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Kathleen Sheldon

Somali politicomilitary leader who played a central role in the collapse of the state and the large-scale violence against civilians that accompanied it, was born in the Mudug region of Somalia, into the Habr Gidir clan. His name is also spelled Maxamed Faarax Caydiid. Little is known about his early life, other than that he served with the Italian colonial police force and in the 1950s received some training in Italy and in the Soviet Union. He served under Somalian president Mohamed Siyad Barre, rising to the rank of general. He was involved in the Ogaden War of 1977–1978, in which Somalia tried and failed to take over what is now Ethiopia’s Region Five and is largely populated by Somalis.

In the 1980s Aidid began to turn against Siyad Barre and when the president suspected him of plotting against him he imprisoned Aidid for six years As ...

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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

Nelson Kasfir

military officer and President of Uganda from 1971 to 1979, was probably born in Koboko district near the Sudanese border in northwestern Uganda. Few facts about his parents, his birth date, or his upbringing can be confirmed. His mother, who was Lugbara and originally Christian, separated from his father—who was Kakwa, Muslim, and possibly a convert from Christianity—shortly after his birth and raised Amin in southern Uganda.

As a Muslim belonging to both the Kakwa and the Nubian ethnic communities, Amin received little formal education and had halting command of several languages, including Swahili and English. He practiced polygamy and married at least six women: Malyamu Kibedi and Kay Adroa (both Christians prior to marriage) in late 1966 and Nora (her full name cannot be confirmed), a Langi, in 1967. He divorced all three, according to a Radio Uganda announcement on 26 March 1974 He married Nalongo ...

Article

Dag Henrichsen

Namibian politician, senior cabinet minister and prime minister, was born on 22 August 1943 in the village of Onyaanya in the Oshikoto region (northern Namibia). He married Tangeni Katrina Namalenga, a pharmacist, with whom he had several children, and since 1999 she has been the executive officer of the Namibia Institute of Pathology. Nahas Gideon Angula grew up in northern Namibia during the country’s occupation by South Africa. He is counted among the first generation of exiled Namibians who fled to Zambia via Botswana in 1965. By then he was already a member of the Youth League of the dominant Namibian liberation movement, the South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) of Namibia. While in Zambia, he graduated from the University of Zambia with a teaching degree; he then founded a SWAPO-sponsored educational center for Namibian refugees near Lusaka. From 1976 he worked as a civil servant for the ...

Article

Matti Steinberg

Palestinian leader, was born in Cairo, Egypt, on 24 August 1929 to ʿAbd al-Raʾuf, his father, and Zahawa Abu-Saud, his mother, who had emigrated from Palestine in 1927 Arafat himself was mysterious about his birthplace sometimes he would say I was not born before I became Abu ʿAmmar and sometimes he insisted on being born in Old Jerusalem next to the al Haram al Sharif the Islamic sacred site this version was adopted by official publications and Web sites of Fatah Behind this obscurity probably lay the uneasiness of Arafat as the leader of the Palestinian national movement to acknowledge that he had not been born in Palestine and that his Palestinian parents had emigrated voluntarily out of personal and not national reasons from Palestine seeking a better living His full name is Muhammad ʿAbd al Rahman ʿAbd al Raʾuf Arafat al Qudwa al Husayni During the early 1950s ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Gabonese politican, was born on 10 November 1912 to a Fang family living near the colonial capital of Libreville. Orphaned by the age of eleven, Jean-Hilaire was educated at Catholic school, in a similar fashion to his political rival Léon Mba. He did not have fond memories of his education, as demonstrated by his complaints about eating a monotonous diet of salted fish during the famines of the 1920s. Nevertheless, he remained a faithful Catholic throughout his life.

After working as a customs clerk in the 1930s, he took advantage of the limited political opportunities created for Gabonese people by World War II. He supported the Free French cause in 1940 when the colonial administration backed Vichy and he became a close associate of Governor General of French Equatorial Africa Félix Éboué After the war the new French Fourth Republic allowed for a small number of deputies to represent ...

Article

Robert Ross

Griqua leader and hunter in the region that is present-day South Africa, was born around 1770. During the second half of the eighteenth century, his family was one of several families of mixed Khoekhoe and Dutch descent who came to prominence in the dry lands of Namaqualand and along the Gariep River, on the northern frontier of the Cape Colony. Among them were two brothers, known variously as Claas and Piet Bastard or Claas and Piet Barends (sometimes spelled Berends). They first appear in the archival record in the 1760s accompanying Dutch and French expeditions to the Gariep and as overseers on the farms of the Van Reenen family who were then the Cape s most important butchers In time the family grew in wealth prominence and size primarily on the basis of hunting stock farming and trading to the Cape so that it was able to acquire ...

