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Walter Clarke

nationalist leader and first prime minister of independent Djibouti, was born in the Mabla mountain area north of Obock, Afar. Ahmed Dini Ahmed was fired by an intense sense of social justice and fairness and worked at one time or another with all of Djibouti’s early preindependence leaders with the objective of facilitating an independent government in which all ethnic groups would work together for the betterment of all citizens. The failure of his close friendship with Hassan Gouled Aptidon immediately after independence was a personal blow to both of them, but was probably inevitable in two such committed but divergent individuals. Ahmed Dini had a political career roughly parallel to that of Hassan Gouled. He completed his primary school in Djibouti and then worked as a nurse’s aide. He became interested in politics at a young age. In 1959 after Gouled had been elected to the French National ...


Klaas van Walraven

prime minister of Niger, was born in Soudouré, west of the capital, Niamey. Although he was the son of a village chief, Bakary was a talaka (a commoner), since his father did not hail from a noble family. Bakary was related by blood to Hamani Diori, Niger’s later president. Although he was a member of the Zarma ethnic community, many people in western Niger regarded Bakary as a Songhay, a closely related ethnic group. Later, he used this to mobilize political support along the Niger River valley.

At the age of 7 Bakary was taken by his uncle to the city of Tahoua central Niger where he was enrolled in a colonial primary school A diligent student he learned to speak Hausa before continuing his education in the capital It was here that his political consciousness began one day he met his father who had been sentenced to forced labor ...


Ari Nave

Born in Quatre Bornes, Mauritius, Paul Bérenger was raised in a Franco-Mauritian family. He became interested in Marxist politics while studying philosophy, French, and journalism in Wales and in Paris, France. Upon returning to Mauritius, he immediately became involved in the independence movement. Finding the politics of the Mauritius Labour Party (MLP) too conservative, he created the left-wing Club des Étudiants Militants and began organizing demonstrations against the MLP and allied parties. He also became a union organizer, leading a series of strikes.

Bérenger envisioned a country unified by a common language and culture rather than divided by ethnic tensions. In 1969 he founded a new political party, the Mouvement Militant Mauricien (MMM), together with Dev Virahsawmy, a Telegu, and Jooneed Jeerooburkhan, a Muslim. The party’s socialist platform and nonethnic orientation appealed to the large working class, particularly dockhands, plantation workers, and unemployed youth.

In response to Bérenger s disruptive ...


Bill Nasson

farmer, general, and first prime minister of the Union of South Africa, was born on 27 September 1862 near Greytown in the British colony of Natal. His paternal grandfather, Philip Rudolph Boot (or Both), was of German settler descent and had participated in the 1830s Boer Great Trek into the interior. The son of migrant trekkers Louis Botha and Salomina van Rooyen, Louis was the ninth of thirteen children. In 1869, the Botha family left Natal and settled on a farm near Vrede in the Orange Free State, where Louis lived until the age of twenty-two. Earlier, he had been schooled at a local German mission where he received only a very basic education.

Botha’s minimal formal learning proved to be no handicap to the development of his exceptional aptitude for fieldcraft and understanding of the working of the highveld terrain. In 1886 he settled on his ...


Jeremy Rich

first female prime minister of Senegal, was born in the coastal city of Saint Louis, Senegal. She came from a family of lawyers, including her father, one brother who worked for the Supreme Court of Senegal, and another brother who received an advanced law degree, became a professor of international law, and eventually became the head of the University of Dakar. Boye herself attended primary school in her home city before graduating from the Lycée Faidherbe secondary school and enrolling in an undergraduate law degree program at the University of Dakar in 1963 She then studied law at the Centre National d Études Judiciaries CNEJ in Paris Once she finished her studies in France she returned to Senegal and began to work as an assistant prosecutor for the government Boye became an assistant judge in a court at Dakar and later rose to be president of the Senegalese Court ...


Kenneth P. Vickery

lawyer, politician, vice president (1970–1973), and prime minister (1973–1975, 1977–1978) of independent Zambia, was born in Nampeyo, an area near Monze, in the Southern Province of Zambia (then Northern Rhodesia), on 21 January 1930. He was the son of Hameja Chilala, a spiritual leader, legendary hunter, and Tonga chief—though “chiefship” in this region is problematic and probably owes as much to British colonial rule as to indigenous origins. His mother was Nhandu. Chona attended the local school sponsored by the main Catholic Jesuit mission in Southern Province, Chikuni, and then Chikuni itself, before completing secondary education at Munali, the elite Lusaka high school founded by the Northern Rhodesian colonial administration in 1939 He was clearly an outstanding student After graduation he worked for a time as an interpreter for the High Court in Livingstone and this may have fueled his desire to become a lawyer He found time ...


