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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

Charles Orson Cook

African “Pygmy” who was put on display at the Bronx Zoo. In 1904, the white missionary Samuel Phillips Verner brought Ota Benga whose freedom he had purchased with a bribe to Belgian Congo officials and seven other Congolese Pygmies to the Saint Louis World s Fair as part of an ethnological exhibit of primitive peoples which included among others the Native American Apache chief Geronimo Verner s agreement with the World s Fair required him to bring several Africans and as much of their village intact as possible He actually brought fewer tribesmen than his contract required and many fewer artifacts but the exhibit was one of the most popular attractions at the fair The Africans were the objects of constant public attention and they also drew the interest of professional and academic ethnologists who measured the physical and mental characteristics of the Pygmies concluding that they were ...

Article

Kenyatta D. Berry

a black Seminole, was born around 1857 or 1858 in Nacimiento de Los Negros, the settlement established in northern Mexico following the emigration of Indian and Black Seminoles from the United States Indian Territory in 1849. In 1849 about two hundred Seminoles and blacks left the reserve without the permission of Indian agents or government officials and headed to Mexico. Nine months later they crossed into the Rio Grande at Eagle Pass. The Mexican government settled the new immigrants into two small military colonies at Muzquiz and Nacimiento de Los Negros. At its peak in 1850 this colony provided a home for more than seven hundred Black Seminole men women and children The tribes of Black Seminoles were a mixture of Seminole Indians and African American slaves fleeing from Florida after the Seminole War This group became famous for their thorough clearing of marauders from their territory ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

a Congolese pygmy infamously exhibited at New Yorks’ Bronx Zoo, was born into a Twa (pygmy) community living in what is now the Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. He grew up in the domain of Ndombe, a small monarchy ruled by a Luba-speaking clan on the outskirts of the Kuba kingdom. Almost nothing is known of his early life or his family, although he is reputed to have been—like many of his people—an elephant hunter. Samuel Verner, a Presbyterian missionary from North Carolina stationed at the Fwela mission in Ndombe in the late 1890s, agreed to find pygmies to be exhibited at the 1904 Saint Louis World's Fair. Verner visited a town of Baschilele people near Ndombe in March 1904 At a slave market there he found Ota Benga who had been captured by African soldiers in the Force Publique colonial army of Leopold II s ...

Article

Edna G. Bay

high official in the government of King Glele (1858–1889) of the Fon kingdom of Dahomey (located in what is now southern Benin), held the key office of Tononu, a position that is sometimes compared with that of the head wife in polygynous marriages (e.g., the woman who directed all others in the household). Reportedly the king’s favorite, Visesegan was one of thousands of the king’s wives or dependents, all of whom—women and men—were called ahosi. A woman grown wealthy through commercial activities, Visesegan played a central political role in two major internal struggles of the late nineteenth century: the question of which prince would succeed Glele, and the development of appropriate responses to French demands that led to the 1892 invasion and conquest of Dahomey.

In the late nineteenth century an estimated five thousand plus women and a much smaller number of eunuchs inhabited a series of ...

Article

Godfrey Muriuki

was a major Kikuyu trader and leader in Kenya. By the 1880s the Kikuyu who had migrated from Murang’a had occupied Kiambu and reached the outskirts of what is now Nairobi. The frontier was a land of opportunity. Individuals were able to acquire land from the Dorobo, or Athi, through purchase, conquest, or creating family relationships through adoption. Kiambu had rich volcanic soils, and the area was blessed with plenty of rain. Being expert agriculturalists, the Kikuyu made full use of the newly acquired virgin land to grow plenty of foodstuffs. And by coincidence, their expansion coincided with the arrival of trading parties from Mombasa on their way to the interior.

The region between the coast and the highlands was barren, or nyika. Consequently caravan parties of Arabs and Swahili could not obtain provisions until they reached Machakos and Kikuyu land For this reason the frontier of Kikuyu ...