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Ariel Bookman

Nigerian novelist, poet, dramatist, educator, and political activist, was born Christopher Uchechukwu Andrew Abani, on 27 December 1966, in Afikpo, Nigeria. Abani’s life has been dramatically shaped but not defined by the political violence associated with the Nigerian state. Born in the Igbo heartland of southeast Nigeria to an Igbo father and British mother, Abani was six months old when the Biafran War began. His mother fled to Britain with him and his siblings, an experience that he would later narrate in poetic form in Daphne’s Lot (2003). Returning to Nigeria after the war, Abani demonstrated precocious literary talent, publishing his first short story at age ten and finishing his first novel, Masters of the Board (1984), at sixteen. The novel, a political thriller, imagines a Nazi plot to return to power by using unwitting Third World governments as its pawns.

Abani was arrested in ...

Article

Geoffrey Roper

Egyptian Muslim theologian, modernist, and reformer, was born in the Gharbiya Province of Lower Egypt, the son of ʿAbduh ibn Hasan Khayr Allah, a peasant farmer, and his wife, who was descended from the Bani ʿAdl clan. He grew up in the village of Mahallat Nasr and received a traditional education, learning the Qurʾan by heart. In 1862 he was sent to the madrasa (Islamic college) in Tanta. There, he perfected his Qurʾan recitation and started to learn Arabic grammar, by the then normal method of memorizing texts and commentaries without explanation from his teachers.

Reacting against this, according to his own account, he ran away from the college and returned to his village, intending to become a peasant rather than a scholar. In this condition he married in 1865 at the age of sixteen But after various vicissitudes he resorted to his great uncle Shaykh Darwish Khadr who ...

Article

Congolese activist and prominent member of the Kwilu rebellion in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was born in Malungu on the banks of the Kwilu River in the Belgian Congo on 15 August 1945. In 1963 she joined the armed uprising led by Pierre Mulele, the leader of the rebellion and the former minister of education in Patrice Lumumba’s cabinet.

Her mother, Labon, died in childbirth, so Abo, whose name means “mourning” in Kimbundu, was raised by her adoptive parents, Awaka and Mabiungu. Despite the violent protestations of her grandmother Aney, Abo started attending primary school in the village of Lukamba in 1952. She transferred to a boarding school at the Totshi mission at the age of nine. There she was baptized and renamed Léonie Hortense. In 1957 Abo and thirteen other young girls made up the first class of assistant midwives and pediatric nurses at ...

Article

Jessica Falconi

Angolan anthropologist, writer, and political activist, was born Mário de Carvalho Moutinho in Lisbon on 29 September 1932. Portuguese by birth and Angolan by nationality, Henrique Abranches also used the pseudonyms “Mwene Kalungo” and “Mwene Kalungo-Lungo.” In 1947 he and his family left Portugal to settle in Luanda, where he attended the Liceu Salvador Correia, a pioneering institution of secondary education in Angola whose students included several names that were later important in Angolan literature. After five years in Luanda, Abranches moved to the city of Sá de Bandeira (now Lubango) in the Huíla Plateau in southern Angola, where he became interested in the customs and traditions of the people of the region. He returned briefly to Portugal, where he finished secondary school and attended the Society of Fine Arts. He returned to Lubango on his own and began working for the Bank of Angola. In 1952 he ...

Article

Bonnie A. Lucero

who later became a political activist in the early Cuban Republic, was born in 1876 in Cienfuegos. He joined the Cuban War of Independence (1895–1898) just months after the first uprisings broke out in Cienfuegos on 4 April 1895. He initially served in Cienfuegos and Las Villas under Lieutenant Colonel Alfredo Rego. He later enlisted in the invasion force led by Máximo Gómez (Cuba’s military leader during the war) and Antonio Maceo when it passed from Oriente through Villa Clara in December 1895, and he participated in the famous battle of Mal Tiempo. Acea served under the command of Juan Eligio Ducasse, and he was wounded in a battle in early 1896 outside Ceiba de Agua After operating in the vicinity of Alquizar for several months Acea organized his own infantry regiment called the Tiradores de Maceo in the Fifth Corps of the Cuban army ...

