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 ...
Tanzanian linguist and academic, was born in Mwanza, Tanzania, on 1 January 1947, as the eighth child of Michael Masalu, medical assistant, and Melania Humbo. The family lived in the suburbs of Mwanza, a provincial town in the northwest of what was then Tanganyika. Before his birth, two of his father’s cousins had come to visit the family, but, because his uncle had mistreated him when he lived with them as an orphan, his father turned them away with the words “batiboyi abakanibyaala” It is not them who gave birth to me These words were used to call the newborn child in the Sukuma culture Batibo s ethnic group children are named according to events or circumstances at the time of birth The long name was soon shortened to Batibo and used as his surname At Batibo s christening the Bavarian priest administering the baptism found the ...
Amber B. Gemmeke
, Senegalese filmmaker and ethnologist, was born on 22 November 1943 in Fad’jal, Senegal, a small Serer village about sixty-two miles (hundred kilometers) south of Dakar, in the Sine-Saloum region. Safi Faye is the second of her mother’s seven children. Her father was a polygamous businessman and village chief, and Faye had thirteen half-brothers and half-sisters as well. Safi Faye attended primary school in Dakar and obtained her teacher’s certificate at the Normal School of Rufisque through a state contract in 1962. She worked as a schoolteacher in Dakar from 1963 until 1969. In 1966 she met Jean Rouch, the French ethnographic filmmaker and a father of cinema verité, at the World Black and African Festival of Arts and Cultures (FESTAC), in Dakar. Subsequently, she had a role in Rouch’s 1968 film Petit à petit: lettres persanes Little by Little Persian Letters Although Safi Faye ...
, 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 ...
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 ...
the first Herero convert to Christianity, a translator, a teacher, and a midwife, was born in September 1837 as the daughter of Kazahendike and his wife Kariaavihe in Hereroland in what is today central Namibia. Her family was among those Herero who were impoverished and displaced by the conflicts that were ravaging central Namibia in the 1840s (especially those between Jan Jonker Afrikaner and Tjimuhua) and who subsequently gravitated toward the early missions in search of shelter and livelihood. Urieta Kazahendike was about ten or twelve years old when she came to live with German-born missionary Carl Hugo Hahn and his English wife Emma, née Hone, who had arrived in Namibia in 1844. Kazahendike lived with the Hahns first at Otjikango, about 70 kilometers north of Windhoek, which the missionaries called “New Barmen.” In 1855 she followed the Hahn family to Otjimbingwe to the west of Otjikango From ...
British topographer, ethnographer, and philologist in Egypt, was born at Hereford, England, on 17 September 1801, the son of the Reverend Theophilus Lane and wife Sophia (née Gardiner). Having rejected higher education at Cambridge, Edward went instead to London in 1819, and learned the craft of engraving. There he developed an interest in Egypt, possibly stimulated by Belzoni’s spectacular exhibition of Egyptian antiquities in 1821. But he also seems to have shared in the excitement aroused about that time by the decipherment of the hieroglyphs by Jean François Champollion and Dr. Thomas Young.
Having already acquired some knowledge of Arabic, Lane embarked for Egypt in 1825. On arrival at Alexandria, he felt like “an Eastern bridegroom, about to lift up the veil of his bride, and to see, for the first time, the features which were to charm, or disappoint, or disgust him” (Lane, 2000 ...
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 ...
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 ...
was an outstanding local historian from Marangu on the southeastern slopes of Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. His unpublished notebooks, which he wrote in Chagga and also in Swahili, focus on the history of the southern and southeastern parts of the mountain. Though he was able to have some of his own work published, it was through his unpublished writings that Mtui made his most significant contributions. Mtui used to liken his clan to the Jews because it had suffered exile, dispersion, and diaspora after being expelled from their original homeland, Mshiri, about 250 years earlier. In the mid-1880s, members of the Mtui clan left Mamba as a consequence of internal conflict and temporarily stayed in Marangu, the neighboring country in the west. The ruler (mangi Marealle I then invited all the remaining clan members to return to Mshiri Mtui was reputedly the first member of the clan born after ...
folk musician and ethnomusicologist, was born on 3 October 1934 in the Asante village of Foase in colonial era Ghana He was named Daniel Amponsah at birth His musically inclined parents were an early influence on him His father Kwame Amponsah played the trumpet and guitar while his mother sang in the choir at the local Methodist church Through his sister s marriage to a member of the Ashanti royal family the preteen Koo Nimo moved to Kumasi the capital of the Asante kingdom His stay in Kumasi and his proximity to Asante royalty immersed him in the cultural lore and traditions of the Asante and by extension the Akan This cultural immersion was to become an important influence in his music He had his secondary school education at the prestigious Adisadel College in Cape Coast His postsecondary education was in the sciences and he always maintained a professional ...
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 ...
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 ...
