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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

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

Heike Becker

the first Herero convert to Christianity, a translator, a teacher, and a midwife, was born in September 1837 as the daughter of Kazahendike and his wife Kariaavihe in Hereroland in what is today central Namibia. Her family was among those Herero who were impoverished and displaced by the conflicts that were ravaging central Namibia in the 1840s (especially those between Jan Jonker Afrikaner and Tjimuhua) and who subsequently gravitated toward the early missions in search of shelter and livelihood. Urieta Kazahendike was about ten or twelve years old when she came to live with German-born missionary Carl Hugo Hahn and his English wife Emma, née Hone, who had arrived in Namibia in 1844. Kazahendike lived with the Hahns first at Otjikango, about 70 kilometers north of Windhoek, which the missionaries called “New Barmen.” In 1855 she followed the Hahn family to Otjimbingwe to the west of Otjikango From ...

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

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

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

Matteo Salvadore

Ethiopian cleric, known in Europe as Zaga Zabo or Tsega Zabo, traveled to Lisbon and Bologna in 1527 as representative of Emperor Dawit II (1508–1540) to King João III (1521–1557). While in Lisbon he drafted a confession of faith that Portuguese humanist Damião de Góis (1502–1574) printed in 1540 as Fides religio moresque Aethiopum sub imperio Preciosi Ioannis degentium. The facts of Tsega Ze’ab’s upbringing remain unknown: when the 1520s Portuguese mission to Ethiopia led by Don Rodrigo de Lima (1500–?) reached Emperor Dawit II’s court, Tsega was already a distinguished cleric helping in the writing and translating of the emperor’s letters to João III, and he was later selected to represent Ethiopia at his court. To this purpose he joined the Portuguese party on its way back to Lisbon, which he reached in 1527 Traveling in the company of the mission s chaplain Francisco Álvares 1465 c ...