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Kurt J. Werthmuller

Egyptian Christian author, was a patron of Copto-Arabic historical literature, long presumed to be the author of Churches and Monasteries of Egypt and Some Neighboring Countries, a twelfth-century topographical survey of Christian sites and traditions in and around Egypt. The original author of the majority of that work was, in fact, Abu al-Makarim Saʿdallah Ibn Jirjis Ibn Masʿud, an elder of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria. Despite confusion regarding its authorship, Churches and Monasteries has proven to be a crucial text for the study of Coptic tradition, Christian-Muslim relations, and the twelfth-century Egyptian state and society in general and was in turn an important source to later medieval chroniclers and topographers.

Although little is actually known about the specifics of the life of Abu Salih his patronage of this important piece of medieval Egyptian historical literature suggests that he was of a well to do socioeconomic class and ...

Article

Islamic scholar and historian from present-day Mauritania. His name is also spelled Sidi Ahmed ould al-Amin al-Shinqiti. The nisba (name extension indicating place of origin) al-Shinqiti does not refer to the town Chinguetti (Shinqit), but was given to him during his stay in the Arab world. All bidan (Moors) going abroad to the Arab world have the nisba al-Shiniqiti added to their names, no matter from which region or town of the so-called Bilad Shinqit (“The lands of Chinguetti”; present-day Mauritania, Western Sahara, and the Azawad region in northern Mali) they come from. In the Arab world they are generally called shanaqita and their country is known as Bilad Shinqit, even if locally different names were circulating in precolonial times.

Ahmad was born around 1863 64 in the Gibla region of what is today southwestern Mauritania Trarza and belonged to a scholarly family He was from one of the Idaw ...

Article

Mersha Alehegne

Ethiopian traditional scholar, was born to Memher Sertse Weld and Wolete Kiros in Wabet, a rural village in north Shewa. He began his schooling at his home under his father. He left Wabet for Wadla and later Lasta, where he studied chant (zema) and Geez poetry (qene). His most significant ecclesiastical scholarship studies took place in Gonder, where he was certified in the four departments of the traditional Amharic commentary of scripture and church literature, namely, Old Testament (at Beata Mariam Church), New Testament (at Atatami Mikael Church), the Books of Scholars (at Elfign Giorgis Church), and the Books of Monks (at Hamere Noah Selestu Me’et Church). Throughout his study period, he taught qene at Yohannes Welde Negodgwad Church in Gonder.

When Emperor Tewodros II held court in Debre Tabor it was customary that priests teachers and other higher dignitaries of the church in Gonder travel ...

Article

Richard Watts

Amadou Hampaté Bâ was born in the town of Bandiagara, approximately 500 km (300 mi) northeast of Bamako, Mali, and belonged to an important family of Marabouts (Muslim religious leaders). Bâ’s father died when he was two years old, and he was adopted and raised by a chief in the region. Educated at French schools in Bandiagara and Djenné, about 200 km (124 mi) from Bandiagara, Bâ nonetheless managed to continue his traditional Islamic education with famed Islamic teacher Tierno Bokar, a man whose wisdom Bâ later immortalized in Vie et enseignement de Tierno Bokar (The Life and Teachings of Tierno Bokar, 1980 It was also at this time that Bâ encountered Kullel a storyteller and traditional educator who gave Bâ his first lessons in the African oral tradition Bâ later earned the nickname Amkullel Little Kullel and he honored his teacher by titling the first volume ...

Article

Bairu Tafla

prominent Ethiopian church scholar, monastic head, and first Ethiopian archbishop and patriarch, was renowned for his chastity, his religious devotion, and his unflinching loyalty to Emperor Haile Selassie I rather than for his reforms and/or teachings.

Like most Ethiopian dignitaries, his early life is obscure. The available sources give different years ranging from 1877 to 1892 as his birth date. Similarly, a document of the Orthodox Churches Conference in Addis Ababa asserts that he stayed in exile in Jerusalem during the Italian invasion while Baʿeda-Maryam, who wrote a doctoral dissertation on his biography, asserts that he was a fugitive in his own country. There are also discrepancies in the dates of his early ordinations and appointments.

