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Julia Gaffield

general in the Haitian Revolution, first leader of independent Haiti, and a lwa in the Haitian Vodou pantheon. The specifics of Jean-Jacques Dessalines’s early life are not well documented and historians have not come to a consensus regarding his date and place of birth. He was born around the year 1758 in either west central Africa or in the Grande Rivière region in the north of the French colony of Saint Domingue in the Caribbean where he spent much of his life as a slave on two plantations In the late eighteenth century Saint Domingue was the most wealth producing colony in the Americas Much of this wealth was generated through the cultivation and export of sugar and coffee crops Enslaved people often purchased by the plantation owners through the transatlantic slave trade were forced to work on plantations to produce wealth for their masters Some enslaved people were ...

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Ruramisai Charumbira

emperor/ruler and army general in what is present-day Zimbabwe, was born to the army general Nyandoro, who declined the throne from Mutapa Chisamharu Negomo Mupunzagutu. Gatsi Rusere ascended to the throne as the mutapa (emperor/king) in 1589. He went on to have an illustrious, if tumultuous, reign until his death in 1623. Gatsi Rusere, according to most accounts, was a usurper to the throne as the mutapa. However, he could claim some right to the throne, as his father had been a mukomohasha (army general) in the preceding mutapa’s army. At the time, army generals tended to be uncles of the ruling mutapa and could succeed a mutapa as ruler. In this case, Nyandoro declined mutapaship, preferring his military career; instead, his son Gatsi Rusere maneuvered himself to the throne.

Unlike the preceding mutapa Gatsi Rusere was opposed to Portuguese Christian proselytizing and settlement in the interior of ...

Article

Ruramisai Charumbira

Southern African emperor, was born to Nyatsime Mutota and Mazvarira, founders of the Mutapa dynasty, in what we now call Mashonaland East and Central Provinces, lands located up the Zambezi escarpment and valley. He was also known as Nebedza. Much of the history we have on Nyanhehwe is based on oral traditions, as well as sixteenth-century Portuguese documents, scant as those may be, which tell the history and traditions of Africans in the interior of the continent since the mid-1500s.

Nyanhehwe Nebedza is generally designated the second mutapa however some historians count him as the third or even fifth mutapa because he was not the second in line after the death of his father Nyatsime Mutota had three sons of whom Nyanhehwe was the youngest According to traditions before Mutota died he was unable to resolve the succession issue as the region into which he had immigrated held social ...

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Elizabeth Heath

At a time when the collapse of the once powerful Mali empire left a power vacuum in western and central Sudan, Sunni Ali undertook a series of military campaigns that united the area under a new power—the Songhai empire. Through military acumen and skillful leadership he amassed an empire that, by the time of his death in 1492, spanned most of present-day Mali and parts of pres-ent-day Niger, Nigeria, and Benin. He conquered important trading centers such as Djenné and Tombouctou. Sunni Ali’s empire continued to control the area until the late sixteenth century, when it was destroyed by Moroccan invaders.

A Songhai state had existed since the seventh century, and in 1335 it declared independence from the enfeebled Mali empire. Its rulers, however, had done little to strengthen and expand the state before Sunni Ali ascended the throne in 1464 He immediately launched a campaign against Tuareg ...

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empress of the French after she became the first wife of Napoléon Bonaparte (9 March 1796), was born Marie-Josèphe-Rose de Tascher de La Pagerie in Martinique on 23 June 1763 to Joseph-Gaspard de Tascher and Rose-Claire des Vergers de Sannois, both of European descent. Napoléon later renamed her Joséphine. Raised on the large La Pagerie sugar plantation near Trois-Ilets, “Rose” came of age in modest circumstances after a hurricane destroyed much of La Pagerie in 1766. In 1779 Rose’s aunt, mistress of the Marquis François de Beauharnais, a former governor of French colonial possessions in the Windward Islands, arranged a marriage between Rose and the Marquis’s son Alexandre, viscount de Beauharnais. Accompanied by her father, Rose arrived in Paris for the first time for her wedding, which took place on 13 December 1779 Her marriage with Alexandre was by all accounts a disaster Although born in ...

Article

Neal W. Sobania

emperor of Ethiopia (r. 1434–1468). One of Ethiopia’s most formidable rulers, he was notable for his use of religion and military might to forge a fractious state and church into a coherent polity. Ethiopia, at the time of Zera Yaqob, consisted of the mountainous central highlands, surrounded by Muslim principalities in the lowlands to the east and traditionally ruled societies to the south and west. Although the highlands was a Christian land from the time of the conversion of Emperor Ezana at Aksum in the early fourth century, theological differences led to intractable variations in practice.

Zera Yaqob came to the throne as part of the restored “Solomonic” line—“restored” because after the fall of the Aksumite Empire, the medieval dynasty that followed, the Zagwe (overthrown in 1270 by Yekuno Amlak could not lay claim to the widely accepted belief that legitimate royal succession was through Menilek I the ...