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 ...
Mary Hughes Brookhart
Born in Columbus, Ohio, Samuel Allen (also known as Paul Vesey) studied creative writing under James Weldon Johnson at Fisk where he graduated magna cum laude in 1938. He received his JD from Harvard in 1941. Until 1968 when he formally left law for literature, he was active in both fields.
He was drafted into the U.S. Armed Services in 1942 and served as an officer, though under the constraints of the segregated system, until 1946. From 1946 to 1947 he was deputy assistant district attorney in New York City. The following year he studied humanities at the New School for Social Research. In 1948 he went to Paris on the GI Bill, and after studying French, studied at the Sorbonne. He was employed variously with the U.S. Armed Forces from 1951 to 1955 as historian claims officer and civilian attorney in Wiesbaden Germany and in ...
Ulli Beier, author, curator, and publisher, is preeminently associated with Yoruba art and culture, through which he distinguished himself as a quintessential poet, photographer, curator, author, translator, and publisher. Despite the cultural differences, Beier effectively integrated into Yoruba cultural norms and values. He joined the Yoruba society in 1950, and literally never departed. Beier interpreted his childhood through Yoruba cultural norms and worldview. He was a twin (ibeji), abiku child (a child “born to die”), and a dada child (one distinct in birth). As he noted, if he had been born Yoruba, he would have been a Sango devotee. He referred to himself sarcastically as Obotunde Ijimere, Sangodare Akanji, and Omidiji Aragbabalu. His colleagues and admirers refer to him as “Blackman in white skin” and “German-born Yoruba man.” He was known as the “white African” who defended African cultural heritage.
Beier was born in Glowitz Germany ...
Allen J. Fromherz
North African translator, was born near Tunis in the early eleventh century (scholars estimate between 1010 and 1015). Constantinus Africanus (Constantine the African) was famed for introducing many principles of Arab medicine and scientific enquiry to the northern shores of the Mediterranean. The first known biographies of Constantinus Africanus were written and modified by Christian monks from the monastery of Monte Cassino. This occurred several decades after his death. As such, much of the information on the life of Constantinus must be seen trough the lens of these monastic sources. As a convert from Islam to Christianity, he was held up not only as a rare success of conversion but as an example of the intellectual accomplishments of Monte Cassino.
The writings of Petrus Diaconus a monk at Monte Cassino who wrote one of the earliest biographies claimed that Constantinus Africanus was born in Carthage and traveled throughout the ...
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 ...
Emilio Jorge Rodríguez
was born Nidia Maria Enrica Ecury on 2 February 1926 in the fishing village of Rancho in the western region of Oranjestad, Aruba. She was the daughter of Nicasio Segundo “Shon Dundun” Ecury, a first-generation freeborn Aruban businessman and honorary consul of Haiti in Aruba, and Ana Paulina Wilhelmina Ernst, of German descent and a native of Curaçao who was a famous pastry chef. Nydia was the younger sister of the Aruban war hero Boy Ecury (1922–1944), a member of the Dutch Resistance during World War II, who was captured and executed by the German forces occupying the Netherlands. The family mansion where Nydia was born is a fine example of colonial architecture and is now the home of the National Archeological Museum of Aruba.
Ecury completed her studies in English literature and journalism in Canada and established herself in Curaçao in 1957 where she worked as ...
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 ...
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 ...
Zimbabwean essayist, novelist, poet, editor, translator, writer-in-residence, visiting lecturer, and cultural critic, was born to Ruvaro Muza Hove, a farmer, and Jessie Hove, his wife, in rural Mazvihwa, Zvishavane, a linguistic and ethnic buffer zone in the Midlands Province of Zimbabwe. Hove’s father, a local chief, was a polygamist who brought the family into contact with colonial modernity. The family migrated in the 1960s to Copper Queen Gokwe a district that took in the colonially displaced from different parts of the country following the enactment of many laws dispossessing Africans of their land Hove s time in Mazvihwa and Gokwe explain the writer s ability to speak more than one local language a significant achievement in a racially and ethnically polarized country The aspects that have shaped the writer s sensibility are colonialism missionary education orature war and Zimbabwe s postindependence experience He escaped political persecution at home following ...
Hans P. Hahn
The life of Janheinz Jahn was dedicated to the support and dissemination of African literature in German-speaking countries. He was a pioneer in that pursuit—to impart African literature—with restless engagement and consequence. After studying the history of arts and the Arabic language in the 1930s, he was a soldier during World War II and became a prisoner of war. After his release in 1946, he worked as a freelance writer and journalist. Throughout the rest of his life, he never had an academic position and made his living from publishing books.
In 1950 he met Leopold Senghor when the latter was in Frankfurt am Main at the invitation of the Institut Culturel Français This meeting and the conversations with Senghor left such deep and lasting impressions that a short time later Jahn himself started to give public lectures on African literature At the same time he initiated ...
