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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

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

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

David Owusu-Ansah

Asante royal servant and military leader, led expeditions in Gyaaman in 1817–1818 and against the Danes and their local allies in the Accra Plains (in present-day Ghana) in 1826.

Opoku Frefre was born at the village of Anyatiase that belonged to the Oyoko Abohyen Stool of Kumasi. There is no information about Opoku Frefre’s father, but his mother is identified as one Ama Nyaako Pakyi. In the Asante Collective Biographical Project (1979 the historians Ivor Wilks and Thomas McCaskie identified Opoku Frefre s three wives as Abena Twewaa of Kumasi Apirade Abena Aninwaa of Kumasi Apentansa and Ama Nifa of Adwoko Buoho By these marriages Opoku Frefre fathered sixty three sons and an unknown number of daughters one of whom was said to have become a favorite wife of Asantehene Osei Tutu Kwame d 1823 Opoku Frefre served the Golden Stool of Asante in both civil and ...

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Hamidou  

Stephen Cory

North African corsair and commander of the Algerian fleet during the era of the Napoleonic Wars, was noteworthy for temporarily restoring the waning prosperity and influence of the Algerine corsairs. However, his exploits represented the last great achievements of this feared group. He was eventually killed in 1815 during a surprise attack by a squadron led by the American captain Stephen Decatur. Fifteen years later, Algeria itself would fall to French conquest, bringing the great era of the so-called Barbary corsairs to a sudden end.

From the sixteenth century the Ottoman regencies of Algiers Tunis and Tripoli along with the short lived Moroccan city state of Salé operated corsair enterprises as part of the holy war against the Europeans The corsair ships originally functioned independently under the leadership of commanders like Uruj and Khayr al Din Barbarossa in Algiers and Tunis and Muhammad al Ayyashi in Rabat Salé Their crews ...

Article

Leyla Keough

Whether bought by Russians at the slave markets of Constantinople, or by the tsar himself in the Netherlands, scholars agree that Abram, who was born in Eritrea and asserted that he was the son of an Ethiopian prince, entered Russia in 1700 and began his service with the Royal Court in 1705. Within two years Abram, who later adopted the surname Hannibal, had won the favor of Tsar Peter I, known as Peter the Great, who became his godfather when he joined the Russian Orthodox Church. The newly baptized Abram Petrov served as the tsar's personal valet both in Russia and away from it during his military campaigns.

After nine years in service to the court, the tsar sent Hannibal to Paris for further education. In 1718 he joined the French army to gain access to the best military engineering program and during his service he was ...

Article

Stephen Cory

a Spanish-born general, who led an army of approximately four thousand men, mostly renegades and mercenaries, across the Sahara desert from Marrakesh to the Niger River to conquer the West African Songhay Empire during the last decade of the sixteenth century. Commissioned by the Moroccan sultan Ahmad al-Mansur al-Dhahabi, Judar was instructed to obtain Songhay submission to the caliphate of al-Mansur and to take control of the gold trade that passed through Songhay lands en route to the Mediterranean. Judar’s army conquered the main Songhay cities, and he sent a sizeable gift to al-Mansur following the conquest in 1591. Still, Judar was relieved of his position in 1592 because al-Mansur was unhappy that the Songhay ruler remained in power. Judar stayed in West Africa to assist the new commander, Mahmoud Zarqun, returning to Marrakesh in 1599, where he died five years later.

Very little is known about Judar ...

Article

Rafael C. Gómez

Maroon leader of Hispaniola—today’s Dominican Republic and Haiti. Some scholars believe that Lemba was born in Africa in the Central African and Congo region, because the name Lemba is associated with an affliction cult (i.e., a cult concerned with healing rituals) practiced in West and Central Africa (Janzen, 1982; Landers, 2000 The Lemba cult was also known in the Congo for enforcing its notions of justice especially through tribal warfare But the name Lemba may be found in almost all parts of Africa and is also associated for example with tribes that inhabited the east coast of Africa Members of the Lemba cult are known to be among the tribal elite engaged in medicine and warfare working as judges and traders Sixteenth century chroniclers such as Juan Castellanos described Lemba as a resourceful and courageous warrior which corresponds to similar characterizations of elite members of the Lemba ...

Article

Werner Stangl

escaped slave of Mandingo origin and military leader of Fort Mose, Spanish Florida, was probably born in the Gambia Region (West Africa) around 1700. Having lived in Carolina as a chattel slave, Francisco fled and participated in the Yamasee War of 1715–1717, a conflict between the Yamasee, along with other Indian tribes, and the English. During the conflict, he fled with Indian warriors and other escaped slaves, including his wife, Ana María de Escobar, to St. Augustine, the capital of Spanish Florida. Thus, despite the lack of concrete information on his early life, we can assume that by 1717 he must have been at least a youth in his late teens. A census of 1759 gives his age as 55 (Landers, 1999) or 45 (Landers, 2013 Considering his participation in the Yamasee War even the higher number seems to be a rather low estimate ...