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Cyril Daddieh

university professor, political dissident, and former president of Ivory Coast from 2000–2011 was born in Mama, near Gagnoa (center-west region) on 31 May 1945 to Zepe Paul Koudou and Gado Marguerite. He attended primary and middle schools in Agboville and Gagnoa, completing his studies in June 1962. He went on to high school at the very competitive Lycée Classique d’Abidjan. After graduating in June 1965, Gbagbo enrolled at the University of Abidjan for a year before he transferred to the University of Lyon, in France, to study Latin, Greek, and French. His love of Latin earned him the nickname “Cicero.” However, Gbagbo did not complete his degree in Lyon; rather, he returned to the University of Abidjan, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in history in 1969.

Gbagbo became a trade unionist and an unflinching opponent of the regime of President Félix Houphouët-Boigny. In 1969 Gbagbo s ...

Article

Leland Conley Barrows

What a life filled with ambiguity and paradox was that of Jomo Kenyatta (1894–1878), the first president of independent Kenya. In many ways he was a modernizer; however, he defended the practice of female circumcision. Although in this and in other respects he was a Kikuyu traditionalist, he recognized that modern nation-building required citizens of African countries to renounce or at least transcend their tribal loyalties. He was an early believer in pan-Africanism, though his support for it after the independence of Kenya was at best rhetorical. Kenyatta was a polemicist who praised socialism in various media, including the Daily Worker but he became a major capitalist at home Kenyatta s anti colonial credentials were impeccable yet he owed much of his political ascension to British blundering whereby he was held responsible for the Mau Mau outbreak imprisoned unjustly and enabled to emerge as a prison graduate ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Malian historian and politician, was born on 2 February 1946 in the town of Kayes in Mali. He attended qurʾanic school in Kayes and then attended secondary schools in Bamako, Dakar, and Katibougou. He then went on to university studies in history at the École Normale Superieur (ENS) in Bamako, the capital of Mali, from 1965 to 1969. Like many other young Malian intellectuals in the 1960s, he supported the socialist policies of the ruling Union Soudanaise-Rassemblement Démocratique Africaine (USRDA; Sudanese Union-African Democratic Rally) party of president Modibo Keïta. Konaré became the secretary general of the youth wing of the USRDA at the ENS in 1967. Konaré had opportunity to continue his studies at the University of Warsaw in Poland from 1971 to 1975, and he received a doctorate in archaeology from this institution.

His stays abroad proved important to his political development as well as his ...

Article

Nana Yaw B. Sapong

, teacher, diplomat, politician, and president of Ghana’s Third Republic, was born in Gwellu in the Upper Region of Ghana in 1934. His father was a blacksmith and farmer in a region noted for predominantly producing cereal, root crops, and legumes. Limann was an accomplished individual. After completing his elementary education at Lawra and Tamale, he earned a teacher’s certificate from the Tamale Government Teacher Training College in 1952 and the General Certificate Examination Advanced Level in 1957. This earned him a place at the London School of Economics, where he completed a bachelor of science in economics degree in 1960. He journeyed to France where he earned a doctorate in political science and constitutional law from the University of Paris in 1965 Limann also received a high diploma in the French language from the Sorbonne 1962 and a bachelor of arts in history from the ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

president of the Republic the of Congo (Brazzaville), educator, and politician, was born to a Kikongo-speaking family on 31 December 1921 in the town of Nkolo, located in the southern region of the Republic of Congo. His father Debat (a European version of the Kongolese name Ndeba or Deba) sent him to a primary school at Boko. His parents belonged to a Protestant church, and his missionary education helped to develop his austere personality later in life.

He graduated from the Lycée Edouard Renard in Brazzaville, then the capital of French Equatorial Africa, and became a schoolteacher. Massamba-Débat was first assigned to teach in the southern Chadian town of Fort-Lamy in 1945 He became deeply impressed with the leftist West Indian colonial administrator Gabriel Lisette who called for equal rights between Africans and Europeans and eventual independence for Chad from France Massamba Débat became the secretary of the leftist ...

Article

Waseem-Ahmed Bin-Kasim

president of Ghana and university professor, popularly referred to as “Prof,” was born on 21 July 1944 at Tarkwa in the Western Region of Ghana, although he grew up in the town of Ekumfi Otuam in Ghana’s Central Region. Mills was born to a family that was Fante, an Akan-speaking ethnic group. In 1963 he earned his A-level certificate at the prestigious Achimota Secondary School in the capital city of Accra, before attending the University of Ghana, Legon, where he earned a bachelor’s degree (1966) and a professional certificate in law (1967). He distinguished himself in academia, earning a PhD at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London in 1970. Awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study in the United States, he earned a PhD in 1971 from Stanford Law School in Palo Alto California his doctoral dissertation focused on the relationship between ...

Article

Janet Vaillant

Senegalese poet, philosopher, politician, and first president of Senegal (1960–1980), was born in Joal, a small coastal town south of Dakar in what was then the French West African Federation, now Senegal. His father came from the Serer people and was successful in the peanut export trade. His mother, one of several wives, came from a small country village, where Senghor spent his early childhood. His father sent him away for education when he was seven, and at eight he entered a Catholic mission boarding school. A pious and academically gifted child, he excelled in his studies, gaining support from the missionaries to continue his education in Dakar. He also acquired a deep Catholic faith, from which came his conviction that peaceful solutions exist for the most difficult of problems and from which he drew sustenance throughout his life. In 1928 he went to Paris to continue his education ...

Article

David P. Johnson

Demonstrating a rare combination of intellectual, artistic, and political skill, Léopold Sédar Senghor towered over modern Senegal, unlike any other figure in that country’s history. Senghor’s quest to find an artistic and political synthesis between African and European ways of life inspired his lifelong record of creative achievement. Although as a youth he immersed himself in French culture, his ultimate inability to become “a black-skinned Frenchman” led him to cultivate his “Africanness.” He helped to define two of the key political and intellectual movements of twentieth-century Africa: African Socialism and Négritude.

Born in Ndjitor, Senegal, to a Serer father and a Fulani mother, Senghor strove to represent all of Senegal’s peoples in his writing and politics. He attended Roman Catholic mission schools in what was then French West Africa, and in 1922 entered the Collège Libermann a seminary in Dakar where he intended to study for the priesthood He ...