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Article

Mohammed Hassen Ali

Oromo king of the Gibe region, in southwestern Ethiopia, was crowned in 1878. A year after his accession to power, Abba Jifar invaded the neighboring Oromo state of Gera with around twenty thousand men. This attack on a flimsy pretext was a show of force for the neighboring Oromo leaders, demonstrating his determination to dominate the political landscape of the Gibe region through threat or use of military power, diplomacy, and marriage alliances. He was not destined to dominate the Gibe region as the king of Shewa soon occupied it. Though Abba Jifar could mobilize tens of thousands of men for war, his army suffered from major weaknesses and lack of modern firearms and training.

In fact Abba Jifar came to power at a time of dramatic change in modern Ethiopian history when the clouds of conquest and destruction were hanging thick and low over the future of all ...

Article

Marian Aguiar

Considered a hero of anticolonial resistance by many contemporary Algerians, Abd al-Qadir created an Arab-Berber alliance to oppose French expansion in North Africa in the 1830s and 1840s. He also organized an Islamic state that, at one point, controlled the western two-thirds of the inhabited land in Algeria. Abd al-Qadir owed his ability to unite Arabs and Berbers, who had been enemies for centuries, in part to the legacy of his father, head of the Hashim tribe in Mousakar (Mascara) and leader of a Sufi Muslim brotherhood. In 1826Abd al-Qadir and his father made a pilgrimage, or hajj, to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of the prophet Muhammad, founder of Islam. When he returned in 1828, Abd al-Qadir s own reputation as an Islamic religious and cultural leader grew and both Arabs and Berbers looked to him to lead the resistance against the French who ...

Article

Zahia Smail Salhi

Algerian emir and anticolonialist leader, was born on 6 September 1808 near Mascara in the west of Algeria. His full name was ʿAbd al-Qadir bin Muhieddine; he is known in the Arab east as ʿAbdel-Kader al-Jazaʾiri and in Algeria as al-Amir ʿAbd El-Kader.

His father, Muhieddine al-Hassani, was a Sufi shaykh who followed the Qadiriyya religious order and claimed to be a Hasani (sharif ) descendent of the Prophet with family ties with the Idrisi dynasty of Morocco. As a young boy, ʿAbdel-Kader trained in horsemanship, and from this he developed his love for horses, about which he wrote some beautiful poetry. He was also trained in religious sciences; he memorized the Qurʾan and read in theology and philology. He was also known as a poet who recited classical poetry and wrote his own poetry, mostly centering on war and chivalry.

In 1825 ʿAbdel Kader set out with ...

Article

David Killingray

Son of Téwodros II, Emperor of Ethiopia. Alamayahu was orphaned when his father committed suicide during the British assault on Magdala in the war of 1868. He was brought to Britain in the care of Captain Tristram Speedy as a ward of the government. At Osborne, in the Isle of Wight, Alamayahu was introduced to Queen Victoria, who from then on took a distant interest in the young boy's welfare. While on the Isle of Wight, Alamayahu caused something of a sensation among the islanders, and he was photographed by Julia Margaret Cameron her pictures show a listless and sad looking boy Speed took the young Ethiopian prince with him to India but at the age of 10 and against his wishes and the advice of Queen Victoria he was sent to boarding school in Britain At the age of 17 Alamayahu entered the Royal Military ...

Article

Joshua H. Clough

president of Haiti from 21 December 1902 until 2 December 1908, was born in Cap-Haïtien, Haiti, to an elite and politically powerful family on 2 August 1820. He was the son of Nord Alexis and Blézine Georges. The former had served as a prominent official in Henri Christophe’s kingdom, and the latter was one of Christophe’s illegitimate daughters. When he was 19 years old, Alexis began his long and distinguished military career, shortly before his father’s death in 1840. He served first in the infantry of Haiti’s 22nd Regiment before serving as an officer in the gendarmerie of the Acul-du-Nord in 1843. From 1845 to 1846, he served as the military aide-de-camp to President Jean-Louis Pierrot. Alexis married Pierrot’s daughter Marie Louise in 1845, further securing his influential position in Haiti’s northern black upper class established under Christophe.

During this period he was also ...

Article

'Ali B. Ali-Dinar

the last sultan of Darfur in western Sudan, was born between 1865 and 1870 in the village of Shawaya northwest of al-Fashir, the capital of northern Darfur. His mother’s name was Kaltouma and his father, Zakariya, was the son of Sultan Mohammad al-Fadul (1801–1839). ʿAli Dinar had six sisters: Nur Alhuda, Taga, Gusura, Tibaina, and Umsalama. Very little is known about the early days of ʿAli Dinar before he rose to prominence during the Mahdist rule in Darfur (1882–1898). When his cousin Sultan Abulkhairat was killed in 1889, some suspected Ali Dinar’s role in this, but he denied the accusation in his published autobiography (Diwan Al madih fi Madh Al Nabi Al Malih; “Poetry in Praise of the Handsome Prophet,” 1913). In 1890 ʿAli Dinar was inaugurated a sultan in Jebel Marra home place of the Fur ethnic group The new sultan ...