Article

Mandisa Mbali

antiapartheid, gay rights, AIDS, and human rights activist, was born in Johannesburg in South Africa. Adurrazack (“Zackie”) Achmat was of Cape Malay heritage. His father, Suleiman Achmat, was a member of the South African Communist Party and his mother, Mymoena, was a trade union shop steward. Achmat’s entry into politics began at the age of 14 with his participation in the 1976 student uprising. He was detained in 1977 for burning down his high school in Salt River to demonstrate his support for the uprising. Achmat obtained a bachelor of arts honors degree in English literature from the University of the Western Cape in 1992.

He spent much of the period between 1976 and 1980 in detention for his opposition to the apartheid system. It was also in this period that Achmat read the then-banned works of Karl Marx and Leon Trotsky and the progressive academic journal Work in ...

Article

Lidwien Kapteijns

Somali novelist, short story writer, critic, journalist, and founder of cultural and literary journals and institutions, was born in Jarriiban, Mudug region, Somalia, in 1952. His name is also given as Mohamed Dahir Afrah and Maxamed Daahir Afrax. He graduated from high school in Mogadishu in 1973. When the Siad Barre government introduced the first official orthography for the Somali language in 1972, Afrax founded the first bilingual Somali-Arabic monthly magazine using the new script, Codka Jubba (“The Voice of Jubba,” 1972–1975). In 1976, Afrax’s story “Guur-ku-sheeg” (“Pseudo-marriage”) was serialized in the Somali national newspaper Xiddigta Oktoobar (“The October Star”), laying the basis for a lasting literary tradition of serialized fiction.

In this same serialized form he also first published his popular novel Maanafaay, the story of the girl Maanafaay, who, in the Mogadishu of the 1970s, strives to be modern and modest ...

Article

John Marinelli

teacher and abolitionist, said in a letter of protest to the Hartford Courant that he was born to enslaved parents, but their names are unknown. Slavery was not formally abolished in New York State until 1827, and the census of 1820 recorded 518 slaves in New York City. One source suggests that Africanus was born in New York City in 1822; it is possible that he may have been connected to the brothers Edward Cephas Africanus and Selas H. Africanus, who taught at a black school in Long Island in the 1840s. Africanus is now remembered only through his few published writings and journalistic documentation of his actions; the earliest records of his activity in Connecticut date from 1849 when he attended a Colored Men s Convention and a suffrage meeting His most notable publication was the broadside he created to warn Hartford African Americans about ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

human rights activist and politician, was born in the southern Togolese town of Kouvé on 31 December 1943. His father, Soklou Agboyibo, and his mother, Doafio, were both Catholics from the Mina ethnic community. After completing his primary and secondary studies in Togo, Agboyibo traveled abroad for his graduate education. He received degrees from institutions of higher learning in France, the Ivory Coast, and Senegal. He was a lawyer by training and chose to remain in Togo under the brutal dictatorship of Étienne Gnassingbé Eyadéma in the 1980s. Eyadéma’s regime nevertheless allowed Agboyibo to run for a seat in the Togolese parliament in 1985 as an independent, even though Togo was a one-party state at the time. Two years later, Agboyibo formed the Commission Nationale des Droits de l’Homme (CNDH), a human rights organization that condemned many of the human rights violations of the Eyadéma regime.

Agboyibo received international ...

Article

Baqi<ayn>e Bedawi Muhammad

Sudanese educator and human rights activist for women’s rights and an advocate for freedom and democracy, was born on 30 May 1935 in Omdurman one of three cities that constitute the capital of Sudan Khartoum Khartoum North and Omdurman Her parents were originally from the Nubian region in northern Sudan Ahmed was the only female among her three siblings She grew up in an environment that helped shape her future life as a liberal and progressive individual Her father Ibrahim Ahmed was an engineer who worked as a teacher in Gordon Memorial College Sudan He played an active role in Sudan s independence movement and served as the first Sudanese Deputy to the Vice Chancellor of the University of Khartoum the first chairman of the University of Khartoum Senate a member of the Executive Council the first Sudanese Parliament and founder and president of Mutamar a l Khiregeen Graduates ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

