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Lidwien Kapteijns

Somali novelist, short story writer, critic, journalist, and founder of cultural and literary journals and institutions, was born in Jarriiban, Mudug region, Somalia, in 1952. His name is also given as Mohamed Dahir Afrah and Maxamed Daahir Afrax. He graduated from high school in Mogadishu in 1973. When the Siad Barre government introduced the first official orthography for the Somali language in 1972, Afrax founded the first bilingual Somali-Arabic monthly magazine using the new script, Codka Jubba (“The Voice of Jubba,” 1972–1975). In 1976, Afrax’s story “Guur-ku-sheeg” (“Pseudo-marriage”) was serialized in the Somali national newspaper Xiddigta Oktoobar (“The October Star”), laying the basis for a lasting literary tradition of serialized fiction.

In this same serialized form he also first published his popular novel Maanafaay, the story of the girl Maanafaay, who, in the Mogadishu of the 1970s, strives to be modern and modest ...

Article

Jessica Falconi

Angolan essayist, poet, and militant anticolonialist, was born in Golungo Alto, Kwanza-Norte province, Angola. The son of José Cristino Pinto de Andrade, one of the founders of the African National League (Liga Nacional Africana), and Ana Rodrigues Coelho, he came to be known as a “Citizen of Africa.” At two years of age, he moved with his family to Luanda, where he completed his primary and secondary school studies. The proto-nationalist ideas of his father, the growing urbanization of Luanda, and the heterogeneous racial and social atmosphere of the Luanda Catholic seminary constituted the primary elements that marked the formation of his personality.

In 1948 he traveled to Lisbon, where he began a course in classics in the Department of Letters and frequented the Casa dos Estudantes do Império (House of Students of the Empire), an institution created in 1944 to support students from the colonies which quickly was ...

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R. Conrad Barrett

Numidian author and orator was born a citizen of Rome in c 125 CE in the town of Madauros in the province of Africa an area that had become Roman territory in 146 BCE His home town was 140 miles 225 kilo meters southwest of ancient Carthage the site of the modern city of Tunis Perhaps as a child Apuleius learned first the native Berber dialect certainly he heard Greek in his home and outside it as well as the language of all government Latin This language became Apuleius s major one he had it seems a solid but not equal facility in Greek After schooling in Carthage the major city of the province Apuleius traveled to Athens Greece for further study where he studied rhetoric and philosophy to learn more especially about the thought of Plato He then went to Rome for more education in rhetoric all of it ...

Article

Hédi Abdel-Jaouad

Tunisian poet, critic, and essayist, was born in Majel Bel Abbès, near Kassérine, Tunisia, where his father was employed with the railway system. His family originates from Gabes, in southeast Tunisia. Bekri’s mother died when he was ten years old, which affected both his personal and literary journeys. He attended the Lycée of Sfax, where he was active in various literary and artistic circles. At the age of eighteen he published his first poems, in the school’s literary journal. He then attended the University of Tunis, where he majored in French literature. During the turbulent years following May 1967, the university was a hotbed of political activism. Bekri was arrested for his political opinions in 1972 and was sentenced and jailed in 1975. Upon his release in 1976 he left for France and has since resided in Paris where he was granted political asylum Bekri completed a ...

Article

Born Alexandre Biyidi-Awala in Mbalmayo, a town near Yaoundé, he adopted the pen name Eza Bota with his first work and thereafter used the pseudonym Mongo Beti. Educated in Catholic mission schools and then at a French lycée in Yaoundé, Cameroon, Beti went to France in 1951 to study literature at the University of Aix-en-Provence. He published his first novel, Ville cruelle, in 1954. This work introduces the major themes of his early writing: the social disorientation caused by colonialism, and the African’s revolt against traditional village life, especially its patriarchy.

With his second novel, Le pauvre Christ de Bomba (1956; The Poor Christ of Bomba, 1971 Beti established himself as an important Francophone French language writer The novel was banned in Cameroon however because it presumes a complicity between missionaries and the government in maintaining colonialism Written in the form of ...

