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Mohamed Adhikari

South African medical doctor and politician, the most significant political leader of the South African Coloured community during the first half of the twentieth century, was born in Wellington near Cape Town on 12 December 1872. He was the eldest son of nine children born to Abdul Rachman, a greengrocer, and his wife Kadija Dollie. Descended from grandparents who were manumitted slaves, his graduation as a medical doctor from the University of Glasgow in 1893 was a signal achievement. After two years of postgraduate study in London, he returned to Cape Town in 1895.

Abdurahman entered public life in 1904 when he became the first black person to be elected to the Cape Town City Council. Except for 1913–1915 he represented Wards 6 and 7 District 6 for the rest of his life Abdurahman exerted substantial influence on local government because of the exceptional support he enjoyed ...

Article

Theodore Cohen

was born on 20 January 1908 in Tlacotalpan, Veracruz, to Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán, a medical doctor, and Pilar Beltrán Luchirí, the descendant of Ignacio María Luchichí, a well-known writer in the surrounding Papaloapan basin of southern Mexico. Though born into an elite family with no African ancestry, Aguirre Beltrán had a major impact on how we understand the African heritage of Mexico. In addition, he was interested in social issues, had an affinity for anarchism, and read scholars such as Georg Friedrich Hegel and Karl Marx. In 1921 he moved to Mexico City to continue his preparatory studies, and in 1927 he enrolled in medical school at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (National Autonomous University of Mexico). Having finished his thesis, “El metabolism basal en lasnefrosis” (Elemental Metabolism in Nephrosis), he graduated in 1931. He married Judith Avendaño, and they had five children.

After finishing medical school Aguirre ...

Article

Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán was born and received his primary and secondary schooling in Veracruz, where there was a strong African influence, before studying medicine in Mexico City. In the 1920s and 1930s intellectuals such as José Vasconcelos undertook pioneering studies of Indians in Mexico, whose culture and history had largely been viewed with disdain until then. The studies resurrected a degree of interest in and dignity for Indian heritage. Although Vasconcelos argued that much of indigenous culture should be subsumed in a larger Mexican culture, Aguirre Beltrán believed that indigenous cultures were worthy of study for their own sake. After graduating from the University of Mexico with a medical degree, Aguirre Beltrán returned to Veracruz, where he held a post in public health that further sparked his interest in Indian ethnicity and history. In 1940 he published two studies on the ethnohistory of colonial and precolonial Indians in ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Togolese medical doctor and politician, was born on 2 September 1913 in Lomé, the capital of the West African German colony of Togo. His parents belonged to a Ewe-speaking community. His father, Andréas Aku, was the first Togolese head of the Protestant Church of Togo and had been ordained by German missionaries. His mother was Caroline Aku.

Naturally, Aku attended Protestant missionary schools in Lomé from 1920 to 1928 The German Protestant pastor Gottfried Stoevesandt was so impressed with Aku s intellectual ability that he invited him to attend secondary school in Germany His relatively poor but influential parents agreed For the handful of Togolese students able to continue their education in Europe between World War I and World War II the medical field was the most attractive subject of their studies Aku passed the German baccalaureate examinations and then with the support of the Bremen Protestant mission entered ...

Article

Jeffrey Green

Born in Trinidad, John Alcindor was among the first black West Indians to practise medicine in Britain. Winning an Island Scholarship enabled him to study medicine at Edinburgh University, from where he graduated in 1899 with first‐class honours in three subjects. He was among delegates from the Edinburgh‐based Afro‐West Indian Literary Society to the 1900 Pan‐African Conference, where he met and developed friendships with Samuel Coleridge‐Taylor and W. E. B. Du Bois. Moving to London, Alcindor practised his profession in the city's hospitals, and for several years played cricket for the Mill Hill Park club. His marriage to Minnie Alcindor (née Martin) in 1911 produced three sons. In 1917 Alcindor established his own medical practice, and also worked as a Poor Law medical officer. He published three scholarly studies on his research.

