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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

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

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

Gbudwe  

Stephanie Beswick

prominent Zande leader in southern Sudan, was born about 1860; his father was the Avongara leader Bazingbi (“conqueror of the world”) and his mother, a slave woman. He is also known as “Mbio” or “Yambio.” He gradually rose to leadership in rivalry with several half-brothers and numerous other Zande princes. As a young man he participated in his community’s conquests eastward across the Yubo River into Western Equatoria and the area of Yambio, the town that now bears his name. Attempts to extend the Zande conquests east to the White Nile, however, were repulsed by the Dinka and Bari. Because Gbudwe could no longer expand eastward, he planned new invasions toward the territories along his northern borders. These efforts brought him into conflict with the Turco–Egyptian regime in Bahr al-Ghazal that had succeeded at the fall of al-Zubayr Rahma Mansur in 1875. In 1881 Gbudwe obliterated a large ...

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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

Isike  

Stephen J. Rockel

last chief (mtemi, Kinyamwezi) to rule Unyanyembe, an important Nyamwezi chiefdom in western Tanzania, before the German conquest, was the second son of Mkasiwa Kiyungi, mtemi from 1860 to 1876, and his senior wife, Karunde. At the time of Isike’s succession in late 1876 Unyanyembe, and its rapidly growing town of Tabora, was already one of the most significant commercial and strategic centers in East Africa. Unyanyembe’s prosperity came during a period of rapid economic growth based on control by a mixed Nyamwezi and Arab merchant class over the expansion of the long-distance caravan trade across eastern and central Africa and Tabora’s central position as a bulking (warehousing), market, and caravan town.

Growing up during the turbulent 1860s at the capital village Itetemia Isike had an extensive education in the complexities of Nyamwezi politics and commercial relations with their Arab and Indian partners Like other sons of ...

Article

Known as Knainas (Khama the Good), Khama was baptized a Christian in 1860. In 1872 he attempted to seize the chieftainship from his father, Sekgoma I, because Sekgoma opposed Christianity, but he was forced into exile. Three years later, however, Khama overthrew his father and became chief of the Bamangwato. Khama was a reformer who embraced the new European values that were spreading through the region at this time. He abolished a number of old tribal customs that he considered anti-Christian, including circumcision, rainmaking, and bride-wealth (payment made by the groom to the bride’s family). He also allowed the London Missionary Society to establish a mission on his territory. Khama was opposed to Afrikaner attempts to expand into Bechuanaland from the independent Boer state of the Transvaal, and in 1876 he asked for British protection.

In 1885 Khama welcomed British general Charles Warren who established the Bechuanaland ...

Article

Godfrey Muriuki

Kikuyu chief in Kenya, was probably born in 1865 at Kiria in Kandara, Murang’a, Kenya. His father was Wanugu wa Gathirimu. Thus, originally he was known as son of Wanugu, son of a monkey. This became the butt of cruel and humiliating jokes, which forced him to adopt his grandfather’s name, Gathirimu. He is alleged to have been disowned by his family due to his waywardness, particularly in making too many girls pregnant and thereby forcing his relatives to pay unbearable compensation. He fled to Kiambu where he attached himself to a distant relative, Waiyaki wa Hinga, a prominent and wealthy elder. Waiyaki made him a njaguti, servant. He was, therefore, a poor man who lived by sometimes hunting wild animals, a practice that was frowned upon by the Kikuyu.

However the arrival of the Imperial British East Africa Company IBEACo changed his fortunes He offered his services to ...

Article

James Giblin

also known as Muhina Kisabengo Kingo was prominent in the political and commercial life of eastern Tanzania during the middle decades of the nineteenth century The settlement that he established became an important market center of political power and home to several thousand residents In the twentieth century it grew into the major city of Morogoro Situated on the primary trade route between the Indian Ocean and eastern Africa s Great Lakes it was visited by numerous European travelers who wrote admiringly about its stone fortifications finely wrought wooden gates spaciousness and good order In this way Kisabengo came to the attention of a worldwide reading audience Kisabengo s successor was Kingo a son by his wife Kitukira Because Kingo was very young when his father died Morogoro was ruled in the 1870s by Simbamwene a formidable leader and daughter by another wife Makombera Kingo died shortly after assuming office ...

