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Adam Jones

traveler and writer from what is now southern Ghana, was born c. 1827 in or near the Asante capital of Kumasi. In contemporary documents, his name often appears as Aquassie Boachi. His father Kwaku Dua (c.1797–1867) was Asantehene (King of Asante) from 1834 to 1867. According to the “History of Ashanti,” prepared in the mid-twentieth century under the chairmanship of Asantehene Prempeh II (1892–1970), Kwasi Boakye belonged to the village of Atomfuo, 8 miles (13 km) east of Kumasi. This suggests that on his mother’s side he came from the lineage of royal blacksmiths, which may explain why, in 1837 in accordance with his father s wishes he and a close relative of the same age Kwame Poku were chosen to accompany a Dutch embassy under Major General Jan Verveer on its return to Elmina on the coast They were subsequently brought to ...

Article

Geoffrey Roper

Russian-Swiss writer and traveler in North Africa, was born in Geneva on 17 February 1877, the illegitimate daughter of Aleksander Trofimovskiĭ, a Russian ex-priest, anarchist, and horticulturalist, and Madame de Moerder (née Eberhardt), a general’s wife. She was educated mainly by her father, who taught her several languages, including Arabic. Among other things, she read the Qurʾan with him and subsequently acquired a love of classical Arabic and Islam. She later claimed to have been born and brought up a Muslim, but this, like much else in her account of herself, was a fantasy.

In her youth, inspired by the novels of Pierre Loti, she dreamed of escaping to an exotic Muslim environment. The deserts of North Africa especially attracted her, and in 1896 she entered into correspondence with Eugène Latord a French officer in southeast Algeria who fed her imagination with accounts of life there At this ...

Article

David Killingray

Black BritishWesleyan missionary and traveller in West Africa. Freeman was born in Hampshire, the child of a black father and a white mother. Little is known of his early years, but he was employed as a gardener in Suffolk and became a Christian, joining the Wesleyan Methodists. In 1838 Freeman went as a missionary to the Gold Coast, an area of West Africa where he was to spend most of his life. He built Methodist churches at Cape Coast and Accra, promoted education, and trained local men for the ministry. He established a mission station in Kumase, the Asante capital, and visited towns in southern Nigeria and also the kingdom of Dahomey, where he urged King Gezo to stop the slave trade. On furlough in Britain in 1843 Freeman actively promoted missionary work and also the anti‐slavery cause, both helped by publication of his travel accounts. In 1847 ...

Article

Omai  

Jonathan Morley

Polynesian islander taken from the South Pacific to London as an example of a ‘noble savage’ in 1774. Britain invaded Otaheite (Tahiti) on 24 June 1767; Omai (Mai) later claimed to have been among the crowd of islanders sheltering on a hill above Matavai Bay, on whom Samuel Wallis fired a cannon from the Dolphin. During Captain Cook's second Pacific voyage the crew of Cook's companion ship the Adventure befriended Omai, then in his early twenties, and he travelled to England as a crew member, arriving in Portsmouth on 14 July 1774 to be greeted by Lord Sandwich, First Lord of the Admiralty.

The voyages to the Friendly Islands had opened up a new world where the primitive societies imagined in the utopian literature of Montaigne and Rousseau seemed to survive in peace and harmony replete with breadfruit and bare breasted women Yet a theme in ...

Article

Eileen Scully

sailor and sojourner, was born near Rochester, New York. Little is known of her lineage, but she is believed to have been the daughter of a John Sands, and a descendant of Virginia slaves. Her father, who may have been a fugitive slave, was in Rochester by 1841, and the family moved westward to Buffalo around 1848, where John Sands found work first as a laborer and then as a cook on a Lake Erie steamer. Among African Americans the family name “Sands” most often comes from the white Sands (variously spelled “Sandys”) family: Sir Edwin Sandys and George Sandys (also pronounced “Sandz”) were involved in the Jamestown settlement; others of that surname can be found in the northern colonies as well.

Sarah Sands grew up in the neighborhood of the Vine Street African Methodist Episcopal AME Church not far from what would much later be ...