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Nigerian writer, also known as Catherine Obianuju Acholonu-Olumba, was born on 26 October 1951 in Orlu of Igbo parentage. The daughter of Chief Lazarus Emejuru Olumba and Josephine Olumba of Umuokwara Village in the town of Orlu in Imo State, southeastern Nigeria, she obtained her early education at local primary and secondary schools in Orlu. At age seventeen, in an arranged marriage, she became the wife of Douglas Acholonu, a surgeon then living in Germany, by whom she had four children: Ifunanya, Nneka, Chidozie, and Kelechi. In 1974 she registered as a student of English and American language and literature and Germanic linguistics at the University of Dusseldorf and earned a master’s degree in her chosen field in 1977.

Upon returning to Nigeria in 1980, she accepted a teaching appointment at Alvan Ikoku College of Education in Owerri. While teaching, Acholonu was also writing her PhD dissertation. In 1982 ...

Article

Stanley M. Burstein

grammarian, historian, and the author of the most important surviving accounts of ancient northeast Africa and the Red Sea basin. Unfortunately, little is known of the details of his biography. The only sources for his life are a few autobiographical remarks in the fragments of his works and a notice in Codex 213 of the Bibliotheca of Photius the ninth century CE scholar and patriarch of Constantinople These references indicate that Agatharchides was born probably about 200 BCE in the city of Cnidus on the west coast of modern Turkey and that his origins were comparatively humble Probably in the early second century BCE he immigrated to Egypt where he came to the attention of an official and adviser of Ptolemy VI r 180 145 BCE named Cineas who made Agatharchides his protégé It was probably Cineas who also introduced him to another Ptolemaic official the historian and diplomat ...

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 ...

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Desha Osborne

was born on 10 February 1932 in Lagon Mahoe, Mayaro, in southeastern Trinidad to Nathaniel and Eva Anthony. In 1936 Anthony’s family moved to Post Office Hill, also in Mayaro. In 1942 Nathaniel died from heart disease, and a year later Anthony was sent to live and attend school in San Fernando, where he lived for one year. In 1944 he returned to San Fernando to study at the Junior Technical School. These early experiences with the declining health and eventual death of his father, and a year spent in San Fernando, would serve as the inspiration for various plot elements found in his first three novels. In 1946 he apprenticed at Trinidad Leaseholds Ltd., which later became part of Texaco Inc., where he trained as a molder, subsequently finding employment in an iron foundry at the Pointe-à-Pierre oil refinery. Starting in 1952 Anthony began submitting poetry to the ...

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Charles Orson Cook

one of the most prolific white scholars of African American history in the twentieth century. Herbert Aptheker was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1915 and was educated at Columbia University in the 1930s, where he took an undergraduate degree in geology and an MA and a PhD in history. His first important publication, American Negro Slave Revolts (1943), was based on his doctoral dissertation and challenged the prevailing wisdom that slaves were largely passive victims of white masters. In part an outgrowth of Aptheker's master's thesis on Nat Turner, American Negro Slave Revolts immediately became a controversial work and has remained so since. He was befriended by the influential African American historian Carter G. Woodson and the legendary black intellectual W. E. B. Du Bois, both of whom encouraged his interest in Negro history. Aptheker's other writings include a seven-volume Documentary History of the Negro People ...

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Adeyemi Bukola Oyeniyi

Nigerian historian and educational administrator, was born to Samuel Akindeji Fajembola, an Ibadan man, and Mosebolatan Fajembola, an Ijesa woman, on 28 January 1933 in Ilesa, Osun State, Nigeria. Samuel Akindeji Fajembola was a manager with John Holt & Co., a merchant company, based in Liverpool, England; Mosebolatan Fajembola was one of the first female professional teachers to be trained in southwestern Nigeria. Awe had her early education at Holy Trinity School, Omofe, Ilesa; Saint James’s School, Oke-Bola, Ibadan; C.M.S Girls’ School, Lagos; and Saint Anne’s School, Ibadan, between 1941 and 1951. Between 1952 and 1954, she attended the Perse School for Girls in Cambridge, England, and received an MA from the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, in 1958. Between 1958 and 1960 she did postgraduate work for a doctoral degree at Somerville College the oldest of the University of Oxford s female colleges She was ...

Article

Christopher Wise

Malian diplomat, ethnographer, devout Muslim, and defender of traditional African culture, was born in 1901 in Bandiagara, Mali, capital of the Toucouleur Empire of the Macina Fulani, which was founded by the Tidjaniya jihadist al-Hajj ʿUmar Tal. At the time of Bâ’s birth, the French had been in control of Bandiagara for nearly a decade. His father, Hampâté, a Fulani militant from Fakala, died two years after Bâ was born. His mother, Kadidja Pâté, was the daughter of Pâté Poullou, a close personal companion of al-Hajj ʿUmar Tal. After her husband’s death, Kadidja remarried Tidjani Amadou Ali Thiam, a Toucouleur Fulani and Louta chief, who became Bâ’s adoptive father. At an early age, Bâ became intimate with Tierno Bokar Tall, the renowned “sage of Bandiagara,” who was his lifelong teacher, spiritual guide, and personal mentor. In 1912 Bâ was enrolled in the French colonialist School of the Hostages remaining ...

