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Article

Mandisa Mbali

antiapartheid, gay rights, AIDS, and human rights activist, was born in Johannesburg in South Africa. Adurrazack (“Zackie”) Achmat was of Cape Malay heritage. His father, Suleiman Achmat, was a member of the South African Communist Party and his mother, Mymoena, was a trade union shop steward. Achmat’s entry into politics began at the age of 14 with his participation in the 1976 student uprising. He was detained in 1977 for burning down his high school in Salt River to demonstrate his support for the uprising. Achmat obtained a bachelor of arts honors degree in English literature from the University of the Western Cape in 1992.

He spent much of the period between 1976 and 1980 in detention for his opposition to the apartheid system. It was also in this period that Achmat read the then-banned works of Karl Marx and Leon Trotsky and the progressive academic journal Work in ...

Article

Julia A. Clancy-Smith

Tunisian labor activist, women’s rights activist, and journalist, was born in the town of Gabes in southern Tunisia. Adda rose to prominence owing to her mother’s emphasis upon female education, although her parents were of modest means. One branch of Adda’s family, who are North African Jews, was originally from Batna in Algeria; her maternal grandfather had left French Algeria to seek his fortune in Tunisia, where he managed a small hotel in the south. For her parents’ generation, it was somewhat unusual for women to attend school; to achieve the “certificate of study,” as Adda’s mother did, was a noteworthy achievement. Gladys Adda’s life trajectory illustrated a number of important regional and global social and political currents: nationalism and anticolonialism, organized labor and workers’ movements, socialism and communism, women’s emancipation, and fascism and anti-Semitism against the backdrop of World War II.

In primary school Adda attended classes with Muslim ...

Article

Baqi<ayn>e Bedawi Muhammad

Sudanese educator and human rights activist for women’s rights and an advocate for freedom and democracy, was born on 30 May 1935 in Omdurman one of three cities that constitute the capital of Sudan Khartoum Khartoum North and Omdurman Her parents were originally from the Nubian region in northern Sudan Ahmed was the only female among her three siblings She grew up in an environment that helped shape her future life as a liberal and progressive individual Her father Ibrahim Ahmed was an engineer who worked as a teacher in Gordon Memorial College Sudan He played an active role in Sudan s independence movement and served as the first Sudanese Deputy to the Vice Chancellor of the University of Khartoum the first chairman of the University of Khartoum Senate a member of the Executive Council the first Sudanese Parliament and founder and president of Mutamar a l Khiregeen Graduates ...

Article

John Gilmore

Also known as Sara or Saartjie, and as Bartman (1788?–1815/16), a member of the Khoisan people of southern Africa, exhibited as a ‘freak’ in 19th‐century Britain. Her original name is unknown, but when she was employed by a Dutch farmer called Peter Cezar, she was given the Afrikaans name of Saartjie [Little Sarah] Baartman, and this was later Anglicized in various forms. In 1810 she was brought to Britain by Peter Cezar's brother Hendric [or Henrick], a Boer farmer at the Cape, and Alexander Dunlop, a British army surgeon. Dunlop soon sold his interest in the enterprise to Cezar, who made money by exhibiting Baartman in London and elsewhere in Britain under the name of ‘the Hottentot Venus’. ‘Hottentot’ was a traditional derogatory term for Khoisan people, while ‘Venus’ appears intended to refer to the idea of ‘the Sable Venus or more generally ...

Article

Baqi<ayn>e Bedawi Muhammad

Sudanese intellectual, educator, political leader, and women’s advocate, was born on 1 January 1932 in the city of El Obeid, Province of Kordofan, and raised by an Islamic family. Her grandfather, al-Shaykh Mohammed al-Badawi, was a prominent Islamic scholar, and his house in Omdurman was a gathering place for well-known Islamic scholars from North Africa, such as al-Shaykh Mohammed Abdu of Egypt. Al-Badawi’s father, al-Fatih Mohammed al-Badawi, was a district commissioner who replaced the position of the British officer after Sudan independence in 1956. Although girls’ formal education was boycotted by the masses for being based on Western values, he was an open-minded and progressive individual with liberal ideas regarding girls’ education. In this atmosphere al-Badawi and her two sisters were raised.

