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Dominique Achille

was born to Marguerite Raymonne Ferdinand and Philéas Gustave Louis Achille on 31 August 1909 in Fort-de-France, Martinique, then a French colony. His father was the first man of color who passed “agrégation” (the highest teaching diploma in France) in the English language in 1905. Achille’s family history can be traced back to slaves who were freed in 1794. He spent his childhood and teenage years in Martinique, in an upper-middle-class family.

In 1926 he began studying English at Louis-le-Grand High School and at the Sorbonne in Paris, where Georges Pompidou and Léopold Sedar Senghor were among his peers. In the 1930s he contributed to La Revue du Monde Noir The Review of the Black World issued in Paris by his cousins Paulette and Jane Nardal This publication addressed cultural links between colored writers poets and thinkers through the world because at that time no specific review ...

Article

was born on 12 August 1945, into a large family in Chocó, a department located on Colombia’s Pacific coast. Carlos inherited his passion for writing and literature from his father, Pedro Adán Caicedo, a well-known judge in Quibdó (the capital of Chocó). From childhood, his mother, María Licona Benítez, instilled in him a great sense of belonging and identification with his region. Among his many virtues and talents, Caicedo is best known as an outstanding writer whose emblematic works are a national treasure, telling the story of an interesting and unique culture.

Caicedo began his academic training at the Escuela Normal Superior de Quibdó, where he completed his elementary studies. He graduated from the Normal Guillermo León Valencia high school in Montería (in the department of Córdoba) in 1965 Later he enrolled in the Universidad Libre de Colombia Free University of Colombia where he successfully completed his bachelor ...

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Peter D. Fraser

was born on 26 January 1903 in New Amsterdam, British Guiana, the son of George Johnson Cameron (a druggist) and Sylvia Elizabeth Cameron (née Beete). The family lived in several places but eventually settled in Georgetown, where Cameron attended Christ Church Primary School, winning a scholarship to attend the leading secondary school, Queen’s College. In 1921 he won the prestigious Guiana Scholarship and departed in 1922 to study mathematics at Cambridge University, graduating in 1925.

Cameron had wanted to teach in Liberia but, unable to do so, returned to British Guiana. He established his own school, The Guianese Academy, in 1926 and that same year married Lurline Daly (they adopted a daughter, Joan, in 1941). He became an assistant master at Queen’s College in 1934, eventually being named deputy principal in 1958; in 1963 he joined the newly established University of Guyana which on his ...

Article

Roxanna Nydia Curto

was born Suzanne Roussi on 11 August 1915, in Poterie aux Trois-Îlets, Martinique. Her mother was Flore Roussi (née William); her father, Benoît Roussi, was a sugar factory worker.

In 1934 Roussi left Martinique to pursue her studies in literature, first in Toulouse, and then in Paris at the École Normale Supérieure, where she met her future husband and fellow Martinican, Aimé Césaire, in 1936. Legend has it that Roussi, known for her beauty and brilliance, was actively pursued by the three founders of the Negritude movement—Aimé Césaire, Léon Damas of French Guiana, and Léopold Sédar Senghor of Senegal—while they all worked together on the journal L’Étudiant noir. She chose Césaire, and they married on 10 July 1937 and eventually had six children (four sons and two daughters).

In 1938 after finishing her studies she returned to Martinique to teach at the Victor Schoelcher high school ...

Article

Ernest Cole

Sierra Leonean journalist, poet, and literary scholar, was born in Freetown, Sierra Leone. He studied at the universities of Oregon and Wisconsin before returning to Sierra Leone where he worked as a journalist. He taught at the universities of Maiduguri in Nigeria and the University of the Philippines but later returned to Sierra Leone and continued his work as a journalist and editor of the radical newspaper The Vanguard. Cheney-Coker has published three books of poetry: Concerto for an Exile in 1973, The Graveyard Also Has Teeth in 1980, and The Blood in the Desert’s Eyes in 1990. He also published a novel, The Last Harmattan of Alusine Dunbar, in 1990 which won the African Commonwealth Writer’s Prize in 1991.

