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Owen J. M. Kalinga

Malawi's first female president, and the second female head of state in postcolonial Africa, was born Joyce Mtila on 12 April 1950 in Ntogolo Village Traditional Authority Malemia Zomba District Ntogolo the site of the Domasi Church of Scotland Mission and from the early 1930s the home of the Jeanes Training College was one of the centers of education in colonial Malawi Her father Gray Mtila was in the colonial police service serving for a long time in Zomba town and her mother Edith was a homemaker and later a retail assistant in one of the Peoples Trading Center establishments Joyce Mtila attended primary schools in Zomba district and after completing high school at Providence Secondary School she trained in office management and worked for some years during which time she married Roy Kachale The union produced three children For part of the 1970s the Kachales lived in Nairobi ...

Article

Mary H. Moran

Liberian president and the first woman elected president of an African country, was born Ellen Johnson on 29 October 1938 in Monrovia the capital of Liberia the daughter of Carney Karnley Johnson and Martha Dunbar Johnson Her paternal grandfather Jahmale sometimes known as Jahmale the Peacemaker was a well known chief of the Gola ethnic group As an important rural leader in the northwestern hinterland Jahmale had close ties with the coastal Liberian elite and placed his son as a ward in the home of a Monrovia family where he received his education His indigenous name Karnley was Anglicized to Carney and he took the surname Johnson from Hilary Wright Johnson the eleventh president of Liberia who had encouraged his father to send him to school He studied law as an apprentice to a practicing lawyer and was elected to the national legislature one of the first representatives of ...

Article

Ertha Pascal-Trouillot, one of the first women lawyers in the Caribbean island nation of Haiti, became the first woman to serve on the country's Supreme Court. She also served as the provisional president of Haiti from March 13, 1990, to February 7, 1991.

Born in Petionville, Pascal was the ninth of ten children. Her father died while she was young, and the family had to survive on the money earned by her mother and siblings. In 1971 Pascal graduated from the École de Droit (law school) in Gonaïves. Soon afterward she married Ernst Trouillot, a lawyer and history teacher who had tutored her. Pascal-Trouillot became an active lawyer, working on cases of labor conflict and family rights at a time when most Haitian women who had completed law school were only assistants in law firms. In January 1979 Pascal Trouillot was the first ...

Article

Kate Tuttle

Ruth Perry served as a senator from Grand Cape Mount County, in northern Liberia, before being named chairwoman of Liberia’s transitional Council of State in September 1996. Her appointment came at the hands of the factional leaders whose fighting had thrust Liberia into a seven-year-long civil war, but Perry, a widowed grandmother of fifty-seven, dealt firmly with the rival warlords, overseeing a mostly successful disarmament and free elections in July 1997.

Perry, the mother of seven children, first became involved in politics when she finished her husband’s term as senator after his death. In the 1980s, she attracted attention for her public opposition to then president Samuel K. Doe’s efforts to legalize polygamy. After Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia began to take control of the Liberian countryside in 1989 the country s government collapsed and Perry returned to her home where she ...

Article

Mary H. Moran

Liberian politician and the first female African head of state, was born Ruth Sando Fahnbullah on 16 July 1939 in Dia Town a rural area of Grand Cape Mount County in northwestern Liberia Her parents Marjon and Al Haji Semila Fahnbullah were practicing Muslims and members of the Vai ethnic group In keeping with local practice she was initiated into the Sande secret society but was also educated in Christian mission schools Her family was progressive enough to send her to the St Theresa Convent High School in Monrovia for her secondary education She continued her education at the University of Liberia where she enrolled in the Teachers College and received a degree in education She taught for a period in her home county of Grand Cape Mount and married McDonald Perry a Liberian politician who was building a career as a judge and member of the national legislature ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Gabonese politician and judge, was born on 20 September 1942 to a Galwa family in the central Gabonese town of Lambaréné. The small Galwa community belongs to the minority Omyènè ethnic community that had received favored access to educational opportunities throughout much of the colonial period. She attended primary and secondary schools in Gabon, and her family was close to the extremely powerful Gabonese politician Georges Rawiri. Like Rawiri, Rogombe (née Etoumba) backed the single-party regime of Omar Bongo Ondimba established in 1968. She was a faithful member of Bongo’s Parti Démocratique Gabonais (PDG; Gabonese Democratic Party), and upon completing her undergraduate and graduate studies of law in France, Rogombe returned to Gabon to work for the government. After first working as a magistrate, Rogombe served as minister of women’s affairs and human rights in the 1980s under longtime prime minister Léon Mebiame, another PDG stalwart.

Rogombe authored ...