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Article

Jeremy Rich

Congolese evangelist and translator was born in Gombe a village inhabited by Kakwa speaking clans in the northeastern corner of the modern day Democratic Republic of Congo This community suffered greatly from slave raids launched by Zande chieftains like Zémio and Mopoï living to their north in the late nineteenth century However the threat of northern raiders was hardly the only challenge for the young boy His name Akudri signified one who waited since he was born after his mother was pregnant for more than nine months He also bore his father s name Dada which means one who has no family This would indeed be Akudri s own fate since an epidemic of meningitis killed his parents and all his siblings when he was very young The boy barely survived himself A grave was dug to prepare for his funeral by other people in the village but he managed ...

Article

Don E. Walicek

was born on 16 May 1927 into a middle-class family in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. His father, Montrosier Dejean, was an accountant who served for a time as the nation’s minister of finance, and his mother, Maria Parisot, was a homemaker. After completing his early education in Haiti, Dejean moved to New England, where he studied theology and thereafter entered the priesthood. He later returned to Haiti and served as a parish priest of Port-Salut for almost a decade. There, as the linguist Arthur Spears (2010) notes, Dejean used Haitian Creole with parishioners and translated the four Gospels from Greek into Haitian Creole. These experiences motivated him to pursue a graduate degree in language and linguistics. He earned an M.A. in biblical Hebrew from Johns Hopkins University in 1964 He returned home shortly thereafter but the violence of the François Duvalier regime forced him into exile in Paris five ...

Article

David Michel

was born to peasant parents on 12 August 1929 in Haiti. He grew up in Port-au-Prince where he attended the Lycée Pétion, a high school named for Haitian president Alexandre Pétion (1770–1818). At the time, Creole, the mother tongue of all Haitians, was not considered a language. The future minister graduated from the local Episcopal seminary and studied sociology for one year at Wayne State University in Detroit. He was ordained a priest by the Episcopal Church of Haiti (ECH) in 1953, and married Marie Mathilde Joseph. Désir had two sons, Jean Marc and Roger Emmanuel.

Father Désir served several congregations before being appointed dean of Holy Trinity Cathedral, the largest Episcopal church in Port-au-Prince. In 1963 he resigned the deanery because he was reprimanded for preaching change within the Episcopal Church and Haiti At the time Désir s superior was Charles A Voegeli a ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

early Congolese Protestant, skilled translator, and author, was born to a Kikongo-speaking family in the town of Padwa, located in northern Angola. At a very young age, Dundulu became the ward of his powerful uncle Tulante Mbidi. Dundulu’s uncle was the chief of the village of Lemvo and a regionally renowned ivory and slave trader. This territory was under the domain of the Kongolese monarch Dom Pedro V, who brought the British Missionary Society minister William Bentley to Dundulu’s village in 1879 Bentley was trying to learn Kikongo and found Dundulu to be an excellent instructor With the consent of Tulante Mbidi and the Kongolese king Dundulu became Bentley s teacher and colleague He displayed his gift for language by quickly learning how to read and write Bentley called him Nlemvo after the name of his home village Bentley believed this word meant obedience in Kikongo but it later ...

Article

Ethan Michael Key

active in Naqamte, Western Oromia, Ethiopia during the first half of the twentieth century. She is most remembered for being part of an Oromo language translation project in Eritrea, which produced both the Macaafa Qulqulluu (Holy Bible, 1899), translated by Onesimos Nasib, and the Jalqaba Barsiisa (Oromo Spelling Book, 1894), co-authored by Aster and Onesimos.

Born around the year 1870 in the independent Oromo kingdom of Limmu Ennarya in the Gibe River region, Aster was “enslaved by way of reprisal when her people refused to build the king of Limmu a new residence” (Arén 1978: 295–296). In 1886 she was on a ship crossing the Red Sea when the Italian coast guard intercepted liberating the slaves onboard because the Italian government sought to increase its presence in the Red Sea including its future colony of Eritrea After this she went to the Swedish Evangelical Mission at Imkullu ...

