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Baye Yimam

Ethiopian intellectual, novelist, playwright, and poet, was born on 1 July 1933 in Gojjam Province, Ethiopia. He was one of the prominent literary figures in modern Ethiopian literature, the author of some twenty-three books between 1956 and 1977; two are in English and the rest in Amharic, his native language. The works comprise eight novels, five plays, three poetry collections, and another five on various subjects, including translation of biographies and works on land tenure.

His mother Yirgedu Belay died young leaving him to be raised by his father Gubegna Ambaye It was her expressed wish that Abbe should go to school which Ambaye fulfilled by sending him to a church school as was usual He attended different schools in Gojjam and Begemeder for twelve years and attained a high level of excellence in the traditional curriculum which included Geez poetry hymnody and liturgical dance all rooted in the ...

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Daria Tunca

Nigerian creative writer and essayist, was born on 15 September 1977 in Enugu, Nigeria, the fifth of six children, to James Nwoye and Grace Ifeoma Adichie. The Igbo family’s ancestral hometown was Abba in Anambra State, but Adichie grew up in Nsukka, where her parents worked. Her father was professor of statistics at the University of Nigeria and later became the institution’s deputy vice-chancellor, while her mother, a graduate in sociology, was its first female registrar.

Adichie began writing stories as a child. Her first pieces were heavily influenced by the British children’s literature of which she was an avid reader; her early prose was, more specifically, modeled on the books of English author Enid Blyton. When Adichie was about ten years old, she discovered African novels such as Things Fall Apart (1958) by Nigerian Chinua Achebe and The African Child (originally published in French as L enfant ...

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Kathleen Sheldon

Ghanaian poet, playwright, and short-story writer, was born Christina Ama Aidoo in a village in central Ghana, in either 1940 or 1942 (sources differ). Her father, Yaw Fama, was a local ruler and an educator who opened the first local school and encouraged his daughter to attend. By the time she was a teenager, she was writing poems and short stories, and she has said that she knew from an early age that she wanted to be a writer. Her first story, “To Us a Child Is Born,” was published in 1958, when it won a prize sponsored by The Daily Graphic, a leading Ghanaian newspaper. She attended Wesley Girls High School in Cape Coast and the University of Ghana at Legon. In 1962 she attended the African Writers Workshop at Nigeria s University of Ibadan the result of a contest to which she had submitted No ...

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Marian Aguiar

Christina Ama Ata Aidoo was born in Abeadzi Kyiakor, Ghana, into a Fante family she once characterized as “a long line of fighters.” Encouraged by her liberal-minded father, Aidoo pursued an English degree at the University of Ghana in Legon. As a student, she won a short-story prize, but her interests centered on drama as a means of bringing to life the rich oral traditions of the Fante. She worked closely with leading Ghanaian dramatist Efua Sutherland and became familiar with a Fante dramatic style that blossomed in the 1930s.

Aidoo's first play, The Dilemma of a Ghost, was staged in 1964 by the Student s Theatre at the University of Ghana With this play Aidoo earned her lasting reputation as a writer who examines the traditional African roles of wife and mother The play like many of her later works also demonstrated her willingness to grapple ...

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Miguel Algarín was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico. His family emigrated from Puerto Rico to the Lower East Side of Manhattan, New York, when he was nine years old. The Lower East Side's Latin urban landscape served as the foundation for his literary career. Algarín obtained his B.A. in romance languages from the University of Wisconsin in 1963 and his M.A. in English literature from Pennsylvania State University in 1965. He completed his doctoral studies in comparative literature at Rutgers University. He served as an instructor at Brooklyn College and New York University before becoming an assistant professor and chair of the Puerto Rican Studies department at Rutgers University. He is currently a professor emeritus at Rutgers.

While Algarín is a popular educator he is best known as one of the most active authors in the Puerto Rican poetic movement that flourished in New York City in the ...

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Maxamed Dahir Afrax

Somali poet, dramatist, actor, and political activist, was born in Gabiley in northwestern Somalia in 1935. His father, Muxumed Amiin, was a soldier. His mother, Muumina Kaahin, Muxumed Amiin’s first wife, died when Cabdi, her only child, was still an infant. Cabdi’s grandmother Murriya took care of him until he was a teenager. He lived in the towns of Berbera and Arabsiyo where he attended a qurʾanic school. As a teenager he had to support himself through different kinds of hard physical labor.

In 1953 he moved to Hargeisa then the capital of the British Protectorate of Somaliland where he started composing his first poems Soon after in the same year he moved to Mogadishu the Somali capital There he was recognized as a talented poet and artist and was employed by Radio Mogadishu At the same time he joined the movement for national independence He worked for ...

