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Baye Yimam

Ethiopian painter, diplomat, customs director, entrepreneur, linguist, university professor, and novelist, was born in Zage, Gojjam province of Ethiopia, on 10 July 1868. His father, Gebre Iyesus Denke, was a priest serving a local church, and his mother, Fenta Tehun Adego Ayechew, was presumably a housewife. In Zage, then a center of learning, Afewerq learned the painting, poetry, church music, and liturgical dancing of the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian tradition.

Afewerq was related to Empress Taytu Betul, wife of Emperor Menilek (1844–1913 on account of which he was brought to the palace to continue what he had started in Zage He was later sent to Italy to further his studies at the Accademia Albertina di Belle Arti in Turin Upon his return from Italy he began to produce mural paintings by order of the palace and decorated the churches at Entotto then the capital city However he soon ...

Article

Lutz Marten

Tanzanian linguist and academic, was born in Mwanza, Tanzania, on 1 January 1947, as the eighth child of Michael Masalu, medical assistant, and Melania Humbo. The family lived in the suburbs of Mwanza, a provincial town in the northwest of what was then Tanganyika. Before his birth, two of his father’s cousins had come to visit the family, but, because his uncle had mistreated him when he lived with them as an orphan, his father turned them away with the words “batiboyi abakanibyaala It is not them who gave birth to me These words were used to call the newborn child in the Sukuma culture Batibo s ethnic group children are named according to events or circumstances at the time of birth The long name was soon shortened to Batibo and used as his surname At Batibo s christening the Bavarian priest administering the baptism found the ...

Article

Frances J. Santiago

a sociolinguist specializing in ethnology and the study of the Creole language, was also a devout Guadeloupean wife, mother, and grandmother. She was born in Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe, on 7 April 1935. She was the granddaughter of a plantation owner in Guadeloupe, and her father married a mulâtresse who was an agricultural worker on his father’s plantation. Bébel-Gisler has said that her education stemmed from the paternal heritage, yet her rich cultural background and the imagination it cultivated stem directly from her mother’s humble origins.

As an adolescent Bébel Gisler was sent to France for her high school education In France she studied in Toulouse where she prepared for admission to college studies Demonstrating her great talent in French she was the only student to receive the Prix Spécial de Français which brought with it a grant that gave her access to the Grandes Écoles prestigious higher education establishments in ...

Article

Roxanna Nydia Curto

best known as one of the founders of the Créolité movement, which sought to forge a uniquely Creole identity and reject the central tenets of Negritude, was born in Lorrain, Martinique.

Trained at the University of Paris V, Bernabé completed his doctorate in Antillean Creole in 1982. His thesis “Fondal-natal: Grammaire basilecticale approchée des créoles guadeloupéens et martiniquais” was published in 1983 by L’Harmattan, and is the first large-scale study of an Antillean Creole by a native speaker of the language. He is also an agrégé of grammar and holds a docteur d’état in linguistics. Bernabé is currently professor emeritus of regional languages and cultures at the University of Antilles-Guyane, Schoelcher campus. During his time on the faculty there, he served as dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences for several years.

In 1975 after becoming a professor in the Department of Modern Languages at the ...

Article

Jane Poyner

Orphan from Dahomey (now Benin) reputed to be of royal lineage, who was brought as a slave to England, where she became Queen Victoria's protégée. Sarah was named, ignominiously, after the ship Bonetta on which she was transported to England. Ironically, she was given to Captain Frederick Forbes by King Gezo of Dahomey in a conciliatory gesture following Forbes's unsuccessful attempt to persuade the King to give up trading in slaves. Forbes, in his account of his travels Dahomey and the Dahomens (1851), used Sarah as an example of the potential for progress in the intellect of the African at a time when pseudo‐scientific enlightenment theories of race were rampant: as Forbes noted, ‘it being generally and erroneously supposed that after a certain age the intellect [of the African] becomes impaired and the pursuit of knowledge impossible’.

Sarah was presented to Queen Victoria and thereafter raised under her ...

Article

Ghirmai Negash

Eritrean-born Ethiopian linguist, Africanist scholar, and political activist, was born in Asmara, Eritrea. He was fluent in several European and African languages including Italian, French, Latin, Hebrew, Arabic, Amharic, and Tigrinya, his mother tongue. His main area of expertise was linguistics, with particular focus on the Semitic languages of Eritrea and Ethiopia, but his intellectual interest covered a broad spectrum, including history, policy studies, and culture.

