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David L. Weeks

military leader, enslaved and later repatriated to Africa, was born in Timbuktu, the son of Ibrahima Sori (d. c.1788), a West African Fulbe king (also called Fulah, Fulani, Peuls), and one of his four wives. ʿAbd al-Rahman's grandfather, a Moor (a North African Muslim), had been king of Timbuktu.

As the son of an almami (Muslim theocratic ruler), ʿAbd al-Rahman was surrounded by wealth and power. He was raised in Futa Jallon, the lush highlands of modern Guinea, in the city of Timbo. After learning to read, write, and recite the Qur’an, Ibrahima went to Jenne and Timbuktu to study with Islamic clerics. At age seventeen, he joined his father's army. His military prowess soon resulted in significant leadership positions. In 1786 Ibrahima married and had a son (al-Husayn).

Fulbe tribesmen traded with Europeans along the African coast 150 miles 240 kilometers away Taking wares ...

Article

Allan D. Austin

a military leader in Africa, a slave in Mississippi, was born into the rising Bari family of the Fulbe people in the fabled but real African city of Timbuktu. His name is sometimes written as Abdul Rahahman and Abder Rahman. The Fulbe people were prominent leaders in West African jihads from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries and, though enslaved, the most persistent adherents to Islam in the Americas. Abd al-Rahman's father and family had moved south to territory soon to be called Futa Jallon in the highlands of present-day Guinea after he and non-Muslim allies wrested power from their animist opposition between 1776 and 1778. Well into the twentieth century the military Bari-Soriya and religious Karamoko Alfiya families, usually peacefully, traded rule over their people and lands.

For about a century Futa Jallon was the strongest nation in the area. In its capital Timbo, Abd al-Rahman ...

Article

A. K. Bennison

Moroccan ruler, was one of the sons of Muhammad al-Shaykh of the Saʿdi or Saadian dynasty, which ruled a region roughly coterminous with modern Morocco from 1525 until c. 1610. He was born Abu Marwan Abd al-Malik to a woman called Sahaba al-Rahmaniyya who accompanied her son on his later travels through the Mediterranean. The Saʿdi dynasty came to power at an important historical juncture. During the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, Portugal had constructed numerous trading enclaves (feitorias along Morocco s Atlantic seaboard and imposed its control on much of the Gharb plain In the last decades of the fifteenth century Spain had finally conquered Muslim Granada and established a series of footholds on the Mediterranean coast of Africa At the same time both countries had established vast overseas empires At the other end of the Mediterranean the Ottomans acted as a Muslim counterbalance conquering the ...

Article

Rob Garrison

Isidro Acea was greatly respected for his bravery and unceremonious nature. Described as a very outspoken man and a charismatic leader, his personal qualities enabled him to gain a position as colonel in the Liberation Army under General Máximo Gómez and Antonio Maceo y Grajales.

Acea lived during a period of Cuban history when the society was highly politicized around the issue of race, particularly after the War of Independence (1895–1898 Afro Cubans were frustrated by the Cuban administration United States military occupation and Spanish migration all of which exacerbated social inequity for people of African descent in the nation Acea like some other Afro Cuban veterans attempted to connect with the community and gain support by entering the political arena on a pro black platform in the early 1900s The platform lacked patronage particularly because of U S imposed restrictions on male suffrage that required literacy ...

Article

Jasper Ayelazuno

army officer and military head of state of Ghana, was born in Trabuom in the present-day Ashanti Region of southern Ghana and then part of Britain’s Gold Coast colony. He was the son of James Kwadwo Kutu Acheampong and Akua Manu. Raised as a Roman Catholic, he attended Trabuom Elementary School and St. Peter’s Catholic School in Kumasi, before receiving his secondary education at the Central College of Commerce at Swedru in the Central Region of Ghana. Having obtained his West Africa Secondary School General Certificate of Education at the ordinary level (popularly known as GCE O level) and a diploma in commerce, he worked in various places and positions. From 1945 to 1951, he was a stenographer/secretary at the Timber Sawmill in Kumasi, a teacher at Kumasi Commercial College, and the vice principal at Agona-Swedru College of Commerce.

