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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 ...

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

Sterling Recker

Rwandan military officer, was born into a northern middle-class Hutu family in Gisenyi, Giciye Commune. He was the oldest of six children and the son of a teacher. He attended the Petit Séminaire (minor seminary) St. Pie X in the diocese of Nyundo for his primary education. Upon graduating from the minor seminary, Bagosora began his military training at the officers’ training school in Kigali in 1962. In 1981 Bagosora traveled to France to attend the Études Militaires Supérieures de l École de Guerre Française where he received further training at the elite school He was the first Rwandan to attend the foreign academy Upon his return to Rwanda he began his tenure as commander of the Kanombe military camp located outside of Kigali He married Isabelle Uzanyinzoga a Hutu from southern Rwanda which caused friction between Juvénal Habyarimana and other hard line northern Hutus in the government ...

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

Anne K. Driscoll

painter, printmaker, and illustrator, was born in Gardens Corner, South Carolina, the second of seven children of Ruth J. Green (a home manager) and Melvin Green (occupation unknown). Green is possibly the first person of Gullah descent to train at a professional art school. The Gullah are the descendants of West African slaves who lived on and near the Sea Islands of Georgia and South Carolina.

Great things were expected of Green from the time of his birth. He was born with an inner fetal membrane covering his head and for this reason was considered a “child of the Veil” (Green). In Gullah culture the Veil marks children “touched by uncommonness and magic that will bring inordinate grace to the community.” Traveling to New York seeking employment, Green's mother left Green in the care of his maternal grandmother, Eloise Stewart Johnson Green was interested in art ...

Article

Phillip A Cantrell

last president of pregenocide Rwanda, was born on 8 March 1937 in Gisenyi to a prosperous Hutu family. Following primary school, he graduated from the College of Saint Paul in Bukavu, Zaire, with a degree in mathematics and the humanities. Habyarimana had completed a year of medical school at Lovanium University in Zaire when Grégorie Kayibanda assumed power in 1959, at which time he left Lovanium to enter the officer training school in Kigali. Upon graduating with distinction in 1961, he became an aid to the Belgian commander of the colonial forces in Rwanda; two years later, owing to his education and charisma, he was named head of the Rwanda National Guard. In 1965 he was promoted to head the Ministry of the National Guard and Police, a cabinet-level position which made him the most powerful figure in the Rwandan military.

Initially Habyarimana was a steadfast supporter of ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

military leader, was born in Rwanda in 1959. Little is available about his youth and early years, but he belonged to a family in the Tutsi ethnic minority. He eventually married Esperance Mudenge and had three children with her. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, opponents of president Joseph Kabila would later claim that Kabila was the nephew of Kabarebe, although this story may well have been invented simply to deny that Kabila was of Congolese nationality. Like so many other Tutsi following Rwanda's independence from Belgium in 1962 Kabarebe s family fled to Uganda During his time in Uganda Kabarebe attended Makerere University in the capital city of Kampala There he received an undergraduate degree in economics and political science Like his future military commander Paul Kagame Kabarebe served in the National Resistance Army in Uganda headed by Yoweri Museveni After the NRA seized power ...

Article

Jean-Pierre Chrétien

president of Burundi, was born in 1940 in Rutovu (province of Bururi) in the south of Burundi. His father was Ruronona, a peasant livestock farmer, born around 1900, of the Tutsi Batyaba clan belonging to the Hima subgroup, which had been relatively marginalized during the old monarchic society. Michel studied at the primary school of the Catholic mission of Rutovu, which chose him to pursue secondary studies at the prestigious “interracial” Collège du Saint-Esprit, founded by the Jesuits in Bujumbura in 1955. In March 1960, when a national army was to be constituted during Burundi’s decolonization (which had begun in November 1959), he was one of three holders of the humanities diploma who were sent by the administration of the Belgian trusteeship to the Académie royale militaire in Brussels to be educated as an officer.

He was recalled to Burundi at the beginning of 1962 ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Congolese warlord and religious leader, was born on 29 August 1964 under the name Frédéric Bitsamou in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo. Details about his early life are extremely difficult to obtain. Etanislas Ngodi, author of the most detailed study of Ntoumi’s Nsilulu religious and political movement as of 2009 noted that he so frightened informants in Brazzaville that they refused to provide much concrete information about his family According to some sources Ntoumi was the eldest of eight children He completed his studies at the primary level he never attended middle school nor graduated from secondary school Religious pamphlets and the Bible were his favorite reading materials One individual close to Ntoumi noted It was prayer that counted for him most of all It didn t mean he wasn t intelligent at school On the contrary everyone who knew him thought he was brilliant Certainly his lack of ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

president of Benin, was born on 28 June 1909 in Abomey, the former capital of the kingdom of Dahomey that had been defeated by France in the early 1890s. He belonged to the Fon-speaking majority of southern and central Benin.

In 1931, he joined the French army as a volunteer. During World War II, he served with distinction as a member of an African colonial combat unit. After the German victory over France in 1940, Soglo backed Charles De Gaulle’s continued fight against the Axis powers. Soglo fought in the Allied landings on Corsica, Morocco, Elba, and the south of France. Soglo’s leadership brought him to the attention of his superiors. Once World War II ended, Soglo was named a member of the colonial forces general staff. In 1947 he became the military adviser to the French colonial ministry Soglo then served in the Indochina conflict against ...

Article

Duane W. Roller

leader of the Musulamii, a Numidian tribe, was active from 17 to 24 CE in opposing the power of the established governments in north central Africa, in other words, the Romans and the Mauretanian allied kingdom of Juba II. His career is known solely from the Annals of Tacitus, the point of view of the Romans who defeated him, and thus the data must be considered with caution.

Tacfarinas is an early example of the indigenous leader skilled in Roman ways who used his knowledge to fight against Roman power. As the Roman Empire spread, increasing numbers of peoples on its frontier became accustomed to Roman civilization without accepting Roman political control. In North Africa there was also the constant conflict between the agriculturalists—both indigenous and European settlers—and the transhumant peoples who found their routes blocked by the agrarian population, a historic problem still apparent today in many areas.

Tacfarinas ...

Article

Mohammed Hassen Ali

Ethiopian military officer of Oromo origin, was born in Salale, Shewa province, to a deeply religious family. He received Ethiopian Orthodox Church education. His father, Birru, was killed by poison gas while fighting against the invading Italian forces in 1935. Heartbroken, Taddese’s mother died just three months after her husband’s death.

Taddese joined his uncle, Beka, who was one of the resistance leaders in Shewa province. Taddese was captured together with many others by the Italian forces and was sentenced for the first time to life imprisonment with hard labor in Mogadisho. The outbreak of World War II shortened Taddese’s misery and changed the course of his life. When the British captured Mogadisho in 1940, Taddese was freed and recruited into the British forces. He was given military training in Kenya and returned to Ethiopia in 1941. In 1942 Taddese was promoted to the rank of ...