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Baye Yimam

Ethiopian painter, diplomat, customs director, entrepreneur, linguist, university professor, and novelist, was born in Zage, Gojjam province of Ethiopia, on 10 July 1868. His father, Gebre Iyesus Denke, was a priest serving a local church, and his mother, Fenta Tehun Adego Ayechew, was presumably a housewife. In Zage, then a center of learning, Afewerq learned the painting, poetry, church music, and liturgical dancing of the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian tradition.

Afewerq was related to Empress Taytu Betul, wife of Emperor Menilek (1844–1913 on account of which he was brought to the palace to continue what he had started in Zage He was later sent to Italy to further his studies at the Accademia Albertina di Belle Arti in Turin Upon his return from Italy he began to produce mural paintings by order of the palace and decorated the churches at Entotto then the capital city However he soon ...

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Robert Ross

South African businessman, also known as Harry the Strandloper, was born a member of the Khoesan group known as the Goringhaikona, who lived mainly in the vicinity of Table Bay, where modern Cape Town is situated. The group was known to the Europeans as “strandlopers” (beachcombers) because they acquired the majority of their subsistence by harvesting the resources of the sea, including shellfish, sea fish, and marine mammals, including seals, for which on occasion they visited Robben Island in the bay. No doubt they also collected plants as appropriate. They had few, if any, cattle or sheep.

At the time of Autshumao s birth European ships were beginning to use Table Bay with increasing frequency in order to take on fresh water and firewood and to leave messages for each other This provided an evident opportunity for those Africans living in the neighborhood Autshumao quickly came to take advantage of ...

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Cajetan N. Iheka

Nigerian entrepreneur, industrialist, and philanthropist, was born on 10 April 1957 in the Northern Nigeria state of Kano to the family of Mohammed Dangote and Hajiya Mariya Dangote (née Dantata). His father, Mohammed, was a businessman, while his mother was a granddaughter of the successful businessman Alhaji Alhassan Dantata. Dangote attended his primary and secondary schools in Kano before proceeding to Alazahar University in Cairo, Egypt, where he studied business. He admitted in an interview that his interest in business started during his primary school days in Kano, where he bought cartons of sweets (candy), which he then resold at a profit. That early entrepreneurial spirit—and the perception that there was money to be made from Nigerians’ love of sugar—would launch his later business successes.

In 1977 with the help of a loan from his uncle Alhaji Sanusi Dantata Dangote started what is today known as the Dangote Group ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

, Cameroonian business and political leader, was born in the western region of Menoua to a Bamileke family of modest means. Her family encouraged her to work, and she entered the tourism business in the southern Cameroonian port city of Douala at the age of twelve. In 1967 Foning began her long career as an entrepreneur in Douala by creating a restaurant, named New Style. An entire neighborhood of Douala bore this name in the early twenty-first century. Foning soon extended her activity into taxis by buying one car. Foning managed to guide this fledgling operation into a large business, and she had over 150 taxis in her network after a few years. She formed a gravel company, Les Graviers Unis. Her empire eventually included the Socamac food import-export company, the Ovicam import-export firm, and the Anflo furniture business, which eventually sent exports to the United States and Europe.

Although ...

Article

British imperialist and businessman, was born on 20 May 1846 in the town of the Nunnery on the Isle of Man between Ireland and England. His family belonged to the Manx elite as his father, John Taubman Goldie-Taubman, was the speaker of the House of Keys, the lower branch of the Isle of Man legislature. His mother, Caroline Everina, was the daughter of a prosperous attorney from England, John Eykyn Hovenden. Goldie attended the Woolwich Royal Military Academy and served for several years in the Royal Engineers. Goldie also spent time in Upper Egypt and became interested in the possibility of finding a link between the Nile and Niger rivers. In 1870 Goldie married Matilda Catherine Elliott.

Goldie became a willing participant in African adventures in the mid 1870s According to one biographer Goldie s fascination with Africa was evident even in his youth when he dreamed of painting a ...

