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Paul Hanson

Roger Abrahams is an interdisciplinary social scientist working in folklore, literature and anthropology, but equally engaged with sociology, sociolinguistics, and history. His research interests range from the cultural forms and practices of the African diaspora, American colonial history, and Appalachian folksong to North American display events and the role of African American Vernacular English in American education. Abrahams is best known, however, as a scholar of the African diaspora. Foundational to Abrahams’s success in such an expansive and comparative endeavor is his sustained reflexive intellectual development, his skill in vitalizing and building institutions and institutional bridges, and his dialectical thinking.

Abrahams was born on 12 June 1933 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1955 he graduated with a BA in English from Swarthmore College. Abrahams went on to earn an MA in Literature and Folklore from Columbia University in 1959; and in 1961 he received his PhD in Literature and Folklore ...

Article

Nigerian writer, also known as Catherine Obianuju Acholonu-Olumba, was born on 26 October 1951 in Orlu of Igbo parentage. The daughter of Chief Lazarus Emejuru Olumba and Josephine Olumba of Umuokwara Village in the town of Orlu in Imo State, southeastern Nigeria, she obtained her early education at local primary and secondary schools in Orlu. At age seventeen, in an arranged marriage, she became the wife of Douglas Acholonu, a surgeon then living in Germany, by whom she had four children: Ifunanya, Nneka, Chidozie, and Kelechi. In 1974 she registered as a student of English and American language and literature and Germanic linguistics at the University of Dusseldorf and earned a master’s degree in her chosen field in 1977.

Upon returning to Nigeria in 1980, she accepted a teaching appointment at Alvan Ikoku College of Education in Owerri. While teaching, Acholonu was also writing her PhD dissertation. In 1982 ...

Article

Adeyemi Bukola Oyeniyi

Nigerian scholar, professor of African history at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, was born on 22 November 1937 in Ihube, Okigwe, in present-day Imo State, southeastern Nigeria. He had his early education at Methodist Central School, Ihube, Okigwe, between 1944 and 1950 and won the Okigwe Native Administration scholarship, which enabled him to attend St. Augustine’s Grammar School, Nkwerre Orlu, in Imo State between 1951 and 1956 With a scholarship from the government of Eastern Nigeria he proceeded to the University College Ibadan now University of Ibadan Ibadan to study history Afigbo graduated at the top of his class and therefore won the University of Ibadan postgraduate scholarships which enabled him to study and complete his doctorate degree also a first among his colleagues among whom were Obaro Ikime and Philip Igbafe Afigbo thus became the first person to receive a doctoral degree in history from a Nigerian university ...

Article

was born 30 December 1936 in the village of Ewouta in the southern coastal Fernan-Vaz region of Gabon, to Anina Germaine, a member of the coastal Nkomi ethnic community. Agondjo-Okawé only met his biological father when he was fourteen years old. His mother, Anina, originally came from the nearby town of Kongo, but had difficulties with having children and turned to an herbalist in Ewouta for help. She later divorced Agondjo-Okawé’s biological father and married Charles Ping, a Chinese immigrant living in Fernan-Vaz. Their son, Agondjo-Okawé’s half-brother, Jean Ping went on to become a major figure in Gabonese politics.

In 1946 Agondjo Okawé s uncle Jean Remy Ayouné decided to have him study at the Roman Catholic mission school of Sainte Anne de Fernan Vaz It was around this time that the young boy witnessed an African colonial guard assault a woman in his village Disgusted Agondjo Okawé learned ...

Article

Elizabeth Heath

Ahmad Baba was one of the best-known Islamic scholars and writers of his time. Born into the prestigious Aqit family near Tombouctou (Timbuktu) in 1556, he was educated in Islamic theology and law. After completing his studies, he began writing books and treatises on theology, Islamic jurisprudence, history, and Arabic grammar. Over the course of his life he wrote more than fifty-six works. More than half of these are still in existence, and several are still used by West African ulama (scholars). Ahmad Baba also was a great collector of books; he amassed a library containing thousands of volumes. At this time, Tombouctou, ruled by the Songhai empire, was renowned throughout the Islamic world as a center of learning.