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Maxwell Akansina Aziabah

Ghanaian filmmaker, writer, producer, and director, was born in Agona Swedru in the Central Region of Ghana. His father, J. R. Ansah, was a professional photographer, a painter, dramatist, and musician, and his mother was a trader. Kwaw Ansah, after his Anglican elementary education in Agona Swedru, moved to Accra, where he completed his ordinary-level certificate examinations. While studying for his ordinary-level certificate, he worked as a fashion designer for the United Africa Company. He later entered London Polytechnic (now the University of Westminster) in 1963 to study theater design. Having decided to pursue a career in film production, he then enrolled in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York and graduated two years later, in 1965 with a diploma in dramatic arts That same year he was admitted to the American Musical and Dramatic Academy It was while there that he understudied film production in R ...

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Emad Abdul-Latif

playwright, was born to a well-off family in the city of Meet Ghamr in Al Dakahlia governorate in Egypt. His father, S’ad al-Deen Ashour, was passionate about literature and the arts, especially the theater. His mother belonged to a wealthy family from the countryside. For primary and secondary education, Ashour moved between different schools in Dakahlia, Alexandria, and Cairo. His admiration for the Egyptian writer Taha Hussein and his desire for a career in literature led him to study in the Department of English at Cairo University in 1938. However, upon graduating he worked as a bank employee for ten years. In 1952, he quit this position and joined the Ministry of Social Affairs as a supervisor of some of the government's cultural activities. This job afforded him close ties with artists, especially dramatists. When the Ministry of Culture was established in 1958 he served as ...

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Nicole D. Price

author and coordinator of activities at the Centro Cultural Español de Malabo (Spanish Cultural Center of Malabo, Equatorial Guinea), was born 6 November 1966 in Equatorial Guinea to Manuel Avila and Luisa Laurel, the eldest of five children. Reared primarily by his maternal grandmother due to his parents’ separation, Avila Laurel spent his early childhood in Annabón (Equatorial Guinea), often having to share a bed with uncles and cousins due to the economic situation. His mother taught him how to read before he started school, and because of that he was considered very advanced for his age. He began his primary education in Annabón and in 1978, at the age of twelve, he moved to the capital, Malabo, with a great aunt to continue his education. Political instability of the country, especially the end of the bloody dictatorship of Francisco Nguema Macías in 1978 and the generally poor ...

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Jeremy Rich

actor and comedian, was born in the town of Ouragahio, Ivory Coast. His family had high aspirations for their son, and later struggled at times to understand why he chose acting over a professional career. Bohiri used drying racks for cocoa beans as material to make makeshift stages. He watched other performers and rapidly became one himself, especially because he loved to make other people laugh. At the age of ten, Bohiri watched a play by Daniel Adjé that really caught his attention. From 1974 onward Bohiri aspired to be an actor as well At this point Bohiri had not yet even completed his primary education in Ouragahio Once he entered secondary school Bohiri began to perform in numerous theatrical competitions At a performance by comedian Hilaire Gomé Gnohité Bohiri was stunned by how funny the entertainer was With Gomé Gnohité as a model the young Bohiri ...

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Evan Mwangi

Caribbean poet, historian, dramatist, and cultural theorist, was born Lawson Edward Brathwaite to Hilton Brathwaite, a warehouse clerk, and Beryl Gill on 11 May 1930 in Bridgetown, the capital of Barbados. He was later given the name “Kamau,” a common name in central Kenya, by the writer Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s mother, when Brathwaite visited Kenya as a guest of the University of Nairobi in the 1970s. For his early education, Braithwaite attended the Harrison College, an elite school in Barbados, beginning in 1945. He started writing poetry at an early age, publishing some of it in the school magazine, The Harrisonian, which he cofounded, and later in the audacious magazine Bim, edited by Frank Collymore, an eminent man of letters in the British Caribbean. Some of this early poetry was later collected in Brathwaite’s Other Exiles (1975).

In 1949 Brathwaite won the Barbados Scholarship to attend ...

Article

Alice Knox Eaton

slave narrator, novelist, playwright, historian, and abolitionist leader, was born in Lexington, Kentucky, the son of a slave mother, Elizabeth, and George Higgins, the white half-brother of Brown's first master, Dr. John Young. As a slave, William was spared the hard labor of his master's plantation, unlike his mother and half-siblings, because of his close blood relation to the slave-holding family, but as a house servant he was constantly abused by Mrs. Young. When the family removed to a farm outside St. Louis, Missouri, William was hired out in various capacities, including physician's assistant, servant in a public house, and waiter on a steamship. William's “best master” in slavery was Elijah P. Lovejoy, publisher of the St. Louis Times, where he was hired out in the printing office in 1830 Lovejoy was an antislavery editor who would be murdered seven years later for refusing ...

