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Owen J. M. Kalinga

Malawi’s first African attorney and first minister of justice, was born on 30 June 1919, in Nkata Bay District, Nyasaland (now Malawi). A bright student, Chirwa attended school at Bandawe and Khondwe, two of the most important centers of the Livingstonia Mission of the Church of Scotland. After working for some time, he went to Adam’s College in Natal, South Africa, before entering Fort Hare University College, graduating in 1950 with a BA degree in philosophy. He became a tutor at Domasi Teachers College near Zomba, the capital of Nyasaland, and studied for part one of the English bar examinations, his plans being to pass them and proceed to London to complete the requirement for a barrister. He also became active in the Nyasaland African Congress (NAC), the early 1950s being critical to Africans of this British colony because of the imposition of the Federation of the Rhodesias ...

Article

Charles Cantalupo

Eritrean poet, critic, and scholar, was imprisoned in Eritrea during its war for independence (1961–1991) by both occupying Ethiopian forces and factions of the Eritrean resistance. She escaped to Addis Ababa in the mid-1980s, where she received a high school education before fleeing for France and giving birth to a daughter in Lyon. Moving to Rome, she received a master’s degree in modern languages and literature and a PhD in communication studies from the University of Rome. In 1993, she published a poetry collection, Aulò: Canto-poesia dall’Eritrea, a bilingual text in Italian and Tigrinya.

A first-person narrative written from the standpoint of the author, Aulò: Canto poesia dall’ Eritrea is in four parts: “Il Paradiso Perduto” (“Paradise Lost”), “La Mia Abeba” (“My Abeba”), “La Nuova Eritrea” (“The New Eritrea”), and “Antologia, tentavivi di ricette Anthology an Attempt at ...

Article

Richard A. Bradshaw and Juan Fandos-Rius

Central African educator, government minister, businesswoman, political prisoner, and reportedly the first African woman to run for president, was born Jeanne-Marie Ruth on 17 June 1937. She was the daughter of a French father and an African mother in Bangassou, a predominantly Nzakara region in the southeastern corner of the French colony of Ubangi-Shari (now the Central African Republic [CAR]). As a métis offspring of a French father, Jeanne Marie had privileged access to whatever French education was available in the region during the last two decades of colonial rule, which was particularly rare for Ubangian women at this time. In 1956, when she was only twenty-three years old, she became a monitor or supervisor for the educational system in the colony, which became an independent nation in 1960 This was certainly an exceptional position for a young woman to have at this time She remained active ...

Article

Shane Graham

justice on the South African Constitutional Court, attorney and legal scholar, author, cultural critic, and human rights activist, was born 30 January 1935 in Johannesburg. The older of two sons born to Emil “Solly” Sachs, a trade union leader, and Ray Ginsberg, his full name was Albert Louis Sachs. Both of his parents were associated with the Communist Party in the 1920s; as Sachs wrote in his 1966 book The Jail Diary of Albie Sachs he grew up in a political home a home of books of ideas and of stimulating people His parents separated when he was young his father stayed in Johannesburg while Albie and his mother moved to Cape Town where she worked as secretary to Moses Kotane a leader of both the Communist Party and the African National Congress ANC Sachs attended South African College Schools an exclusive institution in Cape Town from which he ...

Article

Sean Jacobs

South African politician and businessman, was born on 5 March 1953 in the then new township of Soweto, south of Johannesburg. His father worked as a clerk at Johannesburg General Hospital. As a child, Sexwale was a keen karate enthusiast, resulting in his receiving the nickname “Tokyo.” In 1973 he matriculated from Orlando West High School in Soweto. While at school Sexwale, a local student leader, had become a follower of Steve Biko’s Black Consciousness Movement. Shortly afterward he left South Africa. By then he had also become involved with the banned African National Congress (ANC). He joined Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the military wing of the ANC. In 1975 he completed a business degree at the now disbanded University of Botswana, Lesotho, and Swaziland. He later completed a military officers’ course in the Soviet Union.

In 1976 Sexwale reentered South Africa on a mission for MK but was ...

Article

Zarina Patel

Kenyan trade union activist, was born in Gharjak, a village now in Pakistan. His father, a carpenter of very modest means, migrated to Kenya in 1920 in search of better opportunities. Makhan Singh was a serious and brilliant student whose early childhood was influenced both by the Sikh religion and by the momentous social upheavals in India of that historical period. The Indian Mutiny of 1857, the brutal massacre of civilians in Jalianwalla Bagh in Amritsar, and Gandhi’s call for peaceful non-cooperation in the fight for freedom made deep impressions on him. His own family’s poor economic status drew him to Lenin’s October Revolution and the study of capital versus labor.

The fourteen-year-old Makhan Singh arrived in Kenya in 1927 and studied in a Nairobi school for the next three years Financial constraints denied him access to higher education and he started working in his father s printing ...

Article

Suryakanthie Chetty

prominent South African antiapartheid activist and wife of African National Congress (ANC) leader Walter Sisulu, rose to prominence on her own accord and was given the appellation MaSisulu, a mother of the nation.

