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Angolan anthropologist, writer, and filmmaker, was born in Santarém, Portugal, on 22 April 1941. His family immigrated to Angola in 1953, to the city of Moçamedes, where he spent part of his adolescence. He then returned to Portugal, where in 1960 he finished a course in agronomy. During these Portuguese years, he kept himself at a distance from the group of young nationalist students from the colonies, who tended to congregate around the Casa dos Estudantes do Império in Lisbon, to discuss and denounce the iniquity of the Portuguese colonial system.

Carvalho returned to Angola in 1960. He was living in the province of Uìge when, in 1961, the anticolonial activity of the Movimento Popular para la Libertação de Angola (MPLA) began, which would lead to Angola eventually achieving independence in 1975 In those years Ruy Duarte de Carvalho worked as a coffee grower and ...


Eileen Julien

Senegalese poet and storyteller, stands out in the constellation of African writers as a unique and gifted raconteur of traditional tales. In Les contes d’Amadou Koumba (1947), Les nouveaux contes d’Amadou Koumba (1958), and Contes et lavanes (1963), Diop recounts, in a style evocative of oral performance, narratives heard in his youth and during his travels as a colonial veterinarian in then French West Africa.

Diop’s initial literary passion was poetry, and it was in this genre that he began writing as a high school student. Some of his first poems, modeled on classical and romantic French poetry that he was studying in school, were to appear in his collection Leurres et lueurs (1960 Despite what Léopold Sédar Senghor called the nonblack character of these poems this youthful apprenticeship in poetry was an important step in Diop s becoming a sophisticated author ...


Jessica Falconi

Angolan poet, storyteller, and political activist who also wrote under the pseudonym “Orlando Távora,” was born in Luanda on 28 September 1924. His father, José Trindade Martins, along with his mother, Maria Cecilia Amaral, were both Portuguese from the Trás-os-Montes region in northern Portugal, who had settled in Angola around 1912, where his father worked as a trader and businessman. His full name was António Jacinto do Amaral Martins.

Jacinto spent his early years in the small settlement of Cambombo and, a little later, in Golungo alto in the province of Cuanza Norte in northern Angola, eventually settling in Luanda with his family. There, he attended the Liceu Salvador Correia, the institution which most Angolan intellectuals attended and which functioned as a cultural gathering place.

There, Jacinto began to dedicate himself to the collection of Angolan oral literature. In 1946 he wrote his first work of fiction ...


Elena Bertoncini Zúbková

Swahili poet, scribe, calligrapher, woodcarver, performer, tailor, musician, and dance master, was born in Lamu on the northern coast of Kenya. Nicknamed Kijum(w)a, “little slave,” by his mother at his birth (hoping this nickname would be auspicious), his full name was Muhammad bin Abubekr bin Omar Kijumwa (also Muhamadi bin Abu Bakari, Mohamed Abubakar Kijumwa, and other possible transliterations from the Arabic script). He studied at the qurʾanic school, made the pilgrimage to Mecca three times, and became a renowned and versatile artist, who handed to his son Helewa the craft of carving the beautifully ornamented doors in Lamu. Among other skills, he made musical instruments and was a famous player of the kibangala a seven stringed lute He passed most of his life in Lamu but in the 1890s he worked as a scribe in the small protectorate of Witu inland from the Kenyan coast which was part ...


Siphokazi Koyana

South African novelist, poet, playwright, storyteller, actor, and motivational speaker, was born on 27 August 1943 in Gungululu, a village in Tsolo, in the former Transkei, which is now part of the Eastern Cape province. Her father, like many others, was a migrant laborer who worked in Cape Town, about 621 miles (1,000 km) away from his family. When she was 5, she and her immediate family moved to the black locations outside Cape Town to better attend to her mother’s ailing health.

In 1959 Magona completed the junior certificate at Lourdes Secondary School in Mzimkhulu in the former Transkei. In 1961 she graduated from St. Matthews Teacher Training College in Keiskamahoek in the former Ciskei. In 1962 she taught at Hlengisa Primary School, Nyanga Township, Cape Town, before the birth of her first child in 1963 and her marriage in 1964. From 1963 to 1967 she worked ...


Elias Bongmba

Congolese (Democratic Republic of the Congo [DCR]) composer, guitarist, poet, social critic, satirist, political commentator, and orchestra leader, whose full name was L’Okanga La Ndju Pene Luambo Makiadi alias Franco, reigned for more than thirty years as king of rumba, a wizard of orchestration, and a monument of the Congolese and the African song. He certainly was one of the intellectual giants of Africa in the twentieth century.

