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Article

Ellis Goldberg

Egyptian jurist, government official, and author of one of the most important and controversial books of the twentieth century on Islam and politics, Islam and the Foundations of Governance. This short book, published in 1925, caused a storm of protest, and ʿAbd al-Raziq was arraigned before a jury of Egyptian religious leaders (including the grandfather of the late-twentieth-century al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri) and officially stripped of his status as a religious scholar (ʿalim).

Abd al-Raziq was born in the Upper Egyptian province of Minya to a well-known and relatively well-off family. He studied at Al-Azhar University. Although he was too young to have known the prominent Egyptian ʿalim Muhammad Abduh (d. 1905), his work appears to have been influenced by Abduh’s break with prevailing orthodoxy. Abduh was the highest jurisconsult (mufti) in Egypt at the time of his death. In 1915 ʿAbd al Raziq became a ...

Article

David Killingray

Guyaneselawyer, politician, and diplomat who was appointed travelling secretary of the League of Coloured Peoples (LCP) during the Second World War. Carter was born in the British colony of British Guiana. He attended Queen's College, Georgetown, and came to London University in 1939 to read law, qualifying as a barrister at the Middle Temple in 1942. During the war years the LCP grew in members and significance, and so did its concern for the welfare of the many military and labour volunteers from the colonies. Another concern was for the large numbers of African‐American soldiers in Britain from 1942 onwards. Carter became general and travelling secretary of the LCP in early 1942 using his legal skills to deal with numerous instances of racial discrimination and also the case of an African American soldier sentenced to death for rape by a US military court Carter ...

Article

Owen J. M. Kalinga

Malawi’s first African attorney and first minister of justice, was born on 30 June 1919, in Nkata Bay District, Nyasaland (now Malawi). A bright student, Chirwa attended school at Bandawe and Khondwe, two of the most important centers of the Livingstonia Mission of the Church of Scotland. After working for some time, he went to Adam’s College in Natal, South Africa, before entering Fort Hare University College, graduating in 1950 with a BA degree in philosophy. He became a tutor at Domasi Teachers College near Zomba, the capital of Nyasaland, and studied for part one of the English bar examinations, his plans being to pass them and proceed to London to complete the requirement for a barrister. He also became active in the Nyasaland African Congress (NAC), the early 1950s being critical to Africans of this British colony because of the imposition of the Federation of the Rhodesias ...

Article

Kenneth P. Vickery

lawyer, politician, vice president (1970–1973), and prime minister (1973–1975, 1977–1978) of independent Zambia, was born in Nampeyo, an area near Monze, in the Southern Province of Zambia (then Northern Rhodesia), on 21 January 1930. He was the son of Hameja Chilala, a spiritual leader, legendary hunter, and Tonga chief—though “chiefship” in this region is problematic and probably owes as much to British colonial rule as to indigenous origins. His mother was Nhandu. Chona attended the local school sponsored by the main Catholic Jesuit mission in Southern Province, Chikuni, and then Chikuni itself, before completing secondary education at Munali, the elite Lusaka high school founded by the Northern Rhodesian colonial administration in 1939 He was clearly an outstanding student After graduation he worked for a time as an interpreter for the High Court in Livingstone and this may have fueled his desire to become a lawyer He found time ...

Article

David Killingray

Cricketer, politician, and broadcaster born into a middle‐class family in Trinidad. When he left school, he became a clerk in a local company, a post he held for the next ten years until 1927, the year he married Norma Cox. His father was a good cricketer and Constantine also became an excellent fielder. He played for his school and as a member of the Trinidad team in inter‐colonial matches; he was selected for the West Indies team to tour England in 1923, and again in 1928. During that tour Constantine's distinguishing moment came in the match against Middlesex in June 1928 when his skills as bowler, fielder, and scorer enabled the West Indies to defeat their opponents by three wickets. C. L. R. James wrote of him he took 100 wickets made 1 000 runs and laid claim to being the finest fieldsman ever ...

