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Grantley Herbert Adams was born in Government Hill, Barbados, then a British colony. His father, Fitzherbert Adams, was a black man and the head teacher of one of the island's largest primary schools, Saint Giles. His mother, Rosa Frances Adams, was a coloured woman (of mixed African and European descent). By West Indian standards, the Adams family was part of the lower middle class, removed from the endemic poverty that engulfed the disenfranchised black majority.

Like his father, Adams attended Harrisons College, the colony's premier secondary school. In 1919 he won a prestigious island scholarship to Oxford University in England, where he studied law. In England he met intellectuals from the colonized world, many of whom, like himself, had joined the Fabian Society, a socialist movement that supported decolonization and the end of the British Empire. In 1925 Adams returned to Barbados working as a lawyer ...

Article

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 ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Enocent Msindo

founder of the Rozvi state in present day Zimbabwe is also known as Dombo 1 Changamire Dombolakonachingwango Chikurawadyembeu or Chikura Although Changamire was Dombo s surname it became a dynastic title for successive Rozvi kings hence the mistaken belief that Changamire was just an honorific title and not an individual s name His parents and family members like his date of birth are unknown The entirety of Dombo s early history is unclear Although he seems to have been a descendant of an earlier leader of an indigenous polity called the Torwa who built his political career through cattle wealth Dombo at one point served as one of the Mutapa king s herdsmen a magician and a renowned rainmaker Mutapa being a postmedieval Shona kingdom When he seceded and became king Dombo became a prominent political figure not only in the region that was once dominated by the Mutapa but ...

Article

Linda M. Carter

missionary and founding father of the state of Liberia, was born in Hicksford, Greensville County, Virginia, the elder son of John Day Sr., an affluent furniture maker, farmer, and landowner, and Mourning Stewart Day. The Days were free African Americans, and Day's father, as early as the 1789 election, was accorded voting status.

In an era when formal education for African Americans was rare, Day reaped the benefits of being the offspring of two prominent families. His father arranged for him to board in Edward Whitehorne's home, and Day, along with the Whitehorne children, attended Jonathan Bailey's school. While residing with the family, Day received some level of religious instruction from Whitehorne. In 1807 Day's father, who had been residing in Dinwiddie County, Virginia, purchased a plantation in Sussex County, Virginia, near the Whitehorne residence, and Day then attended William Northcross's school.

At the age of nineteen ...

Article

Born in Menkwaneng the son of a Sotho leader Moshoeshoe began to gather together refugees from the upheaval in southeastern Africa known as the Mfecane in the early 1820s Retiring to an impregnable mountaintop known as Thaba Bosiu Sotho for Mountain of the Night he fought off several attacks but more often used his formidable diplomatic skills to defend his growing number of Basotho people In the early 1830s French missionaries arrived in the region While continuing to support the traditional customs and religion of the Sotho Moshoeshoe welcomed the missionaries and sought their advice in dealing with the British and the Afrikaner groups or Boers who were seeking to colonize southern Africa Fearing Afrikaner settlement on his lands he asked for British protection but an alliance with the government of the Cape Colony was not enough to prevent armed incursions by settlers into Basotho territory Fighting between the Basotho ...

Article

Chris Saunders

founder of the Basuto nation Relatively little is known of his early life though he probably acquired his name meaning the shaver from his success in capturing the cattle of his enemies Born near the upper Caledon River in what is now Lesotho Moshoeshhoe s success as a junior chief attracted to him refugees and victims of wars during the turbulent decades of the early nineteenth century and he gradually built up a sizeable following He established himself first at Buthe Buthe then at Thaba Bosiu mountain of darkness a mountaintop citadel that his enemies found impossible to capture When attacked by the Zulu he agreed to pay tribute to Shaka in return for being left alone From Thaba Bosiu he skillfully played off the British and Boers in the lands along the Caledon River from the 1830s and won the allegiance of Sotho speakers living as far west as ...

Article

Msiri  

Nathaniel Mathews

political leader in eastern and central Africa, was born Mwenda Msiri Ngelengwa Shitambi in Tabora (in present-day Tanzania) to an ambitious Sumbwa Nyamwezi trader. Msiri rose to become one of the most powerful of a new class of nineteenth-century African rulers who used firearms and long-distance trade to build up spheres of influence independent of clan linkages or hereditary inheritance. Msiri’s father Kalasa held a chieftainship under the great Nyamwezi ruler Mirambo and was also a very successful copper merchant. Known as the Yeke, Msiri and other Nyamwezi brought the peoples of the Katanga plateau coastal trade goods while providing a market for the heavy copper crosses molded in Katanga refineries.

Msiri s first political strategy was to ally himself with the Wasanga in their war against a Lunda regent Msiri was able to defeat the Lunda king earning the gratitude and subordination of the Wasanga He followed this victory ...

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

Muchaparara Musemwa

founder and king of the Ndebele kingdom in what is now southwestern Zimbabwe, was born in central Zululand near the Black Mfolozi River, South Africa. He was the son of Matshobane (also spelled “Mashobane”), one of three chiefs who had seceded from the Khumalo clan, and Nompethu, one of the daughters of Zwide, chief of the neighboring Ndwandwe clan.

