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French explorer and administrator, was born on 26 January 1852 in Castel Gandolfo, Italy, to the aristocratic family of Ascanio Savorgnan de Brazza and Giacinta Simonetti de Brazza. Although he was born and raised in Italy, he volunteered to join the French navy and became an officer in 1869 and served in Algeria. In 1874, he proposed to the French Minister of the Navy an expedition to travel up the Ogooué River, the longest waterway in Gabon, to see if it eventually reached the Congo River. Although French officials had established a small coastal enclave on the northern Gabonese coast in 1843, the limited budget and personnel of the colony had restricted exploration of the Gabonese interior.

Brazza assembled a collection of several dozen Frenchmen and Senegalese soldiers for this mission His ability to combine intimidation with diplomacy proved very useful as he struggled to convince Adouma Fang ...

Article

After schooling and naval service in France, the Italian-born Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza became a naturalized French citizen in 1874. The following year he led his first official trip to Africa to explore Gabon. From 1875 to 1878 he traveled along the Gabon coast and up the Ogooué River to its source, also reaching the Alima River, a tributary of the Congo River. In 1880, in competition with American journalist and explorer Henry Stanley, Brazza traveled into the Congo River basin interior. There he signed a treaty with leaders of the Téké people, clearing the way for French control of the northern bank of the Congo River, an area that would be known as the Moyen-Congo. He served as general commissioner of the Moyen-Congo from 1884 to 1898, establishing the town that became Brazzaville and building the colonial administration As commissioner Brazza became disenchanted with ...

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Jonathan Brennan

John Caesar was born in the mid-eighteenth century and joined the Seminole nation in Florida, one of the many groups of African-Seminole Indians who fought to maintain an autonomous and independent nation. There are few written records of the early life histories of the many escaped Africans and American Indians in the maroon communities across the Americas, and Caesar's life was no exception. By the time his exploits were recorded in U.S. military records, Caesar was well acculturated to Seminole life and politics, and thus he had likely been a long-time member of the Seminole nation. His work as an interpreter between Native Seminoles and the U.S. military, however, reveals his early upbringing among English-speaking Americans. He grew up in a time of intense conflict between the Seminoles and European colonists, and had become a seasoned war veteran by the time of the Second Seminole War (1835–1842 ...

Article

Jonathan Brennan

African Seminole Black Seminole leader warrior and interpreter was born in the mid eighteenth century and joined the Seminole nation in Florida one of the many groups of African Seminole Indians who fought to maintain an autonomous and independent nation There are few written records to reveal the early life histories of the many escaped Africans and American Indians in the maroon communities across the Americas and Caesar s life proves no exception By the time his exploits were recorded in U S military records Caesar was well acculturated to Seminole life and politics and thus he had probably been a longtime member of the Seminole nation His work as an interpreter between Native Seminoles and the U S military however reveals his early upbringing among English speaking Americans He grew up in a time of intense conflict between the Seminoles and European colonists and had become a seasoned war ...

Article

Philip Kaplan

Carthaginian ruler and explorer. Almost nothing is known of his life. In classical sources, Hanno is called dux, imperator, and basileus (king) of the Carthaginians. The latter is likely a translation of the Punic sft, suffete, an executive position. The name Hanno is common among the leading families of Carthage; the explorer is sometimes identified, without justification, with the son of Hamilcar, the suffete who died in the battle of Himera in 480 BCE (e.g., in Justin’s Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus). Aside from several references in later works of classical scientists and geographers, Hanno’s journey is known primarily from a brief Greek account— Periplus, or Circumnavigation preserved in a single Byzantine manuscript Codex Palatinus Graecus 398 The text claims to be a version of an account presumably originally in Punic posted in the temple of Kronos Baʿal Hamon in Carthage A ...