The poetry of Syl Cheney Coker falls within the period of modern writing in Sierra Leone The influence of modern poets like W B Yeats ...

Article

Daly Guilamo

was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, on 25 February 1949. De Filippis’s grandmother, whom she refers to as Mama Beila and whose real name is Gabriela Menendez Henriquez, was a schoolteacher and avid book reader. She inspired her granddaughter to study Dominican poetry, which she began memorizing at the age of 7. Her exploration of Dominican poetry, beginning in her childhood, has been a lifelong endeavor, allowing her to cultivate her identity as a woman and a scholar. Such childhood activities later influenced De Filippis in her choice of discipline and eventual profession. De Filippis was bilingual by the age of 9, fluent in both Italian and Spanish. Her parents divorced when she was 4 years old.

In 1962 De Filippis left her homeland to settle with her parents in New York City, where she eventually graduated from high school. At the city’s Queens College, in 1975 ...

Article

Linda Watts

was born Maryse Boucolon on 11 February 1937, the youngest of eight children born to a middle-class couple in Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe. Her father, Auguste Boucolon, worked as a civil servant. Her mother, Jeanne Quidal Boucolon, was an elementary school teacher. As a youth, Condé was bright, inquisitive, and a bit unruly. Despite household prohibitions, she explored her father’s personal library, where she developed an appetite for reading.

According to Condé, she became a writer at about the age of 7. Her debut came with a sketch she wrote depicting her mother’s strong role within the family. When her mother read her daughter’s portrayal, she cried. At that moment, the novice author discovered that even a child could use language to convey compelling truths to an audience. Years later, in her 2010 article How to Become a So Called Caribbean Woman Writer A User s Manual Condé recounted how ...

Article

Dorsia Smith Silva

educator and writer, was born in Hampton, Virginia and raised in a middle-class family. After receiving his bachelor's degree in American literature from Dartmouth College in 1939, Davis attended the University of Chicago and became a great enthusiast of the Harlem Renaissance. His master's thesis on the Harlem Renaissance was acclaimed by his professors and marked the beginning of his reputation as a dedicated scholar. Davis graduated with a master's degree in American Studies in 1942 and then entered the army to serve his country in World War II. While he steadily rose to the rank of a captain, he decided to return to academia as an instructor in American Civilizations and doctoral student in American literature at New York University in 1948 Being in a new academic setting inspired Davis to pursue a variety of literary interests such as the historical and cultural influences of poetry ...

Article

Marie Umeh

Nigerian poet, literary critic, scholar, biographer, performer, and journalist, was born on 31 March 1958 to Michael Ogbonnaya Ohaeto and Rebecca Nwego Ohaeto in Ife Ezinihitte, Mbaise Local Government Area of Imo state. According to Ernest Emenyonu, Ezenwa-Ohaeto’s hyphenated name means “child king” or “child destined to be king.”

His primary education began in 1971 at St. Augustine Grammar School in Nkwere. He completed his secondary school education, earning a Grade One Certificate, with distinction in the arts and sciences, in 1975. When he was growing up, he published poems in the school magazine, HIPO, and short stories in the local newspaper, The Daily Star. From 1971 to 1979 he attended the University of Nigeria Nsukka UNN where he majored in English and studied under the renowned novelist Chinua Achebe and the famous critic Donatus Nwoga He graduated with a BA with honors in English This achievement ...

Article

Richard Newman

William Plummer French was born February 19, 1943 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, the son of Frank J. French, vice-president of Allied Chemical Co. and Bettina Plummer French. He worked at University Place Book Shop in New York, owned by Walter Goldwater, and became fascinated with African American books and literature, a field the shop specialized in to serve two major collectors, Arthur Schomburg and Arthur Spingarn.

Self-taught by the books in the store, French became probably the country's most knowledgeable expert on African American books and bibliography. He compiled two biographical pamphlets on black poetry, and in 1979 co-edited Afro-American Poetry and Drama, 1760–1975. Pre-deceased by his wife, the painter Garland Eliason, French died in New York of a stroke on January 14, 1997 survived by his son Will A book collecting prize at the Department of Afro American Studies at ...