Article

Craig MacKenzie

journalist, novelist, short story writer, and essayist, is one of South Africa’s most enduringly popular writers. He is chiefly remembered for his storyteller figure Oom Schalk Lourens, a backwoods sage who, pipe in hand and a trick or two up his sleeve, beguilingly narrates some of the funniest and yet most moving stories in the entire canon of South African literature.

Born in Kuils River near Cape Town, Bosman spent most of his life in the Transvaal. He was educated at Jeppe High School for Boys, the University of the Witwatersrand, and Normal College, where he qualified as a teacher. In January 1926 the fateful decision was taken by the Transvaal Education Department to dispatch him as a novice teacher to the tiny farm school of Heimweeberg in the Dwarsberg area of the Marico district The next six months in the young man s life were to prove momentous ...

Article

Doris Ruhe Uni

Algerian writer, was born in Aïn Beida (Eastern Algeria) on 5 September 1941 into a middle-class family. After attending Qurʾanic school and French primary school, he was sent by his father to Tunis, since an education that included Arabic and Arab culture was not possible in French-colonized Algeria. While at the elite Lycée Saddiki in Tunis between 1952 and 1959, Boudjedra came into contact with the essentials of Arab, ancient Greek, Latin, and French culture. He traveled to Spain in 1959, where he became involved in the Algerian War of Independence as a representative of the Front de Libération Nationale (FLN; National Liberation Front). Following independence in 1962, he returned to Algeria, where he began studying philosophy and mathematics. From 1967 to 1969 he continued his studies at the Sorbonne in Paris where he wrote a thesis on Louis Ferdinand Céline and graduated with a degree ...

Article

Philip Nanton

Britishwriter best known for his books The French Revolution (1837) and Frederick the Great (1858–65). Born in Scotland, and settling permanently in London in 1834, Carlyle was the author of many other works, including essays and articles in periodicals. Among these was his ‘Occasional Discourse on the Negro Question’, originally published in Fraser's Magazine (London) in December 1849, and later rewritten and republished as a pamphlet called Occasional Discourse on the Nigger Question (1853) and in some of the collected editions of the author's Latter‐Day Pamphlets (first published 1850).

In form, the Occasional Discourse is an imaginary report of a speech by a fictional orator and it would be unwise to assume that everything in the speech should be regarded as identical with the personal opinions of Carlyle who may have deliberately exaggerated some elements for effect The speaker ...

Article

Luis Gonçalves

Mozambican writer, journalist, and professor, was born in Marracuene, in the southern province of Maputo. Cassamo is of Indian and African descent. His father’s family descends from an important Muslim family that migrated from India to Mozambique in the nineteenth century and intermarried with black and mestizo women. His mother descends from a local family from the south of Mozambique. Their native language, spoken at home during Cassamo’s upbringing, is Ronga, a language in the Bantu family.

Cassamo received his early schooling in Catholic missions. It was a strict education. He recalls that besides studying, the students were required to complete chores and errands for the teachers. It was at this time, however, that he had his first contact with literature, specifically the Portuguese literature included in his textbooks. He started to write his first poems, which were highly influenced by these readings.

For Cassamo s secondary education his family ...

Article

Paul Breslin

Martinican poet, playwright, essayist, and political leader, was born on 26 June 1913, in Basse Pointe, Martinique. His parents, Fernand and Eléonore Césaire, were of modest means but devoted to their six children’s education. In 1924, Césaire entered the Lycée Schoelcher in Martinique’s capital, Fort-de-France. In 1931 he went to France to study at the Lycée Louis-le-Grand, then, in 1935, at l’École Normale Supérieure. In Paris, Césaire developed friendships with other young black intellectuals and writers, most notably the Senegalese Léopold Sédar Senghor and Léon Damas (1912–1978), a French Guianese who had been his schoolmate at the Lycée Schoelcher. In 1937, he met and married a fellow Martinican student and poet, Suzanne Roussi (1915–1966). The marriage produced six children, one of whom, Ina Césaire (1942– ), became a prominent writer as well.