Alcindor was a founder member of the African Progress Union over which he was elected president in ...

Article

Jeffrey Green

was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, on 8 or 9 July 1873. Educated at the Catholic St. Mary’s College, he won one of the four Island Scholarships of 1893 and sailed to Britain, where he registered as a student of medicine at Edinburgh University in Scotland on 21 October 1893. Nothing is known about his parents other than his father’s name, Francis Alcindor, but the tuition at the college and living expenses in Scotland suggest some family wealth (his scholarship was worth an estimated £450 over three years and he studied medicine for six years).

He graduated in July 1899 with an M.B. and B.Ch. and moved to London, where he worked as a clinical assistant at several hospitals. He was present at the first Pan-African Conference in July 1900, as was the London-born composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. The two became friends. From 1908 medical directories ...

Article

Juanita de Barros

was born in St. Catherine’s parish in Jamaica. He was the son of Martha Gregory and the stepson of James M. Gregory, a Baptist minister. A scholarship allowed him to attend secondary school and, like other Afro–West Indians who lacked the financial resources to study medicine in foreign universities, he first worked as a hospital dispenser. Anderson later went to the United States to continue his studies; he attended historically black Howard University in Washington, D.C., and the Chicago Medical College before returning to Jamaica in 1916, where he joined a small but growing number of African-descended physicians in Jamaica in this period. Anderson established a private medical practice, but he soon became involved in municipal politics.

In 1919 Anderson was elected to the parochial board for St Andrew parish and his position as a medical doctor and a municipal politician gave him a platform to address issues ...

Article

Abu al-Walid Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Rushd, more commonly known as Averroës, was born in Córdoba, Spain. His father, a judge in Córdoba, instructed him in Muslim jurisprudence. In his native city he also studied theology, philosophy, and mathematics under the Arab philosopher Ibn Tufayl and medicine under the Arab physician Avenzoar. Averroës was appointed judge in Seville in 1169 and in Córdoba in 1171; in 1182 he became chief physician to Abu Yaqub Yusuf, the Almohad caliph of Morocco and Muslim Spain. Averroës's view that reason takes precedence over religion led to his being exiled in 1195 by Abu Yusuf Yaqub al-Mansur; he was restored to favor shortly before his death.

Averroës held that metaphysical truths can be expressed in two ways: through philosophy, as represented by the views of Aristotle and through religion which is truth presented in a ...

Article

James McCarthy

Scottish explorer, naturalist, surgeon, and philologist who opened up the Niger region to European trade and influence, was born in Kirkwall, Scotland, the eldest son of a Royal Navy captain, John Baikie. He was educated for a time at Kirkwall Grammar School in Orkney, but mainly privately, in company with his cousins. He gained a medical degree from Edinburgh University, where he also developed his interest in natural history. In 1848, together with Robert Heddie, he wrote the first part of a published study of the natural history of Orkney, Historia naturalis Orcadensis. In the same year he joined the Royal Navy as an assistant surgeon, serving on no less than five different ships in the Mediterranean before being appointed in the same capacity to Haslar Hospital, Portsmouth, from 1851 to 1854. It was from here in 1854 that through the patronage of the influential Sir Roderick ...

Article

politician and medical doctor, was born to Jacob Galba Bright and Laetitia (Williams) Bright on 23 August 1883 in the town of Okrika, a settlement in the eastern Nigerian Niger Delta region, roughly 30 miles from Bonny. His father belonged to a Yoruba family that had been rescued from a slave ship and resettled in Wellington, a small town on the outskirts of the Sierra Leonean capital of Freetown. Herbert's father was a trader, although he had tried but failed to become a doctor early in life. Bankole-Bright lived in relatively affluent circumstances thanks to his father, who had developed a successful business career. Bankole-Bright attended a private primary school in Freetown and then enrolled at the Methodist Boys High School for his secondary education. Around 1904 he graduated from the Methodist school and began his own medical career. He became an apprentice of W. Awuror Renner one ...