Article

Eric Young

Samuel Maharero, born Uereani Maharero, was the first son of Chief Maharero, who between 1860 and 1889 led the Herero in a series of wars with the Nama. Vehemently opposed to settlement by Europeans, particularly Afrikaners and Germans, in what is today Namibia, the elder Maharero repeatedly and unsuccessfully requested British “protection” during his reign. He finally gave in to German occupation in 1885.

Samuel and his brothers were educated at the Rhenish mission school in Otjimbingwe in the early 1860s. Samuel’s brother, Wilhelm, the chief’s second son and intended heir, was killed in battle with the Nama. Thus when his father died in 1890, Samuel Maherero assumed the chieftainship—a succession that divided the Herero, as some believed one of his cousins should have become chief.

For the next two years Maharero continued in his father s footsteps leading his people in wars against the Nama To gain ...

Article

Mirambo  

Stephen J. Rockel

the most famous of the Nyamwezi chiefs (mtemi, Kinyamwezi) in Tanzania, and perhaps the greatest of all nineteenth-century East Africans, was the son of Kasanda Mtula, mtemi of the small state of Uyowa in western Unyamwezi, and of Nyakasi, a daughter of the ruling family of neighboring Bukune. His birth names, from his grandfathers, were “Mtula” and “Mtyela,” but he became known as “Mirambo” (“corpses”) because of his widespread military conquests.

Mirambo grew up during the great expansion of long distance trade in East Africa based on exports of ivory and other African products and imports of manufactured goods especially cloth metal goods and firearms In the middle decades of the century an economic boom reshaped institutions and practices across the region as rising prices for ivory and the shrinking costs of manufactured cloth worked to expand market forces stimulating entrepreneurship accumulation and migrant wage labor Competition for ...

Article

Mkwawa  

Catherine Cymone Fourshey

paramount chief of the Hehe people in the southern highlands of German East Africa/Tanganyika (present-day Tanzania) from the early 1880s. His name was Mkwavinyika; it has been written many ways, including Kwawa, Kuawa, Qwawa, Mkwaba, Mkuanika, Mukwawi Nyika, Kwawinjika, and Mkuu wa Nyika.

Paternally he was descended from the Muyinga dynasty and his mother, seNgimba, was descended from chiefs of Ilole, while his grandmother was daughter of a Lugemba chief. His wife, seMusilamugunda, was related to several chiefs. His father, Munyingumba (d. 1879), formed the Hehe chiefdom between the 1860s and 1870s by conquering and unifying the clans between Iringa and Njombe into a more centralized polity. The confederation of people, spread over an 8,000–square mile area, emerged primarily as a means of defense against encroaching Ngoni regiments that spread into eastern Africa from southern Africa.

Mkwawa did not inherit the position of paramount chief from ...

Article

folk artist, community activist, and Mardi Gras Indian leader, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of Alfred Montana, “Big Chief” of the Yellow Pocahontas, a leading Mardi Gras Indian organization, and Alice Herrere Montana, both natives of New Orleans. When he was young, one of his cousins nicknamed him Tootie, and the name stuck. Masking as Mardi Gras Indians ran deep in the Montana family. Tootie was a third-generation black Indian leader. His great-uncle Becate Batiste was the legendary founding Big Chief of the Creole Wild West, the city's first and oldest masking Indian society; his father Alfred Montana was a famous leader of the Yellow Pocahontas, which was an offshoot of the Creole Wild West; but Tootie eventually surpassed both by far in terms of craftsmanship, influence, and fame.

The Mardi Gras Indian culture developed as an expression of black resistance ...

Article

Mpezeni  

Bizeck Jube Phiri

paramount chief of the Ngoni (in present-day Zambia), was the eldest son of Zwangendaba (Zongendaba); his mother was Nshlanze Sosera Ngumayo. It was during the migration of the Ngoni northward around 1830 that Ntutu Mpezeni was born. Ntutu Mpezeni was about nine years old when the Ngoni crossed the Zambezi River. Indunas are in agreement that he was carried across the Zambezi as was befitting of a paramount chief’s heir. Legend also has it that prior to crossing the Zambezi River, Zwangendaba had given Mpezeni a small shield and an assegai and that he had killed his first duiker buck. Zwangendaba continued his wandering until his death in 1945, after which Ntutu Mpezeni took over as leader of the Ngoni. Mpezeni led the group from Fipa country into what is now the Chipata district of Zambia.

