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Novian Whitsitt

Nigerian creative writer and educator, was born in the Tura-Wazila community of Borno State, Nigeria. She completed her graduate education at Bayero University, Kano, receiving a doctorate in African literature. Professionally, she has served as principal of Shekara Girls’ Boarding School, Kano, an assistant lecturer at Bayero University, and senior lecturer in English and coordinator of English and general studies at Modibbo Adama College, University of Maiduguri. Following twenty-two years of university work, Alkali took a three-year break and worked for the National Primary Health Care Development Agency in Abuja. In 2009 she was named dean of the Faculty of Arts at Nasarawa State University, where she teaches creative writing and African literature in English. During her childhood, Alkali’s father converted to Christianity, but she became a Muslim in the 1960s. She asserts that both Christianity and Islam have influenced her own spirituality. In 1971 she married Dr Mohammed ...

Article

Abby Wolf

Ghanaian philosopher, educator, novelist, and poet, was born in London on 8 May 1954. His full name is Kwame Anthony Akroma-Ampim Kusi Appiah. Appiah’s father was the prominent Ghanaian lawyer and politician, Joseph Emmanuel Appiah, who in Ghana served as a member of Parliament, an ambassador, and president of the Ghana Bar Association. His mother was the English novelist and children’s writer, Peggy Cripps Appiah. Appiah was born in London while his father was a law student there, but the family returned to Ghana when he was a baby. Appiah’s paternal and maternal forebears were politically distinguished in Ghana and England, respectively. His uncle, Otumfuo Nana Poku Ware II, succeeded his great-uncle, Otumfuo Sir Osei Agyeman Prempeh II, as king of Ashanti in 1970 His mother s father was Sir Stafford Cripps Britain s chancellor of the Exchequer who was involved in negotiating the terms of Indian independence ...

Article

Ada Uzoamaka Azodo

Senegalese educator, novelist, and activist, was born into a well-to-do and ardently religious Lébou family, which had its own mosque in the family compound, bringing the neighborhood together for prayers several times a day. The Lébous, tall, regal, staunchly Muslim, and predominantly fishermen, are a subtribe of the Wolof ethnic group related to the Lébous of Saint-Louis (Ndar in Wolof) in the northern Sahel region of Senegal. They were the first inhabitants of the city of Dakar (Ndakarou in Wolof) in the Cape-Vert peninsula, composed of the villages of Ngor, Ouakam, and Yoff. Mariama’s father was Niélé Bâ, born in 1892. Her mother died when Mariama was two years old. Hence, she never got to know her nor did she ever see a photograph of her. Niélé Bâ fought as a tirailleur African infantry soldier on the French side in World War I becoming on his return to ...

Article

Luis Gonçalves

Mozambican writer and university professor, was born in Portugal in 1955 His father is Portuguese and his mother is from Ibo Mozambique When he was less than one year old the family moved to Moatize in the province of Tete in Mozambique where his father worked in the coal mines It was in this city that two of his five brothers were born Tete is frequently the background of the action in Coelho s texts both academic and literary Later he and his family moved to Ibo a place the author identifies as the setting of his first memories Some years later the family moved to the central city of Beira the city the author identifies as his origin While in Beira two more brothers were born and Coelho attended primary and secondary school It was in Beira that Coelho first heard of the independence movement and the war ...

Article

Kahiudi C. Mabana

Congolese writer and chemist, was born on 14 July 1941 to a Congolese father and a central African mother. He was nineteen when Congo-Brazzaville achieved independence, which allowed him to refine his views on history and the surrounding world.

After secondary school in the Congo, Dongala embarked for the United States, where he obtained a BA in chemistry at Oberlin College and an MA at Rutgers University. He completed a doctorate in organic chemistry in France. Returning to his country, he worked as a chemistry professor at the Université Marien Ngouabi in Brazzaville, where he passed a large part of his life. But he spent most of his time on literature and theater. For years he ran the Théâtre de l’Éclair in Brazzaville, until the political troubles that arose in the Congo forced him into exile in 1998 First he went to France where to the surprise of all involved ...