As a district commissioner al Badawi s father s moved and worked in different regions of Sudan This situation compelled al Badawi to receive her elementary intermediate ...

Article

Elisabeth Bekers

daughter of El Hadj Ibrahima Sory Barry of Dara (1884?–1978), the last almamy, or king, of the Fulani of Fouta Djalon, and his third wife, Diello, was born in Mamou, Republic of Guinea (Guinea-Conakry), in 1948 Kesso meaning virgin in Fulani enjoyed a happy childhood in the royal slave sustained and polygamous household of her father until the age of six when she moved to Sogotoro with his authoritarian sister For four years her aunt tried to reform her impulsive headstrong niece through hard work and discipline but to little avail Upon her return to Mamou Barry quickly made her reputation as a revolutionary princess She joined her brothers in typically male activities such as hunting and tax collecting frequenting the cinema and joyriding in her father s car once almost killing a child On her own initiative she attended Mamou s qurʾanic school and its public primary ...

Article

The black women's movement in Latin America and the Caribbean has been deeply marked by the region's political, social, and cultural diversity. The countries of this region share a common past of colonial rule maintained during four centuries on the basis of exterminating large indigenous populations and enslaving an estimated 10 to 15 million Africans.

Black women have played a key role in the history of their peoples and in the history of Latin America and the Caribbean. Throughout the colonial period until the present, they have preserved African values. Black women have been responsible for the survival and re-creation of African cultures and religious practices. These cultures and practices have offered different models of life and death, the feminine and the masculine, nature, and divinity. Black women also fought against slavery.

After the abolition of slavery the great majority of black women remained domestic workers and farm workers This ...

Article

Lisa Clayton Robinson

Writer Erna Brodber was raised in rural St. Mary, Jamaica, by parents who were social activists in their small community. After graduating from high school in Kingston, she worked as a civil servant and teacher in Montego Bay before entering the University of the West Indies (UWI), where she received a B.A. degree in history in 1963. Brodber then taught at a private girls' school in Trinidad for one year before continuing her education. She earned a M.Sc. degree in sociology from UWI in 1968 and received a scholarship to study at McGill University in Canada and the University of Washington.

While living in the United States, Brodber was greatly influenced by the Black Power Movement and the women s movements of the late 1960s After returning to Jamaica she became a lecturer in sociology at UWI and earned an international reputation for her research serving ...

Article

Barbara Bair

writer, educator, and feminist, was born Adelaide Smith on 27 June 1868 in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Of mixed Hausa, Fanti, West Indian, and British heritage, she was born into the social world of the Creole professional elite, the daughter of court registrar William Smith and his second wife, Anne. Adelaide Smith moved with her family to England at the age of four (in 1872), and grew to adulthood in Britain. She was educated at the Jersey Ladies’ College, which her father had helped to found. The leaders of the school served as role models for the young Adelaide, who carried the message of female ability she learned at the college into her own adult life. The experience also influenced her lifelong dedication to education as a medium of social change for African women and girls.

Adelaide studied music in Germany for two years before her family s financial circumstances ...

Article

Aomar Boum

Moroccan women’s rights activist, was born in Casablanca on 14 August 1941. An alternate form of her name is Aïcha Ech-Chenna. She spent her childhood in Marrakesh. She lost her father at the age of three and was thereafter raised by her mother. She also lost her sister at a young age. With no male figure in the family, her uncle and some of her father’s friends raised her and supported her upbringing. She returned to Casablanca in 1953 to continue her studies in French at the Foch School and the Lycée Joffre. Before she joined the state nursing school, she began her career as a medical secretary, working in a leprosy program. Later, in 1958, she worked for a lab that specialized in tuberculosis. In 1960 she passed the nursing school entrance exam and began her training receiving a civil service stipend to support herself and ...

