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Hilary Jones

missionary, parish priest, and religious educator, was born in Senegal on 16 April 1814, the same day that Napoleon Bonaparte left France for exile on the Island of Elba. Two years later Britain ended its occupation of Senegal and returned the fortified island territories of Gorée and Saint-Louis to France. The island of Saint-Louis du Sénégal, founded by France in 1659 as a strategic site in the period of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, gained a reputation as a cosmopolitan Atlantic port city shaped by patterns of intermarriage between African women (Signares) and European administrators, merchants, and soldiers. The son of Marie Monté, a “free mulâtresse,” and Pierre Boilat, member of the merchant marines, David Boilat came from the small but growing class of mixed race inhabitants who closely identified with the Catholic Church and sought the privileges of French education despite their relative isolation from French culture.

In 1816 ...

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

Michele Valerie Ronnick

professor of ancient Greek, philologist, ordained Methodist minister in the Colored Methodist Episcopal (CME) Church, and missionary to the Congo, was born in Hephzibah, Georgia, not far from Augusta, to Gabriel and Sarah Gilbert. His parents were field hands, and scholars are not certain whether John was born free or enslaved. Some sources give his birth date as 6 July 1864. As a child he was eager to learn, but he had to mix long hours of farm work with brief periods of school. At last overwhelmed by poverty he was forced to withdraw from the Baptist Seminary in Augusta. After a three-year hiatus from schooling he resumed his work when Dr. George Williams Walker, a Methodist pastor who had come to Augusta to teach in 1884, and Warren A. Candler pastor of Augusta s St John Church offered him assistance With the help ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

historian and religious leader, was born on 24 June 1846. His father, Henry, was a member of the Saro community, a large group of people who had been liberated from slave ships by the British Navy and then resettled in the British coastal colony of Sierra Leone. Like many other Saro individuals, Johnson’s father originally came from a Yoruba-speaking community in southwest Nigeria. Henry Johnson came from a royal pedigree, as he was the grandson of Alaafin Abiodun, king of the Oyo Empire in the late eighteenth century. Johnson married a Saro woman named Sarah, and their son Samuel was born in the Hastings village near Freetown. Samuel was the third of four children.

By the 1850s, many Saro chose to return to their home regions, and the Johnson family followed this trend by moving to back to Yorubaland in December 1857 There Henry Johnson became an assistant ...

Article

Tunde Oduntan

Samuel Johnson (1846–1901) embodied the diversity of thought that struggled to define Africa’s identity and future during the nineteenth century. In a career spanning more than thirty years as a missionary, clergyman, and political agent between the British colony of Lagos and Yoruba states, Johnson negotiated contending intellectual terrains to produce the first and the best-known study published on Nigerian history. His History of the Yorubas from the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the British Protectorate is at once historical narrative, cultural exposition, and imaginative repudiation of racialist depictions of Africa. In this work and in his journals and correspondence, Johnson articulated a world view that situates Africa as an important and proud part of human civilization and the Yoruba as a distinct cultural identity.

His background highlights the dilemma that early generations of Western educated African intellectuals confronted and which shaped the intellectual currents of the ...

Article

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 ...

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 ...

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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

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

Jeff Opland

Xhosa missionary and historian, the second son of Tiyo and Janet Burnside Soga, was born at Mgwali, a mission station founded by his father, a United Presbyterian Church minister. He was named after one of his father’s benefactors in Scotland, as was his elder brother. Crippled by infantile paralysis, the young child was taken to Scotland by his mother in September 1863, but medical treatment proved unsuccessful, and they returned in 1864: Soga remained lame all his life. In 1868 he moved with his family to Thuthura, his father’s new mission station. In 1870 the ten-year-old accompanied his two brothers, William Anderson (then aged twelve) and Allan Kirkland (then aged eight) to Scotland to complete their schooling. He attended school in Glasgow from 1870 to 1873 and at the Dollar Academy until 1877 after a period in South Africa he returned to Scotland to study land surveying at ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

minister and missionary supervisor of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, historian, founder of the Harriet Tubman Memorial Library, advocate for legal and sentencing reform, particularly concerning abuse of mandatory minimum sentencing, was born in Mocksville, Davie County North Carolina, the daughter of John Hairston and Ida D. Brown Goolsby.

Lula Mae Goolsby grew up in the Cedar Grove Baptist Church in Mocksville and graduated from Davie High School. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in English from Bennett College in Greensboro, with a minor in Library Science, and taught school in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district. In 1961 she spent two weeks at the predominantly white Mt. Holyoke College in Massachusetts, as part of an exchange of students with Bennett, which was historically black. She married Rev. Milton A. Williams, a minister of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AME Zion) church 8 June 1963 as he finished his graduate study ...