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Ndeh Martin Sango

politician and first president of the Republic of Cameroon, was born in August 1924 in Garoua, an inland river port on the Benue River in the northern Sahel region of Cameroon. The son of a Fulani chief, he had a humble upbringing. He started his secondary education in Garoua and later switched to Yaounde, the national capital. After his secondary education, he served as a career civil servant until 1946, when he started taking an interest in politics. As a civil service worker, Ahidjo worked as a radio operator for the post office until 1946, when he ventured into territorial politics.

With his ever-growing interest in politics, Ahidjo was elected as the representative of the Benue region of northern Cameroon to the colony’s first Representative Assembly, which was gradually transformed into the broad-based Territorial Assembly. Reelected in 1952 his growing popularity and powerful ambitions in Cameroon politics ...

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Eric Young

Born and raised as a Muslim in the northern administrative center of Garoua, Ahmadou Ahidjo attended secondary school and college in Yaoundé. After working for several years as a radio operator, Ahidjo turned to politics. His 1949 election to the Cameroon representative assembly was followed by election in the 1950s to the territorial and union assemblies. He built a strong power base among the northern elite, composed of Fulbé notables and Hausa merchants. As head of the northern Union Camerounaise (UC), Ahidjo became vice prime minister in the pre-independence coalition government with the Union of the Population of Cameroun (UPC). When the coalition collapsed in 1958, Ahidjo formed a new government, calling for immediate independence while reassuring France that close ties would be maintained.

On the first day of 1960, Cameroon became independent with Ahidjo as president He ruled Cameroon for the next twenty two years Realizing ...

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Ebenezer Ayesu

lawyer, chief judge, and president of Ghana, was born at Dodowa in the Greater Accra region of the Gold Cost (now Ghana) on 26 June 1906. His father was William Martin Addo-Danquah of Akropong, Akuapem. His mother was Theodora Amuafi, also from Akropong, Akuapem. After receiving his elementary education at the Presbyterian primary and middle schools at Dodowa, he enrolled in Achimota College in 1929, from where he was awarded scholarship to study mathematics, philosophy, and politics at Saint Peter’s College, Oxford University. Akuffo-Addo was one of the first students at Saint Peter’s College, matriculating in 1930, a year after the college was established. He went on to graduate with honors in philosophy and politics in 1933. He was later made an honorary fellow of the college, and in 1971 he was made a doctor of civil law at Oxford University.

In 1940 Akuffo Addo ...

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Joshua H. Clough

president of Haiti from 21 December 1902 until 2 December 1908, was born in Cap-Haïtien, Haiti, to an elite and politically powerful family on 2 August 1820. He was the son of Nord Alexis and Blézine Georges. The former had served as a prominent official in Henri Christophe’s kingdom, and the latter was one of Christophe’s illegitimate daughters. When he was 19 years old, Alexis began his long and distinguished military career, shortly before his father’s death in 1840. He served first in the infantry of Haiti’s 22nd Regiment before serving as an officer in the gendarmerie of the Acul-du-Nord in 1843. From 1845 to 1846, he served as the military aide-de-camp to President Jean-Louis Pierrot. Alexis married Pierrot’s daughter Marie Louise in 1845, further securing his influential position in Haiti’s northern black upper class established under Christophe.

During this period he was also ...

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María de Lourdes Ghidoli

Alfonsín was born on 12 March 1927 in the city of Chascomús, Buenos Aires Province, with Spanish and German heritage on his father’s side and British on his mother’s. He was the eldest of Ana María Foulkes and Serafín Raúl Alfonsín’s six children. He married María Lorenza Barreneche on 4 February 1949, and they also had six children: Raúl Felipe, Ana María, Ricardo Luis, Marcela, María Inés, and Javier Ignacio. Only Ricardo followed in his father’s footsteps, though he entered politics in the 1990s, after his father’s presidency.

Alfonsín spent his childhood in Chascomús, where he attended primary school. As an adolescent, he entered the Liceo Militar General San Martín (General San Martín Military High School), located in Villa Ballester (Greater Buenos Aires). From there, he graduated in 1945 at the level of second lieutenant of the reserve Later he studied at the law school of the Universidad ...

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Ari Nave

Self-titled “His Excellency President for Life Field Marshal Al Hadji Dr. Idi Amin, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Sea and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular,” Idi Amin also made a name for himself as one of modern Africa's most tyrannical and brutal rulers. A member of the Kakwa ethnic group, Idi Amin was born to Muslim parents near Koboko in northern Uganda when that part of Africa was under British control. After receiving a missionary school education, Amin joined the King's African Rifles (KAR), the African unit of the British Armed Forces, in 1946. He served in Somalia, Uganda, and Kenya while British authorities there suppressed an African uprising called the Mau Mau rebellion earning a reputation as a skilled and eager soldier But early in his career ...

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Nelson Kasfir

military officer and President of Uganda from 1971 to 1979, was probably born in Koboko district near the Sudanese border in northwestern Uganda. Few facts about his parents, his birth date, or his upbringing can be confirmed. His mother, who was Lugbara and originally Christian, separated from his father—who was Kakwa, Muslim, and possibly a convert from Christianity—shortly after his birth and raised Amin in southern Uganda.

