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Rosemary Elizabeth Galli

nationalist, journalist and indigenous rights advocate, was born in Magul, Mozambique, on 2 November 1876. His father, Francisco Albasini, married the granddaughter of the head of Maxacuene clan in the Portuguese colony’s capital; her name is not recorded. João dos Santos was also known by his Ronga nickname, Wadzinguele. His grandfather João Albasini, a Portuguese trader, later established himself and a second family in the republic of the Transvaal where he became the vice-consul of Portugal. João dos Santos Albasini received a limited education at the Catholic Mission of Saint José Lhenguene; secondary education was not available in Mozambique. However, he was a keen reader especially of political tracts and gained great facility in writing both Portuguese and Ronga. Sometime around 1897 Albasini married Bertha Carolina Heitor Mwatilo but the marriage was unhappy and they divorced in 1917. They had two children.

As Albasini reached adulthood Portugal defeated ...

Article

Christopher Wise

Malian diplomat, ethnographer, devout Muslim, and defender of traditional African culture, was born in 1901 in Bandiagara, Mali, capital of the Toucouleur Empire of the Macina Fulani, which was founded by the Tidjaniya jihadist al-Hajj ʿUmar Tal. At the time of Bâ’s birth, the French had been in control of Bandiagara for nearly a decade. His father, Hampâté, a Fulani militant from Fakala, died two years after Bâ was born. His mother, Kadidja Pâté, was the daughter of Pâté Poullou, a close personal companion of al-Hajj ʿUmar Tal. After her husband’s death, Kadidja remarried Tidjani Amadou Ali Thiam, a Toucouleur Fulani and Louta chief, who became Bâ’s adoptive father. At an early age, Bâ became intimate with Tierno Bokar Tall, the renowned “sage of Bandiagara,” who was his lifelong teacher, spiritual guide, and personal mentor. In 1912 Bâ was enrolled in the French colonialist School of the Hostages remaining ...

Article

Michael Kevane

Burkinan author, canton chief, and civil servant, was born in Sao village, about 60 kilometers northwest of Ouagadougou, in the Mossi region of the present-day country of Burkina Faso. His mother was Datoumi Yaaré, from the village of Kaonghin; and his father, Gueta Wagdogo, was the son of Yiougo, the naba (Mossi chief) of Sao. Naba Yiougo supported Mogho Naba Wobgo (Boukary Koutu), the principal king of the four Mossi kingdoms, against a rebelling vassal, the naba of Lallé. In 1896, Mogho Naba Wobgo supported Gueta Wagdogo to attain the chieftaincy (whereupon he assumed the name “Naba Piiga”) after the death of Naba Yiougo. The meaning of Dim Delobsom’s name, “The king has returned the favor,” acknowledged the relationship between the two rulers.

Naba Piiga was unable to help his suzerain when the French column led by Captain Paul Voulet seized Ouagadougou on 1 September 1896 Mogho Naba ...

Article

Elsie A. Okobi

Ibo novelist, was born on 26 September 1921 in Minna, northern Nigeria (Niger State), to Ogbuefi David Anadumaka Ekwensi and Agnes Uso Ekwensi, who were from Nkwelle in eastern Nigeria (Anambra State). Ekwensi’s father was an elephant hunter and a great storyteller; from him, Ekwenski learned the Ibo folklore that would later enrich his stories. Ekwensi grew up among Fulani children, learning to speak Hausa, in addition to Ibo, which was spoken at home. He was known to have married at least twice: Eunice Anyiwa in 1952, with whom he had five children, and Maria in 1969.

Ekwensi was sent to Government College in Ibadan in Yorubaland where he absorbed the Yoruba culture and language He continued his studies at Achimota College Ghana then at Yaba High College Lagos and he studied forestry at the School of Forestry Ibadan He worked in the forestry department at Ibadan from ...

