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Eric Young

Born and raised as a Muslim in the northern administrative center of Garoua, Ahmadou Ahidjo attended secondary school and college in Yaoundé. After working for several years as a radio operator, Ahidjo turned to politics. His 1949 election to the Cameroon representative assembly was followed by election in the 1950s to the territorial and union assemblies. He built a strong power base among the northern elite, composed of Fulbé notables and Hausa merchants. As head of the northern Union Camerounaise (UC), Ahidjo became vice prime minister in the pre-independence coalition government with the Union of the Population of Cameroun (UPC). When the coalition collapsed in 1958, Ahidjo formed a new government, calling for immediate independence while reassuring France that close ties would be maintained.

On the first day of 1960, Cameroon became independent with Ahidjo as president He ruled Cameroon for the next twenty two years Realizing ...

Article

A charismatic and energetic statesman, Patrice Lumumba became politically active as a young postal worker when he organized a postal workers’ union in Stanleyville (now Kisangani) in what was then the Belgian Congo. In October 1958 he became involved with national politics, founding the Mouvement National Congolais (MNC), Congo’s first national political party. In December, Lumumba took an MNC delegation to the All-African People’s Conference in Ghana, where he met with leaders of Pan-Africanism and became friends with Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first African prime minister. Influenced by the spirit of nationalism and anticolonialism that pervaded the conference, Lumumba returned to the Republic of the Congo a militant, ready to demand independence.

Lumumba made the first public appeal for independence in January 1959 On October 31 that year he was arrested and held responsible for riots that broke out after a meeting of the MNC From jail he and his ...

Article

Eric Young

Samuel Maharero, born Uereani Maharero, was the first son of Chief Maharero, who between 1860 and 1889 led the Herero in a series of wars with the Nama. Vehemently opposed to settlement by Europeans, particularly Afrikaners and Germans, in what is today Namibia, the elder Maharero repeatedly and unsuccessfully requested British “protection” during his reign. He finally gave in to German occupation in 1885.

Samuel and his brothers were educated at the Rhenish mission school in Otjimbingwe in the early 1860s. Samuel’s brother, Wilhelm, the chief’s second son and intended heir, was killed in battle with the Nama. Thus when his father died in 1890, Samuel Maherero assumed the chieftainship—a succession that divided the Herero, as some believed one of his cousins should have become chief.

For the next two years Maharero continued in his father s footsteps leading his people in wars against the Nama To gain ...

Article

Christopher Fyfe

Student, born the son of Bureh, regent (Nengbana) of the Koya Temne of Sierre Leone, who in 1791 granted land for a settlement to an agent of the London‐based Sierra Leone Company (who mistakenly called him King Naimbana). Aged about 24, he went to England for education at the Company's expense. The directors welcomed ‘the Black Prince’ enthusiastically, particularly Henry Thornton, the chairman, and Granville Sharp, the originator of the settlement project, from whom he took new names and became Henry Granville Naimbana. They saw in him a means of fulfilling their mission to introduce ‘the Blessings of Civilization and Industry’ into Africa.

Described as easy manly and confident in deportment pettish and implacable in disposition and with a great thirst for knowledge he proved an excellent student A surviving letter he wrote is lucidly expressed and well written Thornton recorded anecdotes of his reactions to life ...

Article

Eric Young

By the time Namibia achieved independence in 1990, the nationalist leader Samuel “Sam” Nujoma, known for his fiery rhetoric, had matured into a seasoned and charismatic but not unanimously popular politician. Nujoma was born in Etunda, South-West Africa (present-day Namibia). As a young boy he attended the Finnish Mission Primary School while helping his father tend cattle around his home. As a teenager he traveled to Walvis Bay and, later, Windhoek, where he lived with relatives and attended secondary school. In 1955 he began working for the South African Railways. Although he was later fired for participating in labor union activities, his job at the railway company enabled him to meet leading Namibian nationalists as well as to travel throughout southwestern Africa, where he witnessed the injustices of South African control over the territory.

In 1959 Nujoma joined the Ovamboland People s Organization OPO and the South ...

Article

Robert Fay

After his death in 1994, Oginga Odinga was described by Kenyan President Daniel Arap Moi as a “patriotic citizen,” ironic praise for a man who spent most of his career in opposition to the government. As Moi also noted, Odinga was a nationalist as well, a teacher who became a leading member of the independence struggle while president of the Luo Union from 1952to1957 . In addition, he was one of the first Africans to be directly elected to the colonial government’s legislative council.