Césaire and his circle sought a definition of black identity They were influenced by the ...

Article

Victor Figueroa

Patrick Chamoiseau was born in Fort-de-France, Martinique and studied law in Paris before becoming a writer. In novels such as Chronique des sept misères (1986) and Solibo magnifique (1988), Chamoiseau explores the tensions and conflicts that race, class, and language create in Martinique. In his attempt to incorporate elements from oral Creole into his French prose, Chamoiseau has developed a complex rhythmic and lyrical style often filled with ironic humor.

Chamoiseau collaborated with Caribbean writers Raphaël Confiant and Jean Bernabé on the essay éloge de la Creolité (1989; In Praise of Creoleness, bilingual edition, 1993 one of the most influential theoretical pieces produced in the region in recent times This essay is an affirmation of a Creole identity influenced by but also different from the ideas of Martinican writer and cultural theorist édouard Glissant The essay which is also a manifesto proclaims ...

Article

Alexandra Vega-Merino

Jesús Colón was born in 1901 in Cayey, a rural town near San Juan, Puerto Rico. In a 1917 editorial, which expressed a view that remained consistent through much of his professional life, he wrote about the capacity of words to transform society. A few months later he arrived in New York, New York, where he spent the rest of his life. There, he held multiple menial jobs, such as waiting tables and washing dishes. In 1918 he became a founding member of the Puerto Rican Committee of the Socialist Party; in the following decades he became a relentless organizer of other political and cultural groups. One year after his 1922 graduation from Boys High Evening School, he started writing for Justicia, the newspaper of the Puerto Rican Free Federation of Workers. Regular columns in publications such as Gráfico and the Daily Worker followed.

Colón s essays ...

Article

Richard Watts

It would not be inappropriate to refer to Maryse Condé as a “restless soul.” Born the last of eight children, she was raised in Guadeloupe and was sent to boarding school in Paris—partly because of her extreme boredom in local schools—at the age of sixteen. At the Lycée Fénelon in Paris, Condé developed a love of literature that was dormant during her years in Guadeloupe. In Paris she became acquainted with Marxist anticolonial circles, joining the Communist youth movement in the mid-1950s. While attending the Jean Genet play Les Nègres at the end of the decade, she met and fell in love with one of the actors, a Guinean named Mamadou Condé. (She would later say of the man she married in August of 1959 that she fell in love with the character he played in Les Nègres.) They left for Africa in 1960 Condé s husband ...

Article

Richard Watts

Raphaël Confiant was born in Le Lorrain, Martinique. Like many people on the island, Confiant was raised to speak two languages: Creole at home and French in school or at work. Confiant developed an attachment to Creole, the oft-maligned spoken language of his island, and the underclass culture associated with it. With an eye toward gaining acceptance for Creole as a literary language, Confiant wrote his first five novels in this idiom. These works—influenced by authors such as the Haitian Frankétienne (Dézafi; 1975) and the Martinican Gilbert Gratiant (Fab Compè Zicaque; 1958 who were among the first to write in Creole present the diversity of Creole culture in Martinique However these novels lack of popular success resulting in part from a limited Creole reading audience convinced Confiant that his subsequent novels should be published in French But Confiant did not simply give up on ...

Article

Marcos Natalí

João da Cruz, named after a Spanish mystic saint, was born in Desterro (present-day Florianópolis), Santa Catarina, Brazil. Because his mother had been freed by the time of his birth, João da Cruz was born free. His father would be granted his freedom ten years later, when Marshal Guilherme Xavier de Sousa participated in the war against Paraguay (1864–1870). Father and son incorporated the marshal's name—Sousa—into their own.

Guilherme de Sousa sponsored João's early education, and his wife Clarinda took it upon herself to educate the young boy from the age of seven. The marshal died in 1870 and left a house and some money to the Cruz e Sousa family. João attended public school beginning in 1869 and a provincial school from 1871 onward, continuously excelling in languages and the recitation of poetry. In 1877 barely sixteen years old Cruz e Sousa began to teach ...