Article

María Teresa Cortés Zavala

(who during the regime change in Puerto Rico in 1898 led the Republican Party), was born on 7 September or 27 July 1857 in the town of Bayamón, located in the north central area of the island of Puerto Rico. Celso Barbosa was the eldest son of Hermógenes Barbosa, a bricklayer, and Carmen Alcalá. The Barbosa family was part of a wave of immigration to Puerto Rico in the first half of the nineteenth century. Hermógenes Barbosa was descended from a group of Dominican exiles who left Santo Domingo during the Franco-Haitian occupation. They were black people who were artisans, farmers, and ranchers. His mother, although born on the island, belonged to a second generation of Venezuelans living in Puerto Rico who witnessed their economic situation diminish, and were compelled to express their reformist position at a time of economic and political crisis.

The Barbosa Alcalá family was part of ...

Article

Mayda Grano de Oro

José Celso Barbosa played a key role in the politics of the Spanish-American War, denouncing the Creoles' political aspirations. At the same time, his involvement reflected the complexities and contradictions in race issues confronted by black Puerto Ricans at the time. Barbosa's achievements were not typical of blacks in Puerto Rico at the turn of the century. He represented the “self-made man” that came from humble origins. He had the opportunity to study at the only institution of secondary education on the island, thanks to the determination of his aunt. He completed his studies in the Jesuit seminary before going to the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor, where he graduated in 1880. His experience in the United States made him an admirer of republican ideals for social equality and justice.

When Barbosa returned to Puerto Rico he started his medical practice and became a member ...

Article

South African surgeon who carried out the world’s first human-to-human heart transplant, was born into an impoverished Afrikaner family at Beaufort West, South Africa, on 8 November 1922. His father, the Reverend Adam Hendrik Barnard, was a clergyman of the Dutch Reformed Church for Coloured, or mixed-race, people, and his mother was Maria Elisabeth de Swart. He was educated at Beaufort West High School before training as a doctor at the University of Cape Town’s medical school, where he graduated MB, ChB, in 1945. Having done his internship at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, he worked for a short time as a rural general practitioner in Ceres, in the western Cape, before returning to Cape Town to become senior medical officer at City Hospital and then registrar at Groote Schuur Hospital. In 1953 he gained his MD for his dissertation The Treatment of Tuberculosis Meningitis Later ...

Article

Amilcar Priestley

was born in St. Lucy, Barbados, on 15 November 1916. She was the second child and eldest daughter of her parents’ five children. Her father was the Reverend Reginald Barrow, a controversial Anglican priest who gave sermons against racism and social stratification, which resulted in his dismissal from his post in St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands. Her mother was Ruth O’Neal Barrow, sister of Dr. Charles Duncan O’Neal, who was the founder of the Democratic League and is regarded as a national hero of Barbados. After attending primary school in St. Croix, where her father had a congregation, she entered St. Michael’s Girls’ School in Barbados—the island’s first high school to accept girls—in 1928. After graduating in 1934 she began a career in nursing first at the Barbados General Hospital then as a midwife at Port of Spain General Hospital in Trinidad and later as ...

Article

Félix Ojeda Reyes

was born in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico, on 8 April 1827 to Felipe Betances Ponce, of Dominican origin, and María del Carmen Alacán, of Puerto Rican origin, the well-off owners of a sugar plantation called Hacienda Carmen. On 21 April he was baptized and registered by church officials in the Book of Mulattoes. Shortly after his mother’s death on 10 February 1837, Betances’s father sent him to Grisolles, near Toulouse, in the southwest of France. Under the care of the Prévost-Cavallieri family, Betances, always an excellent student, studied at the Collége Royal in Toulouse. In 1848 the year of the revolutions that toppled absolutist supremacy in Europe he entered the College of Medicine at the University of Paris At that historic moment Betances commenced a lifetime of political engagement and activity by participating in the antimonarchist revolution of 24 February which established the Second French Republic Although his ...

