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Jamie Bruce-Lockhart

British Royal Navy commander, who played a significant role in the opening of relations between Europe and the interior of west Africa in the 1820s through his participation in two expeditions sponsored by the British government to investigate countries of the central Sudan (Arabic, bilad as-Sudan land of the blacks and the final course of the River Niger He made important diplomatic contacts with leading states of the region and while he ultimately failed to clarify where the river entered the sea his accounts shed light on regions of Africa then unknown to Western science He was the first to chart every degree of latitude from the Mediterranean to the Guinea coast His extensive reports introduced Europeans to the character and riches of long established civilizations of the African interior and his investigations reliant as in part they were upon indigenous sources and aid paved the way for ...

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Born in Annan, Scotland, Hugh Clapperton went to sea at the age of thirteen and later became a lieutenant in the Royal Navy. In 1821 the British Colonial Office sent him, along with explorers Walter Oudney and Dixon Denham, on the Bornu Mission to trace the true course of the Niger River in Africa. They crossed the Sahara from Tripoli, in present-day Libya, and became the first Europeans to see Lake Chad, which Denham set off to explore on his own. From there, Clapperton and Oudney headed west into present-day Nigeria toward Kano, but Oudney died along the way and Clapperton reached it alone. He then traveled on to Sokoto but, detained by local rulers, was unable to find a guide to take him the 240 km (150 mi) to the Niger. He returned briefly to England before coming back to West Africa in 1825 With British ...

Article

William E. Burns

interpreter, was probably born in the sixteenth century in the region of West Africa under Portuguese influence. What is known of his career comes from legal cases and documents carried out in the Dutch Republic and France from 1607 to 1619. Da Costa's African Portuguese origin can be surmised from his Portuguese name, and the fact that a community of interpreters, some of African descent and some of mixed African and Portuguese descent, had formed in West Africa in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. That Da Costa appeared to his European contemporaries as black can be shown from the use of the word naigre to refer to him. However, his particular point of origin is not certain, nor is the way in which Da Costa's skills as an interpreter transferred from the African coast to that of North America.

Da Costa first appears in the historical record in 1607 ...

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Peter Hudson

The history of black people in Canada can be dated from the early seventeenth-century expeditions of French explorer Pierre du Gua sieur de Monts Traveling with du Gua was an African man Mathieu da Costa who worked as an interpreter between the French and the indigenous Mic Mac people ...

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Sharon Harrow

the first English woman to write and publish a narrative of her travels to West Africa, was born Anna Maria Horwood to Grace Roberts and Charles Horwood in Bristol.

In 1788 she married the physician and abolitionist Alexander Falconbridge; friends and family disapproved of the match. Alexander’s vehement abolitionist views resulted from his service as surgeon on four slave ships. The year of their marriage, he published An Account of the Slave Trade on the Coast of Africa in order to publicize the horrors of the Middle Passage. He worked with Thomas Clarkson’s abolitionist campaign and was subsequently contracted by the St. George’s Bay Company (later renamed the Sierra Leone Company) to rescue the ailing colony of Sierra Leone. Earlier in the century, it had been a trading site for the Royal Africa Company, and it remained a country of economic interest to England. In 1787 the abolitionist Granville ...

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Cynthia Staples

world traveler and writer, was born in Mississippi. Little is known of her early childhood except that her formal education ended at age ten. Like many African American girls of her generation, Harrison found employment as a domestic in the homes of white families. At age sixteen she left the South, traveling as far north as Canada and even making her way deeper south to Cuba, where she learned Spanish and French. Sometime during these years of work and travel, Harrison saw a magazine article depicting temple spires in a foreign land. That image fueled her lifelong desire to travel around the world.

While working in Denver, Colorado, Harrison managed to save $800 toward fulfilling her dream. Unfortunately the bank holding her savings failed. Harrison was left with just enough money to travel to California. There she secured a position with the family of George Dickinson a real ...

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Moroccan writer and explorer, was born in Tangier, Morocco, into a well-respected Berber family of judges who adhered to the Maliki school of jurisprudence. Toward the end of his life he recounted his journeys in a book entitled A Gift to the Observers Concerning the Curiosities of Cities and the Marvels Encountered in Traveling. The work is one of the principal sources available to modern researchers for the social, economic, and political conditions of the fourteenth-century Islamic world. Although not as well known, Ibn Battuta’s travels were more extensive than the journeys of his younger European contemporary, Marco Polo. Over a period of twenty-eight years, he crossed the breadth of Africa and Asia and visited the equivalent of approximately forty-four modern countries. He combined his travels with scholarly pursuits, or with professional posts such as that of judge (qadi in cities along the way A native speaker ...