Son of Debtera (church precentor) Wolde Tsadeq Selomon and Emmet lady usually a widow Wolette Maryam Bayyu Gebre Giyorgis as Basilios was known before he became patriarch was born in the subdistrict of Metta ...

Article

Hilary Jones

missionary, parish priest, and religious educator, was born in Senegal on 16 April 1814, the same day that Napoleon Bonaparte left France for exile on the Island of Elba. Two years later Britain ended its occupation of Senegal and returned the fortified island territories of Gorée and Saint-Louis to France. The island of Saint-Louis du Sénégal, founded by France in 1659 as a strategic site in the period of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, gained a reputation as a cosmopolitan Atlantic port city shaped by patterns of intermarriage between African women (Signares) and European administrators, merchants, and soldiers. The son of Marie Monté, a “free mulâtresse,” and Pierre Boilat, member of the merchant marines, David Boilat came from the small but growing class of mixed race inhabitants who closely identified with the Catholic Church and sought the privileges of French education despite their relative isolation from French culture.

In 1816 ...

Article

Stefania Capone

a renowned figure of Bahian Candomblé, was born to African freed parents on 16 October 1859, in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil. His father, “Tio” Eliseu do Bonfim, was an Egba, one of the Yoruba subgroups, and held an African name, Areojè, related to the Yoruba cult of Egungun, the ancestor masks. According to Lima (1987, p. 50), his father was brought to Brazil as a slave in 1820 and liberated in 1842. He returned to Africa to bring back the ancestor mask of his family, Egun Ilari, becoming one of the strongest defenders of African traditions in Brazil (Santos and Santos, 1969). Martiniano’s African name, Ojeladé, is also an ojé (title) transmitted within Yoruba families that worship Egungun.

Martiniano’s mother, Felicidade Silva Paranhos, was brought to Brazil when she was a child. Tio Eliseu bought her freedom in 1855 and she became his ...

Article

Kip Lornell

gospel composer and teacher, was born in Duck Hill, Mississippi, the daughter of Burrell Campbell, a railroad worker, and Isabella Wilkerson. Lucy's mother was widowed several months after Lucy's birth, and the family soon moved from Carroll County to Memphis, Tennessee, the nearest major city. Lucie and her many siblings struggled to survive on their mother's meager wages, which she earned by washing and ironing clothing. Given the family's insubstantial income, it could afford a musical education for only one child, Campbell's older sister Lora. Lucie eventually learned to play piano, however, through her own persistence, a gifted ear for music, and a little help from Lora.

Lucie Campbell was a bright student who easily mastered elementary school and middle school, winning awards in both penmanship and Latin. Even before graduating from Kortrecht Senior High School (later Booker T. Washington High School as the class valedictorian she ...

Article

David B. McCarthy

musician, educator, and prominent Presbyterian, was born Melva Ruby Wilson in Due West, South Carolina, one of five children of Azzie Lee Ellis Wilson and John Theodore Wilson Sr., both of whom were college graduates and teachers. Because the local black public schools were unaccredited, her parents sent her to a black boarding school, Harbison Junior College in Irmo, South Carolina, at the age of fourteen. Two years later, at the age of sixteen, she entered Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina. There she met fellow student James Hutten Costen. She graduated with a BA in Education in 1952 and married Jim Costen the day before he graduated in 1953. They eventually had two sons and one daughter, James Jr., Craig, and Cheryl.

Costen taught elementary school in the Mecklenburg County school system from 1952 to 1955 the year her husband ...

Article

David Dabydeen

Englishpoet who lent his pen to the anti‐slavery cause. Cowper was a supporter of international commerce, which he saw, idealistically, as the means by which mankind could share in God's bounty. In his poem Charity (1782), trade is described as ‘the golden girdle of the globe’, and Cowper writes of the ‘genial intercourse’ between nations effected by 18th‐century mercantile activity. The slave trader, however, betrays the principle of mutuality underpinning international commerce and brings shame to a Christian nation such as Great Britain (‘Canst thou, and honour'd with a Christian name | Buy what is woman‐born, and feel no shame?’). Religion apart, the slave trader also betrays the spirit of the age, its growing championing of liberty. To Cowper, the existence of slavery calls into question the very nature of humanity:

Then what is man? And what man, seeing this

And having human feelings does not blush ...