was born in Aïn El Hammam (then Michelet) in Tizi Ouzou province, Algeria on 20 August 1926. Aït Ahmed’s father was a prominent Kabyle leader who worked for the French colonial government. Thanks to his family’s prosperity, he attended primary school followed by a French secondary school. Although Aït Ahmed’s father was loyal to France, his son became disgusted with the unfair and hypocritical nature of colonialism in Algeria. By the age of sixteen he had joined the Parti du Peuple Algerien (PPA) led by Messali Hadj. The massacre of Algerians by French settlers and soldiers at Sétif and Guelma in May 1945 horrified Aït Ahmed. He was one of the first members of the Organisation Special (OS), a group of embittered and young PPA members who decided to start fighting for independence in 1947 rather than following Hadj’s call for peaceful protests.

Aït Ahmed was the leader of ...

Article

pioneering Nigerian feminist, civil servant, and democratic activist, was born on 17 December 1923 in Okeigbo, a small town in present-day Ondo State, Nigeria. Her full name was Felicia Folayegbe Mosunmola Idowu Akintunde-Ighodalo. Her parents were Benjamin Olojomo Akintunde, a farmer, and Sarah (Ogunkemi) Akintunde, a direct descendant of the war leader and uncrowned Ooni-elect Derin Ologbenla of the Giesi Ruling House of Ile-Ife. Fola, as she was known, was their fourth, but first surviving, child. Although her parents were early converts to the Christian Missionary Society (CMS) mission in Ondo, she grew up in a family compound whose members also included followers of traditional Yoruba religious practices and Islam. Her father encouraged her to be self-reliant and assertive even if her actions sometimes disregarded gender expectations.

Young Fola Akintunde attended the local mission school whose headmaster recognized her potential and persuaded her father to allow her to complete primary ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Nigerian educator, civil servant, and women’s rights activist, was born in Ile-Ife, Nigeria, on 17 May 1925. Her family was extremely affluent, as she was the daughter of Sir Adesiji Aderemi (1889–1890), the traditional king of the city of Ile-Ife, one of the most important sacred sites in the spiritual traditions of the Yoruba people. One of her sisters, Awujoola Adesomi Olagbaju, went on to become a schoolteacher and headmaster in her own right.

Alakija received her early education in Nigeria. She attended the Aiyetoro Primary and the Aiyetoro Central Schools in Ile-Ife from 1933 to 1937. She also studied at the Kudeti Primary boarding school in Ibadan for a time. Eventually Alakija moved to England in 1946, where she enrolled in Westfield College at the University of London. She acquired her undergraduate degree in 1950 in history and then proceeded to continue her ...

Article

Rosemary Elizabeth Galli

nationalist, journalist and indigenous rights advocate, was born in Magul, Mozambique, on 2 November 1876. His father, Francisco Albasini, married the granddaughter of the head of Maxacuene clan in the Portuguese colony’s capital; her name is not recorded. João dos Santos was also known by his Ronga nickname, Wadzinguele. His grandfather João Albasini, a Portuguese trader, later established himself and a second family in the republic of the Transvaal where he became the vice-consul of Portugal. João dos Santos Albasini received a limited education at the Catholic Mission of Saint José Lhenguene; secondary education was not available in Mozambique. However, he was a keen reader especially of political tracts and gained great facility in writing both Portuguese and Ronga. Sometime around 1897 Albasini married Bertha Carolina Heitor Mwatilo but the marriage was unhappy and they divorced in 1917. They had two children.

As Albasini reached adulthood Portugal defeated ...

Article

Ana Raquel Fernandes

Chemist and phosphorus manufacturer, well known for his philanthropic views, born on 3 March 1811 in Charlbury, Oxfordshire, into a Quaker family. He was the son of William Albright and Rachel Tanner. In 1842 he joined the firm of John and Edward Sturge, manufacturing chemists in Birmingham. He was responsible for the development of Anton Schrotter's (1802–75) method of producing red phosphorus, important for the use of safety matches. This interest grew out of a concern for the health of match workers. In 1854 Albright took over a phosphorus plant previously belonging to the Sturge brothers, in Oldbury, Worcestershire. In 1856 he went into partnership with J. W. Wilson. Their firm survived until the middle of the 20th century.