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 ...
Born in Havana, Cuba, Nancy Morejón grew up in a working-class district of the city known as Los Sitios. As a young child Morejón was discouraged by her parents from observing the Santería religion (a traditional Yoruban-based Cuban faith). Nevertheless she absorbed Santería's musical rites, including performances of neighborhood Rumba bands, through members of her extended family. (Rumba is an Afro-Cuban song and dance form that synthesizes Bantu-derived rituals and rhythms. It was later modified into a ballroom dance.) She is particularly interested in Afro-Cuban religious forms as modes of cultural expression. In her article “Las poéticas de Nancy Morejón,” she explains that she incorporates Santería themes and motifs in her literary work. References to Yoruba deities such as Eleguá and Oshún are abundant in her poetry (Orishas).
Morejón s parents though not formally educated emphasized her education from an early age and instilled in her a ...
Zimbabwean writer, translator, and editor, was born on 2 December 1947 at Manyene, near Chivhu in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia). His father had worked in South Africa and was able to purchase land in an area then identified as a Native Purchase Area. The eldest of eight, Mungoshi herded cattle, read avidly, and listened to his mother and grandmother telling stories. He identifies his grandmother as the inspiration for “Mandisa” in his novel Waiting for the Rain (1975 Mungoshi attended All Saints School Daramombe School and St Augustine s Secondary School He published three short stories while he was still attending St Augustine s with the encouragement of his English teacher Father Daniel Pierce Pierce sent some of the stories to the South African writer and editor Richard Rive who commented favorably on them At St Augustine s Mungoshi focused his attention on English particularly creative writing and drama ...
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 ...
poet and translator, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the daughter of Melvin M. Nelson, a Tuskegee Airman and serviceman in the U.S. Air Force, and Johnnie Mitchell, a teacher. Moving frequently because of her father's career, she attended school in several states and began composing poetry while still in grade school. After earning a BA in English in 1968 from the University of California, Davis, she earned an MA in English from the University of Pennsylvania in 1970, serving as a lay associate at Cornell University's Lutheran Campus Ministry between 1969 and 1970. Also in 1970 Nelson married Erdmann F. Waniek and subsequently began teaching English in Oregon at Lane Community College and at Reed College. The next year she taught at Nørre Nissum Seminarium in Denmark, and in 1973 she became an assistant professor of English at St. Olaf College in Minnesota. In 1978 ...
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 ...
poet, translator, lawyer, and prominent cultural figure in Burkina Faso, was born not far from Ouagagdougou in the village of Manega, Burkina Faso (then the Upper Volta). Founder of the Bendrology Museum in Manega, he is the author of some seventy separate books, centering on traditional Mossi culture. The village of Manega, a word that means “the land of tranquillity,” is situated in Oubritenga province in the heart of the Moogho, or “land of the Mossi people.” The Mossi empire was founded in the ninth century CE and includes the Gnougnoossi people (or “Tingin-Bissi,” literally “the sons of the earth”), who inhabited the area at an even earlier date. In fact, the Mossi have continually dwelled in their traditional homeland from time immemorial. Throughout the history of the continent, the Mossi have been famous for their success in repelling foreign incursions. As noted in the Tarikh es soudan and ...
poet, novelist, playwright, and translator, was born 4 March 1901 in Tananarive (now Antananarivo), Madagascar. His baptismal name was Joseph-Casimir Rabe, which, by his own account, he later changed to Jean-Joseph. His mother, Rabozivelo, who was unmarried at the time of Rabéarivelo’s birth, belonged to the Merina ethnic group and was of royal extraction. However, like many other Merina families of royal descent following the onset of French colonial rule in Madagascar, the family lived in poverty. Though Rabéarivelo attended missionary schools till he was expelled in his early teen years, he was largely self-taught and owed his extensive knowledge of world literature to a lifelong cultivation of reading. He met Marguerite (“Mary”) Rabako, his future wife, in 1923 when he began offering private lessons in French to interested students. They married in 1926 and had five children a son Solofo and four daughters Voahangy who died when she ...
Egyptiansongwriter, poet, and translator, was born on 8 August 1892 in Cairo's Nasiriyya district. His father, Mohammed Hasan Otman Rami, was a military physician in the Egyptian army, and his mother, Fatima al-Ghazouly, was a housewife. Because of his family's continuous travels, Rami lived an uneasy childhood. His father left him for years under the custody of his aunt and grandfather. At the age of thirty, he suffered a smallpox infection that left traces on him both physically and spiritually. After graduating from the Higher Teachers College (Cairo) in 1914, he worked as a high school teacher until 1920 when he was appointed a librarian at the Higher Teachers library for two years Then he took a scholarship to study librarianship in France for two years When he returned he was appointed to a position at Dar al Kutub the Egyptian National Library and ...
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 ...