C. S'thembile West
dance pioneer, anthropologist, and choreographer, was born in Trinidad, the daughter of Edward Primus and Emily Jackson, and migrated with her family to New York City when she was two years old. She majored in biology and premedicine at Hunter College of the City University of New York and graduated in1940. Seeking support for graduate studies, she solicited help from the National Youth Administration (NYA). Under the auspices of the NYA she was enrolled in a dance group, subsequently auditioned for the New Dance Group in New York, and earned a scholarship with that institution.
During Primus's tenure at the New Dance Group, she began to do research on African culture. She visited museums and consulted books, articles, and pictures for months to produce on 14 February 1943 her first significant dance work, African Ceremonial which she had asked continental Africans to judge ...
(also known as Cromwell Ashbie Hawkins West, Carlos Ashbie Hawk Westez, Ashbie Hawkins West, and Namo S. Hatirire) activist, linguist, storyteller, performer, and shaman, was born in Newport, Rhode Island. There are varying accounts of Red Thunder Cloud's parentage and upbringing. According to his own account, he was born Carlos Ashibie Hawk Westez. As a young boy, he was brought up among the Narragansett Indians of Rhode Island by his Catawba mother, Roberta Hawk Westez, and his Honduran father, Carlos Panchito Westez. He is believed to have lived among the Shinnecock Indians of Long Island in the late 1930s. His actual home during much of this time was said to be on the Catawba Reservation in South Carolina, but he traveled extensively, visiting many Indian groups. This account of his early life has been challenged by Smithsonian anthropologist and ethnologist Ives Goddard who claimed ...
Bethany K. Dumas
linguistics professor, was born in Georgetown, Guyana, the youngest of the ten children of Eula (nee Wade), a homemaker, and Russell Howell Rickford, an accountant and auditor. In 1968 he began studying in California on a U.S. scholarship at the University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC). He worked closely with anthropology Professor Roger Keesing and Professor J. Herman Blake, an African American sociologist who was working on the biography of Huey Newton (whom Rickford later met). It was through a program of Blake's that Rickford first went out to Daufuskie Island, one of the South Carolina Sea Islands, in 1970, an experience that he described as “life/career changing in many ways” (personal interview with subject, 2007).
Rickford once said that as a mixed race person his black consciousness and identity crystallized when he came to the United States He was elected president of the ...
French filmmaker and ethnographer active in Niger, was born on 31 May 1917 in Paris. His father was an adventurous naval officer who had traveled as far as Antarctica. His mother had a deep love of poetry and painting. Their son would combine his parents’ interests in his later life.
The Rouch family moved often in Jean’s early life, and he spent time in Algeria, Morocco, and Germany. In 1937, he entered the École des Ponts et Chausées to study engineering. Rouch did so at the behest of his father rather than out of a real interest in the subject matter. However, Rouch found plenty of opportunities to take other courses outside of engineering and science.
In his last year of studies Rouch met anthropologist Maurice Griaule whose work on Dogon communities in West Africa would later be one of the most well known and controversial examples of French ...
historian and writer during Nigeria’s colonial period, was born in 1898 into the Tiv ethnic group in northern Nigeria. Sai was one of the first individuals in his village to convert to Christianity following the arrival of European missionaries in 1911. Sai’s father strongly encouraged and supported his conversion. Sai subsequently became employed by the missionaries and worked as an evangelist. Partly because of his associations with the missionaries, Sai was also one of the first individuals in his village to learn to write in the Tiv language. This skill would prove to be foundational in shaping the rest of Sai’s life and transformative in determining the important role he would later play in writing and recording the history of his people.
Akiga Sai was the editor of the monthly Tiv newspaper, Mwanger u Tiv, published by the Gaskiya Corporation. In 1951 he was elected as a ...
South African social anthropologist, was born on 23 June 1905 in the village of Garies in the Northern Cape, where his parents, Hermann and Rosie, recent Jewish immigrants from eastern Europe, kept a small trading store. The family moved to Cape Town in 1911. After his mother’s death and his father’s remarriage, Isaac left home at fifteen and entered the University of Cape Town in 1921. He studied law but took social anthropology as a minor in his second year, following the lectures of Alfred Radcliffe-Brown, Cape Town’s first professor in social anthropology and one of the founding figures of British social anthropology. After his MA with Radcliffe-Brown, he went to the London School of Economics to write a PhD under Charles Seligman and attend Bronislaw Malinowski’s seminars. He returned to South Africa in 1929 lecturing at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and the University ...
magistrate, native administrator, and collector of Zulu oral histories in South Africa, was born on 30 January 1868 in Pietermaritzburg, the capital of the colony of Natal. He was the eldest son of Martinus Stuart (1841–1881) and his wife Mary, née Taylor (1846–1918). He was educated at Hilton College in Natal and St John’s College, Hurstpierpoint, Sussex.
In 1888 Stuart took up a position as clerk and interpreter in isiZulu in the civil service of the recently annexed colony of Zululand. Over the next eleven years he held various administrative posts in Zululand and Swaziland. From 1899 to 1901 he acted as magistrate in several centers in Natal before being appointed assistant magistrate in Durban, the colony’s biggest town.
By this time Stuart was devoting more and more of his time and energies to the project which he called his Idea of making himself a leading authority on Zulu customs ...