Frances B. Henderson

Mozambican politician and prime minister from 2004 to 2010, was born in Tete Province, Mozambique. Diogo held one of the most powerful positions in Mozambique, and was among the first women to break through the gender barrier into the upper echelons of political office in Africa. She has also been a tireless advocate of accountability and good governance in southern Africa. Diogo is widely credited with facilitating economic growth and development in Mozambique.

Diogo was raised in Tete City and attended school there until she was fourteen years old. She attended high school in the capital city of Maputo at Maputo Commercial Institute, and she then went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in finance from Eduardo Mondlane University, also in Maputo. In 1983 Diogo went to London to continue her studies in financial economics at the University of London, where she earned a master’s degree in 1992 ...


Dag Henrichsen

Namibia’s first prime minister (1990–2002), was born on 3 August 1941 in the Grootfontein district of the Otjozondjupa region in central Namibia. He trained as a teacher at the Augustineum Training College in Okahandja between 1958 and 1961, where he became a student activist against the apartheid politics of the South African administration. He then also joined the newly founded South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) of Namibia, soon experiencing harassment by the South African police and thus fleeing into exile to Botswana in late 1962. Here he became the assistant to SWAPO’s representative in Francistown until 1964, when he was granted a scholarship to study in the United States. Initially he attended Temple University (1964–1966); he later graduated with an MA in international relations from the New School of Social Research in New York.

Simultaneously he became a SWAPO petitioner to the UN until 1971 at ...


Sterling Recker

Rwandan politician and prime minister is a Hutu who came of age under Belgian colonial rule Gitera was educated in a Catholic seminary which had been established by the Belgian colonial powers The institutions of colonialism and the Catholic Church had both favored Tutsi supremacy for most of Gitera s life which contributed to his ideological development and his determined focus on revolution and reform by the late 1950s Gitera was a businessman who went on to create a political party which was ostensibly based on class interests as opposed to the principles of ethnicity but nevertheless attracted only Hutu members He challenged the privileges that Tutsi held and demanded independence for Rwanda during the 1950s Gitera was attempting to appeal to all Rwandans regardless of ethnicity by using nationalist ideology to create a movement against the colonial powers and church influence both of which were supportive of the Tutsi ...


Kimberly Battle-Walters Denu

Ethiopian politician and prime minister, was born in the Wolayita Zone of southern Ethiopia, on 19 July 1965. His father, Desalegn Boshe, is an educator and political activist. Hailemariam Desalegn became the acting prime minister of Ethiopia on 20 August 2012, after the unexpected death of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who served as Ethiopia's prime minister from 1995 until 2012. A month later, on 21 September 2012, Hailemariam was confirmed as Ethiopia's new prime minister. Formally known as Hailemariam Desalegn, his given name is Hailemariam, an Orthodox name which means the power of Saint Mary. His last names, Desalegn Boshe, are Hailemariam's father's and grandfather's first names, which is customary in Ethiopia.

Hailemariam was first exposed to political ideologies and activism as a youth as he listened to political discussions and witnessed his father s participation in a political movement known as the ...


Chris Saunders

Boer general, Afrikaner nationalist, and South African prime minister, was born near Wellington in Cape Province in 1866 He studied law at Victoria College Stellenbosch and then at the University of Amsterdam After practicing as a lawyer in Pretoria he was appointed a judge in the Orange Free State OFS then became legal adviser to the OFS forces during the Anglo Boer War before becoming a general and leading a guerrilla commando on daring raids against the British After the war he became active in politics founding the Orangia Unie Party When the Orange River Colony ORC became self governing Hertzog joined its cabinet as attorney general and director of education in which capacity he demanded equal status for English and Afrikaans in schools He represented the ORC in the negotiations for a Union of South Africa and the first prime minster of the Union Louis Botha asked him ...


first prime minister of the Republic of the Congo (later Democratic Republic of the Congo), was born 25 July 1925 in Onalua a small village in Kasai Province Belgian Congo His parents belonged to the small Tetela ethnic group known for its resistance to Belgian colonial domination which in Onalua was well anchored and brutally asserted Lumumba was a curious even audacious child with a sharp intelligence He did not allow himself to be ruled by adults or his comrades and was remembered as a leader always ready to defend his friends His assertive temperament distinguished him but also got him into trouble for he could not succeed in an environment like the colonial Congo where docility passed for a primary virtue An autodidact he was shaped by neither family school nor religion he observed everything keenly imposing himself on his society and surprising above all the Belgian colonial ...


Lokangaka Losambe

Patrice Emery Lumumba was born on 2 July 1925 at Onalua, in Katako-Kombe Territory, Sankuru District, in the present-day Orientale Kasai Province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. After an early-childhood African homestead education at the hands of his peasant parents, he first enrolled in a Catholic school and then, at the age of thirteen, moved to a Protestant mission school run by Swedish Methodists. While the homestead education inculcated communal, humane African values in the young Lumumba, the assimilationist Catholic education exposed him to exclusive colonial strictures. As Jean-Paul Sartre accurately states in his introduction to a collection of Lumumba’s speeches edited by Jean Van Lierde and entitled Lumumba Speaks p 7 Reverend Fathers wanted to make him a catechist and the more practical minded Swedes wanted to teach him a trade that would enable him to get out of the peasant class and work for a ...