Article

Maitseo Bolaane

Kgosi of the Bangwaketse, was born at Tswaaneng, southern Gangwaketse, in Botswana. The eldest son of Kgosi Gaseitsiwe’s senior wife, Bathoen I was heir to the Bangwaketse chieftaincy. His mother was of the Batlhware people. He learned to read and write at a London Missionary Society mission (LMS) school. As the son of Kgosi, he became leader of the Maisantwa regiment, initiated in 1864 (Ngcongco 1977: 277). Bathoen became chief of the Bangwaketse in July 1889 after the death of his father, Gaseitsewe. The key events of Bathoen’s life related to the growth of British colonial power in this period. In 1885 Botswana became a British protectorate. Khama of Bangwato, Bathoen of Bangwaketse, and Sebele of Bakwena were key players during the period (1890–1891 when Britain s control over Botswana developed from a vague protectorate over the southern part to a more clearly defined though still in practice ...

Article

Botswana leader, was born in Kanye to Seepapitso II, paramount chief of the Bangwaketse, and Mogatsakgari, daughter of Ratshosa, Khama III’s son-in-law. Bathoen’s grandmother, Gagoangwe, was the daughter of Kgosi Sechele of the Bakwena. Bathoen was thus of royal descent on both sides. In 1916, when Bathoen was eight, his father was murdered by his own brother, Moeapitso, in a palace intrigue. Moeapitso was jailed, and Kgosimotse Gaseitsiwe was appointed acting chief of the Bangwaketse until Bathoen reached adulthood. Bathoen spent much of his childhood in Serowe among his mother’s people, the Bangwato.

Bathoen studied at Kanye Hill School, now Rachele Primary School, beginning in 1918; subsequently, in South Africa at Tiger Kloof (1919–1922) and Lovedale (1923–1927 During this time two strong women served as regents the queen mother Gagoangwe and after 1924 Gagoangwe s eldest daughter Ntebogang After completion of his junior certificate ...

Article

politician, was born in the Cyangungu province of Rwanda on 12 May 1935. He graduated from the Cercle Scolaire school in Butare, Rwanda, in 1956. During the violence between Hutu and Tutsi ethnic nationalists in 1959, Bisengimana left Rwanda for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where he studied electrical and civil engineering at the University of Lovanium. Little is available of his early life or his parents. This lack of information is particularly unfortunate, since his decisions later had a profound impact on the relationship between Rwanda and the Congo and the status of Congolese who belonged to the Tutsi ethnic community. Bisengimana had become a supporter of dictator Mobutu Sese Seko by the time Mobutu definitively seized power on 24 November 1965. He joined the ruling Mouvement Populaire de la Révolution (MPR) party and entered the government by 1966 serving as ...

Article

Sterling Recker

Rwandan Hutu politician and military leader, was born in Byumba Prefecture, Gizungu Commune, Rwanda. He is considered by many to be one of the key actors in the planning and implementation of the Rwandan genocide in 1994, and is one of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda’s (ICTR) most wanted perpetrators of the genocide. He has been accused of genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, complicity in genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, crimes against humanity including murder, extermination, rape, persecution, and “serious violations of Common Article 3 and Additional Protocol II (killing, outrages upon personal dignity)” (The Hague).

Between 1990 and 1994 Bizimana was allegedly involved in the planning of the genocide, including the preparation of lists which contained the names of Tutsi and moderate Hutu. Bizimana initiated his plans for Rwanda when he was appointed Defense Minister in July 1993 As Defense Minister Bizimana had ...

Article

Richard A. Bradshaw

leader of Ubangi-Shari’s independence movement and “Father of the Central African Republic,” was born on 4 April 1910 at Bobangui, Lobaye. His father Swalakpé and mother Siribé both belonged to the Mbaka (Ngbaka) ethnic group. Swalakpé, a local leader with five wives, died before Boganda’s birth during an attack by colonial troops on his village. Siribé, the third of Swalakpé’s wives, was beaten to death by a soldier shortly after her husband’s death. An orphan, Boganda was taken into custody by the head of the French post at M’Baïki, Lieutenant Mayer, who entrusted him to the care of Father Gabriel Herriau of the Catholic mission at Bétou. In 1920 the Bétou mission was closed and Boganda was taken to the St. Paul mission in Bangui, where he attended primary school until 1924 While at St Paul s he was baptized adopted the name Barthélemy 24 December 1922 and was ...

Article

A. K. Bennison

chief of the Sanhaja, military leader, also known as Abuʾl-Futuh Yusuf, was the son of Ziri ibn Manad, a chief of the Sanhaja, one of the main Berber peoples of the Maghrib. Many Sanhaja tribes joined the Shiʿi Fatimids when they were based in Ifriqiya (909–972 CE), while the majority of the Zanata Berber tribes offered their support to the Sunni Umayyads of Cordoba. The Kharijites of the Maghrib also opposed the Fatimids, creating a situation of permanent conflict among the tribes of the region. In 324/936 Ziri constructed the fortified town of Ashir, which al-Nuwayri describes as populated by merchants dealing in agricultural products, religious scholars, and jurists. Ziri became a prominent client of the Fatimids after they assisted the Fatimid caliph al-Qaʾim during the Kharijite siege of al-Mahdiyya in 334–5/946.

