fossilized remains of extinct humanlike creatures called hominids. The elder Leakeys, whose discoveries at Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania revolutionized theories of early Human Evolution, often took Richard with them on their fossil-hunting expeditions. Leakey left Nairobi's Duke of York School at the age of seventeen to start a business leading wildlife photography safaris.

Although he had no formal training, Leakey began fossil-hunting when he was only nineteen. His most famous discoveries were made in the area around Lake Turkana (formerly Lake Rudolf) in northern Kenya where he uncovered more than 200 fossils of early hominids These include an almost complete skeleton of an adolescent boy found at Nariokotome on the western shore The 1 6 million year old Turkana Boy is the most complete skeleton ever found from that period of ...


Eric Bennett

Wangari Maathai grew up in a farming family in Nyeri, in what was then colonial Kenya's “white highlands.” Her parents sent her to Loreto Limuru Girls School, and her teachers there helped her get a scholarship to Mount Scholastica College in Kansas. After graduating with a B.S. degree in biology in 1964, Maathai attended the University of Pittsburgh. She returned to Kenya in 1966 for graduate study at the University of Nairobi and in 1971 became one of the first women in sub-Saharan Africa to earn a doctorate (in veterinary medicine). After receiving her Ph.D. degree, Maathai went to work as a professor at the University of Nairobi, eventually becoming the head of the faculty of veterinary medicine there.

Maathai is most famous, however, for her environmental activism. Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement in 1977 which aimed to prevent or reverse deforestation and also to improve ...


Kathleen Sheldon

Kenyan environmental leader and 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner, was born and raised in a rural village near Nyeri in Kenya’s central highlands. Her mother Wangiru Kibicho (better known as Lydia) was a subsistence-level farmer; her father Muta Njugi worked as a driver and mechanic for a British farmer. She writes about her early memories in her memoir Unbowed (2006 describing a vibrant landscape with many trees and clear running streams She attended primary school in the village then transferred to St Cecilia s Intermediate Primary School and finally continued her education at Loreto Girls High School in Limuru both institutions run by Catholic missionaries She credits her high school science teacher with mentoring her and instigating her lifelong love of chemistry and biology She decided that she did not want to be a teacher or a nurse the careers open to African girls in the 1950s and ...


Joel Gordon

Egyptian technocrat who guided agrarian reform under Gamal Abd al-Nasser and became a close political adviser to Anwar al-Sadat, was born on 26 August 1913 in a Delta village in Egypt’s Sharqiyya province to a family of rural notables. In 1920, a year after Egypt’s nationalist uprising against British rule, Marei’s family moved to Cairo, where he began primary school. His school years were marked by the growing frustrations of Egypt’s quasi-independence, the failure of successive governments to rule without British or monarchical interference, and the attendant corruption that came to characterize the liberal era.

His father was a fervent supporter of the Wafd Egypt s majority nationalist party and served in the parliament Marei initially avoided direct political affiliation Like others of his generation political activism carried with it an increasing distrust of the political establishment and a conviction that Egypt needed social reform as much as total ...


Judith Imel Van Allen

BaTawana mohumagadi (queen or queen mother) and regent, was born in the Orange Free State, South Africa. Her parents were from the BaRolong, a Tswana subgroup resident both in South Africa and the Bechuanaland Protectorate, now Botswana. Pulane was trained as a nurse and took a job at Tiger Kloof School in South Africa, where she met her husband-to-be, Moremi, heir to bogosi (rulership) of the BaTawana of Ngamiland in northwestern Bechuanaland. They married in 1937, the year that he became the BaTawana kgosi (king) as Moremi III. Pulane had three children, including Letsholathebe, the heir to BaTawana bogosi.

Moremi III’s relationship with the British colonial government was conflictual, with repeated British accusations of corruption under his rule. In 1945 the British suspended Moremi III and named Pulane, whom they regarded as trustworthy, as tribal treasurer. When Moremi III was killed in a car crash in 1946 ...


Robert Maxon

Kenyan herbalist, cook, farmer, and the paternal grandfather of US President Barack Obama, was born in Kanyadhiang near Kendu Bay on Lake Victoria in what is now Rachuonyo District in Kenya’s Nyanza Province. Onyango’s grandfather, Opiyo, had moved to the Kendu Bay region from Alego, north of the Nyanza Gulf, earlier in the nineteenth century in search of more and better land than was available to the family in Alego.

From an early age Onyango was characterized by a seriousness of purpose and a wanderlust His wandering off on his own and desire to learn led to study with specialists to become an herbalist Onyango s curiosity and thirst for knowledge also led him to leave his home for the port town of Kisumu Colonial rule was not established in the Kendu Bay area until some five years after the transfer of Nyanza Province from Uganda to the East Africa ...


Jeremy Rich

environmentalist and civil society activist, was born on 17 December 1962 in the eastern Ogooué-Ivindo province of Gabon. At the age of six Ona Essangui suffered a case of polio and lost the ability to walk. Despite the challenge of being physically disabled in a country where accommodations for people unable to walk were rare, he managed to overcome these challenges. Ona Essangui attended the well-known Lycée de l’Immaculée Conception in the Gabonese capital of Libreville, then passed his baccalaureate examinations and was admitted into the Université Omar Bongo. Like so many other Gabonese university students between 1990 and 1993 Ona Essangui had difficulty completing his courses during the tumultuous transition of Gabon to multiparty democracy in the early 1990s Ona Essangui had sought an undergraduate degree in psychology but he finally abandoned his studies after several years in which the entire academic year was cancelled In ...


Meghan Elisabeth Healy

South African activist and botanist, was born Edward Rudolph Roux in 1903 in the Transvaal town of Pietersburg (now known as Polokwane). His father, Phillip Roux, was a pharmacist, and his mother, Edith Wilson Roux, was a nurse who had come to South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War. His father was an outspoken iconoclast: Despite his conservative Afrikaner upbringing, he was an atheist, socialist, and Anglophile who fought with the British in the Anglo-Boer War and dismissed Afrikaans as a peasant dialect. Eddie Roux was named after King Edward VII and his grandfather Eduard Roux.

In 1904, Roux moved with his parents to Johannesburg, where his father opened a pharmacy in the Bezuidenhout Valley and the family grew to include three more sons and two daughters. His father was active in the South African Labor Party and International Socialist League politics, and the 1913 miners strikes culminated in ...


Racial categories are still being practised even though most scientists agree that genetically speaking there is little or no validity for dividing groups of humans in this way Although the creation of racial hierarchies has to a large extent fallen into disrepute skin colour remains a powerful signifier in contemporary ...