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Richard Watts

Born into a lower-middle class Haitian family in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, François Duvalier attended local primary schools and, later, the Lycée Pétion, where he was taught by his political mentor, Dumarsais Estimé. Duvalier subsequently attended medical school at the national university, earning a degree in 1934. He then turned to civil service, working for the Haitian government for the next ten years. During this time Duvalier became part of a collective known as the Griots, a group of intellectuals, inspired by the Négritude movement, who sought to glorify Haiti's African heritage.

In Le problème des classes à travers l'histoire d'Haïti (1946), Duvalier and Lorimer Denis rejected a Marxist analysis of class and claimed that the historical supremacy of the mulatto (of African and European descent) elite in Haiti was an ethnic rather than an economic phenomenon Many historians deem this work a vulgarization of the ...

Article

Frédéric Grah Mel

first president of the Ivory Coast, was born in Yamoussoukro, the country’s current political capital. His father was an unknown gold washer whose name, Houphouët, means “filth.” In the Baoulé tribe, this type of name is given to the widower of a woman who has lost several children in the hope that death will not be interested in a piece of rubbish. Through his mother he was descended from a family of traditional chiefs. The name Boigny comes from his mother’s family and means “ram.” In December 1945, when he was going to Paris for the first time as a member of the French Parliament, he announced that he would be henceforth Houphouët-Boigny, which meant that he would be a fighting deputy.

Houphouët’s official date of birth is 18 October 1905 but it is a date that has been entirely constructed Soothsayers consulted before his birth predicted that ...

Article

Elizabeth Heath

Félix Houphouët-Boigny was the first president of the Côte d’Ivoire. Many people credit his political acumen and skillful leadership for the achievement of stability and economic prosperity in the country. Born in Yamoussoukro, the son of a Baule chief, HouphouËt-Boigny attended the prestigious école Normale William Ponty and the école de Médicine et de Pharmacie, both in Dakar, Senegal. After graduating in 1925, he practiced medicine and, at the same time, ran a coffee plantation. In 1940 he was appointed the canton chief of his family s home district he subsequently turned his attention to politics especially as they affected the Baule coffee farmers Confronted by the racist policies of the colonial government HouphouËt Boigny organized fellow planters into the Syndicat Agricole Africain SAA to protest the colonial administration s race based crop prices and use of forced labor which only benefited European farmers Although the ...

Article

Frances B. Henderson

political leader and former first lady of Mozambique and South Africa, was born Graça Simbine in Gaza Province in rural Mozambique, the youngest of six children. She was born two weeks after the death of her father, and she and her siblings were raised by her mother. Machel attended a Methodist mission school starting at the age of 6, and upon completion of primary and secondary school in the early 1970s, she received a mission scholarship to study romance languages at the University of Lisbon in Portugal. In Lisbon she met other African students from the Portuguese colonies and began to develop her liberation politics. In 1973, upon her return to Mozambique, she joined the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO) in its struggle for independence from Portuguese rule. Later in 1973 Machel fled to Tanzania to join FRELIMO in exile where she met her future husband ...

Article

Eric Young

Samora Machel was one of Africa’s most famous revolutionary figures, known for his charisma and disciplined character. As a revolutionary leader and as president of Mozambique, Machel created a cult of personality wrapped in Marxist ideology and populism. Like many of the Mozambican nationalist leaders, Machel, who was born in Chilembene, was a southerner who attended Catholic schools in his youth. He trained as a nurse and worked in Maputo’s central hospital before joining the nationalist group Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO), led by Eduardo Mondlane, in 1962. After receiving military training in Algeria the following year, Machel returned to lead many military operations during the war for independence. As the war progressed, Machel became commander of Nachingwea, FRELIMO’s military training camp in Tanzania, and became FRELIMO’s secretary of defense in 1966 and commander in chief in 1968 Shortly after the assassination of Eduardo ...

Article

Luis Gonçalves

Angolan doctor, writer, and first president of independent Angola from 1975 to 1979, was born António Agostinho Neto in Kaxicane, in the county of Icolo e Bengo, near Luanda. His father was a pastor of an American mission, and his mother was a teacher. He went to school in Luanda, where he finished high school in 1944. He then went to Portugal, where he studied medicine at the prestigious University of Coimbra. It is there that he started his anticolonial activities. In 1947 he was a founding member of the movement of young Angolan intellectuals, “Let’s Discover Angola.” In the following year he received a study grant from the American Methodists, and he transferred to the University of Lisbon.

In 1950 Neto was arrested in Lisbon by the Portuguese political police PIDE Polícia de Intervenção e Defesa do Estado while he was collecting signatures for the World ...

Article

Eric Young

The son of a Methodist minister, António Agostinho Neto received his high school education in Luanda. In 1947, after spending three years in the government health service, Neto traveled to Portugal to attend medical school on a Methodist church scholarship. While there he met his Portuguese wife, Maria Eugénia da Silva, and other students from Portuguese Africa, including future nationalist leaders Amílcar Cabral of Guinea-Bissau and Eduardo Mondlane of Mozambique. He also became involved in the youth organization of the Portuguese opposition movement. Between 1952 and 1962, during various stays in prison for his political activity, Neto began writing poetry. The publication of his nationalist poetry and his subsequent detention delayed his graduation from medical school until 1958.

By mid 1957 he had joined the recently formed opposition group the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola MPLA He fit in well with the MPLA s educated ...