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Kenneth Harrow

Amadou Hampâté Bâ once wrote that every time an elderly man dies in Africa it is as if a library has burned down. Bâ was the most effective advocate, spokesperson, and writer of what we have come to associate with traditional Africa; that is, the Africa whose texts were oral creations, whose authors were performers of epics as well as tales, whose heroes were both rulers and tricksters, and whose religions encompassed both Islam and those of the Bambara or Mande, Fulbe, Soninke, and other West African communities.

Born in Mali around 1900 Bâ was raised in the region of Bandiagara where the influence of El Hadj Omar s conquests were still being felt having marked much of the Sahel with a strong Islamic character El Hadj Omar was the major figure of resistance to the French during the period of early colonialism in the second half of the ...

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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

crystal am nelson

photographer, writer, and historian, was born Anthony Barboza in New Bedford, Massachusetts, to Lillian Barboza, a homemaker, and Anthony Barboza Sr., a Fuller Brush salesman. Anthony Jr. was one of eight sons, one of whom was also an award-winning photographer and two of whom were well-known journalists. Barboza began his career in 1964, when he studied under Roy DeCarava in New York City at the Kamoinge Workshop, cofounded in 1963 as a response to the negative and biased representation of African Americans in mainstream media, with DeCarava serving as Kamoinge's first director. The group, which continued into the twenty-first century as Kamoinge, Inc., used photography to document and celebrate African American experiences.

Between 1965 and 1968 Barboza served as a photojournalist in the United States Navy Upon opening his commercial photo studio in New York City a year after being discharged he began shooting ...

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Lisa Clayton Robinson

Delilah Isontium Beasley was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, to Margaret and Daniel Beasley. She began her career in journalism by writing for the Cleveland Gazette at age twelve; by age fifteen she had a regular column in the Sunday Cincinnati Enquirer. Following the death of her parents while she was still a teenager, Beasley looked for another full-time job to support herself, and she pursued a career as a trained masseuse. But when she followed a client to California in 1910, she resumed her original interest in journalism.

Beasley wrote a weekly column for the Sunday Oakland Tribune called “Activities Among Negroes” for the next twenty years. She spoke out against Racial Stereotypes and discrimination throughout her career. One of her most significant contributions to journalism was her campaign to stop the use of derogatory terms, such as darky and nigger to refer to African ...

Article

Kristal Brent Zook

journalist and historian of the early West, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, the eldest of five children of Daniel Beasley, an engineer, and Margaret (Heines) Beasley, a homemaker. Although little is known about her childhood, at the age of twelve Beasley published her first writings in the black-owned newspaper, the Cleveland Gazette. By the time she was fifteen she was working as a columnist for the Cincinnati Enquirer, becoming the first African American woman to write for a mainstream newspaper on a regular basis.

Beasley lost both parents as a teenager and was forced to take a full-time job working as a domestic laborer for the family of a white judge named Hagan. Her career then took several unusual turns as Beasley, who was described by biographer Lorraine Crouchett as short well proportioned and speaking in a shrill light voice perhaps because of a chronic hearing ...

Article

Patrick Bellegarde-Smith

Dantès Bellegarde was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti in 1877. His family had long been at the center of Haitian politics. Bellegarde's mother was Marie Boisson and his father Jean-Louis Bellegarde. His maternal great-grandfather, Jacques Ignace Fresnel, was named judge by Jean-Jacques Dessalines, a leader of the Haitian Revolution, who became the first leader of the independent state in 1804 and soon proclaimed himself Emperor Jean-Jacques I. This same great-grandfather was later minister of justice under President Jean-Pierre Boyer, who ruled all of Haiti from 1820 to 1843. Bellegarde's paternal grandfather, Jean-Louis de Bellegarde, was a duke and marshal in Haiti's second empire during the rule of Faustin Soulouque, who declared himself emperor and ruled from 1847 to 1859. Bellegarde's aunt, Argentine Bellegarde (1842–1901), was a noted educator and an early feminist. Bellegarde married Cécile Savain (1875–1965 ...

Article

historian, Egyptologist, educator, and Pan-Africanist, known popularly as “Dr. Ben,” was born in Gondar, Ethiopia, the son of Krstan ben Jochannan, a lawyer and diplomat, and Tulia Matta, a native of Puerto Rico, who was a homemaker and midwife. Both parents were Jewish: his father was a member of a Jewish Ethiopian people then called the “Falasha,” or Beta Israel, and his mother was descended from Spanish Sephardic Jews. The couple met in Madrid, Spain, where Matta was attending college and the elder ben Jochannan was a diplomatic attaché. Soon after their marriage, they traveled from Spain to Ethiopia where their son, Yosef, was born.