Article

Sara Hanaburgh

writer and teacher, was born in 1977 in Minvoul, Gabon, to Leopold Effah, a lawyer, and Bernadette Okome, a primary school teacher. The eldest of four children, she grew up in Gabon's capital, Libreville, where she completed her baccalauréat in literature and philosophy and a master's degree in modern literature in 2000 before moving to Lille, France in 2002, where she earned a master of advanced studies in human resources management at ISEG Marketing and Communication School and was awarded a scholarship for doctoral studies in French literature from L’Université de Lille 3. Her PhD thesis, “L’espace et le temps chez Calixthe Beyala” (Space and Time in the Works of Calixthe Beyala), about the Cameroonian writer, was accepted in 2008. Subsequently Effah settled in Paris where she launched her literary career and taught at a technical high school.

To date Effah has published two novels several ...

Article

Tina Steiner

writer and academic, was born in Zanzibar, Tanzania, to parents of Yemeni and Kenyan origins. After he had finished high school, he left Zanzibar in 1968 with his brother to escape the turmoil of the takeover by Sheikh Abeid Karume in the aftermath of the 1964 Zanzibari uprising. In an article Gurnah recalls the consequences of the revolt in Zanzibar: “Thousands were slaughtered, whole communities were expelled and many hundreds imprisoned. In the shambles and persecutions that followed, a vindictive terror ruled our lives” (The Guardian2001, 2). The two brothers entered Britain on tourist visas but hoped to be able to support themselves in order to study in Britain.

The mood in Britain at that time was one of open hostility toward immigrants epitomized by Enoch Powell s infamous rivers of blood speech However Gurnah was able to enroll at London University where he proceeded to obtain ...

Article

Lisa Clayton Robinson

Merle Hodge is one of the best-known Caribbean women writers. She was born and raised in Trinidad, and after graduating from high school in 1962 she received the Trinidad and Tobago Girls' Island Scholarship to study in England. There she received a B.A. degree in French from University College, London, in 1965, and an M.Phil degree in 1967. Her master's thesis was on the poetry of French Guianese Négritude writer Leon Damas, and she later wrote several more scholarly studies of his work.

After graduation Hodge spent several years working as a baby-sitter and a typist as she traveled across Europe, and during her travels she completed her first novel. Crick Crack, Monkey (1970 tells the story of Tee a young girl who is forced to choose between her mother s family and her father s after her mother s death The choice is ...

Article

Terri Ochiagha

Nigerian novelist, education administrator, and traditional ruler, was born on 28 April 1931 to Charles Chinwuba Ike, a scion of the royal house of Ike, in Ndikelionwu, in the present-day Orumba Local Government Area of Anambra State, and his wife Dinah. He was christened Vincent Chukwuemeka Ike and is still known by this baptismal name. His primary education took place at the Aro Settlement Primary School, Ndikelionwu, the CMS Central School Ife-Ezinhitte, and the CMS Central School Nnewi. From 1945 to 1950 he attended the prestigious Government College, Umuahia, the site of his literary awakening; he published his first short story, “In Dreamland,” in the 1948 issue of the school magazine Before proceeding to university he spent a year as a primary school teacher at Amichi Nnewi in eastern Nigeria He then entered University College Ibadan and joined its fervid literary activity publishing several short stories in campus publications ...

Article

Erin D. Somerville

Trinidadian historian, novelist, philosopher, and cricket fan credited with extending Marxist philosophy to black politics. Cyril Lionel Robert James was born in Tunapuna, Trinidad, to Robert, a rural schoolteacher and son of a sugar plantation worker, and Bessie, an avid reader. James won an exhibition to Trinidad's Queen's Royal College at the age of 9 and taught history at the College after graduation. Teaching was coupled with a semi‐professional cricket career and the publication of two early novels, La Divina Pastora (1927) and Triumph (1929).

At the age of 31 James immigrated to England to pursue a career as a novelist. The Trinidadian cricketer Learie Constantine, with whom James lived in Lancashire after a short stay in London, aided his move. James's bond with Constantine was encouraged by a mutual interest in West Indian independence, which climaxed in the publication of The Case for West ...