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Barbara Worley

Like the majority of North Africans, Ibn Battutah (whose full name was Abu ‘Abd Allah Muhammad ibn’Abd Allah al-Lawati at-Tanji ibn Battutah) was ethnic Berber, and his family traced its ancestry to the nomadic Luwata ethnic group originating in Cyrenaica west of the Nile Delta. Born into the Muslim religious elite in Tangier, Morocco, he would have received a classical literary education in addition to rigorous studies in Islam.

Ibn Battutah wrote poetry in addition to traveling across Africa, Arabia, Asia Minor, India, and China. Most important of his works are his descriptions of the life and culture of peoples of the Niger Basin and Central Sahara, among the earliest and by far the most detailed. After Ibn Battutah returned from his voyages he recounted his observations to Ibn Juzayy, who recorded and edited them at Fès, in Morocco.

At the age of twenty-one, Ibn Battutah set out on ...

Article

Charles C. Stewart

traveler, travel writer, and historian, was born in Wadan (in present-day Mauritania). Talib Ahmad al-Mustafa, whose father’s name, translated literally, makes him the “son of the little bird of paradise” (ibn Twayr al-Janna), was the author of Mauritania’s most widely known example of nineteenth-century travel literature (rihla), but he was also an historian and widely versed author on diverse subjects, including his hometown of Wadan. His name in full is Ahmad al-Mustafa ibn Twayr al-Janna ibn ʿAbd Allah ibn Ahmad Sa’im al-Hajji al-Wadani or, in a shortened version, Ibn Twayr al-Janna.

In Wadan he became a student of the highly acclaimed scholars Sidi ʿAbd Allah ibn al Hajj Ibrahim al ʿAlawi d 1818 Ahmad Salim ibn al Imam al Hajji al Wadani d 1823 al Salik ibn al Imam al Hajji d 1830 Muhammadhan Fal ibn Mbarik al Yadmusi al Shamshawi d 1848 and Abu ʿAbd Allah Muhammad ...

Article

Liz Stephens

cowboy and trail-driver on the Goodnight-Loving Trail and close associate of the cattleman Charles Goodnight, was born a slave in Summerville, Mississippi, and later moved to Parker County, Texas, with the family of his owner and probable father, Dr. William Ikard. Bose Ikard's mother was named King and was also William Ikard's slave. Though the Texas Historical Commission lists Ikard's birth as 1843, and Ikard's own headstone lists 1859, a probable year of birth was 1847, the same year as that of William Ikard's “legitimate” son, with whom Bose was largely raised.

Ikard's association with Goodnight arose from their proximity as neighbors in Parker County, working in the same industry. With a move from Mississippi to Texas in 1852 the Ikard family became part of the primary industry of the region, cattle. The sale of one female slave, possibly Ikard's mother, to another neighbor, Oliver ...

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Glenn Allen Knoblock

Ohio frontier settler, was likely born a slave in Maryland. Though Johnson's life remains largely undocumented in official records, oral tradition regarding his life and that of his family members has been extensively recorded. The fragmentary details they reveal are a fascinating commentary both on the role African Americans played in settling the Northwest Territory and the lives they led afterward in what would soon become the state of Ohio.

According to the Zanesville, Ohio, historian Norris Schneider in his book Y Bridge City, based in part on the oral history newspaper columns written by Elijah Church for the Zanesville Courier in 1878, Johnson was a slave in Maryland in 1799 when he learned that his master was going to sell him Perhaps afraid of being separated from his family Johnson decided to flee and with another slave named Sam made his way north to Pittsburgh ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Togolese writer and traveler, was born in the southern coastal town of Anecho, located 70 kilometers (44 miles) from the Togolese capital of Lomé. His father, a member of the Ouatchi ethnic community who followed indigenous spiritual traditions, was married to a number of wives. Kpomassie had over twenty siblings and half-siblings. Although his father was a bokonon priest who claimed he could heal, he had trouble accomplishing miracles and eventually promised his son to a priestess for training in return for help. Angry with his father and uninterested in working with the priestess, Kpomassie started to explore other options. He did not have many to choose from. In comparison to other internationally known Togolese writers, Kpomassie had a far more limited formal education. He only attended six years of primary school. In 1957 Kpomassie stumbled on a book about Inuit communities in Greenland The relative freedom of young ...