Article

Richard Newman

As a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine and a frequent public speaker, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., emerged as a national spokesperson on racial issues in the mid-1990s. He attempted to refocus the nation's public policy debate by emphasizing that both the black middle class and the black underclass had grown considerably since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. As he stated on “The Two Nations of Black America,” the program he wrote and hosted for Frontline (WGBH-TV, 1998), “The class divide within our community is black America's most urgent social problem.”

Gates was born in Keyser, West Virginia, the son of Pauline Coleman and Henry Louis Gates, Sr. He grew up in Piedmont a small town of about 2 000 people 10 percent of whom were black Gates s father worked as a laborer in the local paper mill and as a ...

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Kenneth W. Warren

Arguably the most influential black literary scholar of the 1980s, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., who earned his PhD at Cambridge University, has been the recipient of a MacArthur Prize Fellowship and the American Book Award. In his early textual scholarship, Gates achieved prominence by establishing Harriet E. Wilson's Our Nig, or Sketches from the Life of a Free Black (1859) as the first novel published in the United States by an African American. At the same time, Gates, along with such other scholars as Robert Stepto and Dexter Fisher, who together coedited Afro-American Literature: The Reconstruction of Instruction (1979), were laying the groundwork for a critical approach to African American literature that sought to focus on its literariness, breaking with, as Gates argued, the social realist preoccupation of critics of previous generations.

Central to Gates s establishment of this intended break was first ...

Article

OluwaTosin Adegbola

critic, writer, educator, documentarian, and commentator. Told by a doctor when he was fourteen years old that his problem was that he was an overachiever, because he was a black boy who wanted to be doctor, Gates has spent a good deal of his lifework trying to dispel doubts about the intellectual capacities of African Americans. He has accomplished this by earning high scholarly achievements and becoming a strong voice for a multicultural approach to education.

Born and raised in West Virginia, Gates graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor's degree in history from Yale University, then attended Clare College, Cambridge, in England on fellowships. There he was mentored by Wole Soyinka a Nigerian playwright and later a Nobel laureate who convinced Gates to study especially African American literature and its lineage from and similarities to the literary traditions of Africa and the Caribbean ...

Article

Tina Steiner

writer and academic, was born in Zanzibar, Tanzania, to parents of Yemeni and Kenyan origins. After he had finished high school, he left Zanzibar in 1968 with his brother to escape the turmoil of the takeover by Sheikh Abeid Karume in the aftermath of the 1964 Zanzibari uprising. In an article Gurnah recalls the consequences of the revolt in Zanzibar: “Thousands were slaughtered, whole communities were expelled and many hundreds imprisoned. In the shambles and persecutions that followed, a vindictive terror ruled our lives” (The Guardian2001, 2). The two brothers entered Britain on tourist visas but hoped to be able to support themselves in order to study in Britain.

The mood in Britain at that time was one of open hostility toward immigrants epitomized by Enoch Powell s infamous rivers of blood speech However Gurnah was able to enroll at London University where he proceeded to obtain ...

Article

Kasereka Kavwahirehi

Congolese poet, novelist, and philosopher, was born Valentin-Yves Mudimbe on 8 December 1941 in the Belgian Congo, now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo. He was the eldest child of a skilled worker employed by the Union Minière, who dreamed his son would ascend to the managerial ranks of the same company. However, the dream quickly faded, for, early on, the son was rubbing shoulders with Benedictine monks and chose to follow in their footsteps. Hence, following his studies at a Catholic minor seminary (1952–1958), he entered the Benedictine monastery of Gihindamuyaga in Rwanda. But just like his father’s ambitions for him, Mudimbe’s childhood dream of joining the Benedictine order evaporated. In fact, gripped by the climate of social tensions and decomposition he was witnessing—the rebellion in Congo, the civil war, and the hypocritical attitude of the Church in Rwanda—he renounced monastic life and decided in 1961 in ...