In 1591 the sultan of Morocco invaded Tombouctou. Ahmad Baba and other scholars refused to serve the Moroccan rulers and, by some accounts, instigated a 1593 rebellion against ...

Article

Islamic scholar and historian from present-day Mauritania. His name is also spelled Sidi Ahmed ould al-Amin al-Shinqiti. The nisba (name extension indicating place of origin) al-Shinqiti does not refer to the town Chinguetti (Shinqit), but was given to him during his stay in the Arab world. All bidan (Moors) going abroad to the Arab world have the nisba al-Shiniqiti added to their names, no matter from which region or town of the so-called Bilad Shinqit (“The lands of Chinguetti”; present-day Mauritania, Western Sahara, and the Azawad region in northern Mali) they come from. In the Arab world they are generally called shanaqita and their country is known as Bilad Shinqit, even if locally different names were circulating in precolonial times.

Ahmad was born around 1863 64 in the Gibla region of what is today southwestern Mauritania Trarza and belonged to a scholarly family He was from one of the Idaw ...

Article

Sulaiman Y. Balarabe Kura

Nigerian professor of political science, was born in Omoku, Rivers state, Nigeria, on 18 February 1939. His father, Geoffrey Aké, was a politician, and his mother, Christiana, was a trader. His wife was named Anita; they had two sons. Aké attended Kings College, Lagos, and the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, then studied at the University of London and Columbia University in New York City, in 1962 and 1963, respectively. He earned a PhD from Columbia in 1966. Thereafter he enjoyed an academic career at different universities across the world. Aké served as an assistant professor of political science at Columbia University between 1966 and 1969, as associate professor, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada, from 1969 to 1972, and as a visiting lecturer at the University of Nairobi, from 1970 to 1972, and the University of Dar Es Salaam, from 1972 to 1974 He ...

Article

Akwasi Osei

Claude Eleme Aké (1939–1996) was an intellectual, political economist, activist, teacher, author, and theoretician par excellence of the African condition. For over thirty years, he was the most consistent voice on how Africa must develop. He used his prodigious intellect to champion African development in the service of its peoples. On 7 November 1996, he died in a plane crash on his way from his base in Port Harcourt to Lagos.

Born in Rivers State Claude Aké had a rich academic life he earned a doctorate from Columbia University in New York He went from there to universities think tanks and research institutions across the world in Kenya Tanzania Nigeria Canada Senegal the United Kingdom and the United States He eventually became Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Port Harcourt He held positions at the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars and the ...

Article

Carl Campbell

was born in Brandon Hill, St. Andrew parish, Jamaica, on 17 April 1905. His father was David Allen. He attended elementary school from 1912 to 1924, suggesting that he stayed on to become a pupil teacher, possibly to take the certificate examinations, the gateway to teacher training. The first major turning point in his life occurred when he entered the prestigious Mico Training College in 1925. This college was founded in 1836 and had continuously been the island s premier teacher training institution Its entrance exam was highly selective fortunately for Allen he entered at a time when a new principal had just controversially raised the standard of work intending to give graduates a pre university experience Mico taught or encouraged students to take subjects beyond the scope of elementary school including those studied in the pursuit of an intermediate degree at the University of London ...

Article

Mary Hughes Brookhart

Born in Columbus, Ohio, Samuel Allen (also known as Paul Vesey) studied creative writing under James Weldon Johnson at Fisk where he graduated magna cum laude in 1938. He received his JD from Harvard in 1941. Until 1968 when he formally left law for literature, he was active in both fields.

He was drafted into the U.S. Armed Services in 1942 and served as an officer, though under the constraints of the segregated system, until 1946. From 1946 to 1947 he was deputy assistant district attorney in New York City. The following year he studied humanities at the New School for Social Research. In 1948 he went to Paris on the GI Bill, and after studying French, studied at the Sorbonne. He was employed variously with the U.S. Armed Forces from 1951 to 1955 as historian claims officer and civilian attorney in Wiesbaden Germany and in ...