Article

Agnes Leslie

first Botswana female to serve as a cabinet minister and member of parliament in Botswana, was born in Serowe, when Botswana was called the Bechuanaland Protectorate. She was the daughter of Moruti Tibe Chiepe and S. T. Chiepe (née Sebina). Her father died when she started primary school. Her father’s cousins wanted her to leave school and get married, but her mother insisted that she stay in school. Chiepe attributes her success to her mother’s determination to see her educated. She attended Serowe primary school near her home, finishing in the late 1930s with high honors She was the best student in the country and was offered a scholarship to study at Tiger Kloof Post Secondary School near Vryburg in the Cape Colony South Africa Chiepe was one of the first girls to attend the school which was three hours from her home The scholarship lessened the financial pressure ...

Article

Livia Apa

contemporary Mozambican writer, was born on 4 June 1955 in Manjacaze, province of Gaza, in the south of the country. At the age of six she moved to the outskirts of Maputo with her parents. Her father was a day laborer who ended up working as a street tailor in the capital. Her mother was a peasant. The family never assimilated. The father, who from a young age had been subjected to the xibalo, the regime of forced labor imposed by Portuguese colonialism, was a staunch anticolonialist and never allowed his children to speak Portuguese at home, obliging them to use only chope, their mother tongue.

Paulina studied in a Catholic missionary elementary school and then in secondary schools where there were few other black students forcing her to improve her as yet scant knowledge of Portuguese and to make contact with the values of the colonial regime ...

Article

LaRay Denzer

first woman mayor of the Sierra Leonean capital of Freetown, was born into a prominent old Krio (then spelled Creole) family on 7 January 1918 in Freetown. Young Constance grew up in a household deeply involved in local politics and culture. Her parents were Johnnie William Horton, sometime city treasurer, and Regina Elizabeth (Awoonor-Wilson) Horton, a granddaughter of a recaptive from Keta, Gold Coast (now Ghana). Constance was the youngest of their three children, all girls, but she also had two half brothers, one of whom was Asadata Dafora, who won acclaim in the 1930s for introducing African dance drama to the New York theater. Her paternal family traced its ancestry back to James Beale Horton (1835–1883), better known as Africanus Horton, the son of an Igbo recaptive who was influential in the British colonial service and the outspoken author of West African Countries and Peoples (1868 ...

Article

Josephine Dawuni

Ghanaian journalist, writer, political and gender activist with ancestral roots in both Sierra Leone and Ghana, was born to Francis Thomas Dove, an accomplished barrister at law and Madam Eva Buckman, a Ga businesswoman. In 1933, Mabel Dove married Dr. J. B. Danquah, a leading figure of the anti- imperialist independence movement; the couple had one son. Mabel Dove Danquah’s formative years began in Sierra Leone, where at the early age of six, she attended the prestigious Annie Walsh Memorial School, the oldest girls’ school in Sierra Leone. After receiving her primary and secondary education in Sierra Leone, she went to England, where she attended the Anglican Covenant in Bury and then St. Michael’s College. She then proceeded to take a four-month course at Gregg Commercial College in secretarial training.

In 1926 at the age of twenty one Danquah took her first job as a shorthand typist with Elder ...

Article

Dior Konaté

Senegalese philosopher and university professor, was born on 24 May 1959 in Saint-Louis in Senegal and attended a local school, the Lycée Amet Fall. After passing with honors her baccalaureate in 1977 at the age of nineteen, Aminata Diaw left Senegal to pursue her studies in France. In 1978 she enrolled at the Lycée Paul Cézanne in Aix-en-Provence, a preparatory school, earning a diplôme d’études universitaires générales (DEUG 1) in philosophy. A year later, she left for another preparatory school, the Lycée Masséna in Nice to complete a DEUG 2 and a bachelor of arts degree both in philosophy before going to Nice, where she obtained a master’s degree in 1981 from the University of Nice Sophia-Antipolis. Then Diaw completed her philosophical studies culminating in a postgraduate diploma (DEA) and a dissertation on the theory of conflicts in Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s political thinking. In 1985 she was awarded a doctorate ...