Article

Raymond Pierre Hylton

minister, author, and educator, was born near Burgess in Northumberland County, Virginia, to Robert, a fisherman, and Maggie Ellison, a homemaker. Coming from an impoverished background, he received a rudimentary education and had to work at age fourteen as a farm laborer earning seven dollars per month. His first stroke of good fortune occurred in 1906 when he entered the Virginia Normal and Industrial Institute (later Virginia State College and still later Virginia State University) in Ettrick, Virginia. Getting into Virginia Union University in Richmond was not so easy; there was initial skepticism on the part of its president, Dr. George Rice Hovey, who saw no academic promise in the young man. In 1909 Hovey reluctantly admitted Ellison to the Wayland Academy (as Virginia Union's high school program was then called), and he then went on to the collegiate undergraduate program, graduating in 1917 ...

Article

David Michel

minister and historian, was born one of six children to Elijah John Fisher, a Baptist minister, and Florida Neely in Atlanta, Georgia. His father later pastored the Olivet Baptist Church in Chicago, where he had moved his family. The young Fisher grew up in Chicago but was sent to Atlanta to attend Morehouse College where he earned the BA in 1918. He was immediately ordained, but worked for the YMCA as camp secretary. Fisher married Ada Virginia Foster, with whom he would have six children.

In 1919 Fisher returned to Chicago to take over the International Baptist Church. One year later he moved to Racine, Wisconsin, to pastor the Zion Baptist Church. In 1921 he published a short biography of Lott Carey, a pioneer black Baptist missionary to West Africa. In 1922 Fisher earned the BD and thus became the first black graduate of Northern Baptist ...

Article

Reidulf K. Molvaer

Ethiopian scholar and teacher in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, was born at Silalo (also known as S Amanuel, or Debre-Silalo, after the church and monastery around which the village was built) in Gojjam Province in western Ethiopia. Her father, Haddis Kidan, was an expert in an Ethiopian kind of poetry called qiné, and he transmitted his knowledge to his daughter Gelanesh. This was particularly unusual given that Gelanesh was blind from the age of eight, and people with physical disabilities at that time more commonly ended up as beggars. He must have realized her exceptional talents from an early age, and indeed, Gelanesh would become a famous qiné teacher in her own right. She also became an expert in the uniquely Ethiopian mode of biblical interpretation called andimta which consists largely of memorizing received interpretations of biblical scholars of the past although some innovation is occasionally admitted Her ...

Article

Michele Valerie Ronnick

professor of ancient Greek, philologist, ordained Methodist minister in the Colored Methodist Episcopal (CME) Church, and missionary to the Congo, was born in Hephzibah, Georgia, not far from Augusta, to Gabriel and Sarah Gilbert. His parents were field hands, and scholars are not certain whether John was born free or enslaved. Some sources give his birth date as 6 July 1864. As a child he was eager to learn, but he had to mix long hours of farm work with brief periods of school. At last overwhelmed by poverty he was forced to withdraw from the Baptist Seminary in Augusta. After a three-year hiatus from schooling he resumed his work when Dr. George Williams Walker, a Methodist pastor who had come to Augusta to teach in 1884, and Warren A. Candler pastor of Augusta s St John Church offered him assistance With the help ...

Article

Joseph A. Brown

Roman Catholic priest, liturgical scholar, and bishop, was born Wilton Daniel Gregory, in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Ethel Duncan and Wilton Gregory Sr. The maternal side of Gregory's family was part of the Great Migration of African Americans after World War I, arriving in Chicago from Oxford, Mississippi. Soon after their arrival in the North, Gregory's maternal grandmother and her sister were enrolled at St. Benedict the Moor Boarding School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, because their mother could not care for them and find work at the same time. While at St. Benedict the Moor, Gregory's grandmother, Etta Mae Duncan was baptized and received into the Roman Catholic Church Even though she was not a practicing Catholic in her later life she never lost her profound admiration and respect for the Catholic priests and nuns who provided her with a home and an education during ...

