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Elsie A. Okobi

merchant and king of Opobo, was born in the village of Umuduruoha in the densely populated Igbo heartland of eastern Nigeria (now in Imo State). He was born into the Isu clan, and his father, Ozurumba, was most likely a farmer who supplemented that work by trading or with a skilled profession such as blacksmithing. His mother’s name was Uru. At the approximate age of twelve, Jaja was sent to live with relatives in Nkwerre, from where he was kidnapped and sold into slavery. From Nkwerre he was brought to Akwete and sold to a trader named Odiari from the Royal Canoe House of Opobo. (Canoe houses had begun in the delta as trading and fighting communities capable of manning and maintaining a war canoe; the trading center city-states of the eastern delta—Brass, Nembe, Bonny—each consisted of several organized canoe houses.)

Given the name Jubo Jubogha Jaja stayed with his ...

Article

Mandara  

J. C. Winter

mangi (king) of Mochi (in local pronunciation, “Moshi” in Swahili-European tradition but officially known since 1919 as “Old Moshi” after “Moshi” had become the name of the new town nearby) from 1864 to 1891, in west-central Chagga, Kilimanjaro (in present-day in Tanzania), also known by the name Rindi, was famous for having twice risen from leader of an insignificant realm to the ruler of more than three-quarters of Chagga, the largest area of Chagga any precolonial mangi ever ruled. He achieved this through his charisma and rationalism as a political and military leader, the timely appropriation and use of his commercial assets, his diplomatic acumen, and his clever public relations management.

Mandara (or Makindara or Kimandara), meaning “here and there,” was the circumcision name he took in 1858 in memory of his childhood when he had to hide every night in a different supporter s home in order ...

Article

J. C. Winter

mangi (king) of Marangu in eastern Central Chagga, Kilimanjaro (in present-day Tanzania), from 1883 to 1912, has become known as Marealle I. The name Marealle, a Swahili-German corruption of the original “Mlyelyari,” means “he who forces to give up.” Ndeghoruo translates as “I punished” or “I was punished,” and Kilamia translates as “conquest.” Marealle’s father Mangi Ndealio died in 1857 before his son was born, and his grandmother Msanya assumed the regency until 1864, when she was unseated by an elder cousin of Marealle’s, and with the boy took asylum in Mamba. Until 1883 this cousin and two others fought each other over the throne, while Mangi Rindi of Mochi wrested the suzerainty over Marangu from Mangi Ngaluma of Kibosho, holding it until the Battle of Useri in 1878. Meanwhile, Marealle continued to live as an exile.

Eventually Marealle appeared in Kibosho and attracted the attention and ...

Article

Msiri  

Elizabeth Heath

Born with the name of Ngelengwa in Tanzania, Msiri was the son of a Sumbwa chief and trader. Msiri started his career on the trade routes forged by his father between East and Central Africa. In 1856 he negotiated with Mwata Kazembe, chief of the Lunda empire, for the right to settle and trade in south Katanga.

There Msiri used alliances with local ruling families and firearms acquired from traders to build his own empire, the Yeke or Garenganze. By 1870 Msiri’s empire extended throughout Katanga. He also built his trade networks by forging ties with Tippu Tip, a trader of the Swahili people. He forged ties with many other East African merchants as well. With these traders he exported slaves and copper, also working in the Ivory Trade, in return for cloth and firearms.

In 1880 after the death of his father Msiri proclaimed himself mwami or king ...

Article

Okwei  

Gloria Chuku

Nigerian princess, entrepreneur, and Omu (female monarch), was born Okwei Afubeho in 1872 in the trading town of Osomari located on the lower Niger River (present-day Nigeria). Her father, Osuna Afubeho, was a famous warrior and wealthy prince of Osomari who had several hundred slaves, who manned his trading and war canoes. Okwei’s grandfather, Nzedegwu, was the Atamanya (king) of Osomari, who signed trading agreements with the British in 1854 and invited the Roman Catholic mission to his town in 1860. Her maternal grandfather, Obi Aje, was one of the sons of the famous Obi Ossai, the Aboh king, who received and signed trading agreements with European traders in the 1830s.

Okwei s father was a polygynist with many children but she was the only child of her mother At the age of 9 Okwei became an apprentice to a maternal aunt who was a trader in the Igala ...

Article

Rengua  

J. C. Winter

king (mangi) of the Tanzanian kingdom of Machame (ruled 1808–1837), was the first to break the superior power of Kibosho, its rival in western Kilimanjaro. He assumed his rule after the famine and cholera epidemic of 1806–1808. After uniting Masama (western Machame) with his inherited realm of eastern Machame and extending his rule farther west to Kyuu, Ng’uni, and Siha, Rengua began a long, drawn-out struggle with Kashenge over the monopoly of trade-caravan contacts in western Kilimanjaro.

Western Kilimanjaro had to be approached via eastern Kilimanjaro through the plains below the southern slopes of Kilimanjaro in the north and the Kikuletwa River and the Lelatema mountain range in the south This passage was barred in the middle by dense forests along the Rau River and its lower tributaries that could be penetrated only with local assistance in the form of guides and military or diplomatic protection ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

king of the Chadian sultanate of Wadai, was born in the late eighteenth century. His father, Salih Derret, had briefly reigned over the kingdom from 1798 until his death in 1804. Whereas Salih Derret had a bad reputation among Muslim scholars for leaving the bulk of daily governance to his free and slave court officials, Sabun proved to be a far more dynamic and ambitious authority. He launched a successful revolution against his father with the approval of many members of the army and Muslim scholars. Soon after his coronation in the middle of 1804 he launched a reform program that placed a great deal of power into his own hands Rather than allow some officials to judge legal cases Sabun himself supervised trials every Friday when he was not away leading military campaigns against rival states He also created a group of inspectors that reviewed the activities ...

Article

Fred Morton

kgosi (king, chief) of the Bakwena of Bechuanaland (r. 1829–1892), presided over the creation of the first large state adjoining the Kalahari. He was the eldest son of the Kwena kgosi Motswasele II, a tyrant who was assassinated by his brothers in 1821, at which point the Kwena fragmented. Sechele was taken into hiding by his uncle Segokotlo, but this group suffered from reprisals from Kwena aspirants and from attacks by the Kololo (Fokeng) of Sebitwane and the Ndebele of Mzilikazi. In about 1830, after having moved from one haven to another, young Sechele assumed leadership of a Kwena group based in the north at Lephephe and began the long process of reunification, which was completed in 1845 with the death of his rival and distant uncle, Bubi.

In 1848 Sechele was baptized by David Livingstone of the London Missionary Society LMS Sechele s capitals at Tshonwane ...