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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

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

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

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

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 ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

historian and religious leader, was born on 24 June 1846. His father, Henry, was a member of the Saro community, a large group of people who had been liberated from slave ships by the British Navy and then resettled in the British coastal colony of Sierra Leone. Like many other Saro individuals, Johnson’s father originally came from a Yoruba-speaking community in southwest Nigeria. Henry Johnson came from a royal pedigree, as he was the grandson of Alaafin Abiodun, king of the Oyo Empire in the late eighteenth century. Johnson married a Saro woman named Sarah, and their son Samuel was born in the Hastings village near Freetown. Samuel was the third of four children.

By the 1850s, many Saro chose to return to their home regions, and the Johnson family followed this trend by moving to back to Yorubaland in December 1857 There Henry Johnson became an assistant ...

Article

Christopher Wise

author of the medieval history of the rise and fall of the Songhay dynasty of the Askiyas, entitled the Taʿrikh al-fattash, was born Mahmoud ibn al hajj al-Mutawakkil Kati in Kurmina (northern Mali). According to Fondo Kati, the curator of the Kati family libraries in Timbuktu, Kati’s father al hajj al-Mutawakkil Kati was a Sephardic Arab Muslim, who migrated to Timbuktu in the era of the Spanish Inquisition and who married an indigenous Songhay-Soninke woman. Kati was raised in Kurmina but lived most of his adult life in Timbuktu. In Taʿrikh al-sudan written by ʾAbad al Rahman al Sadi of the same era Kati is referred to as Mahmud ibn al hajj al Mutawakkil Kaʿti al Kurmini al Waʿkuri Sadi records that Kati was buried at Timbuktu near the tomb of Ahmad ibn al hajj Ahmad the father of Ahmad Baba and Mohamed Bagayoko two of Timbuktu s ...

Article

Danica Tisdale

religious leader, college founder, and historian, was born near Jackson, Tennessee, to Cullen Lane, a white slave owner, and Rachel, a slave woman. Although born to a white father, young Isaac, by custom and law, occupied the status of his mother and was thus raised a slave by Rachel and her husband Josh, a slave and field hand. Little is known about young Isaac's parents, and, in fact, his autobiography states that he “was reared almost motherless and fatherless having no parental care and guidance” (Lane, 47). Nevertheless he was a precocious child, eager to learn. At the age of eleven he assumed the surname of his white father.

In his formative years Lane began to educate himself and would eventually learn to read write and do math Denied the advantages of early training Lane was able to seize a blue black speller and through ...

Article

Manetho  

Stanley M. Burstein

Egyptian priest and author, came from Sebennytos in the Egyptian Delta, the home city of the kings of the Thirtieth Dynasty. He was active during the reigns of Ptolemy I (305–282 BCE) and Ptolemy II (282–246 BCE). Whether or not he held an official position in the Ptolemaic government is unknown, but he did collaborate with the Athenian exegete Timotheos in the development, under Ptolemy I, of the figure and theology of the composite Greco-Egyptian god Sarapis. It is also unknown which Egyptian god he served as priest, but surviving fragments of his works indicate that he was educated in both Egyptian and Greek. Despite the meagerness of biographical data, it is clear that Manetho belonged to the group of supporters and relatives of Nectanebo II, who collaborated with Ptolemy I during the critical early years of Macedonian rule in Egypt.

Numerous works are credited to Manetho in the sources ...

Article

Alejandro Gortázar

in the first half of the nineteenth century, was born on 15 October 1766 in Rio Grande de San Pedro, a city in Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil). His mother was Juana de Sacramento, a Benguela woman from Angola. His father was Ventura, a Mina Dajome man (from Dahomey, currently Republic of Benin). Molina was born on the ship that brought his family to Brazil to be sold as slaves. His parents married in 1765 in Rio Grande.

Molina’s parents were both personal servants to José de Molina (1707–1782), a Spanish military man who came in 1759 to Banda Oriental with the Cevallos expedition to delimitate the Spanish imperial territory in Banda Oriental. Ventura saved José de Molina’s life in 1765 and was rewarded his freedom in return but he preferred to remain with his master Juana his mother was enslaved in Portuguese territory and became a ...