Article

Elisabeth Bekers

Senegalese politician, educator, and fiction writer, was born in Saint-Louis, Senegal, on 11 January 1940, to a Muslim family whose roots lay beyond Senegal’s borders. Her father was a doctor of Songhai descent and her mother a Fulani princess from the Guidimaka region (now southern Mauritania). Ka enjoyed a happy childhood and was a good student. She attended primary and secondary school in Kounghel and Thiès and went on to study at the Lycée des Eaux-Claires in Grenoble, France. As winner of a philosophy contest, she participated in a holiday camp at Anglet, near Biarritz, France, in 1963. She went on to earn a master’s degree in English and a certificate in English and American Literature and Civilization, both from the Université Cheikh Anta Diop (University of Dakar).

In 1967 she became an English teacher at the Lycée Malick Sy de Thiès and in 1971 she transferred ...

Article

Katriina Ranne

Tanzanian novelist, poet, and scholar, is one of the most widely known and acknowledged contemporary Swahili authors. He has had a great impact on the development of the genre of the novel in Swahili, and he was one of the first African writers to publish a collection of free verse poetry in Swahili.

Kezilahabi was born 13 April 1944, in Namagondo, a village on Ukerewe Island. He received his primary and secondary education in Ukerewe and his BA and MA at the University of Dar es Salaam. While studying for his master’s degree, he wrote on the novels of Shaaban Robert, the best-known pioneer of modern Swahili literature; he completed his MA in 1976.

Later Kezilahabi continued his studies at the University of Wisconsin, in Madison, finishing his second MA in 1982 and his PhD in 1985 Kezilahabi s doctoral dissertation African Philosophy and the Problem of ...

Article

Luis Gonçalves

Mozambican writer and professor was born Francisco Esaú Cossa in Inhaminga in the province of Sofala Mozambique When he was born his parents registered him with a different name but from his grandparents he received the Tsonga name Ungulani Baka Khosa Vanhingui He would later change his name to Ungulani Ba Ka Khosa Khosa completed his primary school in Sofala but for high school he went north to the central coastal region of Zambezia When he began his university studies at the prestigious Universidade Eduardo Mondlane he moved yet again this time heading south to Lourenço Marques present day Maputo There he received a bachelor s degree in history and geography Afterward he worked as a high school teacher which allowed him to live in several parts of the country in the late 1970s Growing up in different regions of Mozambique and later working in various cities in the country ...

Article

Lisa Clayton Robinson

Born in Carrington Village, Barbados, George Lamming was raised by a single mother. As one scholar has pointed out, it was Lamming who “gave to a Caribbean reality the important verbalization ‘It was my mother who fathered me.’” After attending Roebuck Boys School, he won a scholarship to Combermere High School. There he met teacher Frank Collymore, who was also the editor of Bim, the influential new Caribbean literary journal, and who encouraged Lamming's writing ability. Collymore helped Lamming secure his first job, in 1946, as a teacher at a Venezuelan boys' college in Trinidad.

Lamming remained in Trinidad for four years before emigrating to London in 1950, on the same ship as the Trinidadian novelist Samuel Selvon. During his first several years in London Lamming wrote poetry and short fiction, which he published in Bim and broadcasted in England through the British ...

Article

John Nimis

Congolese writer and university professor, was born on 24 February 1966 in the Republic of Congo (formerly French Congo). He grew up in Pointe-Noire, coastal city and the economic capital of the Republic of Congo, where he received a thorough French education, completing his baccalaureate in letters and philosophy. He later moved to Brazzaville, where he studied law, and in 1989 went to Paris, where he completed his degree (DEA) in business law at the Université de Paris-Dauphine (Paris-IX) in 1993. Mabanckou pursued his literary passions in his spare time and published a first collection of poetry, entitled Au jour le jour, in 1993, the same year he completed his law degree.

After the completion of his degree he worked as a consultant in Paris for the company Lyonnaise des eaux but continued to devote much of his time to literary pursuits During this time he published ...

