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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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

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

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 ...

Article

Elizabeth Heath

Muhammad Bello was born in Gobir, in what is now Niger. He helped his father, Usuman dan Fodio, overthrow the Hausa states and build the powerful Sokoto Caliphate, which ruled over the northern half of present-day Nigeria. In the early nineteenth century Bello’s father, a Fulani Muslim religious leader, called on the rulers of the Hausa states to abandon their corrupt ways. He organized a popular movement among the Fulani and among Hausa peasants and merchants, advocating a purer form of Islam and the application of the Shari’a, or Islamic law. Usuman first tried peaceful means, but his peaceful movement only provoked repression from the Hausa rulers. In 1804 Usuman and his followers called for a jihad, or holy war, to overthrow resistant rulers. Among those who led the military campaign was Usuman’s 23-year-old son, Muhammad Bello A capable military leader and administrator Bello was crucial ...

Article

Sterling Recker

Rwandan Hutu politician and military leader, was born in Byumba Prefecture, Gizungu Commune, Rwanda. He is considered by many to be one of the key actors in the planning and implementation of the Rwandan genocide in 1994, and is one of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda’s (ICTR) most wanted perpetrators of the genocide. He has been accused of genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, complicity in genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, crimes against humanity including murder, extermination, rape, persecution, and “serious violations of Common Article 3 and Additional Protocol II (killing, outrages upon personal dignity)” (The Hague).

Between 1990 and 1994 Bizimana was allegedly involved in the planning of the genocide, including the preparation of lists which contained the names of Tutsi and moderate Hutu. Bizimana initiated his plans for Rwanda when he was appointed Defense Minister in July 1993 As Defense Minister Bizimana had ...

Article

Marixa Lasso

known as “the Liberator,” in Venezuela, Colombia, and elsewhere in Latin America, was born on 24 July 1783 in Caracas, Venezuela. He was the son of doña María de la Concepción Palacios y Blanco and don Juan Vicente Bolívar y Ponte. Both parents died while he was a young boy, and he was raised by an uncle. His mother was descended from a family in the Canary Islands, and his father was of Basque descent. The Bolívar family had been in the Americas for seven generations and was a prominent and wealthy family of slave and plantations owners. This wealth and status gave Bolívar access to the best education available, as well as the opportunity to spend part of his formative years in Europe.

Bolívar first traveled to Europe when he was 15 years old. He returned again as a young widower, in 1803 During his second trip he ...

Article

Simón Bolívar was born to a family of wealthy cacao plantation landholders who owned many slaves. Educated by private tutors in Caracas and Spain, Bolívar was profoundly influenced by the thinkers of the European Enlightenment, in particular the liberal ideas of French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, as well as by the American Revolution (1775–1783), and the French Revolution (1789–1799).

With the news of Napoleon Bonaparte's invasion of Spain in 1808, and the consequent political weakness of the Spanish rulers in Madrid, Bolívar and other elite criollos (Creoles, people of European descent born in the Americas) started to organize local juntas (councils) in order to replace the colonial government. In 1810, with Commander Francisco de Miranda he led a revolt against the Spanish forces in Venezuela Some historians say that Miranda and Bolívar wanted to take power from the European colonizers ...

Article

Bill Nasson

farmer, general, and first prime minister of the Union of South Africa, was born on 27 September 1862 near Greytown in the British colony of Natal. His paternal grandfather, Philip Rudolph Boot (or Both), was of German settler descent and had participated in the 1830s Boer Great Trek into the interior. The son of migrant trekkers Louis Botha and Salomina van Rooyen, Louis was the ninth of thirteen children. In 1869, the Botha family left Natal and settled on a farm near Vrede in the Orange Free State, where Louis lived until the age of twenty-two. Earlier, he had been schooled at a local German mission where he received only a very basic education.

Botha’s minimal formal learning proved to be no handicap to the development of his exceptional aptitude for fieldcraft and understanding of the working of the highveld terrain. In 1886 he settled on his ...