Article

Mathias Hanses

classicist, Congregationalist preacher, and the first African American to earn a Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania, was born in Huntsville, Alabama, the youngest child of Henry Moore and his second wife Rebecca (née Beasley). Louis would in his early years have witnessed the black community's enthusiasm toward such new freedoms as political participation. At the same time, he suffered the hardships besetting his family of twenty-eight in the transforming Deep South. Before Louis turned ten years old, his home state's race relations started slipping toward their “nadir.” Alabama endured Ku Klux Klan terrorism and voter intimidation; a “Redeemer” government rose to power in 1874 as black workers and sharecroppers fell into economic dependency on their former owners; and in 1876 federal Reconstruction efforts were sacrificed to political deal making which further impeded blacks access to polls and lecterns Still increasing numbers of African Americans came to ...

Article

Jonathon L. Earle

prominent chief and- historian of Buganda, was born in former Ssingo county, in central Uganda. His mother’s name was Nyakanzana, and his father Zakaria Ssensalire was an important Elephant clan (Njovu) leader and appointed chief by Kabaka (King) Muteesa I. At approximately the age of 12, Mukasa was placed by his father as a page (omugalagala) at the king’s palace, where his aunt was also one of the king’s many wives.

Mukasa s appointment to the royal palace coincided with Muteesa s early conversion to Islam As with other pages Mukasa studied Arabic and learned Islamic prayers and Qurʾanic texts by memory Not unlike his youthful colleagues Mukasa struggled to differentiate between Islamic and Christian teaching Reflecting on this perplexity Mukasa wrote I never knew at that time that there was any religious difference between the Arabs and Europeans Mukasa increasingly devoted his time and energy ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Gabonese Roman Catholic priest and scholar, was born on 19 June 1871 in Libreville in present-day Gabon to Robert Bruce Napoleon Walker and Agnourogoulé Ikoutou. Ikoutou was a female Mpongwe entrepreneur. R. B. N. Walker was an English resident of Gabon. Raponda Walker’s father, an amateur scholar and trader, took him to England for several years in the mid-1870s. After the boy returned to Libreville by 1877, his Mpongwe mother raised him. He had already learned some English, French, and Omyènè, the dominant language of the Gabonese coast and the commercial lingua franca of the entire colony, before the age of ten. Raponda Walker was so inspired by his Catholic missionary teachers that he chose in 1886 to enter the seminary and to become ordained His mother opposed his decision to become a priest on the grounds he would not be able to form his own family Although ...

Article

Russell Hopley

poet, littérateur, historian, and court secretary, was born in al-Qayrawan around the time of the Fatimid departure from Ifriqiya to Egypt in 972. His full name was Abu Ishaq Ibrahim ibn al-Qasim al-Raqiq. Al-Raqiq acted as court secretary during a period of some forty years for three Zirid emirs: al-Mansur ibn Buluggin (r. 983–995), Badis (r. 995–1016), and al-Muʿizz (r. 1016–1062 An especially refined personage al Raqiq appears to have played an important role in several diplomatic missions to lands neighboring the Zirid state a number of which were quite sensitive in nature Prominent among these missions was the Zirid embassy to the court of the Fatimid sovereign al Hakim in 998 designed to consolidate the ties that brought these two North African states into alliance with one another It is also reported that al Raqiq accompanied the Zirid army on campaigns in the hinterland of Ifriqiya undertaken to ...

Article

Sonia Abun-Nasr

pastor of the Basel Mission in the Ga/Dangme region of the West African Gold Coast, present-day Ghana, was born on 31 May 1834 in Prampram His father Christian Hackenburg Reindorf was a trader of joint European and African descent his mother Anoa Ama was born in Accra of Ga origin Reindorf s great grandfather Augustus Frederick Hackenburg was from Denmark and had been governor at Fort Christiansborg on the Gold Coast Because of his mixed race background and his links with the Basel Missionary Society Reindorf moved throughout his life in a complex web of social relationships These linked him with Ga society in the coastal towns the Christianized Euro African business community in and around Fort Christiansborg now Osu as well as with Europeans working for the Basel Mission on the Gold Coast In his life history these different aspects of Reindorf s identity come to the surface ...