Acheampong subsequently enlisted as a private soldier in the British ...

Article

Haggai Erlich

North African political and military leader, was probably born in 1506 in the area between Harar and the Ogaden. Ahmad ibn Ibrahim married the daughter of Imam Mahfuz, the governor of Zeyla, who collaborated with Islamic scholars from Arabia against his master, the Sultan of Adal. Ahmad bin Ibrahim was similarly inspired by the renewed Islamic spirit and when he gained control of Harar in 1525, he refrained from adopting a political title and used only the religious designation of imam. His followers and his chronicler later called him Sahib al-fath (the lord of the conquest) or al-Ghazi (the holy warrior), for it was his conquest of Ethiopia, between 1529 and 1543, that made him so significant. In Ethiopian history, he is known as Ahmad Gragn, the left-handed.

The first half of the sixteenth century was marked by the weakening of the Solomonian dynasty s rule in Ethiopia ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

military leader and politician, was born on 21 March 1937 in the eastern Ghanaian town of Akropong. He attended secondary school at the well-known Presbyterian Boys’ Secondary School located in Odumase Krobo, Ghana. After finishing his secondary education in 1955, he joined the Ghanaian army. Eventually he entered the elite Royal Military Academy officers’ training school in Sandhurst, England, in 1958. Some of his fellow African cadets went on to organize the 1966 coup that overthrew the Nigerian First Republic. After graduating from Sandhurst in 1960 and receiving further military training in England in 1961 and 1967, Akuffo became the head officer of Ghana’s Airborne Training School at Tamale, in 1965 and 1966, and then became the commander of the Sixth Infantry Battalion in 1969. He supported the coup led by his fellow officer General Ignatius Acheampong in 1972 In the following year Akuffo ...

Article

Yoshiko Kurita

Sudanese political leader and ex-army officer, was born in 1896 (or 1892 or 1894) in Wadi Halfa, a border town between Egypt and Sudan. Both his father, ʿAbd al-Latif Ahmad (who is said to have been from the Nuba Mountains) and his mother, Sabr (who was of Dinka origin, the largest ethnic group in the South Sudan), were people from the marginalized areas in Sudan, who, as a result of the slave raids in the nineteenth century, had been uprooted from their original homes. Both had stayed for a while in al-Khandaq, a town in north Sudan, but in the course of social upheaval caused by the Mahdist movement (1881–1898 found their way to Egypt At the time of ʿAli s birth his father was serving in the Egyptian army which at that time included many Sudanese soldiers of ex slave origin On the occasion of the conquest ...

Article

Haggai Erlich

Ethiopian military leader, is considered by many in Ethiopia as the country’s national hero and “Africa’s greatest general” of the last quarter of the nineteenth century, an era during which he was a pivotal figure in Ethiopia’s internal and external affairs. This was a period of formative significance, during which the Ethiopian empire managed to stem Western imperialism, defeat Islamic neighbors, and double its territory. Ethiopia’s victories at that time ensured her unique independence, but also solidified her traditional institutions, which remained almost unchallenged until the final decades of the twentieth century. He is better known as Ras Alula. Ras was the highest rank in Ethiopia of the time, similar to duke in medieval Europe. Another form of his name is Alula Engeda.

Alula was born into a peasant family in Tigray but was talented and ambitious enough to climb the ladder of local administrative and military service In November ...

Article

Haggai Erlich

Ethiopian military leader, was born in the village of Tsazegga, some fifteen miles north of Asmara, the capital of Eritrea, an Italian colony at that time (1890–1941). Prior to the establishment of Asmara by Ethiopian general Ras Alula Engida in 1885, Tsazegga had for centuries been the headquarters of a local Christian family that succeeded in maintaining its autonomy. Educated in Khartoum, Aman returned to Ethiopia in 1941 with the British forces who defeated Mussolini’s African empire and restored Emperor Haile Selassie to the throne. He proceeded to distinguish himself in a brilliant military career, commanding Ethiopian UN contingents in Korea and Congo. In the Ogaden battles against the Somalis in the early 1960s, General Aman willfully ignored Haile Selassie’s orders by penetrating Somali territory. He was consequently “exiled” to the Senate in 1965 as was the practice with overly independent political figures Aman continued to ...