She was born in rural Transkei in the Eastern Cape on 21 October 1918, the second of five children. She was the first in her family to attend school, beginning at a primary school in Tsomo district, followed by secondary school, and then Maria Zell, a Roman Catholic college. Her level of education set her apart from other young people in the impoverished area. Her older brother, for instance, was limited to herding livestock.

Her initial desire to be nun as a result of her early exposure to Roman Catholic doctrine at Maria Zell made way to a growing desire to be a teacher Her early ambitions however were dealt a severe blow by the ...

Article

Kate Tuttle

Walter Sisulu, known for his commitment to studying and teaching while imprisoned on Robben Island with Nelson Mandela, was called by one of his African National Congress (ANC) colleagues “the organization’s encyclopedia in prison.” A mentor to younger members, such as Mandela and Oliver Tambo, Sisulu joined the ANC in 1940, after his impoverished Johannesburg childhood and his work in the country’s gold mines had introduced him to the injustices that black South Africans faced.

In addition to helping Mandela and Tambo complete their law studies, Sisulu also joined the two in the newly formed ANC Youth League, planning strategy and serving as its treasurer. Elected ANC secretary general in 1949 Sisulu played a key role in coordinating activities with other antiapartheid groups including the Communist Party of South Africa later renamed the South African Communist Party or SACP and the South African Indian Congress This work he ...

Article

prominent African National Congress (ANC) leader in South Africa, was born 18 May 1912 in Qutubeni village, Ngcobo, Transkei, to Alice Sisulu, domestic worker and daughter of a peasant farmer, and Victor Dickenson, a white clerk. Sisulu was raised as an African, having a rural childhood influenced by his grandmother, mother, and guardian uncle and village headman Dyanti Hlakula. Formal schooling at Manzana and Qutubeni mission schools ceased at Standard 4, aged fifteen, after which he migrated to Johannesburg, South Africa. Here he delivered milk to the mines, suffering assaults by a white employer and police. He then worked as a domestic, a sweeper, and a mine worker, where he experienced a strike and saw resistance to pass laws led by black Communists.

After visits home in 1929 and 1930 (for initiation), in 1931 he sought work in depression rife East London enduring bouts of unemployment but finding domestic ...

Article

Scopas S. Poggo

Sudanese rebel leader, was born into the Pojulu ethnic group of Central Equatoria in the Sudan. He started school in 1944. In 1946–1947 Surur studied at Yei Primary School, and in 1948 he joined Loka Intermediate School (the CMS Nugent School), where he spent three years. He was admitted into Rumbek Secondary School in 1951 and graduated in 1954. He was employed as a teacher by the Ministry of Education and taught at Atar and Malakal junior secondary schools in the Upper Nile Province. From Malakal he was sent to Bakt er Ruda Institute of Education in Khartoum, where he was trained as a teacher for three years. He taught at Busere, Mondiri, Yambio, Tambura, Juba, Lainya, and Polataka intermediate schools.

Surur was named chairman of the Southern Front in Juba in the 1960s. During the Juba massacre of 8-9 July 1965 the Arab soldiers targeted him ...

Article

Peter Woodward

leading Sudanese Islamist, was born in northern Sudan into the family of a qadi (Islamic judge). His father ensured that from the outset Turabi studied sharia, Islamic law, at the same time that he followed a Western education that was to lead to legal studies at the universities of Khartoum and London and finally to a doctorate from the Sorbonne in Paris.

The driving force of Turabi s life was his view of the place of Islam in the modern world His views are not to be found in any one work but in a range of writings and lectures many of which are quite generalized in their message Sometimes described as a fundamentalist Turabi was certainly not one who has sought to turn back the clock to the Arabia of the seventh century but one who sought to understand the contemporary role of Islam This involves a good ...

Article

Jessica Falconi

Angolan writer and politician, was born Agostinho André Mendes de Carvalho on 29 August 1924, in the fortified village of Calomboloca, Bengo, in the current province of Bengo, to the east of the capital, Luanda. As he declared, his Kimbundu name was not his pseudonym, but the name by which he was known in his home; it signified “power is odious.”

In the rural areas of Ícolo and Bengo fifty miles eighty kilometers from Luanda he attended primary school to the fourth class at a Methodist missionary school before moving to Luanda There he continued his schooling with the Methodist missionaries who at that time were influential in training future Angolan nationalists such as Agostinho Neto with whom Uanhenga Xitu established a friendship when they boarded together at the mission In Luanda he also took a nursing course He first began to practice his profession as a nurse in ...

Article

third president of postapartheid South Africa, was born 12 April 1942 in Nkandla, the eldest son of Nobhekisisa Zuma and his second wife, Geinamazwi. His father was a policeman, who died when Zuma was about four years old; his mother was a domestic worker in Durban. During his humble upbringing in this poor area of Zululand (part of what is now KwaZulu-Natal), Zuma was animated by stories of Chief Bambatha’s rebellion against colonialism that had taken place only thirty-six years before Zuma’s birth. Never formally schooled—working instead as a herd boy from a young age—Zuma attained some education by paying an older girl in his village to tutor him.

Influenced by a politically active half brother and by the activism he encountered on visits to his mother in Durban Zuma joined the African National Congress ANC at seventeen His earliest activities related to the South African Congress of Trade Unions ...