In 1960 Odinga, with fellow Luo Tom Mboya, founded the Kenya African National Union (KANU). After Kenya achieved independence in December 1963 he served briefly in Jomo Kenyatta’s administration, first as minister for home affairs and then as vice president. But Odinga’s political beliefs lay considerably to the left of Kenyatta’s, and in 1966 he resigned to form the Kenya People s Union ...

Article

Kyra E. Hicks

First Lady of Liberia and one of the original African American emigrants to Liberia, was born Jane Rose Waring in Virginia to Colston M. Waring, a minister, and Harriet Graves. The Waring family, including their children Susannah, Thomas, Annetta, William, Jane, and John, emigrated to Liberia aboard the Cyrus in 1824. Other children were born in Liberia to the Warings, including Christinana, Ann, Harriet, and Colston. Elder Colston Waring served as pastor of the First Baptist Church in Monrovia. He was also a successful coffee planter and wealthy merchant. He served as vice agent for the American Colonization Society in Liberia and other administrative positions before his death in 1834. Jane learned to read and write in Liberia. She spoke French fluently and was “in all respects was well-bred and refined,” according to Hallie Q. Brown who met ...

Article

Peter J. Duignan

fifth president of the Republic of Liberia, was born in Newark, Ohio, the son of John Roye, a wealthy merchant. His mother's name is unknown. His father died in 1829, leaving some personal property and land to Roye. He went to public schools in Ohio, attended Oberlin College, and taught for a few years in Chillicothe. He also tried his hand as a sheep trader and shopkeeper in various parts of the Midwest. After his mother died in 1840 he was influenced by the emigration movement to escape American prejudice. He rejected the idea of going to Haiti and instead traveled to Liberia in 1846 just before an independent republic was installed there in July 1847, taking with him a stock of goods.

At the time of Roye s arrival the new republic faced a variety of ills The dominant Americo Liberians remained a small minority threatened ...

Article

Eric Young

Louis Rwagasore is perhaps the most prominent personification of national reconciliation as well as the tragedy of Burundi His legitimacy as a nationalist leader representing all Burundians was well founded The eldest son of King Mwambutsa IV Rwagasore belonged to the Batare dynasty of the predominantly Tutsi ganwa the aristocracy that had historically dominated Burundi s social hierarchy But his father s clan the Bambutsa had remained outside colonial era disputes between the Batare and the Bezi and Rwagasore was equally uninterested in provincial rivalries In the 1950s he studied politics and administration at the Institut Universitaire des Territories d Outre Mer in Antwerp Belgium and when he returned to Burundi his father gave him a chiefdom in the Butanyerera district to administer Ambitious he became active in advising UPRONA the leading nationalist party of Urundi at its inception His royal lineage also gave legitimacy to UPRONA and he pushed ...

Article

Born into the Touré clan in the Beyla region of present-day Guinea, Samory Touré became a soldier in the local conflicts that ravaged the area around the middle of the nineteenth century, and soon began to exploit the situation to his own ends. By 1870 he had forged a large private army, with which he eventually conquered an area reaching from the Fouta Djallon in the west to the Asante country of present-day Ghana in the east. Establishing his capital at Bissandougou in what is now Côte d’Ivoire, he tried at first to hold off the encroaching French by diplomacy and negotiations but later waged a brilliant, although ultimately unsuccessful, guerrilla war against them. Captured by the French in 1898, Samory Touré died two years later in exile in Gabon. He was the great-grandfather of Sékou Touré, the first president of modern Guinea.

Article

Eric Young

The son of a Lari merchant, Fulbert Youlou, whose surname means “Heaven” in Lari, was born in Madibou, Moyen-Congo (now the Republic of the Congo). He was baptized at age nine and entered the seminary three years later. While attending mission schools in Gabon and Cameroon, he befriended Barthélemy Boganda, the future president-emperor of the Central African Republic. Youlou later taught in mission schools in what was then French Moyen-Congo, and was ordained in 1946. When Youlou began campaigning for public office, however, he was defrocked. Ignoring the censure, he insisted on wearing his ecclesiastical robes. He also claimed the mantle of Andre Matsou, the dead leader of an anti-French, quasi-religious Lari self-help organization. In 1956 Youlou was elected mayor of Brazzaville and founded the Lari dominated Democratic Union for the Defense of African Interests UDDIA a party supporting close ties with France A year later he ...