Article

Redie Bereketeab

Eritrean politician and businessman, was born in Asmara to a prominent Hamasen family. He was the descendent of the well-known political figure Rasi Welde Mikael Solomon of Tsazegga (1823–1906). A graduate of St. George School in Mendefera, he worked as a low-level clerk during the Italian rule of Eritrea. He made his fortune as a businessman, earning a reputation of political shrewdness and business acumen.

Haregot Abbay was one of the founders of Mahber Fekri Hager (Society for Love of Country) in 1941 After its formation he was elected secretary general of the Society one of the top officials in its twelve man leadership He slowly began to develop the idea of union with Ethiopia a notion that gathered momentum when the state of Eritrea was brought to the attention of the United Nations UN General Assembly Soon Ethiopian intervention had thrown the Mahber Fekri Hager into ...

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Jeremy Rich

entrepreneur, was born in Malabo (then known as Santa Isabel), on the Spanish island of Fernando Po (part of Equatorial Guinea since decolonization in 1968). His family belonged to the Creole community of English-speaking African settlers who had moved to Fernando Po in the mid-nineteenth century, and his father was an English trader.

The British government had briefly governed the island prior to Spanish occupation and these settlers had many disagreements with the new rulers due to their Protestant allegiances and their dislike for the authoritarian policies of the Spanish administration However Maximiliano Jones belonged to the second generation of these settlers who had adjusted to Spanish authority Jones joined a group of English speaking Africans who sought to profit from the high North American and European demand for cocoa This cash crop brought on a spike in the number of plantations in the 1890s in which European and ...

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Jeremy Rich

politician and businessman, was born on 26 October 1961 in Nairobi, Kenya. His father was political leader and future Kenyan president Jomo Kenyatta, and his mother was Jomo Kenyatta's fourth wife Ngina Kenyatta. Uhuru means freedom in KiSwahili, and his parents chose the name to celebrate both Jomo Kenyatta's release from prison and Kenya's eventual independence from Great Britain. As his father became the first president of independent Kenya in 1964, Uhuru grew up in a very privileged family. He graduated from the Roman Catholic Saint Mary's secondary school in Nairobi, where he was renowned as a rugby player. After his father died in 1978, Uhuru Kenyatta briefly worked as a bank clerk at the Kenya Commercial Bank.

In the following year, he moved to the United States to study at Amherst College in Massachusetts, graduating in 1985 with a degree in political science Upon ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

was born in the village of Lenyenye in the northern Limpopo province of South Africa. His parents were both farm workers who struggled to earn enough to support their family. Maponya attended primary and secondary school. His entrepreneurial vision began early. Noticing how white farmers used irrigation to grow vegetables, Maponya decided to follow their example and started selling produce to his family’s neighbors. His father criticized him for being too bold. Rather than pursue business immediately, he went to Kagiso Teachers’ Training College and moved to the big city of Johannesburg to become a teacher. However, this initial career proved to be a failure. One of Maponya’s relatives recommended that the young man seek out a job with a textiles manufacturing company in 1947 Maponya had a taste for fashion and eventually won a prize for being the best dressed man in the city so this move suited ...

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Jeremy Rich

(1932–1983)

, Gabonese timber entrepreneur and raconteur extraordinaire, was born to Marie and Michel Michonnet at the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Lambaréné, Gabon. His mother was the daughter of an Omyene-speaking woman of French and Gabonese parentage, and her father was the extremely successful French timber businessman Jean-Marie Isaac. Michel Michonnet was one of several thousand men born in metropolitan France who moved to Gabon during the okoumé timber boom of the 1920s As a young man Jean Michonnet was raised in a milieu of families comprised of French timber traders and their Gabonese mistresses and wives Through his mother and his Nkomi and Galwa relatives he learned about indigenous spiritual practices and traditions Indeed his mother literally began his life by linking him to Omyene spirituality since she hired a diviner to ensure her infant son would remain male rather than become a girl as some had prophesied ...