As a Muslim belonging to both the Kakwa and the Nubian ethnic communities, Amin received little formal education and had halting command of several languages, including Swahili and English. He practiced polygamy and married at least six women: Malyamu Kibedi and Kay Adroa (both Christians prior to marriage) in late 1966 and Nora (her full name cannot be confirmed), a Langi, in 1967. He divorced all three, according to a Radio Uganda announcement on 26 March 1974 He married Nalongo ...

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Walter Clarke

Somali Issa Abgal Mamassan, president of the Republic of Djibouti (1977–1999), was born on 15 October 1919 in the village of Garissa in present-day Somaliland. His parents were nomads from the Loyada area, which is located at the frontier with the former British Somaliland. According to his official biography, he left the nomadic life as a young man, and “on his own,” he was admitted to a Roman Catholic mission school in Djibouti, where he graduated from the primary school. As a young man, he earned his living doing odd jobs in the port and later taught in a primary school.

However, Hassan Gouled’s true love was politics. In 1946 he joined the Club de la Jeunesse Somali et Dankali a political group founded by Mahamoud Harbi His philosophical differences with Harbi quickly became evident He was elected representative in the Territorial Council in which he served ...

Article

Gloria Chuku

journalist and president of Nigeria, was born into the family of Obededan Chukwuemeka Azikiwe, a clerk with the Nigerian Regiment of the West African Frontier Force in the northern Nigerian Hausa town of Zungeru. Later known affectionately as Zik, as a child, Nnamdi learned Hausa before his parents sent him to Onitsha, their Igbo hometown, for his primary education in 1912. In 1918, he graduated from Christ Church School, Onitsha, and he briefly taught there as a pupil teacher (1918–1920).

His education also took him to the Efik town of Calabar where he enrolled in the prestigious Hope Waddell Training Institute Following his father s transfer to Lagos Nnamdi moved with the family and enrolled at the Wesleyan Boys High School Lagos a predominant Yoruba town By the time he graduated from high school Nnamdi had acquired three major Nigerian languages Hausa Igbo and Yoruba and ...

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A member of the Igbo people of western Nigeria, Nnamdi Azikiwe was educated at mission schools in the city of Lagos. He worked briefly as a clerk for the national treasury at Lagos, but in 1925 he left Nigeria in 1925, a stowaway on a ship bound for the United States. There, he studied history and political science while supporting himself as a coal miner, casual laborer, dishwasher, and boxer. As a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, Azikiwe became familiar with black activist Marcus Garvey and the Back to Africa movement.

In 1934 Azikiwe moved to Ghana, became editor of the Africa Morning Post, and published Liberia in World Affairs, a book about another West African nation. He published Renascent Africa in 1937 That same year he returned to Nigeria where he joined the executive committee of the Nigerian Youth ...

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Article

Joaquín Balaguer was born in Villa Bisono in the Dominican Republic, on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. After studying law in the capital city of Santo Domingo, he earned a doctorate at the University of Paris. In 1930 he became involved in a conspiracy that resulted in Rafael Leónidas Trujillo seizing the presidency. During Trujillo's long and dictatorial regime, Balaguer served in various ambassadorial posts abroad and also served as the Dominican Republic's minister of education and vice president. After Trujillo's oppressive rule officially ended, the country was led by a series of puppet leaders, with Trujillo pulling their strings. Balaguer began his presidency in 1960 as one such puppet. Trujillo, however, was assassinated in 1961. Balaguer remained president but faced massive popular protests for a return to democratic rule. In 1962 a general strike forced Balaguer from power He spent the next three years ...

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Owen J. M. Kalinga

physician and president of Malawi from 1964 to 1994, was born in about 1896 at Mphonongo, approximately 18 miles (29 kilometers) east of the headquarters of the present-day Kasungu district. Given the name, Kamunkhwala, denoting the medicine that his mother took to enable conception, Banda attended two local junior elementary schools of the Livingstonia Mission of the Church of Scotland. In 1908, he went to the more established school at Chilanga Mission where, in that year, Dr. George Prentice baptized him as Akim Kamunkhwala Mtunthama Banda. He was to drop all three names and replace them with Hastings Walter (after a Scottish missionary, John Hastings), before finally settling on Hastings Kamuzu Banda, substituting kamuzu (root) for Kamunkhwala.

In 1914 Banda passed three standard exams a mandatory step to continue to the full primary school level the satisfactory completion of which was the highest qualification one could attain ...

Article

Known as the “Lion of Malawi,” Ngwazi Hastings Kamuzu Banda was also known as the dictator who showed so little appreciation for his country’s people and culture that he was sometimes suspected of being an American impostor. Kamuzu Banda was born to Chewa peasants in a village near Kasunugu, Nyasaland (present-day Malawi). No birth records were kept at the time; while his official year of birth is 1906, other sources cite 1898. As a child Banda left the household of his maternal grandmother and entered a newly established school built by Church of Scotland missionaries. Influenced by his uncle, Hanock Phiri, Banda converted to Christianity and adopted the surname of missionary John Hastings.