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James Jankowski

Egyptian politician, athlete, and explorer, was born in Bulaq on 31 October 1889. He was the son of Shaykh Muhammad Hasanayn of al-Azhar and the grandson of Admiral Ahmad Pasha Mazhar Hasanayn. Hasanayn received his early education in Cairo, then at Balliol College, Oxford. A skilled fencer, in 1920 he captained the Egyptian team at the Olympic Games in Brussels. In the early 1920s, he was commissioned by King Fuʾad to explore Egypt’s Western Desert. The Lost Oases (1925) is his own account of his expedition of 1923 on which he traveled from Egypt’s Mediterranean coast through the Libyan Desert, discovering the “lost” oases of Arkenu and Ouenat, and for which he received the Founder’s Medal of Britain’s Royal Geographical Society. In the hope of establishing a long-distance flight record, in 1929 he learned to fly; plagued by malfunctioning aircraft, he eventually abandoned the effort.

Somewhat out ...

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Duane W. Roller

Roman official who traveled deep into Africa, starting from Leptis Magna on the Mediterranean coast of Libya. He is only known from mention in the Geography of Ptolemy of Alexandria (1.8, 10), written toward the middle of the second century CE. Ptolemy’s source for Maternus was the work of Marinos of Tyre, now lost, but written perhaps around 100 CE. Since Maternus was not mentioned in the exhaustive Natural History of Pliny the Elder, completed by 79 CE, he must have been active in the last third of the first century CE. Nothing else is known about him beyond the sparse account of his journey.

Maternus set forth from Leptis Magna probably where he was posted and went first to Garama a journey of thirty days Ptolemy or actually Marinos implied this was a journey of official business While at Garama Maternus was persuaded by the local king to join ...

Article

Richard Erskine Frere Leakey's parents, Louis and Mary Leakey, introduced him to paleoanthropology, the study of fossilized remains of extinct humanlike creatures called hominids. The elder Leakeys, whose discoveries at Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania revolutionized theories of early Human Evolution, often took Richard with them on their fossil-hunting expeditions. Leakey left Nairobi's Duke of York School at the age of seventeen to start a business leading wildlife photography safaris.

Although he had no formal training, Leakey began fossil-hunting when he was only nineteen. His most famous discoveries were made in the area around Lake Turkana (formerly Lake Rudolf) in northern Kenya where he uncovered more than 200 fossils of early hominids These include an almost complete skeleton of an adolescent boy found at Nariokotome on the western shore The 1 6 million year old Turkana Boy is the most complete skeleton ever found from that period of ...

Article

Gabrielle Lynch

Kenyan spiritual and military leader (orkoiyot), was born around 1860 in Nandi. Koitalel was the youngest son of Kimnyole arap Turukat, an orkoiyot who could trace his lineage to the first unifying leader of the Nandi. Little is known of Koitalel’s maternal lineage or childhood, except that his father had over forty wives and that his family was relatively wealthy. As an adult, Koitalel also had around forty wives and lived at Kamng’etuny near Nandi Hills, where he led a prolonged resistance against British colonialism.

The position of orkoiik (pl.) refers to men with powers of divination, omen interpretation, prophecy, and medicine. These powers are inherited along clan lines, but are dependent on reputation. Prior to the mid-nineteenth century the orkoiik’s influence was limited to relatively small areas. However, in the mid-nineteenth century, a family of laibons (Maasai spiritual leaders) were welcomed and absorbed as orkoiik ...

Article

Jean Ouédraogo

princess, ruler, and military leader, was born in Gambaga of the Dagomba country of northern Ghana. Her father was Naba Nedga and her grandfather Naba Gbewa of Pousga. An intrepid warrior, she married a hunter named Rialle late in life after fleeing the Dagomba. From their union was born a son named Ouedraogo, who is credited by historians with founding the sprawling medieval empire of the Mossi. Grief-stricken upon learning of the news of Ouedraogo’s death on the battlefield near Ouagadougou, Yennenga and Rialle both died within weeks and were buried in Zambanlga, Rialle’s native village.

It may never be possible to definitively elicit the facts dates and events surrounding the life of Yennenga Nonetheless the relevance and continued importance of their matriarch to the Mossi and to West Africa more generally cannot be overstated Despite the variations in the main narrative whose twists and turns remain rooted in the ...