Article

David M. Carletta

Anténor Joseph Firmin was born in Cap-Haïtien in northern Haiti. He was a gifted child who attended Haiti's premier preparatory schools. After studying law, Firmin became the inspector of schools in Cap-Haïtien. He married Rosa Salnave, daughter of the former president Sylvain Salnave, in 1881. Two years later the government of Haiti sent Firmin to France as a diplomat. He was admitted to the Anthropological Society of Paris and became perhaps the first scholar of African descent to write a systematic work of anthropology.

In 1885 he published The Equality of the Human Races, a response to Count Arthur de Gobineau's four-volume set The Inequality of Human Races and to the racialist anthropology of the nineteenth century. Published between 1853 and 1855 de Gobineau s famous work was the first to assert the racial superiority of Aryan peoples while simultaneously reinforcing ideas of black inferiority Firmin ...

Article

Michael Dash

Joseph Antenor Firmin was born in 1850 in the town of Cap Haitien in the north of Haiti. He was a lawyer, a minister of government, and a diplomat. Haitian politics in the late nineteenth century were dominated by two major groups: the nationalist and liberal parties. These parties representing black and mulatto factions fought for supremacy in the 1870s and 1880s. The nationalist party championed a black ideology and claimed to speak on behalf of the masses against the elite. The liberal party played down the color question and advocated that Haiti be governed by the most competent. Firmin is particularly interesting because he was black and associated himself with the liberal party. He was a liberal candidate for the legislature in 1879. In 1889 he became a cabinet minister under President Florvil Hyppolite and as foreign minister he worked with Frederick Douglass to foil ...

Article

Born to Senegalese parents in present-day Mali, Guèye fought in France during World War I and remained to study law. Guèye returned to Senegal in 1922. The first black lawyer in French-speaking Africa, he was elected mayor of Saint-Louis in 1925. From 1931 to 1934 he served as a magistrate on the island of Réunion in the Indian Ocean. In 1935 Guèye, an opponent of French colonialism, assumed leadership of the Parti Socialiste Sénégalais (PSS). He focused on recruiting the educated elite and made the PSS into the first modern political party in French-speaking Africa. In 1936 he affiliated the PSS with the French Socialist Party (SFIO). Guèye promoted Léopold Senghor’s career, and both men won seats representing Senegal in the French Constituent Assembly in 1945 and 1946 As a member of the Assembly Guèye helped secure eligibility for French citizenship for all colonial subjects ...

Article

David Dabydeen

Biographer of Ignatius Sancho, the African writer whose letters were published in England in 1782. Jekyll was the only son of Edward Jekyll, a captain in the Royal Navy. Details concerning his place of birth are uncertain. He studied at Christ Church, Oxford, left for France upon completion of his studies in 1774, and was called to the Bar at Lincoln's Inn in 1788.

Jekyll may have met Sancho during this period, but there is no confirmation of this. In fact, information regarding their relationship is scarce and is left to much speculation. However, one piece of evidence affirms that Jekyll and Sancho did indeed meet and had some form of connection that extended beyond the purely professional. A letter written around 1803 by Sancho's son William to Jekyll, suggests that Jekyll was generous to the Sancho family:

To Joseph Jekyll Esq M P From ...

Article

Kwaku Larbi Korang

With the 1897 publication of his groundbreaking Fanti Customary Laws, John Mensah Sarbah (1864–1910), lawyer, “ethno-sociologist,” nationalist, politician, and newspaper publisher,