Throughout his life Albright travelled in Europe Egypt and the United States seeking new sources of raw materials and trying to expand his export trade ...

Article

Jeffrey Green

Born in Trinidad, John Alcindor was among the first black West Indians to practise medicine in Britain. Winning an Island Scholarship enabled him to study medicine at Edinburgh University, from where he graduated in 1899 with first‐class honours in three subjects. He was among delegates from the Edinburgh‐based Afro‐West Indian Literary Society to the 1900 Pan‐African Conference, where he met and developed friendships with Samuel Coleridge‐Taylor and W. E. B. Du Bois. Moving to London, Alcindor practised his profession in the city's hospitals, and for several years played cricket for the Mill Hill Park club. His marriage to Minnie Alcindor (née Martin) in 1911 produced three sons. In 1917 Alcindor established his own medical practice, and also worked as a Poor Law medical officer. He published three scholarly studies on his research.

Alcindor was a founder member of the African Progress Union over which he was elected president in ...

Article

Crain Soudien

South African intellectual and political activist, was born in Cradock, Eastern Cape, South Africa, on 22 October 1936. His father was David James Alexander, a carpenter, and his mother, Dimbiti Bisho Alexander, a schoolteacher. His maternal grandmother was one of sixty-four Oromo children who were enslaved in Ethiopia in 1888 and subsequently brought to Lovedale in the Eastern Cape. His maternal grandfather was a Presbyterian Church pastor.

Alexander grew up in Cradock where he was also educated at the Holy Rosary Convent. After completing his schooling at the age of sixteen he enrolled at the University of Cape Town where he excelled in German and History, graduating with a BA in 1955, a BA (Hons) in 1956, and an MA in 1957. Both of the latter degrees were in German. In 1958 he was awarded an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation fellowship to study for a ...

Article

Penny Anne Welbourne

William G. Allen was born in Virginia. In his autobiographical pamphlet The American Prejudice against Color: An Authentic Narrative, Showing How Easily the Nation Got into an Uproar, he described himself as “a quadroon, that is, I am of one-fourth African, and three-fourths Anglo-Saxon.” Both his parents were free, his mother a mulatto, his father white. In 1838 Allen was accepted to the newly opened Oneida Institute in Whitesboro, New York, where he began to make connections with many leaders of the abolitionist movement. Following his graduation, Allen studied law in Boston, Massachusetts, under the abolitionist lawyer Ellis Gray Loring and then edited the National Watchman, based in Troy, New York, from 1842 until it ceased publication in 1847. Many of the antislavery ideas he developed during this period were later published in a series of letters he wrote to Frederick Douglass' Paper between 1852 ...

Article

Jacob Andrew Freedman

soldier, minister, and social activist, was born in Louisville, Kentucky, the youngest of the six children of Levi Allensworth and Phyllis (maiden name unknown), slaves of the Starbird family. The Starbirds were respected members of the community and were partners in Wilson, Starbird, and Smith, a wholesale drug company based in Louisville. Levi died when Allen was an infant. Phyllis's other five children either had been sold down the Mississippi River or had escaped to Canada. Phyllis hoped that Allen could “even if partly educated, win his freedom” (Alexander, 9). Believing that God would play a role in his redemption as well, Phyllis named Allen after Richard Allen, the founder and first bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. In Allen Allensworth's early years he was given to Thomas Starbird, Mrs. Starbird's son, as a companion.

When Thomas was sent to school Allensworth s ...

Article

Jorge Amado, who wrote more than thirty novels during his career, played a significant role in representing African culture in Brazilian literature. Among his subjects are the blacks of Salvador, in Amado's home state of Bahia, and the African religious rituals that sustain them. Although Amado's approach to Afro-Brazilian traditions is sympathetic and exceptionally detailed, his Bahian novels have met with much controversy. A younger generation of Brazilian and non-Brazilian critics have accused Amado of creating overly exotic portraits of black culture and creating simplistic, class-bound character types.

Amado the son of a plantation owner in Bahia attended a Jesuit college at age 12 However after just one year he rebelled against the strict lifestyle at the school and left to live with his grandfather During the 1930s Amado joined the Brazilian Communist Party and his writings from this period reflect his ideological commitment to communism These works such ...