Article

Don E. Walicek

in the study of Creole languages, was born on 13 June 1933 in Port of Spain, Trinidad. His parents were Coleridge Alleyne, a builder and contractor, and Carmen Alleyne, an elementary school teacher. He has two children, Malou Alleyne-Harrison and Trevor Alleyne.

As a young man, Alleyne studied in Port of Spain’s Queen’s Royal College. He was later awarded a scholarship to the fledgling University College of the West Indies. This allowed him to complete his B.A. in Spanish and French in Jamaica. Alleyne completed graduate work in linguistic dialectology in France, where he worked at Lyon’s Institut de Linguistique Romane. His doctorat d’Université, the equivalent of a Ph.D., was awarded by the University of Strasbourg.

In 1959 Alleyne returned to Jamaica and began working at the University of the West Indies at Mona as a lecturer in Romance philology and French medieval literature He became one of ...

Article

Sharon Pruitt

artist, art historian, curator, critic, and educator, was born Lynda Faye Peek in Atlanta, Georgia. Amaki, who legally changed her name in 1978, is the fourth of six surviving daughters of Mary Lee Hill, a homemaker, gardener, and quilter, and Norman Vance Peek, a landscape designer and gardener during the summer, and a cake and candy caterer during the winter. Early in her life and throughout her artistic career Amaki was influenced by her parents' penchant for recycling materials into creative forms.

Amaki's parents supported and encouraged her early artistic pursuits. Her mother enthusiastically showed Amaki's drawings to family friends and members of the community. Aware of Amaki's interest, the Reverend William Holmes Borders, a friend of the family and pastor of the Wheat Street Baptist Church where the Peek family worshipped, introduced ten-year-old Amaki to Hale Aspacio Woodruff a ...

Article

Jennifer Vaughn

author, educator, and economist, was born Richard Franklin America Jr. in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Richard Franklin America Sr. and Arline America. In 1960 America received a BS in Economics from Pennsylvania State University and in 1965 an MBA from the Graduate School of Business at Harvard University. Afterward, he joined the Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park, California, where he worked for the next four years as a Development Economist in the Urban and Regional Economics Group.

In April 1969 America published “What Do You People Want?” in the Harvard Business Review In it he advocated major federal subsidies to facilitate economic equality and large scale participation of blacks in the corporate world and made suggestions as to how these goals might be accomplished including the transfer of corporations to black shareholders and managers The article offered a radical approach to policy pertaining to reparations and ...

Article

Edmund Abaka

William Anton Amo (1703–1756), philosopher and educator, was an academic par excellence and a courtier in Germany at a time when there were very few, if any, Africans studying, let alone lecturing, in Europe. He was most likely the first black professor to teach in Germany. Amo’s achievements are all the more significant considering that they occurred about three centuries ago.

Amo was born in 1703 in a small village called Awukenu, near Axim, in the southwestern Gold Coast (now Ghana). The circumstances of Amo’s arrival in the Netherlands are not clear. One version indicates that in 1707 Amo s parents entrusted him to a Brunswick subject working for the Dutch West Indian Company on the Gold Coast By this time the Dutch had superseded the Portuguese and taken over the Portuguese fortified positions on the Gold Coast São Jorge da Mina Elmina São Sebastiao Shama and ...

Article

Margaret Wade-Lewis

linguist educator early computer language translator Africanist scholar of Arabic and Berber was born in Wildwood New Jersey to Joseph Henry Applegate and Nancy Berkley Applegate His father was a second generation New Jersey resident whose father was a Native American from Maine Applegate s mother whose father was also Native American migrated from Virginia to Philadelphia where Applegate s parents met around the time of World War I Neither parent had more than an elementary school education Hardworking and ambitious they held high aspirations for their children Applegate and his sister enjoyed the advantages of a small town working class upbringing along with direct contact with black artists and entertainers who frequented the seaside summer boarding house their parents operated in Wildwood New Jersey Although the family was not affluent Applegate s environment was sophisticated and urbane He recalled awakening to the sounds of Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington ...