positioned himself at the head of a modern African intellectual tradition in which the Western-educated African, in empirical study, identified him- or herself with his or her own native customs as “originally” expressed in the oral tradition. As exemplified in Sarbah’s work, the native intellectual who applied the empirical method to the traditional world was also expected to come away with proof that, in (spite of) their oral expression, native traditions had a rational constitution and expressed this rationality in their institutional life-histories. Orality not being an order of mere randomness, therefore, the native intellectual could codify it and, in writing, reveal its inherent constitutional and institutional rationality. This is the task that the genius of Sarbah brilliantly accomplishes in Fanti Customary Laws and Fanti National ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Gabonese politician and judge, was born on 20 September 1942 to a Galwa family in the central Gabonese town of Lambaréné. The small Galwa community belongs to the minority Omyènè ethnic community that had received favored access to educational opportunities throughout much of the colonial period. She attended primary and secondary schools in Gabon, and her family was close to the extremely powerful Gabonese politician Georges Rawiri. Like Rawiri, Rogombe (née Etoumba) backed the single-party regime of Omar Bongo Ondimba established in 1968. She was a faithful member of Bongo’s Parti Démocratique Gabonais (PDG; Gabonese Democratic Party), and upon completing her undergraduate and graduate studies of law in France, Rogombe returned to Gabon to work for the government. After first working as a magistrate, Rogombe served as minister of women’s affairs and human rights in the 1980s under longtime prime minister Léon Mebiame, another PDG stalwart.

Rogombe authored ...

Article

James Jankowski

Egyptian lawyer, cabinet minister, and prime minister, was born in Cairo in 1863. He belonged to the Topuzzadeh family and was thus a member of the Turko-Circassian (Ottoman-Egyptian) elite that dominated Egypt through the nineteenth century. Educated in Egypt, Geneva, and Paris, he held a French law degree. Rushdi began his public career as a lawyer in the Finance Ministry and later served as an inspector of education and as a judge in both the Mixed Courts and the National Court of Appeal. His first wife was the French feminist writer Eugenie Le Brun; after her death in 1908 he married a sister-in-law of Sharif Husayn of the Hijaz.

Rushdi was a fixture in Egyptian ministries before and during World War I. He served as minister of justice from 1908 to 1910, as foreign minister from 1910 to 1912, and again as minister of justice from 1912 ...

Article

Egyptian jurist, law professor, judge, and cabinet minister, was born in Alexandria on 11 August 1895. He was also known as an educationalist, a champion of the rule of law, a proponent of national independence and Arab solidarity, a leading proponent of the idea that Islam is the paramount characteristic of Arab and Egyptian civilization, and a proponent of the notion that Islam should be a guide for organizing laws and public institutions in the Arab world. His one daughter was Nadia al-Sanhuri (1935– ). Of modest background, he attended a traditional Islamic elementary school and a state secondary school operated by an Islamic foundation in Alexandria. In 1917 he graduated first in his class at the Sultanic Law School in Cairo (which became in 1925 the Law Faculty of King Fuʾad I University the Egyptian University He completed a doctorate in juridical sciences and a second doctorate ...

Article

Raymond Dumett

Ghanian lawyer and anticolonial activist, was born in Britain’s Gold Coast colony (present-day Ghana) on 3 June 1864. He was the eldest son of the prominent Gold Coast merchant John Sarbah and his wife, Sarah. Following in his father’s footsteps John Mensah Sarbah was educated at the Methodist primary school of Cape Coast before entering the newly opened Wesleyan High School (later Mfantsipim School) in 1876 at the age of twelve. Subsequently, he embarked to England at age sixteen for enrollment at Taunton College, Somerset, a private school also associated with Methodism.

The young Sarbah had little desire to follow his father in the coastal mercantile business, which by 1895 was entering into decline Instead with his parents continued support he continued to live in the UK and entered upon the study of the law at Lincoln s Inn Fields London After three years of study and apprenticeship ...

Article

Robert Fay

Born at Cape Coast in 1864, John Mensah Sarbah (also known as Kofi Mensah) was the first son of John and Sarah Sarbah. He attended the Cape Coast Wesleyan School and the Taunton School in England. Sarbah studied law at Lincoln’s Inn in London and in 1887 was the first Gold Coast African admitted to the bar.

Upon his return to Cape Coast, Sarbah established a successful law practice. He considered the traditional political institutions of the Gold Coast basically democratic in nature, and devoted his legal expertise to modernizing these institutions and integrating them into the colony’s legal apparatus. At the same time, he fought for laws protecting Africans from colonial oppression and exploitation. Among his many accomplishments, Sarbah, with the help of Joseph Casely-Hayford, succeeded in defeating the Lands Bill of 1897 which would have ignored traditional property rights and allowed the British government to dispose ...