Article

Christine Deslaurier

Burundian agricultural entrepreneur and political leader at the moment of independence, born on the hill of Kavumu (Bukeye, Muramvya Province). This Muhutu of the clan (umuryango) of Bahanza, son of Ntibaheba and Ntahorutaba, peasants living in the heart of monarchic Burundi, experienced a rare success during the colonial period. After following primary and secondary studies in the region, he entered the very elitist Groupe scolaire of Astrida (Butare, Rwanda), from which he graduated in 1944 with a diploma in agronomics. On his return, he was named auxiliary agronomist in Usumbura (Bujumbura) but relinquished his duties to throw himself into an independent market gardening and horticulture enterprise in Bugarama, not far from his native hill. The success of his project, which he soon extended to the capital, rapidly accumulated him revenue, notoriety, and confidence.

Popular in traditional rural circles as in the forming lower bourgeoisie of Usumbura at the ...

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Jeremy Rich

entrepreneur, was born on 25 October 1965 in Gaborone, the capital of Botswana. Mmusi came from a very prominent family, and was the son of Peter Mmusi, who served as vice president of Botswana under President Sir Ketumile Masire from 1973 to 1982, and Louisa Mmusi. Mmusi attended primary school in Gabarone and graduated from the Maru-a-Pula secondary school in Gabarone in 1973 By his adolescence Mmusi was interested in becoming an entrepreneur more as a way of achieving goals than just as a means of earning money When Mmusi s father became vice president Mmusi was assigned the job of managing the family s extensive cattle herd Many members of the Tswana ethnic community view cattle ownership as a key sign of wealth and cattle comprised a key element in bridewealth He also found employment with an Indian family and his duties included deliveries and working ...

Article

Grant Lilford

Lesotho novelist, editor, commentator, and entrepreneur, was born in 1877, in Khojane Village, Mafeteng, Lesotho, to Abner and Aleta Mofolo, both Christians. He was baptized in the church of the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society. His parents moved to the Qomoqomong valley shortly after his birth.

He attended a local school in Quthing and then worked for the Reverend Alfred Casalis, who recognized his enthusiasm and intelligence and sponsored his further studies for three years at the Mountain School in Morija. Mofolo then worked at the Morija Book Depot from 1899 before studying carpentry and becoming a teacher. He returned to the Book Depot and wrote Moeti oa Bochabela from 1905 to 1906. He left the Book Depot in 1910 to seek work in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) and to work in Johannesburg, either in the mines or as a court interpreter. In 1912 he returned to Lesotho ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

was born in the Soweto African township of Johannesburg South Africa His mother Key Motsepe was a teacher and his father Chief Augustine Butana Chaane Motsepe was a principal at a black boarding school and was the owner of a small store known colloquially as a spaza shop Motsepe s sister Tshepo Motsepe Ramaphosa became a doctor and later married the billionaire Cyril Ramaphosa His parents helped poorer families during the apartheid era which made a profound impact on him in his later career Motsepe helped his father sell liquor at the store beginning at the age of eight He realized very early on that he did not want to be a shopkeeper later in life although this was the most common kind of self owned business for black Africans After Motsepe completed his primary and secondary education he moved to Swaziland and completed his undergraduate degree at Swaziland University ...

Article

Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni

Zimbabwean schoolteacher and farmer, one of the early colonially educated elite in present-day Zimbabwe, was born on 17 July 1920 in Matshetsheni at a place called Mgwanda near Mgwanda Mountain west of the Shake ward and east of the Lumene River in the district of Gwanda His full name was Phinda Mfakazi Sayimana Ndlovu Gatsheni His father Sayimana Simpa Ndlovu Gatsheni traced his historical roots from the Zulu people of South Africa owned a large herd of cattle and was a successful peasant farmer His mother Mnqgibanto Nale Moyo hailed from the Kalanga people of the Matopo area Ndlovu Gatsheni s father was born during precolonial times and experienced the colonial conquests of the 1890s during which white settlers appropriated the land of many Africans Ndlovu Gatsheni was born into a hardworking family that fought fiercely for grazing land for their cattle To this family which treasured its large ...

Article

Hassoum Ceesay

business leader and the first Gambian millionaire, popularly known as Momodou Musa, was born in 1908 in Basse, Upper Gambia, into a cattle-rearing family of Fula origin. His name is also spelled N’jie’ or Njaay. He spent his early years herding his father's cattle in the lowlands of Basse, and at 18 became an apprentice to Ibrahim Salman, a Lebanese businessman in Basse. Momodou Musa soon proved his entrepreneurial skills by expanding Salman's business from wholesale and retail to dealing in livestock, kola nuts, gunpowder, and diamonds. In the mid-1940s, he separated from Salman to start his own business.

