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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

Israel Gershoni

the third and last khedive of Egypt, ruled the country from 1892 to 1914. ʿAbbas was the seventh ruler in Mehmet ʿAli’s dynasty, which was established in the early nineteenth century. ʿAbbas came to the throne at the very young age of eighteen in January 1892 after his father, Khedive Tawfiq (r. 1879–1892), died unexpectedly. Born in Cairo ʿAbbas was educated by tutors at the Thudicum in Geneva and later in the Theresianum Military Academy in Vienna.

Unlike his father, a weak ruler who was considered a puppet of the British colonial rule, the young ʿAbbas strove to restore the original khedival status as sovereign ruler, patterned after the model established by his grandfather Ismaʿil (r. 1863–1879 and to assert Egypt s unique status as a semiautonomous province within the Ottoman Empire ʿAbbas s aspirations clashed with British rule particularly with the authority of the powerful agent ...

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

Jeremy Rich

king of Dahomey, was born sometime in the middle of the eighteenth century. His father was Agonglo, king of Dahomey from 1789 to 1797. Adandozan was the eldest son of Agonglo. Oral narratives collected later in the nineteenth century presented him as incompetent and mentally deranged, but it should be kept in mind that rival royal family members eventually ousted Adandozan from power and would have had a vested interest in deriding his achievements. Adandozan ascended to the throne of Dahomey in 1797, in a time marked by difficulties for the kingdom. The royal slave-trading monopoly ran aground on international difficulties, particularly the decision of the French government to abandon the slave trade from 1794 to 1802 and the British and US governments’ decision to abandon the slave trade in 1807 and 1808 respectively The British government began to send warships to stop other countries from purchasing ...

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 ...

Article

Awutiek  

Stephanie Beswick

chief of the Palyoupiny Malwal, created an early aristocratic Dinka state in the southern Sudan during the 1880s. Awutiek’s uncle and predecessor Duang Marial had gained power by collaborating with slave traders such as Zubayr and with officials of the Egyptian colonial government. These lessons were not lost on the young chief Awutiek, who quickly realized the importance of firearms and purchased large quantities from Fertit middlemen, northern Sudanese traders, and Azande. He also acquired arms from Mahdists fallen in battle. Awutiek built a standing army. He set his warriors to regular military drills and maintained a strong, well-trained force. By 1892 having annihilating the last Mahdist force to venture into his territory Awutiek extended his influence down the Chell and Loll Rivers as far as the Rek country in the eastern Bahr el Ghazal By the height of his power Awutiek controlled most of the diverse peoples living ...

Article

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

Ralph A. Austen

paramount chief and anticolonial protest leader in present-day Cameroon, was born in Douala, Cameroon, the eldest son of chief Manga Ndumbe Bell (ruled 1897–1908). Duala Manga is best remembered for a struggle against the racist policies of the German rulers of Cameroon, who executed him on 8 August 1914. Beyond this dramatic conclusion to Duala Manga’s life lay a precolonial heritage of international commerce by the Duala people, an embattled but—until its last years— successful adaptation to German rule, and an afterlife as a nationalist and ethnic icon.

Duala Manga was descended from a line of merchant rulers who dominated trade between European Atlantic shippers and the Cameroon hinterland from the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries The Duala inhabitants of what eventually became the city of Douala at the estuary of the Wouri River lived in a group of mutually independent settlements of whom the most prominent were ...

Article

Like many early nationalist leaders in Africa, Rudolph Douala Manga Bell was from a chiefly lineage and initially collaborated with the colonial authorities before ultimately turning against them. Born in the commercial port town of Douala, Bell was the eldest son of Duala king Manga Ndumbe, who had signed an annexation treaty ceding large tracts of land to the Germans. At the age of twelve he traveled to Germany to attend the gymnasium at Ulm and university in Bonn. In 1896 Bell returned to then-German Kamerun to work as a civil servant. When his father died in 1908 Bell became the paramount chief of the Duala. He soon disagreed with the colonial authorities about what he considered their contravention of an 1884 treaty that his father had signed concerning Duala rights on the Jos Plateau The Germans had effectively attempted to break the Duala trade monopoly for good Because ...

Article

Bhunu  

Betty Sibongile Dlamini

king of Swaziland also known as Mahlokohla, who took the royal name Ngwane V, was born around 1876 to King Mbandzeni and Queen Labotsibeni Mdluli of Swaziland. Born at a time when British- and Dutch-descended Boer invaders were seeking to occupy the Swazi people’s land, he was given the name Bhunu (Boer) because of his temper, which the Swazi people associate with Boers. In 1881, his father, Mbandzeni, invited Reverend Joel Jackson to start a mission school at Luyengo (uSuthu Mission) for Bhunu, but the young heir did not go to school. When his father died in 1889 Bhunu was fourteen years old and chosen to be his father s successor He was not chosen because of his own credentials but because of the character and credentials of his mother Labotsibeni To avoid bloodshed over the throne the British and Transvaal governors showed the Swazi people their new ...

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 ...