Article

Haggai Erlich

Egyptian writer, was born in January 1872 to a landowning family in Lower Egypt. He attended a local traditional Islamic school (kuttab) and chose to go to the khedivial secondary school rather than to al-Azhar. Having read translated scholarly works, notably Darwin’s Origin of Species, he was admitted in 1889 to the Khedivial Law School, the alma mater of many of Egypt’s modern politicians and leaders. As a young student, he founded Egypt’s first law review, Majallat al-Tashriʿ (Legislative Review). He graduated in 1894, entered government service, and in 1897 began collaborating with the nationalist leader Mustafa Kamil, who had the support of Khedive ʿAbbas II. They advised him to go to Switzerland and acquire Swiss citizenship so that he would enjoy immunity as a journalist and would be able to criticize the British occupiers freely. However, in Geneva in 1897 he came under ...

Article

Peter Limb

Joe Slovo was a central figure in the national liberation movement of South Africa, chiefly as a theorist and leader of the South African Communist Party (SACP) and African National Congress (ANC). His importance lies in the way he adroitly combined Marxism (as applied in the South African situation) with national liberation ideology, as well as his ability as a strategist of armed struggle and then as a flexible, yet principled, negotiator for democracy.

Slovo migrated to South Africa at age nine to join his working-class Jewish family. He joined the Communist Party of South Africa at age sixteen and became a National Union of Distributive Workers’ shop steward. After serving in the army in World War II, he was active in the radical veterans’ Springbok Legion. Qualifying as a lawyer, he defended Africans arrested during the 1950s for opposing apartheid. In 1949 Slovo married radical journalist Ruth ...

Article

Kate Tuttle

Lithuanian-born Joe Slovo moved to South Africa at the age of nine and grew up in a working-class Jewish neighborhood in Johannesburg. In 1942 he joined the Communist Party of South Africa (later renamed the South African Communist Party) and, shortly thereafter, the South African Army, with which he fought in World War II (1939–1945). After the war he studied law at the University of Witwatersrand, where he befriended Nelson Mandela, who was then the university’s only black student. When Mandela and others formed the African National Congress (ANC) Youth League in 1944, Slovo argued for the multiracial cooperation that became an ANC trademark.

Slovo acted as Mandela’s lawyer in his first trial for treason in 1956 a trial in which Slovo was also a defendant In the early 1960s he helped found Umkhonto we Sizwe the ANC s covert military wing and served for a ...

Article

Raymond Suttner

leading South African communist and antiapartheid activist, was treated by the apartheid regime as its key enemy. At the same time he had a heroic image among the oppressed black majority as a white person totally dedicated to liberation.

Slovo, whose birth name was Yossel Mashel, was born into poverty in Obel, a village in Lithuania, the son of Yiddish-speaking parents, who were isolated from the Lithuanian community by their language and by anti-Semitism. His father left Obel when Joe was two years old to find a better environment. Settling in Johannesburg, South Africa, as a fruit hawker, it was six years before the father could send for his family. Joe arrived in 1936 then ten years old According to his daughter Gillian the Slovo family were on the lowest rung of the newly arrived Jewish community but the color of their skin opened a world of opportunity denied ...

Article

David Dabydeen

Christian abolitionist who worked closely with William Wilberforce. Stephen was born in Poole, Dorset, and educated in Winchester. He became a barrister and had a law practice in the West Indies. As a consequence of viewing the horrors of slavery and the extreme ill‐treatment of slaves on the islands, he started a correspondence with the abolitionist William Wilberforce and provided him with information on the practice of slavery in the West Indies. Under Wilberforce's influence, he joined the Clapham Sect, constituted of Christians working with Wilberforce, and eventually became its leader. He wrote a number of books that attacked the slave trade and several significant pamphlets such as War in Disguise or the Frauds of the Neutral Flags and The Slavery of the British West India Colonies Delineated Stephen also offered a few proposals for the ending of the slave trade Among them was the registration of slaves ...