Article

Charles J. Sugnet

Senegalese novelist, playwright, journalist, and essayist, was born 26 October 1946 in the Medina of Dakar, Senegal. His father, born on Gorée Island in 1906, was an accountant for the colonial government. His mother, Soukeyna Sall, born 1916 at Dagana in northern Senegal, worked as a nurse in Dakar clinics. He did his primary schooling in Dakar and Thiès, and then attended the famous Lycée Van Vollenhoven in Dakar.

At the University of Dakar, he participated in the leftist political movements of 1968, helped found a cultural club named after Frantz Fanon, received his degree in modern literature, and began teaching literature and philosophy at excellent high schools in Saint-Louis and then at Rufisque. His comrades nicknamed him “Boris” after a character in Jean-Paul Sartre’s novel cycle Roads to Freedom. He married Mintou Diop in 1975 and has a daughter Elisabeth and a son Mustapha from ...

Article

Donna A. Patterson

Senegalese politician, pharmacist, and author, was born in Saint-Louis, Senegal, on 30 September 1922. His father worked as a colonial official, and his mother was a homemaker. In 1935, Diop’s father died; his mother followed two years later, leaving Diop, aged fifteen, and his four siblings orphaned. The death of his parents kindled a desire to excel in his studies, and after completing his secondary education in Saint-Louis and Dakar, Diop was admitted to French West Africa’s School of Medicine and Pharmacy.

The curriculum at the School of Medicine and Pharmacy was abbreviated during the early years, with initial terms of three and fours years of study. Despite the initial brevity, graduates from these programs were extensively trained in local hospitals and clinics. Likewise, in his memoirs (Mémoires de luttes: Textes pour servir à l’histoire du Parti Africain de l’Indépendance, 2007 Diop describes his training ...

Article

Jonathan Edwards

In 1893 the playwright George Bernard Shaw described Alexandre Dumas père (senior) as “a summit of art,” comparing him to Mozart: “you get nothing above Dumas on his own mountain … if you pass him you come down on the other side instead of getting higher.” Dumas's literary work is striking in its breadth and originality, and accessible to all lovers of adventure regardless of their social or educational background. In theater, Dumas created two new genres, the prose historical drama and the drame moderne, and, although dated today, his plays enjoyed unprecedented success in their time. His greatest novels, rich in passionate characters, lively dialogue, and gripping plots, have lasting appeal, and many, such as Les Trois Mousquetaires (The Three Musketeers), have become household names.

The story of how young Dumas a provincial light skinned boy whose tightly curled hair revealed his African ancestry rose to become the ...

Article

Writer and one of the lesser known Pan‐Africanist leaders born in Nigeria, the son of a Baptist mission preacher. Fadipe was brought up in the church missionary school. He became the personal secretary to the manager of Barclays Bank, Lagos. He travelled to Britain and earned a BA degree at the London School of Economics in 1929. He was subsequently awarded fellowships to study at Woodbrooke College in Birmingham and then for his MA at Columbia University, New York. His dissertation entitled ‘A Yoruba Town: A Sociological Study of Abeokuta’, was the first study of its kind by an African academic on Nigeria. Fadipe subsequently took up a teaching post at Achimota College in the Gold Coast but returned to London after his contract was not renewed.

Once again at the London School of Economics in 1934 Fadipe pursued a Ph D working on the first major sociological ...

Article

Richard Watts

Born in Fort-de-France on the island of Martinique into a conventional, bourgeois family, Frantz Fanon grew up with assimilationist values that encouraged him to reject his African heritage. This influence was countered by one of Fanon’s high school teachers, Aimé Césaire, who introduced Fanon to the philosophy of Négritude and taught him to embrace the aspects of self that the colonizer had previously forced him to reject. The encounter with Césaire proved to be a turning point in Fanon’s intellectual development. In 1940 following France s capitulation to the Germans in World War II the part of the French Navy that had declared its allegiance to the collaborationist Vichy regime began the occupation of Martinique As a result 5 000 French soldiers commandeered the resources of the island leaving the resident population to fend for itself It was in this context that Fanon first experienced the full force ...