Before leaving the land of the Bemba people Mpezeni captured Chanda Mukulu sister ...

Article

Jonathon L. Earle

prominent chief and- historian of Buganda, was born in former Ssingo county, in central Uganda. His mother’s name was Nyakanzana, and his father Zakaria Ssensalire was an important Elephant clan (Njovu) leader and appointed chief by Kabaka (King) Muteesa I. At approximately the age of 12, Mukasa was placed by his father as a page (omugalagala) at the king’s palace, where his aunt was also one of the king’s many wives.

Mukasa s appointment to the royal palace coincided with Muteesa s early conversion to Islam As with other pages Mukasa studied Arabic and learned Islamic prayers and Qurʾanic texts by memory Not unlike his youthful colleagues Mukasa struggled to differentiate between Islamic and Christian teaching Reflecting on this perplexity Mukasa wrote I never knew at that time that there was any religious difference between the Arabs and Europeans Mukasa increasingly devoted his time and energy ...

Article

Aylward Shorter

successful Nyamwezi warlord in nineteenth-century Tanzania, was born into the ruling family of Unyanyembe, the chiefdom that surrounds Tabora township. Although his date of birth is not known, it is clear that by 1861 he was already an active warrior. The name of his father is not known, but his mother, Kupelelwa, was the granddaughter of Chief Mgalula. His name (which means “Pot-of-Stone”) is most frequently coupled with that of his cousin, Mnwa Sele, the chief who rebelled against the Tabora Arabs, and who was driven into exile by his uncle Kiyungi, with Arab support. Nyungu took part in Mnwa Sele’s guerrilla campaigns and aspired to succeed him as rightful chief of Unyanyembe when he was killed in 1865. The explorer John Hanning Speke tried to mediate between Mnwa Sele and the Tabora Arabs in 1861 and recorded that the former s representative was a one eyed warrior ...

Article

Michael Mwenda Kithinji

Maasai prophet and paramount chief, was born in Ngousa near Mount Kilimanjaro, but his family migrated farther north when he was a child and settled in Namanga. He is also known as Lenana, an anglicized version of his first name. Olonana came from the prophetic Inkidongi lineage of the Ilaiser clan, and his father Mbatian was an Oloibon (great prophet). Olonana had many siblings, including half-brothers Senteu, Ngaroya, Endikita, Lasaloan, and Ngabwel. As a child, Olonana herded his family’s livestock and helped his mother in doing household chores. He also had the privilege of learning the intricacies of prophetic and magical practice from his father at an early age.

Olonana was initiated into adulthood in 1882, joining the Il Talala age-set. A definitive moment in Olonana’s life came in the 1890s when he inherited the mantle of the Oloibon following the death of his father. The Oloibon ...

Article

coastal Gabonese leader, was the son of an Asiga clan leader living on the south bank of the Gabon Estuary. He was known to French visitors to the Gabon Estuary as Denis and to English visitors as King William. The Asiga comprised one of the leading Mpongwe Omyènè-speaking clans in the Gabon Estuary in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Rapontchombo profited greatly from the rise of slave exports from Gabon to the Portuguese colonies of São Tomé and Principe, Brazil, Cuba, and the United States after the Napoleonic wars. When the British navy began patrolling West African waters to stop the trans-Atlantic slave trade, many slave merchants turned to Gabon. With no formal European presence, it was relatively easy to acquire and smuggle slaves. As oga clan chief Rapontchombo acted as the leader of a council of officials and leading male free notables rather than an autocratic ...

Article

Gabonese political leader, was born in 1844 on the southern tip of the Gabon Estuary across from Libreville, the colonial capital of Gabon. His father was Dénis Rapontchombo (c. 1790–1876), an Omyènè-speaking Mpongwe clan leader who signed the first treaty accepting French rule with naval officers in 1839. His mother, Ngué Mbinda, was a free Mpongwe woman. He was educated by French Roman Catholic missionaries in Libreville. His intelligence and royal lineage made him the hope of the Catholic mission personnel by the 1870s, who found polygyny and the continued allegiance of Mpongwe people to local spiritual traditions disappointing. With Dénis’s advanced age, Rapontchombo increasingly acted as the head political authority among Mpongwe people. He also worked as a clerk for the French navy in Libreville. When Dénis died in 1876, Rapontchombo became the chief oga Omyènè clan leader of the Mpongwe clans living in the ...