Shortly after completing primary school, Banda traveled with his uncle to South Africa (supposedly walking the 1667 km [1000 mi]), where they initially worked in a coal mine in Dundee, Natal. Upon reaching Johannesburg ...

Article

Judith Morrison

Fulgencio Batista y Zaldivar was the controversial Cuban leader who dominated much of the country's politics for three decades. Born in 1901 to a rural farming family in the Oriente Province, Batista was orphaned at age thirteen and left school to become a tailor's apprentice. He joined the military at the age of twenty.

On September 4, 1933, Batista led the Sergeants' Rebellion, which culminated in the appointment of President Ramón Grau San Martín and the ousting of President Manuel de Céspedes. Grau's revolutionary policies incurred the disfavor of the United States, which refused to recognize the government. In 1934, with U.S. support, Batista forced Grau's resignation. Batista ruled through a series of puppet presidents and was himself elected in 1940, defeating his rival Grau. As president from 1940to1944 Batista passed a number of reforms governing the areas of health welfare and labor ...

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Marian Aguiar

Ahmed Ben Bella was born in Maghnia, Algeria. After fighting for the French during World War II, Ben Bella returned home to witness the colonial administration’s crackdown on the Algerian population. During the crackdown, the French bombed Islamic villages and killed thousands of Muslims in response to the 1945 anticolonial riots in the Sétif region. Inspired to join the growing Algerian independence movement, Ben Bella worked with several illegal revolutionary groups until he was arrested and imprisoned by the French in 1950.

After escaping from prison in 1952, Ben Bella joined other exiled anticolonial leaders, including Mohamed Boudiaf and Hocine Aït Ahmed, in Cairo, Egypt. Together they helped found the main revolutionary party, the Algerian National Liberation Front (Front de Libération Nationale, or FLN). Ben Bella was an arms procurer for the FLN in 1956 when he was captured aboard a plane ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Algerian anticolonial leader and politician, was born on 25 December 1916 in the town of Maghnia in western Algeria. His family was relatively affluent, and he was the youngest child of five boys and several girls.

Although Ben Bella’s father was a practicing Muslim, Ben Bella himself never managed to master Arabic. He attended primary schools in Maghnia and graduated in 1930. Ben Bella was a phenomenal football (soccer) player at school, and he seriously considered becoming a professional athlete. However, he ended up joining the French army and served in numerous campaigns during World War II. His bravery and skill made him a legend in his own unit, and he eventually reached the rank of Sergeant Major. At the Battle of Monte Cassino in Italy, he carried his wounded company commander 1500 yards to safety and then took charge of the company Charles De Gaulle his future ...

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Richard A. Bradshaw

military officer, president, and emperor of the Central African Republic/Empire, was born on 22 February 1921 at Bobangui, Lobaye region, then in the French Equatorial African territory of the Middle Congo (now part of the Central African Republic) He was the son of headman Mindogon Mgboundoulou, who was murdered at the regional colonial headquarters in the Lobaye, and Marie Yokowo, who died a week after her husband. Bokassa belonged to the same Mbaka (Ngbaka) ethnic group as Central African Republic (CAR) leaders Barthélemy Boganda and David Dacko. His grandfather MʿBalanga took care of Bokassa until 1921, when he entered the Catholic missionary école Sainte-Jeanne-d’Arc at MʿBaiki. Bokassa then attended Bangui’s École de St. Louis (1928–1929), which was run by Father Charles Grüner, and an école missionnaire at Brazzaville (1929–1939). Enlisting in the French army on 19 May 1939, Bokassa became a corporal (1940 ...

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Eric Young

A career soldier who had endured a tragic childhood, Jean-Bédel Bokassa ruled the impoverished Central African Republic with brutal repression, used its revenues for his personal enrichment, and crowned himself emperor. He committed barbarities that caused an international outcry and led to his removal from power.

When Bokassa was six years old, his father, a village chief of the Mbaka people, was murdered. Bokassa became an orphan a week later, when his mother committed suicide. Missionaries raised him until age eighteen when, at the outbreak of World War II, Bokassa joined the French Colonial Army. He participated in the 1944 landings in Provence and later served in Indochina and Algeria, attaining the rank of captain and earning the Legion d’Honneur and the Croix de Guerre. In 1960, after Oubangui-Chari became the independent Central African Republic, Bokassa helped create its army and, in 1964 was given the rank of ...

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Dario A. Euraque

was born in the Department of Olancho, in eastern Honduras, in the municipality of Juticalpa. His parents were Jorge Bonilla and Dominga Chirinos. He received a rudimentary primary education in the 1850s, and enjoyed no formal high school, much less a university education. We know almost nothing of his infancy and youth, and his black and mulatto ethno-racial background are only discreetly mentioned by his major biographers. However, there is no doubt that General Bonilla was phenotypically black or mulatto, in addition to having been born in a town whose ethno-racial background was the same.

According to Jose Sarmiento, the most important historian of Olancho and Juticalpa, Bonilla’s city of birth, in 1810 in the parish registries we find that nearly all the population is registered as mulatto One of General Bonilla s lesser known biographers also affirms as much Moreover his most important biographer characterizes him as dark ...