Article

Julia A. Clancy-Smith

Tunisian physician, was born to an old, well-known family of Tunis. Her widowed mother played a pivotal in her education starting from primary school. Both Tawhida and her sister were enrolled in the School for Muslim Girls, an academic institution prized for its first-class education, which had opened in 1909 in the family’s neighborhood. During the 1920s in Tunis while Bin Shaykh attended secondary school the feminist movement took off and was marked by a watershed event in 1924 Manubiya Wartani a young Tunisian woman attending a public conference devoted to the question of feminism and women s rights removed her veil and stood up in the crowd to make a speech At about the same time Bin Shaykh had a chance encounter that would utterly change the course of her life she made the acquaintance of a respected French physician Dr Etienne Burnet and his Russian wife Lydia ...

Article

Nicolás Ocaranza

slave and wet nurse for the South American revolutionary Simón Bolívar, was born on 13 August 1763 in San Mateo, Aragua State, in the general captaincy of Venezuela. She was best known as la negra Hipólita (Black Hipólita), and lived much of her life in San Mateo State, where the Bolívar family had sugar plantations dependent on black slave labor.

From 1773, at around age 10, Hipólita served as a domestic servant in the household of Juan Vicente Bolívar and Maria de la Concepcion Palacios y Blanco, the parents of Simón Bolívar, who owned over two hundred slaves across several estates engaged in mining and the cultivation of cacao. As was the custom in a society based on slavery, Hipólita took her master’s last name as her own.

In 1781 the Bolívar family moved some black slaves from the Santo Domingo de Macaira estate in Caucagua to the ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Chadian medical doctor, was born on 16 June 1956 in the eastern Chadian city of Abéché Her parents were Brahim Djadarab and Fatimé Fadoul She had four siblings her brother Issa Michel and her sisters Khalié Sadié Ibni Oumar Mahamet Saleh and Rakié The entire family attended primary school in Abéché and Brahim excelled in her education Her family supported her studies and she completed her secondary education at the Lycée Franco Arabe at Abéché Her father pressured her to study English but she found the language impractical in eastern Chad Even so she learned the language which would later prove to be extremely useful when she lived in Canada Her commitment to school impressed her Chadian and foreign teachers Missionaries and her family also strongly encouraged her Since there were no final classes to prepare for the baccalaureate examinations in Abéché in the early 1970s she had to ...

Article

Jeffrey Green

was born on 9 October 1882 in St. Thomas Parish, Jamaica, the youngest of nine children. His family’s income derived from an estate in that parish and enabled him to attend York Castle High School and Jamaica College, and subsequently study medicine in Canada (possibly at McGill, in Montreal). There, he completed some of the academic requirements to become a physician before returning to Jamaica. He then left for London in 1905, where England’s medical authorities exempted him in chemistry, physics, and practical pharmacy as a result of his Canadian credentials.

Brown began his residency at the London Hospital in September 1905; he passed his biology examination in April 1906, completing the first part of his British qualifications. With his Canadian training in anatomy and physiology recognized, he passed the second portion in 1907. Brown did not take his finals until 1911 and did not ...

Article

nurse, affectionately known as “Cherry,” was born Eumeda Powis in the largely rural parish of Clarendon, Jamaica, on 16 January 1939. Her father, Ferdinal Powis, was a farmer. Her mother’s name and occupation are unknown. She attended the Collington and Crooked River Schools in the parish, and later, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, she went on to receive a tertiary education in Great Britain, attending Trafford College and Manchester Polytechnic. Her studies at the tertiary level established her in the field of healthcare, in which she had a distinguished career. She married Arthur S. Byfield and gave birth to two children while residing in Britain for over thirty years. It was here that Byfield did extensive work in nursing. Nursing was not her only passion, however. She was committed to community development in both Britain and her home county of Jamaica.

Byfield took refuge in her work ...