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 ...


Juan Fandos-Rius

Central African prime minister, was born on 14 February 1936 with his twin brother Christopher Maidou at Bangui in Ubangi-Shari. His Gbanziri father, Maurice Maidou, was a nurse in French Equatorial Africa's health service. After primary school at Fort Sibut, junior high school at Bambari, and teacher training at Bambari, he taught at Kembé, Mobaye, and Bossembélé in the late 1950s. From 1960 to 1962 he attended a higher level teacher training institution in Brazzaville, then studied at a teacher training school in Rennes, France from 1962 to 1964. He earned a master's degree in geography after studying from 1964 to 1968 in Nancy, France, but failed his civil service entrance examination in 1969.

Maidou was qualified to teach junior high but not high school or university classes. However when he returned to the Central African Republic (CAR) in 1969 he had undergone more French ...


James Jankowski

Egyptian lawyer, judge, nationalist leader, and prime minister, was born in Samanud in Gharbiyya Province on 15 June 1879. Of modest family background (his father was a timber merchant), Nahhas is a prime example of the trajectory of upward mobility experienced by the effendiyya, Egypt’s new middle class created by processes of modernization in the nineteenth century. Educated at the Nasiriyya Elementary School and later the Khedivial Secondary School, he was first in his class at the Khedivial Law School when he graduated in 1900. In 1904 he was appointed a judge in the National Court in Tanta, and served as a judge until dismissed from the courts in 1919 due to his political involvement.

In the pre–World War I period, Nahhas’s initial political sympathies were with the Watani Party of Mustafa Kamil and Muhammad Farid. When Saʿd Zaghlul organized the new Wafd Party to demand ...


Henry Kam Kah

anticolonial politician, Pan-Africanist, socialist, and first president of independent Ghana, was born Francis Nwia Kofi Nkrumah in Nkroful, Nzima village, in Britain’s Gold Coast colony (now in southwest Ghana). There is some dispute about the exact date of his birth. In the Akan tradition, Kwame is a day name indicating a male born on a Saturday, and Nkrumah notes in his autobiography (1957) that his family believed he was born on a Saturday in the middle of September, most likely the eighteeenth.The priest who baptized him, however, recorded his date of birth as 21 September 1909 which was probably the date of his baptism For most of his life Nkrumah used 21 September as his birth date that was the least line of resistance officially as his baptismal certificate served as his birth certificate His parents were Kofi Ngonloma of the Asona clan a goldsmith and Elizabeth Nyanibah of ...


David P. Johnson

Leader of the first sub Saharan African colony to gain independence Kwame Nkrumah was a towering figure in the Pan Africanism movement and a tireless advocate of an independent African Socialism Nkrumah was born Francis Nwia Kofi Nkrumah into a Nzima family in Nkroful in the southwestern Gold Coast present day Ghana His father was a goldsmith and his mother a retail market trader A baptized Roman Catholic Nkrumah attended the Roman Catholic mission school in the nearby town of Half Assini and graduated from another Roman Catholic school in Sekondi He studied teaching at Achimota College After teaching in the early 1930s Nkrumah considered becoming a Jesuit priest but decided to study in the United States instead He earned degrees from Lincoln University and the University of Pennsylvania Nkrumah s political philosophy began to develop as he studied the international socialism of Marx and Lenin the African nationalist writings ...


Percival James Patterson was the first black prime minister in the Caribbean island nation of Jamaica. After serving as deputy prime minister and finance minister, Patterson replaced prime minister Michael Manley when Manley resigned in 1992 As head of the People s National Party PNP Patterson remained prime ...


Born in Bois d’Oiseaux, Mauritius, Seewoosagur Ramgoolam grew up in the small village of Belle Rive. An Anglophile and ardent student even as a boy, he left home to attend Royal College of Curepipe, a prestigious Mauritian public secondary school, and then traveled to Great Britain for medical school. While in England, Ramgoolam met with Indian nationalist leader Mahatma Gandhi, joined the Fabian Society (a political group committed to Socialism and nonviolence), and became secretary of the local Indian National Congress chapter. Upon returning to Mauritius in 1935, Ramgoolam joined a vanguard of Indo-Mauritian intellectuals and founded a newspaper, the Advance.

In 1940 Ramgoolam was nominated to the Council of Government as a representative of Hindu interests. With the extension of suffrage to all literate adults in 1948, Ramgoolam gained a seat in the Legislative Council. He was reelected in 1953 and joined the Mauritian Labour ...