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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

Botswana leader, was born in Kanye to Seepapitso II, paramount chief of the Bangwaketse, and Mogatsakgari, daughter of Ratshosa, Khama III’s son-in-law. Bathoen’s grandmother, Gagoangwe, was the daughter of Kgosi Sechele of the Bakwena. Bathoen was thus of royal descent on both sides. In 1916, when Bathoen was eight, his father was murdered by his own brother, Moeapitso, in a palace intrigue. Moeapitso was jailed, and Kgosimotse Gaseitsiwe was appointed acting chief of the Bangwaketse until Bathoen reached adulthood. Bathoen spent much of his childhood in Serowe among his mother’s people, the Bangwato.

Bathoen studied at Kanye Hill School, now Rachele Primary School, beginning in 1918; subsequently, in South Africa at Tiger Kloof (1919–1922) and Lovedale (1923–1927 During this time two strong women served as regents the queen mother Gagoangwe and after 1924 Gagoangwe s eldest daughter Ntebogang After completion of his junior certificate ...

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

Hassoum Ceesay

district colonial chief and master farmer, was born in Njau Village, in the Upper Saloum District of present-day Gambia in 1890. His name is also spelled Sise or Sisi. He was among the few formally educated Gambian colonial chiefs, having attended the prestigious Mohammedan School in Bathurst (now Banjul) in the 1910s before working as an interpreter for the Traveling Commissioner North Bank Province. Interpreters were central to the running of the colonial machinery. As the intermediaries between the local people who could not speak English and colonial officials, they wielded influence because of their perceived proximity to the colonial powers. European officials also did not always trust the interpreters, who were occasionally sacked or jailed for suspected treachery.

Unlike the French colonizers who completely replaced local chiefs with French officials the British in West Africa administered their colonies through preexisting traditional authorities and used local customary institutions ...

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Michael Kevane

Burkinan author, canton chief, and civil servant, was born in Sao village, about 60 kilometers northwest of Ouagadougou, in the Mossi region of the present-day country of Burkina Faso. His mother was Datoumi Yaaré, from the village of Kaonghin; and his father, Gueta Wagdogo, was the son of Yiougo, the naba (Mossi chief) of Sao. Naba Yiougo supported Mogho Naba Wobgo (Boukary Koutu), the principal king of the four Mossi kingdoms, against a rebelling vassal, the naba of Lallé. In 1896, Mogho Naba Wobgo supported Gueta Wagdogo to attain the chieftaincy (whereupon he assumed the name “Naba Piiga”) after the death of Naba Yiougo. The meaning of Dim Delobsom’s name, “The king has returned the favor,” acknowledged the relationship between the two rulers.

Naba Piiga was unable to help his suzerain when the French column led by Captain Paul Voulet seized Ouagadougou on 1 September 1896 Mogho Naba ...

Article

Stephen J. Rockel

Tanzanian political leader, was the last and most distinguished of a long line of mtemi, or chiefs, of Unyanyembe, including the great nineteenth-century chiefs Swetu, his namesake Fundikira I, and Isike. Abdallah Fundikira’s father, Saidi Fundikira II, was deposed by the British in 1929 and sent into exile in Bagamoyo after embezzling more than £10,000 of tax money. Unyanyembe was the most important chiefdom of the Nyamwezi, one of the largest ethnic groups in present-day Tanzania, and its nineteenth-century chiefs were central players in the development of commerce based on the caravan trade. Their capital village, Itetemia, lay just outside the city of Tabora, which was the largest urban center in Tanganyika (as the territory was then known), until it was overtaken by the colonial capital, Dar es Salaam, around 1920 Tabora remained an important provincial capital railway junction and military and educational center through the colonial period ...

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 ...