Article

Michele Valerie Ronnick

pastor, Latinist, linguist, Reformation scholar, and college president, was born in Urbana, Ohio. He was one of seven children born to David Leander and Karen Andrews Hill. Hill's father was the first African American police officer in Urbana. His mother was a housewife who was active in the community and a devoted member of the St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church. The church, founded in 1824, held an important place in the African American community. For the young man, the church provided not only spiritual guidance but his Bible studies also provided him a rich source of intellectual stimulation.

In 1924 Hill matriculated at Wittenberg University which was founded under the auspices of the Lutheran church and located in Springfield, Ohio. He graduated with honors in 1928 Interested in religion he entered Hamma Divinity School now located in Columbus Ohio and sharpened his skills in Greek Latin ...

Article

Ahmed Jdey

Tunisian author, chronicler, beylical secretary, jurisconsult, reformer, minister, and historian, was born in Tunis in 1802; the only son of his mother, Chalbya Bent Ali Ben Hmida Jait, and his father, Al Haj Mohamed Ben Amor Ben Bidhiaf Al-Uni, he belonged to the Awlad Oun tribe of Siliana. Al Haj Bidhiaf served as secretary to Hamouda Pasha.

Ahmed Ibn Abi Dhiaf attended a qurʾanic school at Bab Souika in Tunis, where he learned to read and write Arabic and studied the Qurʾan and hadith. He then studied at the Zeytouna, where he encountered several Islamic fields, including grammar, poetry, writing, jurisprudence, correspondence, and interpretation of religious texts, with instructors such as Mohamed Bayram, Ismail Temimi, and Ibrahim Ryahi. His travels in Turkey and France and his relations with teachers and jurisprudence opened his horizons. His studies completed, in 1822 he embarked on an administrative and political career. In June 1822 ...

Article

Russell Hopley

historian and jurist, was born in Tadla in the region north of the Moroccan High Atlas. His full name was Abu Yaʿqub Yusuf ibn al-Zayyat al-Tadili. As a young man, al-Tadili was a follower of the venerated twelfth-century Moroccan mystic Abu ʾl-ʿAbbas al-Sabti (d. 1204). He received an education in the various fields of Islamic law, and he subsequently accepted the position of qadi among the Ragraga Berbers west of Marrakesh. Al-Tadili is best known for the hagiographical collection he authored, the Tashawwuf ila rijal al-tasawwuf, that includes biographical notices on 279 holy men and mystics who lived in North Africa from the eleventh to the thirteenth centuries. Most of the mystics dealt with in the Tashawwuf were active in southern Morocco; however, there are several notices concerning prominent holy men from Fez, Meknes, Ceuta, Tlemcen, and Bijaya. Al-Tadili remarks in the prologue to the Tashawwuf that his ...

Article

Lucian Reinfandt

North African Islamic intellectual and historian, was one of the most remarkable, yet nonauthoritative thinkers of Islam. Scholar and politician, ʿAbd al-Rahman ibn Khaldun was the author of the book al-Muqaddimah Introduction which earned him fame as the first sociologist of Islam and inventor of Arabic historical thought even precursor of modern anthropology by many In the course of a remarkable political career he offered his services to several rulers and courts all over the North African continent and Spain thus giving proof of the cultural unity still present in the Islamic world in the fourteenth century despite all political fragmentation at that time He served in Tunis 1347 1350 Moroccan Fez 1350 1352 1354 1362 and 1372 1375 Algerian Bougie 1353 1354 and 1365 1366 Spanish Granada 1362 1365 and 1375 and Algerian Tlemcen 1375 After four years of retreat in western Algeria a result of the persistent ...

Article

Adebe DeRango-Adem

was born in Nedjio, Ethiopia, to a Yemenite Jewish father, Yishaq, prominent in the Dire Dawa Jewish community as a silversmith, and an Ethiopian Christian mother, Ruth, who later converted to Judaism. He received his early education in Ethiopia and in 1937 came to the United States, where he dedicated his life to scholarship on Africa and became the founder and first professor of Afro-American Studies at Harvard University.

Professor Ephraim Isaac earned his secondary education in Ethiopia and was later given a scholarship to go to college in the United States. He earned B.A. degrees in philosophy and chemistry in 1958 from Concordia College in Minnesota. During this time, he was President of the Ethiopian Student Association in North America. He later received an M.A. from Harvard Divinity School and a doctorate in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from Harvard University.

Professor Isaac was one of the ...