Article

Carlos L. Orihuela

Gregorio Martínez was born and grew up in Nazca, a coastal region of Peru that has profound African roots. Martínez's intellectual development was enriched by his African and indigenous heritage, his education at the Universidad de San Marcos in Lima, Peru, and his experience as a journalist. His culture and personal experiences constitute the main source of his fiction and literary language and have forcefully shaped his idea about the role of writing in developing societies. The author was once quoted as saying, “I see literature as a mirror”; for Martínez writing is a means to reveal the economic and political conditions of Afro-Peruvians and other oppressed social groups in Peru.

Martínez's first novel and his most important work to date, Canto de sirena (Mermaid's song, 1977), is based on the personal testimony of Candelario Navarro an elderly Afro Peruvian man The work more than just a ...

Article

Geoffrey Roper

Egyptian statesman and writer, was born in Birinbal in Daqahliya province, the son of a village shaykh, who gave him a basic primary education. Motivated, it is said, by ambition for government service, he entered, in 1835 at the age of 12, the school recently established by Muhammad ʿAli at Qasr al-ʿAyni. In 1839 he enrolled in the Engineering College (Muhandis-khana) at Bulaq. After graduating from there in 1844, he was sent to France as a member of one of Muhammad ʿAli’s educational and military missions. There, he was commended and promoted, and in 1847 was sent to study at the military academy in Metz, where he received training as an officer and engineer.

By the time he returned to Egypt in 1849 ʿAbbas I was ruler and unlike some other foreign educated men of his time ʿAli Mubarak was favored by him In that year ...

Article

Kasereka Kavwahirehi

Congolese poet, novelist, and philosopher, was born Valentin-Yves Mudimbe on 8 December 1941 in the Belgian Congo, now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo. He was the eldest child of a skilled worker employed by the Union Minière, who dreamed his son would ascend to the managerial ranks of the same company. However, the dream quickly faded, for, early on, the son was rubbing shoulders with Benedictine monks and chose to follow in their footsteps. Hence, following his studies at a Catholic minor seminary (1952–1958), he entered the Benedictine monastery of Gihindamuyaga in Rwanda. But just like his father’s ambitions for him, Mudimbe’s childhood dream of joining the Benedictine order evaporated. In fact, gripped by the climate of social tensions and decomposition he was witnessing—the rebellion in Congo, the civil war, and the hypocritical attitude of the Church in Rwanda—he renounced monastic life and decided in 1961 in ...

Article

Grant Lilford

Zambian novelist, civil servant, and economist, was born in 1933, in Feira, Mkando, in Zambia, and grew up in the Roman Catholic Church. He attended Katondwe Mission School and Canisius College, Chalimbana, before qualifying as a teacher at Chalimbana Teacher’s College. He then studied economics, history, and English at the University College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland.

From 1965 Mulaisho served as permanent secretary in the office of the president of Zambia, and then occupied other government posts, including permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education. He moved into the parastatal sector, serving as chairman of the mining industry and general manager of the National Agricultural Marketing Board. From 1971 he was chairman of the Mining Development Corporation (Mindeco), the recently nationalized portion of Zambia’s copper mining industry. He later served as economics advisor to Zambia’s President Kenneth Kaunda. Mulaisho served as governor of the Bank of Zambia from 1992 ...

Article

Simon Gikandi

Although he is known primarily as a novelist and playwright, Ngugi wa Thiong’o has spent most of his career as a university professor, teaching in universities in Africa, Europe, and the United States. In this context, he has been a key participant in debates on questions of African identity, the role of culture in politics, the crisis of postcolonial society, language, and the nature and meaning of historical memory. Ngugi’s thinking about these issues has been generated and energized by his role as a public intellectual called upon to comment on the pressing issues of his time both in his native Kenya and elsewhere in Africa. Ngugi’s essays published in influential collections such as Homecoming, Writers in Politics, Decolonising the Mind, and Moving the Center have been instrumental in shaping the debate on culture language and politics in Africa structuring the terms of often heated debates on ideology ...