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Article

Richard A. Bradshaw

a Bandia paramount chief (or “sultan”) of the Nzakara kingdom, a precolonial polity spanning the Mbali River in the southeastern region of what is now the Central African Republic. Named Kpangba at birth, he adopted the name Bangassou (“blazing sun”). According to Nzakara oral history, his father was Mbali/Bali (Mbari/Bari) “the gazelle,” son of Gwendi (or Boendi) “the taciturn,” son of Beringa “the drunkard,” son of Dunga “the quarrelsome,” son of Gobenge, son of Pobdi, son of Bwanda “the healer,” son of Agungu, son of Pongiet, son of Bongumu. These ancestors of Bangassou were members of the Bandia clan who left their Ngbandi homeland on the Ubangi River and conquered the Nzakara people.

The Bandia rulers participated in the growing slave trade of the nineteenth century and incorporated women and children into their polity thus prospering while nearby peoples in stateless societies were raided by slave traders The Nzakara often ...

Article

Elizabeth Heath

After his father, Sayyid Sa’id ibn Sultan, died in 1856, Barghash tried to usurp the throne from his older brother, Majid ibn Sa’id. His attempt failed, however, and Barghash was exiled to Bombay. He returned to Zanzibar two years later and ascended the throne peacefully after his brother’s death in 1870.

In 1872 a hurricane destroyed Zanzibar s navy and many of the island s valuable clove and coconut plantations In order to recover from this disaster Barghash allied himself with British forces in the region and signed antislavery treaties in exchange for funding and military equipment This support enabled Barghash to consolidate his hold on the coastal mainland By the late 1870s the tariffs and tributes he collected from mainland possessions substantially increased his revenue and compensated for the loss of the slave trade Although his power never extended far inland agreements with Arab Swahili traders ...

Article

Maitseo Bolaane

Kgosi of the Bangwaketse, was born at Tswaaneng, southern Gangwaketse, in Botswana. The eldest son of Kgosi Gaseitsiwe’s senior wife, Bathoen I was heir to the Bangwaketse chieftaincy. His mother was of the Batlhware people. He learned to read and write at a London Missionary Society mission (LMS) school. As the son of Kgosi, he became leader of the Maisantwa regiment, initiated in 1864 (Ngcongco 1977: 277). Bathoen became chief of the Bangwaketse in July 1889 after the death of his father, Gaseitsewe. The key events of Bathoen’s life related to the growth of British colonial power in this period. In 1885 Botswana became a British protectorate. Khama of Bangwato, Bathoen of Bangwaketse, and Sebele of Bakwena were key players during the period (1890–1891 when Britain s control over Botswana developed from a vague protectorate over the southern part to a more clearly defined though still in practice ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

king of the West African monarchy of Dahomey (now the Republic of Benin), was born around 1844, one of the many sons of Glele, king of Dahomey. There is great debate in oral traditions collected in the twentieth century regarding his early life. Some claimed that Behanzin, known as Kondo before he ascended to the throne, lived with Hehegunon, a powerful member of the royal family. Others contended Behanzin was raised by the deposed Dahomean ruler Adandozan, perhaps to discredit him. It is generally believed that Behanzin did not have a close relationship with his father. European travel accounts before the 1870s do not mention Behanzin and instead suggest that Glele s son Ahanhanzo was the undisputed heir However Ahanhanzo died under mysterious circumstances during the mid 1870s Some of Ahanhanzo s descendents blamed Behanzin for Ahanhanzo s death while other accounts contend that smallpox took his life ...

Article

Dario A. Euraque

was born in the Department of Olancho, in eastern Honduras, in the municipality of Juticalpa. His parents were Jorge Bonilla and Dominga Chirinos. He received a rudimentary primary education in the 1850s, and enjoyed no formal high school, much less a university education. We know almost nothing of his infancy and youth, and his black and mulatto ethno-racial background are only discreetly mentioned by his major biographers. However, there is no doubt that General Bonilla was phenotypically black or mulatto, in addition to having been born in a town whose ethno-racial background was the same.

According to Jose Sarmiento, the most important historian of Olancho and Juticalpa, Bonilla’s city of birth, in 1810 in the parish registries we find that nearly all the population is registered as mulatto One of General Bonilla s lesser known biographers also affirms as much Moreover his most important biographer characterizes him as dark ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Robert Ross

South African lawyer and politician, was born in Cape Town on 6 December 1823. His father, Christoffel J. Brand, a member of a leading Cape family, was a noted journalist and parliamentarian and the first speaker of the Cape Parliament in 1854. Brand Sr. had presented a doctoral thesis to Leiden University in 1820 on the rights of colonists, which the British might have considered treasonable if it had not been written in Latin. By the 1840s he, along with a number of his fellow Dutch-speaking settlers, decided to cooperate with British rule, believing, accurately as it would turn out, that they would be able to dominate democratic institutions in the colony when they were eventually granted.

Jan, as he was known, followed his father to Leiden University in the Netherlands, where he studied law, and thereafter he was admitted to the British Bar. In 1849 ...