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

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

Dismas A. Masolo

Kagame, philosopher, linguist, and historian, was born in 1912 in Kiyanza, Rwanda. A member of the traditional Tutsi royalty, Kagame was educated in the local minor and major seminaries there before being ordained into the Catholic priesthood in 1941. He later studied philosophy at the Gregorian University in Rome, where he obtained his doctoral degree in 1955. He died in Nairobi, Kenya, in December 1981.

Abbe Kagame is best known for his monumental work, La Philosophie Bantu-Rwandaise de l’Etre, published in Brussels in 1956 by the Belgian Académie Royale des Sciences Coloniales (Belgian Royal Academy of Colonial Sciences), to which he had been elected as a corresponding member since 1950 in recognition of his earlier publications which mainly featured collections of literary and historical texts gathered from the oral traditions of Rwanda and marked his dedication to the study and preservation of local knowledge ...

Article

Kenneth Ombongi and Marcel Rutten

Harry Leakey was an embodiment of European tropical adventure and a product of the Christian missionary age. With a Franco-British background, Leakey was brought up by a single mother after his father died when he was only three. He was born in France in 1868, and his mastery of French earned him a livelihood as a grammar school teacher when he went to England. Besides a Cambridge education, which took him through the Oxbridge (Oxford and Cambridge) citadel of education for those who worked overseas, he had close relatives who were already missionaries, from whom, perhaps, he drew inspiration for missionary work in Africa. His cousin was a missionary in Uganda from 1892 onward. Leakey’s wife, Mary, also came from a missionary family; her sister and husband went to Uganda as missionaries in 1898.

The colonial environment in which Leakey operated shaped his life thoughts and activities He ...

Article

Allen J. Fromherz

known in Latin as Raimundus Lullus, Ramon Llull was a Catalan intellectual, translator, doctor, mathematician, theologian, and missionary born in 1232 or 1233 in Palma, the capital of the island of Majorca in the western Mediterranean south of Barcelona. The Catalans had almost suddenly become masters of the western Mediterranean, and the conquest of Majorca by King James I from the Berber North African Almohad Empire in 1229 three years before his death was still fresh in 1232. Ramon Llull would spend most of his life at a crossroads between the Christian powers of Europe and the Muslim powers of North Africa, absorbing the influence of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian traditions. Having experienced an Augustinian conversion from a life licentiousness to one of spiritual contemplation, the first decades of his life from a biography, Vita coaetanea are described as given to ...

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

Ethan Michael Key

Onesimos was significant in the spread of Protestant Christianity, as well as in establishing schools for Oromo children in their own language. He was instrumental in planting the seed of modern education, especially in the region of Wallaga, in the early twentieth century. His most notable literary contributions include the Macaafa Qulqulluu (Holy Bible, 1899) in the Oromo language, as well as the 1894Jalqaba Barsiisa (Oromo Spelling Book, written in collaboration with Aster Ganno), which promoted literacy in the Oromo language.

Born Hiikaa Awajii which coincidentally can mean translator in the mid 1850s near Hurrumu Illu Abba Bora Ethiopia Onesimos was a member of a pastoral Macha Oromo family which was raided by neighboring groups Hiikaa s father Awajii died when Hiikaa was very young leaving his mother her brothers and her young children to tend their cattle alone Shortly after Awajii s death their family suffered a ...

Article

Ezekiel Gebissa

Ethiopian evangelist, Bible translator, author, and educator, was born near Hurumu in western Ethiopia around 1856. Named Hiikaa, literally “translator” in the Oromo language (Afaan Oromo), he was sold four times and was renamed Nesib before he was freed by Werner Munzinger (1832–1875), a French consul at Massawa, and entrusted to Swedish missionaries. At the mission school for boys, he converted to the Lutheran faith and was baptized on 31 March 1872. He was given the Christian name Onesimus and became the first Ethiopian Lutheran (Arén, 1978).

Between 1876 and 1881 Onesimus attended the Johannelund Theological Training Institute in Sweden and returned to Massawa with a teacher s diploma Soon after his return he joined a missionary expedition to the Oromo country organized by the Swedish Evangelical Mission The group managed to reach the Ethiopian border through Sudan but local authorities refused to issue a ...