Article

Nelson Kasfir

military officer and President of Uganda from 1971 to 1979, was probably born in Koboko district near the Sudanese border in northwestern Uganda. Few facts about his parents, his birth date, or his upbringing can be confirmed. His mother, who was Lugbara and originally Christian, separated from his father—who was Kakwa, Muslim, and possibly a convert from Christianity—shortly after his birth and raised Amin in southern Uganda.

As a Muslim belonging to both the Kakwa and the Nubian ethnic communities, Amin received little formal education and had halting command of several languages, including Swahili and English. He practiced polygamy and married at least six women: Malyamu Kibedi and Kay Adroa (both Christians prior to marriage) in late 1966 and Nora (her full name cannot be confirmed), a Langi, in 1967. He divorced all three, according to a Radio Uganda announcement on 26 March 1974 He married Nalongo ...

Article

Richard Roberts

French general and architect of military conquest and the early colonial state in the French Sudan, was born in Le Havre, France on 11 February 1850. His father, also Louis Archinard, was born into a Protestant peasant family and moved to Le Havre, where he taught in a Protestant school. His mother, Sophie (née Cattelain), grew up in an artisanal family and also moved to Le Havre, where she too taught school. Le Havre benefited from the expanding Atlantic commerce, including the slave trade. In 1850, it was a major French port with deep connections with the colonial world, feeding the textile manufacturing sector in Normandy with imported raw materials, and exporting finished goods.

Archinard was admitted in 1868 into the École Polytechnique in Palaiseau near Paris which trained students to become civil or military engineers The school stressed science in the service of the state Although ...

Article

Stephen Cory

North African military leader, was born to a Muslim family on the Greek island of Mytilene. Baba ʿAruj, along with his younger brothers, Khayr al-Din and Ishaq, launched a successful corsair enterprise along the coast of North Africa in the early sixteenth century. Battling mostly against Spanish expansionism in the Maghreb, the brothers (generally known as the Barbarossas) conquered several strongholds along the coast, the most important of which was the city of Algiers. Their efforts directly led to the establishment of Ottoman authority in the North African provinces of Algiers and Tunis.

In the first decade of the sixteenth century the situation appeared grim for Maghrebi Muslims The Spanish had recently completed their conquest of the Iberian Peninsula had expelled the Jews and had also forced the remaining Muslims in Iberia to convert to Christianity Their holdings in the New World were beginning to produce the wealth that would ...

Article

Kurt J. Werthmuller

commander of the Fatimid armies in Egypt and Syria, was the first in a sixty-year era of Muslim viziers and military rulers of Armenian origin, a position he assumed following his restoration of order in the Fatimid lands after a period of political and social turmoil. Nothing is known about his birth or childhood, save the patronymic Ibn (son of) ʿAbdallah, which is sometimes included in his full name and title. He was father to at least two sons: al-Awhad, whom he likely executed after a brief rebellion, and al-Afdal, who succeeded him as military vizier. The earliest references to Badr’s life begin as an adolescent Mamluk (slave-soldier) in the service of a Fatimid governor of Aleppo around 1020 This official ʿAziz al Dawla had apparently begun recruiting Mamluks into his military from among those Anatolian communities that retained a sense of their Armenian identity but had in fact ...