Article

Richard A. Bradshaw

military officer and President of the Central African Republic (CAR), was born François Bozizé Yangouvonda in Mouila, Gabon, on 14 October 1946. His father, Yangouvonda, a Baya (Gbeya) from Ouham region, served in the French colonial army and the colonial gendarmerie (police forces) in Gabon and then Bossangoa, near his hometown. Bozizé attended primary school at Tchibanga (Gabon) and continued his studies at Bossangoa and the Lycée Technique in Bangui. Joining the Central African army some time around 1966, he entered the École Speciale de Formation des Officiers d’Active (ESFOA) at Bouar in 1967, graduating as a second lieutenant in September 1969. After attending the Centre National des Commandos at Mont-Louis, France (1970–1971), Bozizé was promoted to first lieutenant (1 September 1970), and after officer training at the École d’Application de l’Artillerie at Chalons (1973–1974 and the Centre Interarmées des Sports at Fontainebleau ...

Article

Émile Mworoha

president of Burundi, was born on 24 November 1949 in Rutovu, in the province of Bururi. He was the son of Rurikumunwa, a Tutsi-Hima from the Batyaba clan, and his second wife, Nzikobanyanka. After primary school (1958–1963), Buyoya attended the École Moyenne Pédagogique in Rutovu until 1967. He then left for Belgium to follow a program of military studies, first at the École Royale des Cadets, then at the École Royale Militaire in Brussels. He simultaneously did university studies in the social sciences and defended a thesis on the organization of the Algerian National Liberation Front. Having specialized in the armored cavalry in Belgium, he completed his military studies in France at the École d’État-Major (General Staff College; August 1976–January 1977) and in the Federal Republic of Germany at the Führungsakademie der Bundeswehr (German Armed Forces Command and Staff College, 1980–1982). Beginning in 1982 he ...

Article

Eric Young

Never content to be merely a soldier, Pierre Buyoya has twice seized political power, pledging both times to bring peace and democracy to Burundi. Born into a modest Hima Tutsi family in the southern Buriri province, Buyoya received his primary education locally. He then went to Belgium for secondary school, university, and, later, military training. After returning briefly to Burundi in 1975 to command an armored squadron, he received further military training in France, and then joined Burundi’s ruling UPRONA party. He was elected to its central committee in 1979. In the mid-1980s Buyoya began openly criticizing President Jean-Baptiste Bagaza, a former soldier and fellow Tutsi from Buriri, for his hostility toward the Catholic Church. In September 1987, Buyoya led a coup against Bagaza, charging him with corruption, failed economic policy, and constitutional violations.

Upon assuming the presidency Buyoya suspended the constitution released political prisoners and ...

Article

Jonathan P. Roth

Roman military leader and politician, was born in Tusculum, a town southwest of Rome, to a wealthy landowning family. Some of his ancestors had distinguished themselves in military service, but none had ever held office in Rome or been members of the Senate. Cato’s father died when he was still a child, and he grew up on a farm he had inherited. One of his neighbors, Lucius Valerius Flaccus, belonged to a powerful Senatorial clan; he and Cato shared the idea that Rome’s traditional values were being undermined by the more sophisticated Hellenistic culture. Although both were about the same age, Flaccus became Cato’s patron, supporting him financially and politically.

Cato was seventeen when Hannibal invaded Italy in 218 BCE and like virtually every Roman male of his age he went to war Given his social class Cato probably served either in the legionary cavalry or as the commander of ...

Article

French military officer, colonial administrator, and governor-general, was born in Annonay, France, on 29 March 1860. Clozel completed his military service in Algeria and entered the colonial service there in 1885. He spent virtually his entire career in Africa. He had earned a degree in Arabic language from the École des Langues Orientales (School of Oriental Languages) in Paris before pursuing further studies in Islamic culture at the Faculté des Lettres in Algiers. In 1892 he joined an exploration group to Chad and the Congo. In 1894–1895 he led his own expedition to the north of Congo. He met Louis-Gustave Binger, the first governor of the Ivory Coast (1893–1895), upon his return to France.

In 1896 he was posted to the Ivory Coast as a young colonial officer and assigned to the Anyi Ndenye region where he was attacked and wounded by Anyi warriors Unlike his successor ...