Article

Theodore O. Mason

Born in 1941 in Trinidad, Arnold Rampersad received a BA and MA from Bowling Green State University and an MA and PhD from Harvard. He has held teaching positions at Stanford, Rutgers, and Columbia. Rampersad was Woodrow Wilson Professor of Literature at Princeton and is Sara Hart Kimball Professor Emeritus in the Humanities at Stanford University. From 1991 to 1996, he held a MacArthur Foundation fellowship. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, Rampersad was a 2010 recipient of the National Humanities Medal.

Although he began his career specializing in Herman Melville, Rampersad is best known for biographies of W. E. B. Du Bois and Langston Hughes. In The Art and Imagination of W. E. B. Du Bois (1976 Rampersad sought to trace the intellectual development of one of this century s preeminent black political and social ...

Article

Amani Morrison

to Jessie Rowell, a gardener and storyteller, and Hosea Rowell, a farmer two generations removed from slavery. At an early age Rowell identified with his mother’s spirit of freedom and love of beauty as opposed to his father’s desire for land ownership and material gain.

Rowell lived and was educated in the segregated schools of Alabama before earning his degree in English from Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical College, also segregated, in 1961. He completed his Master of Arts degree in English at the University of Missouri at Columbia in 1962, after which he taught at Tougaloo College in Mississippi. In 1964 Rowell began pursuing a Ph.D. in English at Ohio State University, which he completed in 1972 after teaching at Mississippi Valley State College in Itta Bena, Mississippi and Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he worked until 1977. In 1976 just before leaving Southern ...

Article

David Dabydeen

Publisher and Professor of Commonwealth Literature. Ceaselessly energetic in her organizational and publishing activities, Australian‐born Anna Rutherford was revered in Commonwealth academic circles for her efforts to establish the study of post‐colonial literature in Europe.

For 28 years, from 1968 to 1996, Rutherford directed the Commonwealth Literature Centre at the University of Aarhus, organizing symposiums, seminars, and readings involving leading British‐based black scholars and writers such as Wilson Harris, Sam Selvon, Buchi Emecheta, and Shiva Naipaul. She introduced African and West Indian courses and, in 1971, organized the first European conference on the Commonwealth novel, a project involving many future British professors including Louis James (Kent) and Paul Edwards (Edinburgh), who went on, in their own universities, to promote the research that gave the discipline of Commonwealth literature intellectual respectability.

Rutherford was the first woman chair of the Association of ...

Article

Peter Mwikisa

Botswana poet, academic, and cultural activist, was born at Kanye, south of Gaborone, in Bechuanaland (now Botswana), on 27 April 1957. He married Loatile Seleka in 2001. His father, Joseph Morara Seboni (1927–1997), was appointed first secretary when at independence Botswana opened its high commission in London in 1966. His mother, Susan Nkgaelang (1929–2003), had a distinguished career as a nurse for three decades. Between 1966 and 1970 the family lived in London, where he went to school, first at Bell Lane Primary school and then at Saint Mary’s Church of England Secondary school for two years of his secondary school education, which he completed at Moeding College when the family returned to Botswana in 1970.

The four years that he spent in London were decisive both for his future choice to become a writer and for shaping the kind of writer he was to become ...

Article

Ada Uzoamaka Azodo

Senegalese novelist, dramatist, and literary and cultural activist, was born on 27 April 1941, on the island of Saint-Louis, the first capital of Senegal before Dakar, to Abdoulaye Fall and Adja Khoudia Diaw. In Paris, on 30 May 1963, she married fellow Senegalese Samba Sow, a recent university graduate in economics at the time and a popular basketball player, adopting his last name as her middle name. Today, Aminata Sow Fall is so well known worldwide that she can be listed in bibliographical entries without the need to place her last name first.

In her conservative and hospitable family her father who had attended L École des Fils de Chefs later worked outside the home as treasurer while her mother stayed at home as housewife and mother to provide nurturing to all with the help of live in servants Many young people and villagers frequented their home bringing ...