Article

Sterling Recker

Rwandan military officer, was born into a northern middle-class Hutu family in Gisenyi, Giciye Commune. He was the oldest of six children and the son of a teacher. He attended the Petit Séminaire (minor seminary) St. Pie X in the diocese of Nyundo for his primary education. Upon graduating from the minor seminary, Bagosora began his military training at the officers’ training school in Kigali in 1962. In 1981 Bagosora traveled to France to attend the Études Militaires Supérieures de l École de Guerre Française where he received further training at the elite school He was the first Rwandan to attend the foreign academy Upon his return to Rwanda he began his tenure as commander of the Kanombe military camp located outside of Kigali He married Isabelle Uzanyinzoga a Hutu from southern Rwanda which caused friction between Juvénal Habyarimana and other hard line northern Hutus in the government ...

Article

Quintín Banderas's parents were free but poor. To help support his family, Banderas began to work in the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba as a bricklayer at the age of eleven. Dissatisfied with the profession, he left home when he was thirteen years old and enlisted as a sailor on a Spanish merchant ship. After he was in Spain for a few months, his mother filed a petition before the merchant for his return because he was a minor. Banderas was returned to Santiago and went back to working as a bricklayer.

During the Ten Years' War (1868–1878), Cuba's first major war of independence, Banderas joined the revolutionary army led by the black military leaders Máximo Gómez and Antonio Maceo and the white Creole Carlos Manuel Céspedes. Due to his bravery and military achievements, Banderas soon attained the military rank of lieutenant colonel. In 1879 ...

Article

Richard A. Bradshaw and Juan Fandos-Rius

military officer and government minister in the Central African Republic (CAR), born on 10 October 1923 at Carnot in what was then the Middle Congo but became part of Ubangi-Shari and eventually the CAR. His parents were Gbaya, the ethnic identity of most inhabitants of the Upper Sangha region where he was raised. After primary school in Upper Sangha, he studied at École préparatoire militaire Général Leclerc (Leclerc military academy) in 1946 at Brazzaville, Middle Congo, then trained to become a tank mechanic. He also qualified as a howitzer operator and, in 1950, as an assistant physical education and sports instructor. From 1951 to 1956, Banza served in the 1st Battalion of Gabon-Congo Riflemen, then as a noncommissioned officer in Morocco and Tunisia before attending the École de formation des officiers ressortisants des territoires d’outre-mer (school for training officers for service overseas) in Fréjus and Fontainebleau, France.

By ...

Article

Known as “the Black Caballero” for the leading role he played in the Viceroyalty of la Plata's war of independence from Spain. Barcala was named colonel for his leadership. Born a slave in Mendoza, Argentina, Barcala was freed in 1813.

See also Uruguay.

Article

Santiago Basora served as a captain in the African Battalion during the Haitian occupation of Santo Domingo (present-day Dominican Republic), which lasted from 1822 to 1844. He was put in charge of a regiment at Pajarito Fort (in present-day Villa Duarte). Initially, Haiti's abolition of slavery in Santo Domingo won the support of the Afro-Dominican majority and the enmity of its elite. In time, however, broader opposition to occupation coalesced, in part due to the imposition of high taxes and its disruption of traditional patterns of land tenure.

In February 1844, when the Santo Domingo independentistas, led by Juan Pablo Duarte and the group of conspirators known as La Trinitaria, declared independence from Haiti, the black and mulatto population grew concerned, given the pro-Spanish sentiments of many elite members in the ranks of the independence forces. Spain still enslaved Africans in its colonies of Cuba ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

political, military, and religious leader and first Caliph of the Sokoto Caliphate, was born in the town of Morona, now located in Niger, in 1780 or 1781. His father was the revolutionary Islamic cleric and leader Uthman Dan Fodio (1754–1817), and his mother was Hawwa bint Adam ibn Muhammad Agh. Bello received an advanced education in Islamic theology and law thanks to his father, and supported his father’s call for a strict adherence to orthodox Sunni interpretations of Islamic practices. Bello praised his father as a loving parent: “His face was relaxed and his manner gentle. He never tired of explaining and never became impatient if anyone failed to understand” (Boyd, 1989).

When Uthman Dan Fodio launched a series of holy wars against the nominally Islamic sultans of Hausa cities such as Kano in northern Nigeria and southern Niger Bello became an active lieutenant of his father ...