Demoz graduated from Haile Selassie University, Addis Ababa, with a bachelor’s degree in 1956. He received a master’s degree in education from Harvard University in 1957 and later studied linguistics at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he received master’s and PhD degrees in Semitic languages in 1959 and 1964, respectively. Demoz started his professional career at Haile Selassie University, where he taught and served as dean of the Faculty of Arts from 1964 to 1967 He was also a ...

Article

Charles Geshekter

Somali linguist and cultural historian who devoted his life to demonstrating the inestimable value of the Somali cultural heritage, was born in northern Somalia. An alternate spelling of his name is Musa Haji Ismail Galaal. He grew up as a camel herder and, during this period, learned oratorical skills that made him a superb public speaker. He attended qurʾanic schools and maintained a lifetime commitment to Islam. Galaal served in the British military during World War II, then became a teacher, and was selected in 1951 to work with the linguist B. W. Andrzejewski at the University of London to help develop a system of writing for the Somali language.

Muuse recognized the inextricable connections between the Somali language and Somali oral literature He tested potential scripts by transcribing oral poems recited by old men of frail health and then reading them back aloud He spent many weeks at the bedside ...

Article

Reidulf K. Molvaer

was an Ethiopian scholar and legendary wit, although very little is known about him with any great degree of certainty. Ethiopians are known by their own given name, followed by their father’s first name, but even that is not known with certainty: some sources give his father’s name as Gebre Mariyam, others as Desta Tegennye. His dates of birth and death are uncertain as well, variously given as 1804–1901, 1821–1905, and 1821–1915. Even his title, Aleqa, by which he is universally known (Aleqa Gebre Hanna seems of doubtful origin The title may refer to the head of a church or monastery or to a scholar in one of the four branches of learning in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church Some think it was given to him by Empress Menen the wife of the later Emperor Menilek before she became empress However we do know that Gebre Hanna was ...

Article

Ghirmai Negash

Eritrean Tigrinya-language writer, historian, translator, linguist, and professor of African languages, was born and grew up in Yeha, an ancient historical village in Tigray, the northernmost Ethiopian province bordering Eritrea. Yeha is remarkable for its unique and early archaeological sites, as well as for its proximity to and historical connections with the well-known city of Axum, which formed the center of the Axumite kingdom during the reign of the Queen of Sheba, and still remains Ethiopia’s oldest cultural center. Giyorgis is considered one of Ethiopia’s and Eritrea’s most important intellectuals; he lived and wrote during the Italian colonial era in Eritrea. He is considered by many the true founder of secular, modern African literature in Tigrinya.

The consciousness of precolonial history evident in Yeha had a lasting influence on Giyorgis s imagination affecting everything he wrote from literature to history Another important influence on Giyorgis s formation as a native ...

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

Reuben M. Chirambo

Malawaian linguist, poet, and academic, was born in Kadango Village in the lake shore district of Mangochi in southern Malawi. He attended high school at Zomba Catholic Secondary School, then obtained his Diploma in Education and his BA from Chancellor College of the University of Malawi. He completed his MPhil at the Institute of Education of the University of London in 1975 and his PhD in Linguistics at University College London. In 1972 he joined the staff of the English Department at Chancellor College at the University of Malawi. The government of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and President Hastings K. Banda detained Mapanje without charge or trial in 1987 while he was serving as chair of the English Department; he was not released until 1992.

Mapanje is best defined by his poetry which uses the literary resources of oral culture to construct written poetry that challenges the hegemony of ...

Article

Kate Tuttle

Jack Mapanje, one of Africa’s most respected poets and a scholar of linguistics, became an internationally recognized victim of censorship when the regime of Malawi’s president, Dr. Hastings Banda, imprisoned him without charges or trial in 1987. The human rights monitoring group Amnesty International declared him a political prisoner, and other groups, including those devoted to human rights and artistic freedom, launched a letter-writing campaign that resulted in his 1991 release.

Mapanje attended local Catholic schools as a child and received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Malawi and a Ph.D. in linguistics from University College, London. While in London he wrote his first collection of poetry, Of Chameleons and Gods (1981), which contained much veiled criticism of the repressive Banda government but was not one of the many books that the government banned.

At about the time Of Chameleons and Gods was published ...

Article

Jason Philip Miller

linguist and scholar, was born John Hamilton McWhorter V in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His father was John McWhorter IV, a university administrator. His mother was a college professor, and so McWhorter's world was one of learning and educational attainment. He attended Friends Select School, a small Quaker K-12 school in Philadelphia, and was a precocious student who often felt himself more intelligent than his teachers and who reportedly began teaching himself Hebrew when he was still just a young child.