Article

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

Willie Henderson

first prime minister (president) of independent Botswana, was born in Serowe, the principal town of the BaNgwato, in what is now the Central District of Botswana. He was the son of Sekgoma Khama and Tebogo Kebailele, grandson of Khama the Great, and hence heir to the kingship of the Ngwato. In 1923 Seretse’s father became, as Kgosi Sekgoma II, ruler in Serowe. In 1925 Sekgoma died of what is now suspected to be complications due to undiagnosed diabetes. The infant Seretse was proclaimed chief, subject to the regency of his uncle Tshekedi Khama. Tshekedi Khama became solely responsible for Seretse on the death of Tebogo in 1930. Tshekedi Khama grew in office to be a capable, powerful, and autocratic administrator and a frequent thorn in the flesh for the colonial administration.

Seretse was educated at Tigerkloof 1931 1934 and Lovedale 1937 1939 in what was then Cape Province South ...

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

Michael Mwenda Kithinji

Kenyan scholar and politician, was the first-born son of Senior Chief Koinange of Kiambu. Mbiyu was named after his grandfather Mbiyu wa Gachetha, one of the earliest colonial chiefs in Kenya. His chiefly background provided him with an opportunity to pursue elementary education at an early age, joining the pioneer class of the Alliance High School in 1926. In 1927, he transferred to the Hampton Institute in Virginia. While at Hampton, Mbiyu noticed the absence of authentic African artifacts at the Hampton Museum and requested that his father address the problem. Koinange responded to his son’s request by shipping a container load of various African artifacts, which the museum used to establish the Koinange collection.

In 1930, Mbiyu joined Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio, where he studied for a degree in political science. He graduated in 1934 the first Kenyan African to obtain a bachelor s ...

Article

Born in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Albert John Luthuli was educated at the mission school in which he later taught (1921–1936). The son of well-respected Zulu parents, Luthuli was elected chief of the Zulu Abasemakholweni ethnic group in Groutville in 1936. He joined the African National Congress, a black political group, in 1946 and took an increasingly active role in campaigns to abolish Apartheid, the system of racial segregation in South Africa. In 1952 he was removed as chief by the South African government, which opposed his activities, and was forbidden to enter major South African cities and towns for one year. That same year he was elected president-general of the African National Congress. Because of his continued political activities, he was restricted to his farm in Groutville for two years in 1953, and again in 1959 for five years For ...

Article

Dorothy C. Woodson

South African teacher, Zulu chief, political leader, and Nobel Peace Prize winner, was born in Rhodesia around 1898 of South African (Zulu) parentage. His mother, Mtonya Gumede, was born and raised in the Royal Kraal of Cetshewayo, the Zulu king. His father, John Luthuli, was the elected chief of Groutville, home of the Umvoti Mission, an American Board of Commissioners station near Stanger, north of Durban, in what is now Kwa-Zulu Natal. He attended various local schools and was later awarded a two-year teacher-training scholarship at Adams College. Luthuli remained at Adams as a teacher, becoming one of only two African teachers at the school, the other being Z. K. Matthews (1901–1968). He married Nokukhanya Bhengu in 1927, and they had seven children.

In 1936 Luthuli reluctantly left Adams College and returned to Groutville after being elected to the chieftainship of the Umvoti Mission Reserve during which time he ...

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

Matthew V. Bender

first Paramount Chief of the Chagga people, was born in Marangu, Kilimanjaro (in present-day Tanzania), on 12 June 1915. Born into the prominent Lyimo clan, he was the grandson of Marealle I and nephew of Petro Itosi, both long-serving chiefs of Marangu. After completing his secondary schooling in 1934, Marealle entered the colonial administration, working as a clerk in seven different district offices throughout Tanganyika (present-day Tanzania). Ten years later, he received the opportunity to further his studies abroad, spending two years in the United Kingdom at the University of Wales in Aberystwyth and the London School of Economics.

In 1946 Marealle returned to Tanganyika and took a position as a social welfare officer in the colonial administration Two years later he was appointed program manager of the Dar es Salaam Broadcasting Station Swahili service the predecessor of the Tanganyika Broadcasting Corporation While in Dar es Salaam ...

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 ...