He trekked around the subregion buying and selling assorted goods He bought cattle from Mali kola nuts from lower Guinea and gunpowder from Senegal Later he ventured farther into Ghana where he traded in gold and into Nigeria from where he brought timber into Gambia By mid 1948 when ...

Article

Akosua Darkwah

Ghanaian entrepreneur and micro-credit pioneer in Ghana, was born at Peki-Dzake, a town located in the Volta Region of Ghana, on 18 April 1919. Her father, George Asia Kwami Nkulenu, and mother, Georgina Gblezo Gbo, were poor farmers who were supportive of her educational endeavors. With financial support provided by the Cadbury chocolate company, Ocloo was able to attend the prestigious Achimota School, from which she graduated in 1941 with a Cambridge Ordinary Level Certificate.

At Achimota, Ocloo took home science classes where she learned the art of marmalade-making. In 1943 with a gift from her aunt of ten shillings the equivalent of half a British shilling she bought oranges jars firewood as well as sugar and made twelve jars of marmalade which she sold for a shilling each around the government offices of Accra the capital city of Ghana Having made a 20 percent profit on her ...

Article

Roy Doron

Nigerian businessman and transportation tycoon, widely regarded as the first Nigerian millionaire, and father of Chukwuemeka Ojukwu, was born in Nnewi in southern Nigeria in 1909. Born to a farming family, Ojukwu attended colonial primary school in nearby Asaba before finishing secondary school at the Hope Waddell Institute in Calabar. After finishing his education, he worked as a produce inspector for the colonial agriculture department before going to work in the private sector.

Ojukwu’s first position in the private sector was with Liverpool’s John Holt & Co. in Lagos, where he was a junior sales clerk specializing in tire sales. He also formed his own textile trading company in Onitsha and soon realized that the lack of transportation infrastructure in Nigeria severely hampered local business. In 1937 Ojukwu left Holt s employ to found his own transportation company Ojukwu Transport Ltd In the mid 1940s he established himself ...

Article

Ernest Emenyonu

Nigerian scholar, administrator, educator, publisher, novelist, playwright, and essayist, was born Promise Ogochukwu Onwudiwe in Enugu, Nigeria, on 16 July 1970. Her father, P. D. I. Onwudiwe, was a civil servant who worked in the Ministry of Education. Her mother, Janet, worked as a schoolteacher. Under her married name, Promise Okekwe, she published extensively in virtually every genre for two decades. Divorced in 2008, she changed her name to Ogochukwu Promise, using it both in remarriage and her writings. This extremely prolific writer and artist settled down in Lagos, Nigeria, with her family, including a daughter, Angel Ogochukwu-Promise. Her earliest works were published under her maiden name, Promise Ogochukwu Onwudiwe (Soul-Journey into the Night [1992]; Marry Me to the Rain God [1993]), but occasionally she wrote under a pen name, Ada Iloekunanwa (Rubble [2000]; The Street Beggars [2001]).

Okekwe was educated at Queens High School Enugu Nigeria ...

Article

Okwei  

Gloria Chuku

Nigerian princess, entrepreneur, and Omu (female monarch), was born Okwei Afubeho in 1872 in the trading town of Osomari located on the lower Niger River (present-day Nigeria). Her father, Osuna Afubeho, was a famous warrior and wealthy prince of Osomari who had several hundred slaves, who manned his trading and war canoes. Okwei’s grandfather, Nzedegwu, was the Atamanya (king) of Osomari, who signed trading agreements with the British in 1854 and invited the Roman Catholic mission to his town in 1860. Her maternal grandfather, Obi Aje, was one of the sons of the famous Obi Ossai, the Aboh king, who received and signed trading agreements with European traders in the 1830s.

Okwei s father was a polygynist with many children but she was the only child of her mother At the age of 9 Okwei became an apprentice to a maternal aunt who was a trader in the Igala ...