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Giovanni R. Ruffini

Egyptian landowner and Roman imperial official, is the best attested member of a family of large landholders prominent in Egypt from the fifth to the seventh centuries. The Apionic estates were one of the dominant forces in the Oxyrhynchite nome or sub-province of Egypt during the Byzantine period. Its surviving papyrological documentation details the activities of these estates, their financial managers, their farmers, and other related figures. This material makes the Apionic estates, so-called “the noble house,” one of the best documented economic institutions during Roman rule in Egypt. By recent count, the published material from the Apionic archive includes nearly 275 texts covering more than 180 years, from 436 to 620/1. The Apionic estates are likely to have been the largest in the Oxyrhynchite nome.

Procopius a sixth century Byzantine historian describes Apion s role during the Roman Empire s war with Persia during the reign of Anastasius in ...

Article

Eduardo R. Palermo

was born in Africa in the mid-eighteenth century and brought to the River Plate region as a slave at an unknown date. After she was freed and purchased her own land, Barberá donated her property for the establishment of Tacuarembó, a city in northern Uruguay, in 1832. The donation represents the only documented case of a person of African descent contributing land for the subsequent founding of a town or city.

The existing historical record refers to Barberá as a freedwoman or “morena libre.” Until the late 1790s, she is registered as residing in rural northern Uruguay, with the respective landowner’s permission. She settled at the intersection of the Tranqueras and Tacuarembó Chico rivers, a site that became known among locals as “el rincón de Tía Ana” (Aunt Ana’s Corner). In July 1804 in Montevideo Barberá signed a commitment to officially purchase the plot of land with an ...

Article

Felix Macharia Kiruthu

pioneer white settler in Kenya, settled in the country in 1903. At the time he first visited the country during a hunting expedition in 1897, he had inherited the family title, as Third Baron Delamere, and the family estate, bringing him a fortune at the age of seventeen. Using his family wealth, he traveled widely, visiting Corsica, New Zealand, Australia, India, and Somaliland before settling in Kenya. Benefitting from a land grant from the colonial government in Njoro, between the Mau escarpment in the west and the Aberdare Ranges in the east in 1903, he named his parcel of land the Equator Farm in 1904. In due course, he acquired additional land in the country’s Rift Valley Province, and subsequently relocated to the Soysambu Farm near Lake Elementeita in 1910 Together with the East African Syndicate Delamere owned one fifth of all the alienated land ...

Article

Nicole D. Price

Equatorial Guinean landowner, liberation activist of the Fang ethnic group, and hero of the independence movement, was born in Cameroon. Nothing is really known about his youth. Before his participation in the independence movement of Equatorial Guinea, Mañé Elá was known throughout the Río Muni region (the continental part of Equatorial Guinea) as a fairly wealthy landowner. Because of his status as an emancipado, or privileged African under Spanish colonial rule, Mañé Elá had very few restrictions placed upon him as far as travel and accumulation of wealth, both of which figured prominently in his role in the independence movement.

The independence movement in Spanish Guinea started to formally take shape in the late 1940s, when emancipados realized that even with their privileged status in colonial society, they would never have the same rights as the Spaniards. In 1947 a group of emanicipados, led by Marcos Ropo Uri ...

Article

Ngonyo  

Thomas Spear

was one of a number of Mijikenda who took advantage of increasing trade and the disruptions of slavery during the nineteenth century in eastern Kenya to attract large numbers of followers and develop their own polities. Prior to the nineteenth century, most Mijikenda had lived in central kayas (villages) surrounding Mombasa, where they farmed and participated in local trade, exchanging livestock, foodstuffs, honey, medicines, and craftwork among themselves. They also traded grain, ivory, copal (used in varnish), orchilla dye, and rubber for cloth, beads, and other trade goods with coastal Swahili.

One of the Mijikenda groups the Giriama had been the leading ivory traders in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries acquiring tusks locally from Waata and Oromo hunters and trade partners but with increasing demand for ivory in India China and Europe during the eighteenth century elephants became more scarce and ambitious young men began to organize caravans across the ...