McWhorter's academic skill led him to be invited to attend the Bard College at Simon's Rock, a preparatory college for especially gifted young people in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. He was in the tenth grade when he enrolled, and he graduated with honors and an associate's degree. He then matriculated at Rutgers, from which he graduated in 1985 with a B A in French and Romance Languages He removed ...

Article

Margaret Wade-Lewis

linguist, diplomat, and educator, was born in Nashville, Tennessee, to Raleigh Morgan Sr., a porter at Union Station, and Adrien Louise Beasley Morgan. The eldest of three children, Raleigh Jr. lived with his extended family; his mother left the household when Morgan was four years old. In addition to his father (b. 1888), Morgan's nurturers were his grandfather Jackson (b. 1865), a business owner; his-grandmother Anna (b. 1868), a homemaker; his uncle John W. (b. 1890); and his aunts Elizabeth and Adrien (both b. 1895). His younger siblings were John Edward (b. 1918) and Helen A. (b. 1919).

Morgan took his first course in Latin at age twelve and began to study German and French at ages fourteen and fifteen respectively He eventually became a contemporary Renaissance man whose life unfolded in three phases professor and ...

Article

Paul Schauert

Ghanaian ethnomusicologist, linguist, composer, and poet, was born on 22 June 1921 in Ashanti Mampong in central Ghana. His full given name was Joseph Hanson Kwabena Nketia. His father, Akwasi Yeboa, and mother, Akua Adoma, were traders in a nearby village called Effiduase. After his father passed away when Kwabena was an infant, he was raised by his mother and maternal grandparents. With the help of his grandfather, Opanyin Kisi Amoa, and grandmother, Yaa Amankwaa, Nketia attended Mampong Asante Presbyterian Junior and Senior Schools. After completing his secondary education, in 1937 Nketia enrolled in the Presbyterian Training College at Akropong-Akwapim, where he focused on music and the Twi (Akan) language. In 1941 he received his teaching certificate and was subsequently appointed to teach music and Twi at the Training College After three years at the Training College Nketia received a two year scholarship to study linguistics at the University ...

Article

Bethany K. Dumas

linguistics professor, was born in Georgetown, Guyana, the youngest of the ten children of Eula (nee Wade), a homemaker, and Russell Howell Rickford, an accountant and auditor. In 1968 he began studying in California on a U.S. scholarship at the University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC). He worked closely with anthropology Professor Roger Keesing and Professor J. Herman Blake, an African American sociologist who was working on the biography of Huey Newton (whom Rickford later met). It was through a program of Blake's that Rickford first went out to Daufuskie Island, one of the South Carolina Sea Islands, in 1970, an experience that he described as “life/career changing in many ways” (personal interview with subject, 2007).

Rickford once said that as a mixed race person his black consciousness and identity crystallized when he came to the United States He was elected president of the ...

Article

linguist, politician, and diplomat in the Seychelles, was born Danielle d’Offay, on 30 September 1941 on Mahé, the main island of the Seychelles archipelago. Descended from a historical Franco-Seychellois family, Danielle de St Jorre completed her secondary education and her university studies in the UK. She obtained her Master’s degree from the University of Edinburgh in 1965 and a postgraduate certificate in education a year later from the University of London. Her growing interest in language and education led her to return to UK in the 1970s for a BPhil in linguistics at York University. Returning to the Seychelles, she joined the Teachers Training College, which she headed for some time before her appointment as principal secretary to the minister of education.

In 1976 St Jorre participated in the first Colloque International d Études Créoles International Conference on Creole Studies held in Nice France The main outcome of that ...

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

Bethany K. Dumas

linguist and cultural historian, was born in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. His father, Rooks Turner, earned a bachelor's degree from Howard University, then founded a school that later became the site of a state university. His mother, Elizabeth, was educated in the public schools of the state. Two of his brothers studied medicine and law. His family background provided inspiration for his great academic success.

Turner earned three academic degrees, contributed to American linguistic research in methodology and publications, founded and edited a newspaper, served as professor and administrative head at universities, founded journals, studied West African languages and participated in a Peace Corps project. He received a BA in English in 1914 from Howard University (in Washington, D.C.), an MA in English in 1917 from Harvard University, and a PhD in English in 1926 from the University of Chicago. His dissertation, Anti Slavery Sentiment in American ...