Because Nompethu was Matshobane s senior wife it followed that her first son Mzilikazi would be the heir apparent In keeping with custom Nompethu and her young child faced ritual death threats and were subsequently expelled from the territory of the Khumalo clan and Mzilikazi was obliged to live in exile for the duration of his father s reign or until his death This custom was observed in order to ensure the security of the chief s future successor from possible assassination and also to protect Mzilikazi from unnecessary influences from ...

Article

Ndori  

Jeremy Rich

also known as Ruganza Ndori king and probable founder of the kingdom of Rwanda was born sometime in the sixteenth century A wide range of oral traditions about his rule collected in the first half of the twentieth century are the only sources available on his life so all dates are approximate Rwandan and foreign scholars generally agree that he was a real person even if later stories may have combined narratives associated with several kings onto Ndori His mother Ndori was said to be a stranger from the north who came with many cattle into the region that is now central Rwanda A number of traditions identify Ndori as a member of the Hima community associated with cattle herding in many parts of the Great Lakes region Before the appearance of Ndori there was no single kingdom Instead there were many different autonomous lineages Ndori s father Ndahiro Cyamatare ...

Article

Akwasi Osei

King Osei Tutu I (c. c.e.1660–c. 1712), a king, states-man, warrior, and empire builder, was the most famous of a long line of warrior-kings who created the largest and most organized Akan state, the Asante Kingdom. Under his rule, the Asante confederation was established and grew to cover much of contemporary West Africa, including all of present-day Ghana, parts of the Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, and Togo. This area had by the fifteenth century become a center of commerce and economic activity, mainly in gold and salt. There were also important trade routes that connected major trading centers from north to south, east to west. By the middle of the seventeenth century, many small Akan states had reached maturity and, like the Denkyira and Akyem, were active in consolidating their power.

It was then that some clan groups found themselves subjected to Denkyira then the largest Akan ...

Article

David P. Johnson

Osei Tutu followed a model established by the earlier Akan military states of Denkyira and Akwamu. He forged Asante into a powerful state that dominated most of present-day Ghana for 200 years. Osei Tutu tripled the area under Asante control and gained the Asante access to, though not control of, the seacoast. There they could trade directly with the Europeans to exchange slaves and gold for firearms.

According to legend Osei Tutu was named after the shrine of Otutu where his mother had prayed for a child Obiri Yeboa Osei Tutu s uncle and ruler of the Asante chiefdom of Kwaman sent the young man as his heir for training at the court of Denkyira the state that then ruled over the Asante A love affair with the Denkyira king s sister forced Osei Tutu to flee to Akwamu a neighboring state to the east There he met Okomfo Anokye ...

Article

Elizabeth Heath

Rabih al-Zubayr was born in Sudan, probably near Khartoum, though the details of his early life are uncertain. Some believe that he was originally a slave freed by his master, Zubayr Rahma Mansur, while others think he was born free and joined the Turkic-Egyptian army before working for Zubayr, the largest slave-trader in southern Sudan. He joined Zubayr’s company in 1850 and had become a competent military leader by 1875, when the British declared slavery illegal.

When the British forcibly shut down Zubayr s operations four years later Rabih gathered what was left of Zubayr s slave army and established a raiding stronghold in the Azande region to the west During the 1880s Rabih and his army attacked and pillaged groups such as the Banda and Sara In the early 1890s Rabih defeated a French expedition and conquered the Bagirmi state in present day Chad from which he staged ...

Article

Sudanese warlord and politician, was born to an Arab family in Halfaya Al-Muluk, a village located close to Khartoum. His father came from the Sudanese kingdom of Sennar that the Egyptian forces of Muhammad ʿAli had conquered in 1821 and he served in the Egyptian military before creating his own business manufacturing bricks Rabih served in the Egyptian army like his father after attending qurʾanic school According to some accounts he first met his future patron Al Zubayr Rahma through a game of chess At this point sometime in the mid 1860s Al Zubayr was simply an ordinary merchant who purchased slaves and ivory in the southern Sudanese region of Bahr al Ghazal like so many other Khartoum based traders Al Zubayr later told English friends that the lure of the southern Sudan and points further south drew him like the American West had attracted so many pioneers in ...

Article

Nana Yaw B. Sapong

Ruler of Kwaman and founder of the Asante Empire, also known as Osei Kofi Tutu, was probably born in Kwaman in present- day Ghana. His mother, Manu Kotosii, was the sister of Oti Akenten, ruler of Kwaman, and Obiri Yeboa, future ruler of Kwaman. Not much is known about his father, who was called Owusu Panin. In any case, the mother of a child is of more importance among the Asante because of the matrilineal system of inheritance. Legend has it that before Osei’s birth, Manu Kotosii was unable to have any children so Obiri Yeboa sent her to the powerful shrine of Otutu in Akwapim (Akwamu territory). There, the shrine interceded for her, and she later gave birth to Osei. In thankfulness to the shrine and to show her appreciation, Osei was named Tutu after the deity of the shrine.

As custom demands Osei was sent to the court ...