Article

Kelly Boyer Sagert

Born in Hamburg, Germany, Ottilie Assing was the eldest daughter of David and Rosa Maria (Varnhagen) Assing. Her mother was an energetic teacher with a flair for singing and storytelling; her father was a well-known doctor who penned poetry and was prone to depression. David, born with the surname of Assur, was raised as an Orthodox Jew but associated with Christians. He and Rosa, who was not Jewish, raised Ottilie and her younger sister, Ludmilla, as "freethinking atheists, as true daughters of the Enlightenment, who saw themselves as members of a universal human race of thought and reason." They saw education as a "secular form of individual salvation."

Assing's life was not always easy; she witnessed savage anti-Jewish riots, and by the age of twenty-three she had lost both parents. In 1842 she and her sister moved from their hometown to live with an uncle Ludmilla adapted ...

Article

Adeyemi Bukola Oyeniyi

Nigerian historian and educational administrator, was born to Samuel Akindeji Fajembola, an Ibadan man, and Mosebolatan Fajembola, an Ijesa woman, on 28 January 1933 in Ilesa, Osun State, Nigeria. Samuel Akindeji Fajembola was a manager with John Holt & Co., a merchant company, based in Liverpool, England; Mosebolatan Fajembola was one of the first female professional teachers to be trained in southwestern Nigeria. Awe had her early education at Holy Trinity School, Omofe, Ilesa; Saint James’s School, Oke-Bola, Ibadan; C.M.S Girls’ School, Lagos; and Saint Anne’s School, Ibadan, between 1941 and 1951. Between 1952 and 1954, she attended the Perse School for Girls in Cambridge, England, and received an MA from the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, in 1958. Between 1958 and 1960 she did postgraduate work for a doctoral degree at Somerville College the oldest of the University of Oxford s female colleges She was ...

Article

Halbert Barton

was born on 10 November 1953. His name comes from the Swahili word for warrior. As an academic and as a person, he is recognized for his influence and work on behalf of Afro-descendant communities in Colombia.

He is a cadastral engineer, a specialist in management and environmental education, and a professor of social and interdisciplinary research at the Universidad Distrital José Francisco de Caldas in Bogotá, from which he graduated in 2004. His thesis was titled “La construcción de la nación desde lo afroamericano: Caso Bogotá D.C.” (Afro-American Nation Building: the case of Bogotá, D.C.), which is a reference work for the study of Afro-Colombians in the country’s capital. Additionally, he holds a Ph.D. in education from Christopher Newport University in Virginia.

Ayala is a university instructor at the Universidad Distrital and an activist for black causes He works as a consultant and speaker for UNESCO and ...

Article

Ondra Krouse Dismukes

writer, editor, and scholar, was born in New York City to Dorothy L. Babb and Lionel S. Duncan, both of whom were immigrants from the Republic of Panama. Her parents were part of the larger West Indian community, the “diggers” as many were called, who built the Panama Canal. Babb shared a close relationship with her mother, who instilled in her the value of an education.

Babb attended the Bronx High School of Science, a high school specializing in math and sciences and with some of the best English teachers, whose influence Babb credits for choosing this profession. After graduating from high school in 1973, she enrolled in Queens College of the City University of New York. She graduated with honors in 1977 earning a bachelor s degree in English with a minor concentration in Romance Languages Babb went on to attend graduate school ...

Article

Cherene Sherrard-Johnson

In 1982, Houston Baker wrote “[O]nce I had abandoned my graduate school plans to write definitive critiques of British Victorian literature and turned to black American literature, ‘cultural nationalism’ became the ideologically determined project in my intellectual life.” Thus, Baker began a groundbreaking career that would take him through the cultural nationalism of the Black Arts movement, the post-structuralist and deconstructionist discourse of the 1980s, and black feminist criticism in the 1990s to studies of masculinity, rap, and the Academy. With works like Blues, Ideology, and Afro-American Literature: A Vernacular Theory, Baker shaped black aesthetic discourse, becoming one of the most incisive theorists of African American literature and culture.

Born in 1943, Houston Baker was educated at Howard University (BA in 1965) and the University of California–Los Angeles, where he received his PhD in 1968 He has taught at Cornell Yale Duke ...