Article

Rosemary Elizabeth Galli

nineteenth-century Mozambican warlord, was born on 10 November 1835 in Mapusa, Goa (Portuguese India). His parents were Felix de Sousa, a landowner, and Doroteia Tomásia de Mascarenhas. He went to Mozambique in the early 1850s to manage his maternal uncle’s estate and married his cousin, Maria Anastásia de Mascarenhas. He became a rich and powerful ivory trader in the Sena region, gathering together a private army of elephant hunters and slaves with which he raided surrounding territories. He built a heavily fortified base camp in the Gorongosa Mountains in the 1850s from which he built an empire. He helped Portugal gain control over central Mozambique, challenged first by the Nguni and powerful estate holders and later the British. Locally he acquired the name of Gouveia, said to be a corruption of the term meaning “Goan.”

Sousa found his opportunity to extend his landholdings in the 1860s when Nguni armies ...

Article

Jonathan G. Post

member of the elite Ottoman Muradi dynasty in Tunisia, was the granddaughter of Uthman Dey. Uthman Dey had secured a large hanshir, or estate, worked by khammasa, or sharecroppers. These hanshirs faced lower taxation, as they were appropriated to cultivate areas of the country previously unfarmed. The local government questioned Dey’s use of physical conquest to secure his family’s land, and sought to remove control of it from Aziza Uthmana.

Uthmana responded by creating a waqf with the land. In other words, she gave the land to a charitable cause in the Islamic tradition. In this case, the waqf created a Tunisian hospital, or maristan, named after Uthmana herself, and she became widely associated with the advancement of Tunisian medicine. The waqf also funded a takiya similar to a hospice for the sick and it included large endowments to fund these improvements over time The hospital ...

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Article

Jeremy Rich

African-born conquistador, was probably born in West Africa around 1505. Sometime before 1533, he arrived in the Americas and became the slave of Alonso Valiente, a notable figure among the Spanish settler community of the Mexican town of Puebla.

Alonso Valiente wrote to his nephew Pedro Mexía on 3 October 1541 about Juan s exploits According to this report Alonso had decided to take Juan to the notary of Veracruz to grant Juan the right to fight in Spanish expeditions to Guatemala and Peru Juan could then earn a salary like any other free soldier and thus could earn the money needed to buy his own freedom Juan Valiente would have to send all of his earnings for four years back to Alonso in order to officially become free However Juan chose not to send money back to his owner Alonso asked his nephew to collect the ...

Article

Barbara Traver

also known as Marianne Latir, a signare of Saint-Louis (Senegal) and Gorée who immigrated to French Guiana, was born around 1730, probably in Saint-Louis. The signares, descendants of French men and African women, became wealthy providing essential services and sailors to the French, trading in their own right, and dealing in real estate. Vergesse’s mother was Anne Catherine Cavillers, known as the widow Loeillet, also a signare, but her father is unknown. Vergesse married Vincent Thibault, a Frenchman, sometime before 1748 in Saint-Louis and had a daughter Anne (Nanette) by him. In 1749 she married Galatoire Vergesse and gave birth to a second daughter named Marie Jeanne. Unusually, her marriages were “legitimate” rather than the more common “country marriage” of most signares. Probably because the Seven Years’ War (1754–1763 and British annexation of Saint Louis disrupted Eurafrican trade in both Senegal and Gorée the ...

Article

John Evans

Son of a slave and a wealthy planter on St Kitts, Wells became a major landowner in Monmouthshire, South Wales, and Britain's first black sheriff. He was probably the wealthiest black person in the country at the time.

His father, William Wells (1730–94), left Cardiff with his brother Nathaniel for St Kitts to make his fortune in the sugar and slave trade in about 1749. He married a wealthy widow in 1753, Elizabeth Taylor née Fenton. She bore William two children, who died in infancy, before she herself died in 1759. Subsequently William fathered at least six children with various slaves, one of whom, Nathaniel, was born on 10 September 1779, the son of Juggy, his African house slave. He was baptized on 3 March 1783 at Trinity Church Palmetto Point By the age of 9 wells was living in London with ...

Article

Lynda R. Day

leader of the Kpa Mende Confederacy who wielded greater authority than any other Sierra Leonean woman of her time, was born about 1849 near Taiama in Gbo. She was originally known by her birth name, Soma, and had three brothers named Ali Kongo, Lamboi, and Goba. Her father and maternal grandfather were leaders in the Kpa Mende expansion westward from the Gorama chiefdom. With both a father and a grandfather who were prominent war leaders, Yoko met one of the most important criteria for leadership in this era, descent from the ruling elite of Mende country.

As a girl, Yoko was initiated into the women’s society, the Sande also known as Bundu there she gained a wide reputation as an excellent dancer Some sources mention a first husband the warrior Gongoima who may have been her cousin her father s sister s son Other sources describe her first marriage ...