Article

Hlonipha Mokoena

, Zulu printer, tutor, and author, was born near present-day Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. All that is known about his paternal genealogy is that his father, Magwaza, was the son of Matomela, who was the son of Thoko, and that the amaFuze (the Fuze people) were a sub-clan of the amaNgcobo (the Ngcobo lineage); his maternal genealogy is unknown. His exact birth date is also unknown. The estimate year is based on John William Colenso’s guess that the young Magema was twelve years old when Colenso, the Bishop of Natal, met him in 1856. Even these facts do not accurately establish Fuze’s identity, however, because at various times in his life he was known by different names. At birth, he was given the name “Manawami,” but he was soon nicknamed “Skelemu” (derived from the Afrikaans word skelm meaning rascal or trickster because of his repeated prophecy to his ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Beninese ethnographer and novelist, was born on 16 April 1890 in the southern Beninese city of Porto Novo to a very wealthy family. His father Alamavo Hazoumé was one of the chief advisors of King Toffa of Porto Novo, a self-proclaimed modern ruler who had collaborated closely with the French government against his rival Dahomey. Alamavo was a fervent believer in Western education, especially after he visited Paris on a diplomatic mission for King Toffa in 1895. His son kept a photograph of his father taken on this trip for the rest of his own life as a precious heirloom.

Alamavo Hazoumé sent his son Paul to mission schools run by French White Fathers missionaries in Porto Novo. There, Hazoumé so impressed his teachers, especially the ethnographer Reverend Francis Aupiais, that after graduating from the mission school, he worked for it as a teaching assistant, from 1905 to 1907 ...

Article

Patrick Corcoran

Ivorian novelist, was born in the Mande region located in the northeast of what is now Ivory Coast. Until the age of seven he lived with his extended family in Togobala (Guinea), but in line with a practice not uncommon in West Africa, his parents placed him with an uncle who supervised his education. Schooling in the north of the country, at Boundiali and Korhogo, was followed by a period at Bingerville, close to the capital, Abidjan, in the south. In 1947 he was admitted to the Ecole technique supérieure at Bamako (Mali), but two years later he was expelled and sent back to Côte d’Ivoire following his arrest for involvement in demonstrations in support of the Rassemblement Démocratique Africain (RDA; African Democratic Rally), the first African political party, which was founded in 1946 Immediately drafted into the army by the colonial authorities he opted to enter officer school ...

Article

Mildred Mortimer

Algerian novelist, essayist, and ethnologist, was born on 28 December 1917, in Taourirt-Mimoun, Algeria. A native of the mountainous region of Kabylia, where Amazigh (Berber) culture and language persists, he brought the Berbers of Kabylia into Algerian fiction, beginning in the 1950s. In addition to publishing fiction, he taught courses in Tamazight (the Berber language) and Amazigh culture at the University of Algiers, and translated Tamazight poetry into French. In addition to his fictional work—novels, plays, and short stories—he published a Tamazight grammar as well as two anthologies of poetry that he translated from Tamazight into French. A posthumous collection of essays, Culture Savante, Culture Vécue: Études 1938–1989 (Learned Culture, Lived Culture: Studies 1938–1989), appeared in 1991.

At a time when Algerian Arabs and Berbers did not have many educational opportunities Mammeri received a unique education After completing primary school in his native village where his father ...

Article

Jeff Opland

Xhosa poet (in present-day South Africa), was the daughter of Emmah Jane Mgqwetto, daughter of Zingelwa of the Cwerha clan, who died in Whittlesea in 1922. Her father was a member of the Chizama clan. In terms of royal allegiance, Mgqwetho considered herself a Ngqika or Rharhabe, a supporter of King Sandile, who died in 1879. Her only article in English, published in 1923, is attributed to Elizabeth Mgqwetto, “The well-known and talented Poetess.” Mgqwetho consistently spelled her surname “Mgqwetto,” but Xhosa orthography was revised in 1936 (seven years after the appearance of her final publication), in accordance with which she might well have spelled her name “Mgqwetho,” the spelling used in a 1949 newspaper article that mentions her. “Mgqwetho” is the spelling adopted in the edition of her collected poems published in 2007.

Apart from the evidence of her own poems very few facts can ...

Article

Grant Lilford

Lesotho novelist, editor, commentator, and entrepreneur, was born in 1877, in Khojane Village, Mafeteng, Lesotho, to Abner and Aleta Mofolo, both Christians. He was baptized in the church of the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society. His parents moved to the Qomoqomong valley shortly after his birth.

He attended a local school in Quthing and then worked for the Reverend Alfred Casalis, who recognized his enthusiasm and intelligence and sponsored his further studies for three years at the Mountain School in Morija. Mofolo then worked at the Morija Book Depot from 1899 before studying carpentry and becoming a teacher. He returned to the Book Depot and wrote Moeti oa Bochabela from 1905 to 1906. He left the Book Depot in 1910 to seek work in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) and to work in Johannesburg, either in the mines or as a court interpreter. In 1912 he returned to Lesotho ...