Article

Richard A. Bradshaw

prime minister (1974–1976) of the Central African Republic (CAR), prominent business leader, and women’s rights activist, was born in Bangui, then in the territory of Ubangi-Shari in French Equatorial Africa, in 1925. She belonged to the Mbaka (Ngbaka) ethnic group from the Lobaye region in southwestern CAR. Although she attended elementary school, she never became proficient in French and so almost always spoke in the CAR’s national language, Sango, in which she delivered impassioned speeches at political rallies. Domitien married the European owner of a coffee plantation, and after he passed away, she married Jean Baka, a mayor in the Lobaye region. She became a wealthy businesswoman who owned plantations and conducted commerce in cloth and agricultural products. In the early 1950s she joined the Mouvement d Évolution Sociale d Afrique Noire MESAN Movement for the Social Evolution of Black Africa and supported Barthélemy Boganda and President David ...

Article

James Kilgore

Zimbabwean freedom fighter and politician, grew up in a politically minded family. Her father, a bricklayer, was frequently detained by the white minority government, and Dongo recalled visiting him in prison when she was just seven years old. At fifteen she left secondary school and walked two hundred miles to Mozambique to join the freedom fighters of the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU, later ZANU-PF, for “Patriotic Front”). ZANU was conducting a liberation war against the colonial regime led by Ian Smith, leader of Rhodesia (modern-day Zimbabwe). Dongo trained as a medical assistant. She took the Chimurenga (“liberation war”) name of “Tichaona Muhondo” (“We shall see on the battlefield”).

At independence in 1980 she returned to Zimbabwe, completed a typing course, and worked as the Secretary for Women’s Affairs in the national headquarters of ZANU-PF in Harare. In 1983 she took a position in the Ministry of State Security ...

Article

Inge Mariëtte Ruigrok

Angolan women’s activist and development expert, was born Henda Ducados Pinto de Andrade on 14 July 1964 in Rabat, Morocco. Her father, Mário Pinto de Andrade, was based there as the coordinator of the Conference of the Nationalist Organizations from the Portuguese Colonies (CONCP), an organization focused on enabling cooperation among the national liberation movements in Lusophone Africa. Her mother, Sarah Maldoror, was a French-born filmmaker of Guadeloupean origin. The couple also had a younger daughter, Annouchka de Andrade.

In 1966 the family moved to Algiers Algeria where the Front de Libération Nationale FLN National Liberation Front had become an important ally to the Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola MPLA People s Movement for the Liberation of Angola of which Mário Pinto de Andrade was a leader and founder Algerian President Ben Bella had given a residence to her father on Avenue Abdel Kader in Bab el Oued ...

Article

LaRay Denzer

Nigerian nationalist and women’s rights leader, was born on 27 July 1914 in Creek Town (now located in Odukpani Local Government Area, Cross River State). She was originally named Bassey Sampson Ekpenyong Efa. Her parents were Reverend Sampson Ekpenyong Efa (originally Okoroafor Obiasulor), an Igbo palm wine merchant turned teacher and clergyman from Agulu, Uzo-Igbo (near Awka, the present capital of Anambra State), and Inyang Eyo Aniemewue, a trader and dressmaker who traced her ancestry to King Eyo Honesty II (d. 1858), a powerful slave merchant and ruler in the 1840s and 1850s.

Young Margaret Ekpo obtained her school- leaving certificate in 1932, after which she became a pupil teacher. She wanted to attend teacher training college, but had to postpone this ambition when her father died in 1934. She taught in schools in Calabar and Aba until 1938 when she married John Udo ...

Article

Elisabeth Bekers

Egyptian feminist, physician, fiction writer, and political activist, was born in the village of Kafr Tahla, near Cairo, Egypt, on 27 October 1931. She was the second of nine children born to al-Sayed El Saadawi (1897–1959), a peasant family’s son who became an inspector in the Ministry of Education, and Zayneb Hanem Shoukry (1913–1958), daughter of an impoverished feudal family descending from Grand Vizier Talaʿat Pacha of Istanbul. Both of her parents were anxious to have their daughters as well as their sons educated. Nawal El Saadawi began her schooling at Muharram Bey Girls’ School in Alexandria, where the family briefly lived until al-Sayed was transferred to the small district town of Menouf in the Nile Delta in punishment for his participation in anti-British and antiroyal demonstrations. From 1938 until 1948 the El Saadawis remained in Menouf where Nawal attended the English primary school Despite his aversion to ...