Article

Chouki El Hamel

Moroccan scholar, diplomat, and traveler, was born al-Hasan b. Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Wazzan al-Fasi al-Gharnati (hereafter, al-Wazzan) in Granada, Spain, to a wealthy family (some sources place the date of his birth between 1488 and 1496). In 1492, Granada fell into the hands of the Spanish Castilians, after which Iberian Muslims were forced to migrate to North Africa. In this context, the al-Wazzan family moved to Morocco and settled in the city of Fez. They were able to preserve their socioeconomic status and participated in diplomatic and commercial activities. In his book Description of Africa al Wazzan mentions that after his family settled in the region of Fez he used to accompany his father on business trips to the Rif region and the Middle Atlas mountains to collect taxes on behalf of the Wattasi sultan He also accompanied his uncle on a diplomatic mission to Timbuktu at age ...

Article

Lee Cassanelli

freed slave and leader of a confederation of maroon settlements in Somalia, was born a Yao in Mozambique in the 1830s; his original name was Makanjira. Most of what we know of his life comes from oral traditions collected in the early twentieth century. He was captured by the armed raiders of Tippu Tip (the famed East African slaver), transported by sea to southern Somalia, and sold into the local plantation economy. Beaten and left to die by his owners after attempting to escape, he was rescued and restored to health by a Muslim sheikh from the coastal town of Brava (Baraawe), who gave him his first qurʾanic lessons and subsequently his freedom.

Makanjira took the name Nassib (“good fortune”) and moved to the town of Hindi, one of several dozen settlements of former slaves who had escaped from Somali plantations to seek refuge in the thick forests (gosha ...

Article

Mary H. Moran

settler in Sierra Leone and Liberia, was among the first group of African American settlers sent by the the American Colonization Society (ACS) to Freetown, Sierra Leone, in 1820. The woman known in Liberian history as Matilda Newport appears to be essentially two persons: one an actual woman and the other a “foundational myth.” Newport’s name appears on a list of passengers as Matilda Spencer, and she traveled with her husband, Thomas Spencer, a thirty-two-year-old mason. Matilda was twenty-five years old, freeborn, illiterate, and originally from Philadelphia. Traveling on the same ship, the Elizabeth was the Newport family Eliphalet his wife Sarah and their seventeen year old son Ralph The Newports like the Spencers were freeborn African Americans but they were apparently literate and from New York With the other passengers they were part of an early experiment in settling free African Americans back to Africa organized by ...

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

Jeremy Rich

leader of African-American settlement in Sierra Leone, was born sometime around 1738. Some sources contend Peters was born in a Yoruba-speaking community in what later became Nigeria, but the lack of documentation makes identifying his origins extremely difficult. These same accounts contended he came from a wealthy family, but that he was captured by rivals and sold to Europeans. It is clear that he was brought to Louisiana by French slave traders around 1760 aboard the ship Henri IV. Since French ships purchased slaves from Senegal to Congo and Madagascar, his background is unknown. Peters managed repeatedly to escape different slave masters in the 1760s and early 1770s Later accounts claimed Peters was branded whipped and tortured for his rebelliousness At some point a wealthy slave owner named William Campbell purchased Peters and put his new acquisition to work at a mill in Wilmington North Carolina ...

Article

Anthony Aiello

Born in Newburyport, Massachusetts, to free parents, Nancy Prince and the details of her life are known largely through her own autobiography, Narrative of the Life and Travels of Mrs. Nancy Prince (1850). Nancy Gardner had as many as seven siblings and was the daughter of Thomas Gardner, a seaman from Nantucket who died before Nancy was three months old. Her mother, whose name Prince never gives in her autobiography, was the daughter of Tobias Wornton, or Backus, who was taken from Africa and, though he was a slave, fought at Bunker Hill in the Revolutionary army; Gardner's maternal grandmother, a Native American, was captured and enslaved by English colonists. Gardner's stepfather, Money Vose was her mother s third husband the other two having died He escaped a slave ship by swimming ashore but was later kidnapped and pressed into ship service During the ...

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 ...

Article

May French was born in Beaver, Pennsylvania. After finishing school, she worked in the publishing business in London, England. In 1876 she married American businessman Eli Lemon Sheldon.

Inspired by the writings of her friend, Anglo-American explorer and journalist Sir Henry Morton Stanley, Sheldon set out for Mombasa, a city on the coast of present-day Kenya, in 1891. Financed by her husband, she was accompanied by more than one hundred porters, servants, and guides. After British authorities in Mombasa refused to help with her travel plans, Sheldon went to nearby Zanzibar, where the sultan of Zanzibar gave her porters and a letter of safe conduct for her journey into the interior of what is now Tanzania. Sheldon first visited the area around Kilimanjaro Africa s highest peak Then accompanied by a British official she ventured into the surrounding territory and became ...