Article

Paul Schauert

Ghanaian ethnomusicologist, linguist, composer, and poet, was born on 22 June 1921 in Ashanti Mampong in central Ghana. His full given name was Joseph Hanson Kwabena Nketia. His father, Akwasi Yeboa, and mother, Akua Adoma, were traders in a nearby village called Effiduase. After his father passed away when Kwabena was an infant, he was raised by his mother and maternal grandparents. With the help of his grandfather, Opanyin Kisi Amoa, and grandmother, Yaa Amankwaa, Nketia attended Mampong Asante Presbyterian Junior and Senior Schools. After completing his secondary education, in 1937 Nketia enrolled in the Presbyterian Training College at Akropong-Akwapim, where he focused on music and the Twi (Akan) language. In 1941 he received his teaching certificate and was subsequently appointed to teach music and Twi at the Training College After three years at the Training College Nketia received a two year scholarship to study linguistics at the University ...

Article

Egara Kabaji

Ugandan poet, was born in Gulu, Uganda, and educated at Gulu High School, King’s College, Budo, at Government Training College, Mbarara, and Bristol University, England, where he obtained a diploma in education. Okot p’Bitek studied law at the University of Wales at Aberystwyth and graduated with a Bachelor of Law degree in social anthropology from Oxford University, England. He returned to Uganda and taught at the Sir Samuel Baker School, then moved to the University of Nairobi, Kenya, where he contributed to the establishment of the Literature Department and promoted the study of African literature. Okot p’Bitek was many things—a poet, a literary critic, an anthropologist, and a sociologist, and he published widely in all of these fields. He is famed for having started what has now come to be known as the Song School in East Africa.

Okot p Bitek s mother was an accomplished oral artist in his ...

Article

Peter J. Duignan

fifth president of the Republic of Liberia, was born in Newark, Ohio, the son of John Roye, a wealthy merchant. His mother's name is unknown. His father died in 1829, leaving some personal property and land to Roye. He went to public schools in Ohio, attended Oberlin College, and taught for a few years in Chillicothe. He also tried his hand as a sheep trader and shopkeeper in various parts of the Midwest. After his mother died in 1840 he was influenced by the emigration movement to escape American prejudice. He rejected the idea of going to Haiti and instead traveled to Liberia in 1846 just before an independent republic was installed there in July 1847, taking with him a stock of goods.

At the time of Roye s arrival the new republic faced a variety of ills The dominant Americo Liberians remained a small minority threatened ...

Article

Phillip A Cantrell

Rwandan writer and the subject of the 2004 film Hotel Rwanda, was born in 1954 in Gitarama, Rwanda, to a Tutsi mother and a Hutu father, although Rusesabagina himself claims to be a Hutu. Rusesabagina separated from his first wife, Ester, in 1981 following the birth of three children. He remarried in 1987 to Tatiana, a Tutsi, and fathered two children, a son and a daughter who died in infancy. Rusesabagina graduated from Utalii College in Nairobi, Kenya, with a degree in hotel management and worked as an assistant to the general manager at the Hôtel des Mille Collines in Kigali, Rwanda, from 1984 to 1992. In 1992, he was promoted to general manager of the Diplomate Hotel in Kigali. Rusesabagina gained international acclaim as the subject of the film Hotel Rwanda, which was released in 2004 and nominated for an Academy Award Rusesabagina s ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Rwandan politician, was born in 1963 to a Tutsi family in Rwanda In Kinyarwanda; his name means “chief shepherd.” His parents were both Seventh-Day Adventists. Sebarenzi’s father was a successful farmer with three wives, and Sebarenzi had a large number of siblings. Both his father and mother became fearful for their son’s life after the Rwandan government promoted widespread attacks on Tutsi families in 1973 and the systematic discrimination made against placing young Tutsi people in middle and high schools led Sebarenzi s parents to send their son to a school on Idjwi Island in Lake Kivu which was a part the Democratic Republic of the Congo He spent his remaining years in middle and high school on Idjwi Island and the large city of Goma Sebarenzi eventually received his undergraduate degree in sociology from a Congolese university He met a fellow Rwandan exile Liberata and the couple married ...