Makiadi was born in Sona Bata on 6 July 1938 to Joseph Emongo and his wife Mbonga Makiesse. He left school and focused on music, and made his own guitar at age 7. In 1953 Franco recorded his first song, “Bolingo na ngai na Beatrice” (My Love for Beatrice), beginning a long engagement with themes dealing with love and women.

Paul Dewayon served as a mentor to the young Franco During his long career Makiadi and his exemplary musicians recorded over 150 ...


South African novelist, playwright, poet, painter, sculptor, film producer, and academic, was born on 6 October 1948 in Sterkspruit in the Herschel District of the Eastern Cape, near the border with Lesotho. His father Ashby Peter Solomzi Mda was a schoolteacher, later an attorney, and a founder of the African National Congress Youth League and of the Pan-African Congress; his mother Rose Nompumelelo Mda was a nurse. When Mda was an infant, his parents moved with him to Orlando East and then to Dobsonville in Soweto, where his father taught school.

Mda claims that he became a juvenile delinquent and joined street gangs during his time in Soweto while his father was studying law In hopes of keeping him out of trouble his parents sent him as a teenager to live with his grandparents in Sterkspruit soon after his father joined him to establish a law practice there His father ...


Emad Abdul-Latif

Egyptianvernacular poet, songwriter, and political activist, popularly known as el-Fāgūmī, was born in May 1929 in Kafr abu Negm village in Sharqiyya governorate. His father, Mohammed Ezzat Negm, was a police officer and his mother, Hanim Mursi Negm, was a farmer. His father's sudden death was a tragic event in his life. His family abandoned him when he was ten years old and he had to move to an orphans’ shelter where he stayed for seven years. From that moment, Negm lived an unstable, though rich, life. At the age of seventeen, he returned briefly to his village and worked at farming, only to move back to Cairo shortly after. Negm worked many odd jobs but failed to keep any one job for a prolonged period of time until he worked for the Egyptian railways in 1951. In 1959 he was accused of ...


Paul Schauert

Ghanaian ethnomusicologist, linguist, composer, and poet, was born on 22 June 1921 in Ashanti Mampong in central Ghana. His full given name was Joseph Hanson Kwabena Nketia. His father, Akwasi Yeboa, and mother, Akua Adoma, were traders in a nearby village called Effiduase. After his father passed away when Kwabena was an infant, he was raised by his mother and maternal grandparents. With the help of his grandfather, Opanyin Kisi Amoa, and grandmother, Yaa Amankwaa, Nketia attended Mampong Asante Presbyterian Junior and Senior Schools. After completing his secondary education, in 1937 Nketia enrolled in the Presbyterian Training College at Akropong-Akwapim, where he focused on music and the Twi (Akan) language. In 1941 he received his teaching certificate and was subsequently appointed to teach music and Twi at the Training College After three years at the Training College Nketia received a two year scholarship to study linguistics at the University ...


Emad Abdul-Latif

Egyptiansongwriter, poet, and translator, was born on 8 August 1892 in Cairo's Nasiriyya district. His father, Mohammed Hasan Otman Rami, was a military physician in the Egyptian army, and his mother, Fatima al-Ghazouly, was a housewife. Because of his family's continuous travels, Rami lived an uneasy childhood. His father left him for years under the custody of his aunt and grandfather. At the age of thirty, he suffered a smallpox infection that left traces on him both physically and spiritually. After graduating from the Higher Teachers College (Cairo) in 1914, he worked as a high school teacher until 1920 when he was appointed a librarian at the Higher Teachers library for two years Then he took a scholarship to study librarianship in France for two years When he returned he was appointed to a position at Dar al Kutub the Egyptian National Library and ...


Sterling Recker

Rwandan poet, scholar, and composer, was born Sipiriyani Rugamba in Rwamiko in southern Rwanda. He was a member of the Hutu ethnic group but was considered by many to be a Rwandan who created art for all people due to the general impression that his works, which included actors from all ethnic groups, embodied a concentrated focus on writing about Rwandan history and culture, regardless of ethnicity. Due to his affinity for Rwanda culture, he wrote music that spoke to Rwandans by approaching his craft from an African perspective as opposed to other writers and composers of his era who incorporated European aspects of art into their own. Rugamba was known to incorporate Rwanda’s past into his works in order to create an art form that was distinctly Rwandan.

Rugamba studied philosophy and literature and received a doctorate in history at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium Soon after ...


Kadar Ali Diraneh

Somali poet, was born William Joseph Faarax Siyad in Djibouti. His parents were Christians from British Somaliland. Siyad was the only boy in a family of four children that included Marie-Françoise, who would marry the Somali lawyer and future leader of the independence movement, Michael Mariano; Carmelle; and Shamis, who was the mother of the writer Patrick Erouart-Syad. His father, Faarax Joseph, owned a bakery and was an interpreter at the French colonial court in Djibouti. He died in 1938 when Siyad was only seven years old.

