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Godfrey Muriuki

warrior and leader, was born in Kenya, though the date is not known. However, by 1900 he was already a prominent individual in the Gichugu area of Kirinyaga District. His prominence was attributed to several factors. He was reputed to have been an intelligent and brave warrior who led Gichugu warriors in raids against their Kikuyu, Embu, and Mbeere neighbors. Through these raids, he was able to accumulate a great deal of livestock, which was regarded as the ultimate symbol of status and wealth.

By the middle of the nineteenth century Swahili and Arab traders had begun to penetrate into the area in search of ivory and the occasional slave Invariably they would befriend prominent individuals from the relevant trading area In Gichugu and its environs Gutu became their local middleman He owed this favor to the Kamba who were renowned ivory traders in this period The ensuing trade between ...

Article

Selma Pantoja

was a queen and warrior of Ngola, a territory now within the borders of the present-day People’s Republic of Angola. She was also known as Ana de Sousa. There are many stories told about this queen, yet many fundamental aspects of her life are unknown. Her place of birth, the kingdom of Ndongo, was mainly occupied by the Mbundu people, who spoke Kimbundu, and bordered on various cultural and linguistic frontiers in West Central Africa. Nzinga grew up during the first attacks by the Portuguese conquerors. She was twenty years old when the Portuguese built a fort in the Ngola territory. In 1618, Nzinga aided in the construction of another fort in the heart of Ndongo, which continued for some time as an independent political entity.

After the death of her father her brother Ngola Mbandi became king The new Mbundu ruler faced devastating wars that slowed the Portuguese ...

Article

Orombo  

J. C. Winter

Mangi (king) of Keny in the southern Rombo region of Kilimanjaro (in present-day Tanzania) from c. 1800 to 1837, also known as Horombo and Rombo, was famous for having initiated a socio-military revolution and religious reformation in Chagga that brought it in line with the western world at the time, thereby ending Mamba’s rule over eastern Chagga. He unified by conquest all of eastern Chagga under his rule, then met with Mangi Rengua of Machame at the Nanga River between Mochi (Old Moshi) and Kiruwa in 1823, and they agreed that each should rule unmolested over his own half of Chagga.

When Orombo became the Mangi of Keny his realm was tiny and insignificant as for the past one hundred years Mamba succeeding Ugweno had dominated eastern Chagga Each mangidom consisted of localized patrilineal clans having noble warrior and cattle keeping lineages whose male and female youths passed ...

Article

Said M. Mohamed

poet, warrior, and political leader, was born in the early nineteenth century at Sasabane, now in the disputed Ogaden region of Ethiopia, the son of a powerful traditional Ugaas (Sultan) of the Ogaden clan. As a boy, besides tending camels, Raage joined a peripatetic Islamic school (xer) and gave evidence of his literary talent by sending his father coded messages in Somali called “hal xidhaale.”

Sometimes called the father of Somali poetry, Raage is said to have been the first poet who composed the opening lines hooyaalayeey hooyalaayey hooyalaaye hooyeey so typical of Somali classical poetry His poetry won the admiration of every Somali and quickly spread throughout Somali speaking territories He composed a wide range of poems poetry of love and lamentation poetry about power and poems of advice The rich imagery sophisticated alliteration and artful use of Somali words were hallmarks of his poems By ...

Article

Saladin  

Kurt J. Werthmuller

ruler and founder of the Ayyubid dynasty in Egypt and Syria and famed Muslim conqueror who decimated the Crusader Army of Jerusalem and recaptured the city of Jerusalem in 1187, was born in Tikrit, Iraq. Also known as Salah al-Din, his personal name was Yusuf al-Malik al-Nasir Ibn Ayyub. He was the younger son of the Kurdish governor Ayyub Ibn Shadi, in the service of Imad al-Din Zangi, the first Muslim commanders to begin the long process of turning back some of the victories of the First Crusade; Ayyub presided over the regions of Tikrit and Baalbek and eventually the prestigious city of Damascus in 1146, where Saladin spent much of his childhood and for which he retained a lifelong affection.

We know relatively little of Saladin s youth largely because his various biographers and contemporary chroniclers were only interested in his renowned exploits as a general and ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

explorer and representative of Leopold II of Belgium’s efforts to build a Central African empire, was born with the name John Rowlands on 28 January 1841 in Denbigh, Wales. He came from an impoverished background. His mother, Elizabeth Parry, was nineteen years old and unmarried, and there is some debate over who his father may have been. While Stanley believed his father was an alcoholic named Rowlands, a lawyer named James Vaughan Horne may have actually been his father. In any event, his mother left Henry in the care of his grandfather, but his death in 1846 resulted in the boy’s placement in a workhouse for abandoned children and poor people. He only met his mother in 1850 Extremely bitter about his extended family s unwillingness to treat him as one of their own as well as the physical and psychological abuse he experienced in the workhouse Stanley graduated ...

Article

Elizabeth Heath

Sir Henry Morton Stanley was born John Rowlands in Denbigh, Wales. Beginning his career as a journalist, Stanley first traveled to Africa in 1869 on assignment for the New York Herald. The newspaper dispatched Stanley to find David Livingstone, a Scottish missionary who had gone to explore Africa and subsequently disappeared from the public eye. Traveling from Zanzibar into the interior of east Africa, Stanley finally met the ailing Livingstone at Ujiji, a town on Lake Tanganyika, on November 10, 1871. Stanley is said to have greeted Livingstone with the famous remark, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” After Livingstone was nursed back to health, they explored the northern end of Lake Tanganyika. Stanley returned to Europe in 1872 but was sent back to West Africa the following year to report on the British campaign against the Asante.

In 1874 the New York Herald and London Daily ...

Article

Tim Stapleton

Born in what is now southern Namibia around 1825, Hendrik Witbooi was a member of the chiefly family of the Nama people. The Nama had originated from the Khoikhoi and other African groups, but also from some Malaya slaves and European fugitives who generations earlier had fled north away from colonial rule in the Cape. They developed as a decentralized trans-frontier society of horse-mounted raiders who had adopted aspects of Western culture and Christianity. Educated as a Christian by German Lutheran missionaries, Witbooi became literate and thus was one of the few nineteenth-century hereditary African leaders to leave behind a significant collection of personal documents. An eager writer of letters, his correspondence from the 1880s and 1890s reveals a leader determined to dominate his African neighbors and preserve his independence from German colonialism In his letters Witbooi insisted on his equality with the German Kaiser and emphasized ...

Article

Wolbert Smidt

ruler of the independent northern Ethiopian princedoms of Tigray and Semén and a claimant to the Ethiopian throne during the “Era of the Princes,” held the title dejjazmach (roughly corresponding to “general” or “duke”). An alternative scientific transliteration of his name in the Gi’iz script is Wibe Haylä Maryam; his name is also given in European sources as “Ubie.”

Wubé s family originated from the Semén Mountains His father Hayle Maryam son of Gebre was the governor of Semén and belonged to the Orthodox Christian Amhara his family was intermarried with Agew Wubé was among the most powerful and important figures of the late Era of the Princes the period during which the Ethiopian kingdom had disintegrated into several independent princedoms The aim of most competing great lords of that period was the submission of all the other princes and the reestablishment of a strong empire Some tried to rule ...