Ben Jochannan spent his earliest years in Ethiopia but after age five he was raised in the Americas He said in later interviews that in the 1920s the Ethiopian government sent his father to Brazil to help develop the coffee trade of that country ...

Article

Charles H. Ford

historian, was born in Covington, Georgia, to Grady and Odessa Blassingame. He grew up within the confines of rural Jim Crow in the nearby town of Social Circle. Like so many African Americans of his generation, he was blessed with great teachers and parents, despite the state-sanctioned inequities by race in educational resources. His own good fortune in that regard was also the reason that, when he became a professor, the mentoring of African American students and faculty members was always one of his priorities. Among those influenced and mentored by Blassingame was the literary scholar, Henry Louis Gates Jr. Thanks in part to his own hard-working and unsung professors at Fort Valley College, an all-black public institution in central Georgia, Blassingame excelled at history and earned a bachelor of arts degree in that discipline there in 1960 He then went on to get his master s ...

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Chris Chan

African American history scholar, was born in Norristown, Pennsylvania, to Charles E. Blockson and Annie Parker, who preached the importance of learning African American history to him from his earliest youth. Blockson's interest in African American history was sparked when he took umbrage at the racist comments of his fourth‐grade teacher. When his teacher said to him, “Negroes have no history; they are meant only to serve white people,” Blockson vowed to learn as much as possible about black history and to educate both blacks and whites on the effect that people of African descent had on America (Sinnette, Coates, and Battle, 119). His family encouraged him in this pursuit, and he began collecting items connected to black history at the age of ten.

Blockson attended Pennsylvania State University where he was recognized for his outstanding athletic performance in football and track and field He set records for Penn ...

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Charles Rosenberg

book collector, historian, and journalist, was born in Philadelphia to George Bolivar, and Elizabeth LeCount Proctor Bolivar. There is some uncertainty about his precise year of birth, with historians suggesting 1844 (Silcox) or 1849 (Welborn), while census data inclines toward an 1847 date. His father was employed as a sailmaker by James Forten, a local businessman and founder of the Philadelphia Library Company of Colored Persons.

The family numbered themselves among the “O.P.”—Old Philadelphians—of the African American community. George Bolivar had been born in Philadelphia, to a Pennsylvania-born mother and a father from North Carolina. Elizabeth Bolivar was born in Pennsylvania to parents born in Maryland (1850 census). In 1850George Bolivar owned real estate valued at $8,000, while a North Carolina–born cousin, Nicholas Bolivar, lived with the family, working as a tailor. Throughout Bolivar s life there were relatives or ...

Article

Nancy T. Robinson

historian, collector, archivist, photographer, and entrepreneur, was born Wallace Michael Branch in Brooklyn, New York, one of two sons of Byrd Branch, an entrepreneur who operated a cleaning and tailoring business in New York City and held down a thirty-five-year job at the weekly newspaper Irish Echo to support his family, and Vera Barbour Branch. In Brooklyn, Branch and his family lived a solid middle-class lifestyle, making their home in a four-floor brownstone home that they owned.

Branch was born with sickle cell anemia a hereditary incurable chronic disorder with which patients suffer severe pain and tissue and organ damage as a result of oxygen and nutrient deficiencies At the time of Branch s birth information about and treatment of the disease were limited According to his family doctors who treated Branch as a child never gave him much hope for survival At fourteen Branch became so ill that he ...

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Evan Mwangi

Caribbean poet, historian, dramatist, and cultural theorist, was born Lawson Edward Brathwaite to Hilton Brathwaite, a warehouse clerk, and Beryl Gill on 11 May 1930 in Bridgetown, the capital of Barbados. He was later given the name “Kamau,” a common name in central Kenya, by the writer Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s mother, when Brathwaite visited Kenya as a guest of the University of Nairobi in the 1970s. For his early education, Braithwaite attended the Harrison College, an elite school in Barbados, beginning in 1945. He started writing poetry at an early age, publishing some of it in the school magazine, The Harrisonian, which he cofounded, and later in the audacious magazine Bim, edited by Frank Collymore, an eminent man of letters in the British Caribbean. Some of this early poetry was later collected in Brathwaite’s Other Exiles (1975).

In 1949 Brathwaite won the Barbados Scholarship to attend ...

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Balthazar Becker

was born Lawson Edward Brathwaite in Bridgetown, Barbados, to Beryl Brathwaite (née Gill) and Hilton Edward Brathwaite, a warehouse clerk, on 11 May 1930. He was born the same year as the St. Lucian poet Derek Walcott, to whom he has consistently been compared. Growing up in a middle-class environment, Brathwaite published his first poems in a school journal he cofounded while he studied, from 1945 to 1949, at the renowned Harrison College in Bridgetown.

An excellent student, Brathwaite earned himself the competitive Barbados Island Scholarship to enroll at Cambridge University’s Pembroke College in 1950, where he studied English and history, receiving a B.A. in history in 1953 and a diploma in education in 1954. During this time, Brathwaite began publishing poetry, short stories, and criticism in Bim a West Indian literary journal edited by Frank Collymore and based in Barbados to which he continued ...