Siyad attended the primary school of the Charles de Foucauld Fathers, then went to Aden from 1940 to 1945 to attend Saint-Joseph College, where he learned English. After a brief return to Djibouti, he traveled to France in 1946 with a view to acquiring a bachelor s degree and then go on to graduate studies During a year s stay in Marseilles ...


Kahiudi C. Mabana

Congolese (Brazzaville) novelist, playwright, and poet, was born Marcel Sony on 4 June 1947 in Kimwanza in the Lower Congo (Democratic Republic of the Congo), the eldest of seven children. Sony’s parents originated from opposite banks of the Congo River. At a young age, he went to Congo-Brazzaville to pursue his primary studies. He admits to having had much trouble adapting to scholastic life, which was completely different than that of his native land. All his classmates already spoke French fluently while his linguistic level was still very weak: “I began my studies in the former Belgian Congo (Zaire) and there teaching had been in the native African language. When I left Kinshasa for Brazzaville, I suffered a shock” (Herzberger-Fofana, 1999). Few remarks are made on his secondary studies. Since 1971, Marcel Sony has taught French and English in Kindamba and Pointe-Noire.

La vie et demie Seuil 1979 ...


Kate Tuttle

Born Marcel Sony, Tansi moved from his home in what was then the Belgian Congo to independent Congo (now Congo-Brazzaville) in 1959 to attend French schools. Starting in 1971 he worked as a schoolteacher in Brazzaville, and in 1979 he was appointed both to a position with the ministry of culture and to the directorship of the Rocado Zulu Theatre. That same year, Tansi published his first novel, La Vie et Demie (Life and a Half), as well as his first play, Conscience de Tracteur (Tractor Awareness). In the latter, Tansi used some of the conventions of science fiction to tell a political parable; the play won second place in a theatre competition sponsored by Radio France.

Tansi wrote three more novels in the 1980s—L’Etat Honteux (1981), L’Anté-Peuple (1983), and Les Yeux du Volcan (1988 and four plays becoming well known not only ...


Terza Silva Lima-Neves

poet and composer, was born Eugenio de Paula Tavares, on 18 October 1867, on the island of Brava, in the Republic of Cape Verde. Cape Verde, a small island nation with a population of five hundred thousand near Senegal, West Africa, gained its independence from Portugal in 5 July 1975, under the leadership of the revolutionary leader, Amilcar Cabral and the African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde (PAIGC). It is one of several former Portuguese colonies in Africa. The others include Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Angola, and São Tomé, and Princípe. Cape Verde had experienced considerable growth since independence because of increased tourism and government efforts. Poverty and unemployment remained high, which resulted in a significant amount of its population emigrating to Europe and the Americas. The number of Cape Verdeans abroad exceeds the population on the islands.

Eugenio Tavares parents were Eugenia ...


J. O. J. Nwachukwu-Agbada

Igbo-language novelist, broadcaster, poet, theater director, and cultural activist, was born on 22 February 1950 at St. Barth’s Maternity Home, Asata, Enugu, the capital of now-defunct Eastern Nigeria. Tony, as he preferred to be addressed, grew up under the tutelage of his father, Igbokwuchaaonu Aaron (1910–1984), a public-service artisan and church warden who wanted his third child to be a committed Anglican Christian and an informed Igbo, particularly in the area of Igbo culture and tradition. Ubesie failed neither his father nor his examinations, marked by his Division One result in the West African School Certificate examinations (WASC) of 1966 and a 1980 Upper Second Class Honors degree in linguistics and Nigerian languages from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

Before he went to Nsukka in 1976 Ubesie s name was a household word in Igboland as he was already by that time an Igbo language broadcaster He was one of ...


Mussie Tesfagiorgis

Eritrean Tigrinya singer, performer, poet, and music player and composer, was born in Asmara on 21 January 1949, the son of Gebre Mikael Bisirat and Azeb Gebrehiwot. Commonly known as Yemane Barya, he was one of the greatest and most renowned Eritrean nationalists and artists.

He attended the Asmara Comboni and the Enda Kidisti Mariam schools. His interest in performing arts (music, theater, and poetry) evolved at an early age while he was attending junior school in Asmara. Although his parents strongly advised him to focus on his formal education, Yemane Gebremichael continued to get involved in performing arts in different ways and though he was a good student at school, he dropped out of school in grade nine and started his career as an amateur professional in the performing arts.

In the 1960s Yemane Gebremichael joined one of the biggest cultural troupes in Eritrea known as Mahber Tiyater ...