According to chroniclers Buluggin was the youngest of Ziri s ten or twelve sons but the most able ...

Article

Michael R. Mahoney

Zulu king, was born in emLambogwenya, in what is today KwaZulu-Natal province, South Africa, to the future King Mpande ka Senzangakhona and his wife Ngqumbazi. In 1839, shortly after Mpande defected from his brother King Dingane’s side in the war between the Zulus and the Boers, he officially declared that Cetshwayo would be his heir, even presenting him as such at a meeting of the Boer legislature that year.

As Cetshwayo grew up, he became involved in the various intrigues in the Zulu royal house. One of the main issues in these intrigues was the relative status of Mpande’s twenty-nine wives, each of whom came from a prominent family either within the Zulu kingdom or neighboring it. It has long been customary in polygamous households in this region for the husband to name one of his wives as inkosikazi, or chief wife with her eldest son being heir ...

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

Jeremy Rich

Gabonese political leader, was born around 1890 in the Gabonese village of Mafou in the Estuary Province to a Fang family. His early life is obscure, but he may have served in the colonial army during World War I. He became a prominent figure only after 1920, when the French colonial administration chose to create a new system of state-appointed chiefs. These auxiliaries were to collect taxes, settle local disputes, and act as the auxiliaries for colonial administrators. Prior to 1920, Fang communities had organized themselves into clans rather than by territory. The social dislocation caused by forced recruitment, economic recession, famines, and Spanish influenza during World War I greatly weakened the armed resistance led by Fang clans against the French that had so characterized Fang communities from the 1880s to 1914 It is unclear why Endame Ndong was selected as the African district chief of ...

Article

Judith Imel Van Allen

mohumagadi (queen or queen-mother) successively of the Mmanaana Kgatla and BaNgwaketse (subgroups of the BaTswana in the Bechuanaland Protectorate, present-day Botswana), was born around 1845. She was also regent of the BaNgwaketse for her grandson, Bathoen II, later a prominent leader in colonial and postindependence politics. Gagoangwe was a daughter of Sechele I, king (kgosi) of the BaKwena, and his wife Mokgokong. As a child, Gagoangwe put out the eye of a servant, and her militantly Christian father, asserting both the biblical injunction of “an eye for an eye” and a certain equality among BaKwena, allowed the servant to blind his own daughter in return. She later became known as the “one-eyed queen.”

Gagoangwe first married Kgosi Pilane of the Mmanaana Kgatla, but in 1875 eloped with Bathoen I, heir to rulership (bogosi of the BaNgwaketse and later married him Gagoangwe was a devout Christian and an ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Burundian politician, was born sometime in the middle of the twentieth century in Bu. Despite his tremendous popularity among many Hutu people as a martyr following his death in 1990, little firm information is available on his early life.

Gahutu attended primary and secondary schools in Burundi. He then received the opportunity to study in Belgium, and he received an undergraduate degree in agriculture from the Catholic University in Louvain. Gahutu was deeply affected by the Burundian genocide of April 1972 in which tens of thousands of people were killed by the Tutsi dominated military on the grounds that they supported the establishment of a new Hutu dominated regime Gahutu joined a political party that formed in the wake of these massacres Tabara He then moved to Rwanda where he became a prodigious activist in the numerous refugee camps set up for Hutu exiles from Burundi He helped ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

mbang (king) of the Chadian Baguirmi kingdom, was born in the middle of the nineteenth century. In his youth, his predecessor Ab Sakin battled numerous internal and external foes to retain his title as mbang. Bagurimi had long been dragged into disputes between its neighbors: the kingdom of Bornu to the west and the kingdom of Wadai to the east. Since the successes of Wadai’s dynamic ruler Sabun in the early nineteenth century, Wadai had treated Bagurimi as a vassal state. Ab Sakin tried to break free from Wadai, and a Wadaian army destroyed the Bagurimian capital of Massenya in 1871 in retaliation. Ab Sakin continued to fight against the Wadai and other claimants to the throne of Baguirmi. Yusuf, Sultan of Wadai, decided to impose a new king on Baguirmi more favorable to Wadai’s influence. At Ab Sakin’s death in 1884 Yusuf ensured the victory of Abdul ...

Article

Sterling Recker

Rwandan politician and prime minister is a Hutu who came of age under Belgian colonial rule Gitera was educated in a Catholic seminary which had been established by the Belgian colonial powers The institutions of colonialism and the Catholic Church had both favored Tutsi supremacy for most of Gitera s life which contributed to his ideological development and his determined focus on revolution and reform by the late 1950s Gitera was a businessman who went on to create a political party which was ostensibly based on class interests as opposed to the principles of ethnicity but nevertheless attracted only Hutu members He challenged the privileges that Tutsi held and demanded independence for Rwanda during the 1950s Gitera was attempting to appeal to all Rwandans regardless of ethnicity by using nationalist ideology to create a movement against the colonial powers and church influence both of which were supportive of the Tutsi ...