Article

Cetshwayo was the son of Mpande, who was king of the Zulu from 1840to1842 , and the nephew of Shaka, who ruled from 1816 until 1828 and greatly expanded the Zulu kingdom. Cetshwayo was raised in the northern part of the Zulu kingdom near present-day Nongoma, South Africa. In 1856 he defeated and killed his half-brother Mbuyazi, whom Mpande had favored as the successor to the throne. After the British colonial forces in the nearby colony of Natal mediated between father and son, Cetshwayo publicly declared his loyalty to Mpande and was ceremonially proclaimed king in 1873.

For a time the British backed Cetshwayo in a land dispute between the Zulu and neighboring Afrikaners, white settlers of Dutch origin. The British began to withdraw their support, however, after annexing the Afrikaner territory of the Transvaal in 1877 since they no longer had a need for ...

Article

Michael R. Mahoney

Zulu king, was born in emLambogwenya, in what is today KwaZulu-Natal province, South Africa, to the future King Mpande ka Senzangakhona and his wife Ngqumbazi. In 1839, shortly after Mpande defected from his brother King Dingane’s side in the war between the Zulus and the Boers, he officially declared that Cetshwayo would be his heir, even presenting him as such at a meeting of the Boer legislature that year.

As Cetshwayo grew up, he became involved in the various intrigues in the Zulu royal house. One of the main issues in these intrigues was the relative status of Mpande’s twenty-nine wives, each of whom came from a prominent family either within the Zulu kingdom or neighboring it. It has long been customary in polygamous households in this region for the husband to name one of his wives as inkosikazi, or chief wife with her eldest son being heir ...

Article

Walima T. Kalusa

king of the Bemba people (in present-day Zambia), was born perhaps around the 1810s. As a youth, Chitapankwa (“raider”) was reportedly as rebellious as he was ambitious. He married Kafula, a daughter of his uncle Chitimukulu Chileshe Chepela, against whom Chitapankwa had once fought but made peace with when Chief Tafuna of the Lungu apparently refused to help the ambitious young man remove his uncle from office.

Chileshe was succeeded around 1860 by his infirm and weak-minded brother, Bwembya. As the Bemba now faced mounting military threats posed by Zwangendaba’s Ngoni from South Africa, Chitapankwa easily persuaded the bakabilo (councillors) to depose Bwembya. He then usurped the chitimukuluship kingship But Chitapankwa too faced stiff opposition from other Bemba royals of the crocodile clan Abena Ng andu especially his own brother Sampa Bemba oral tradition memorializes Chitapankwa as having fought and defeated his brother but as having placated him ...

Article

Angie Colón Mendinueta

was born in San Francisco de Cara, in the state of Aragua on 22 August 1841. The son of Leandro Crespo and María Aquilina Torres, he was also known as “The Tiger of Santa Inés” and “El Taita” (Daddy). Although the evidence is not conclusive, several sources have suggested that Crespo was of partial African descent. Writing in 1892, the US ambassador to Venezuela described Crespo as a “mulatto,” while the modern historians Winthrop R. Wright (1993) and George Reid Andrews (2000) have claimed that Crespo, like many nineteenth-century Venezuelans, and several South American politicians of that era, was of partial African descent (see Wright, 1993, pp. 66–67). During his youth he lived in Parapara, a plains town in the state of Guárico, where he learned to read and write.

In 1858 at the age of 17 Joaquín began his military career ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

king of the Senegalese Wolof-speaking kingdom of Cayor, was born in the village of Keur Amadou in 1842. He was the son of Sakhéwère Sokhna Mbaye and Ngoné Latyr Fall. Fall was a female member of the royal family.

When his older brother, King Birma Ngone Latyr, died in 1859, the French colonial government, under the leadership of Louis Faidherbe, decided to place Madiodio Fall as the damel (king) of Cayor. Macodou Koumba Yandé Mbarrou, the choice of most nobles in the kingdom and Diop himself, led a civil war against Fall. The French government then sent a military expedition to intervene on behalf of Fall. Diop and his military commander, Demba War Sall, defeated Fall and his partisans in a bloody battle at Koki in 1861, and again at Ngol Ngol in 1863 Diop could not compete with heavy artillery and machine guns and so ...

Article

Paulette Poujol-Oriol

Charles Alexis Oswald Durand became an orphan at the age of two when an earthquake destroyed the city of Cap-Haïtien in northern Haiti in 1842. Afterwards, Durand went to live with his grandmother in the frontier town of Ouanaminthe. Little is known of his first years of studies, but at age sixteen he was already working for his living as a tinsmith. While making pots and pans in the tiny village of Saint-Louis du Nord, he read and wrote his first verses. He was later offered a job as a primary school teacher.

Demesvar Delorme, a renowned politician and writer, assisted Durand in publishing his first books of poetry. Durand's reputation as a poet grew, particularly after the publication of “Choucoune” in 1883, which recounts how the narrator's beautiful black mistress is seduced by a white foreigner. Other works by Durand include Quatre nouveaux poèmes (1896 ...