Article

Ruufoo  

Wolbert Smidt

former Oromo slave, linguistic informant, missionary student, and the first Oromo Bible translator in the 1860s, was born in the village of Gombotaa in Guummaa (in present-day Ethiopia). After his baptism he was called Christian Ludwig Paulus Rufo; in English sources he is also called Roofo. He died on 8 January 1871 in Cairo.

Ruufoo grew up as a shepherd boy in the independent Oromo kingdom Guummaa which was close to the Egyptian Sudan and the Ethiopian kingdom of Gojjam When he was about eleven or twelve years old he was kidnapped and enslaved by his own people in order to fulfill tax obligations The king of Guummaa regularly received part of his tributes in the form of slaves who were sold to Ethiopia or to one of the great slave markets of the Sudan Ruufoo was brought to Gojjam but soon escaped he then worked as a shepherd for ...

Article

Heike Becker

Khoekhoegowab (Nama)-speaking missionary wife, mission assistant, and translator in southern Namibia (Namaland) and South Africa (Namaqualand), was born c. 1793 in Steinkopf, Namaqualand (Little Namaland) in the Cape Colony (now the Northern Cape province of South Africa). In all likelihood, she was born Zara Hendrichs and was among the first converted parishioners who were baptized by her future husband in 1814.

She was about twenty years old when a few months after her baptism she married Johann Hinrich Schmelen (1778–1848), a German missionary of a working-class background, who from 1811 worked for the London Missionary Society in various places in Namaqualand in the northwestern Cape Colony of South Africa and in Namaland (now southern Namibia). Having been left alone in a covered wagon for a night while traveling in Namaland, Johann Hinrich and Zara, who was then his domestic employee, were married, by his own hand, in 1814 in ...

Article

Ezekiel Gebissa

Ethiopian linguist, historian, evangelist, and social reformer, was born in the village of Yefag in Begemder region, northwestern Ethiopia, on 30 March 1860. His father, a staunch Orthodox Christian and a wealthy landowner, sent Tayye to the traditional church school in the village. His mother died in 1867 while his father was on a business trip from which he never returned. Tayye ventured as far as Massawa on the Red Sea coast in search of his uncle. Sometime between 1875 and 1878, he applied for and was admitted to the Swedish Evangelical Mission School for boys at Emkullu near Massawa. Tayye avidly studied the traditions of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, scrutinizing their scriptural foundation. In 1881, feeling that he had found the true faith, he became a communicant member of the Lutheran congregation in Imkulu.

Devoted to studying the heritage of his country Tayye returned to Begemder ...

Article

Matteo Salvadore

Ethiopian monk and intellectual, was also known as Pietro Malbazó, Mlheso, and Indiano. Little is known about his early years, but in all likelihood he left the monastery of Debre Libanos while the area was ravaged by the war between Christian Ethiopia and the Muslim Sultanate of Adal (1529–1543). He traveled to Italy via Jerusalem in 1538, exploiting a route well known to early-modern Ethiopian pilgrims. Once in Rome he became prior of Santo Stefano; his tenure coincided with the institution’s golden era, one during which the hospice hosted an average of twenty to thirty monks before becoming deserted during the era of the Jesuit mission to Ethiopia (1555–1632). Tesfa Seyon used his linguistic skills to develop an exclusive network of acquaintances and befriend some of the most important Roman personalities of the time—among which was the powerful Farnese—who in turn supported both his work and the Santo Stefano ...

Article

Tedros Abraha

Eritrean Catholic bishop, lexicographer, and grammarian, was born in Hebo (Eritrea) on 11 April 1889 to Gebre Iyesus Gebre Medhen and Sellas Jegger. His grandfather, an orthodox priest converted to the Catholic Church by Saint Justin de Jacobis (1800–1860), was from a noble family of Gwela related to Emperor Yohannes IV and Dejazmach Subagades (1770–1831).

At the end of his training for the priesthood in Akrur and Keren, Yaqob Gebre Iyesus was ordained priest by Bishop Camillo Carrara on 30 April 1913. After his ordination, he worked as pastor in the parishes of Beraqit, Ginda, Akrur, and Segeneiti, and in 1918 he was appointed translator and adviser to Bishop Carrara for a period of three years He was also active in pastoral ministry in teaching and was in charge of censoring the publications printed at the Francescana Printing Press At the end of his term he moved to ...