Article

Kissette Bundy

playwright. Bullins, an American dramatist of the black theater movement, was born in Philadelphia to Edward Dawson Bullins and Bertha Marie Queen Bullins. He lived with his mother, a power machine operator, and attended integrated schools. He dropped out of high school and joined the U.S. Navy in 1952. While in the navy, Bullins competed as a pugilist, using the skills that he had learned and needed on the tough streets of North Philadelphia.

Out of the navy in 1955, Bullins attended two college-prep high schools. Three years later, without a diploma and apparently financially hoodwinked by a female classmate, he left Philadelphia for California. Bullins earned his GED and then continued at Los Angeles City College, publishing his short stories, essays, and poetry in the literary magazine Citadel, which he founded with an instructor, Isabelle Ziegler.

Bullins the playwright emerged during the vortex of ...

Article

Lucilda Hunter

poet, dramatist, musician, artist, was born prematurely on 11 May 1904 in Axim in the Gold Coast (now Ghana). Her father was Joseph Ephraim Casely-Hayford, a journalist, educator, and Pan-African activist of Fante origin, and her mother was his second wife, Adelaide Smith Casely-Hayford, a Sierra Leonean–born feminist, writer, and educator.

Gladys Casely-Hayford spent the first five years of her life between the Gold Coast and England. Her mother first took her there in 1906 to consult a specialist about a congenital hip defect that had made her left leg weak and misaligned, creating mobility problems. A second visit to England was for her mother’s own health and family reasons. Both visits lasted for months and might have contributed to the failure of her parents’ marriage, which ended with a legal separation agreement in 1914 Gladys went to Freetown when her mother returned to Sierra Leone and attended the ...

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Paul Breslin

Martinican poet, playwright, essayist, and political leader, was born on 26 June 1913, in Basse Pointe, Martinique. His parents, Fernand and Eléonore Césaire, were of modest means but devoted to their six children’s education. In 1924, Césaire entered the Lycée Schoelcher in Martinique’s capital, Fort-de-France. In 1931 he went to France to study at the Lycée Louis-le-Grand, then, in 1935, at l’École Normale Supérieure. In Paris, Césaire developed friendships with other young black intellectuals and writers, most notably the Senegalese Léopold Sédar Senghor and Léon Damas (1912–1978), a French Guianese who had been his schoolmate at the Lycée Schoelcher. In 1937, he met and married a fellow Martinican student and poet, Suzanne Roussi (1915–1966). The marriage produced six children, one of whom, Ina Césaire (1942– ), became a prominent writer as well.

Césaire and his circle sought a definition of black identity They were influenced by the ...

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Richard Watts

Born in Basse-Pointe, Martinique, the second of six children in a family of relatively modest means, Aimé Césaire grew up with a strong appreciation for French culture. While most young Martinicans heard their bedtime stories in Creole, Césaire’s father would read his son French poems by Victor Hugo, which may explain in part Césaire’s bias against the Creole language. The family moved to Fort-de-France when Césaire was twelve years old. There Aimé enrolled at the Lycée Schoelcher and met Léon-Gontran Damas, a student from French Guiana. Césaire’s exceptional work there led to a scholarship to finish his secondary studies in Paris, France, at the prestigious Lycée Louis-le-Grand. In Paris he met the Senegalese Léopold Sédar Senghor, a man whose literary and political itinerary would mirror Césaire’s.

Césaire enrolled at the école Normale Supérieure in 1931 and began participating in the vibrant black student life of 1930s Paris Through ...

Article

Danielle Georges

Born to a mother from Saint Thomas and a Haitian father, Marie Chauvet studied at l'Annexe de l'École d'Institutrices in the 1930s before beginning to write. Her first play, La légende des fleurs, was performed in 1946, and a production of Samba followed in 1947. Two years later, Chauvet published La légende des fleurs under the pseudonym Colibri. Between 1954 and 1970, Chauvet published four novels. Fille d'Haiti, published in 1954, won the Prix de l'Alliance Franàaise. La danse sur le volcan followed in 1957, and Fonds des Nègres, which received the Prix France Antilles, was published in 1960. Amour, colère et folie was published in 1968. Her last complete novel, Les rapaces, was published posthumously in 1986. Chauvet was writing a novel titled Fils d'Ogoun at the time of her death.

Her best-known work, Amour colère ...

Article

Evan Mwangi

Moroccan novelist, dramatist, and radio commentator and producer, was born on 15 July 1926 in the French Moroccan town of Mazagan (present-day el-Jadida), near Casablanca. His father was a fairly liberal tea merchant who regarded European education as a vestibule to a better Moroccan society. As a young boy Chraïbi received his early education in a local qurʾanic school, but when the family moved to Casablanca a little later, he joined a French school. In 1946 he left for Paris to study chemical engineering, graduating in 1950. However, he abandoned his graduate studies in neuropsychiatry just before receiving his doctorate. He traveled across Europe and to Israel, settling in France with his first wife, Catherine Chraïbi (née Birckel), and their children.

From 1952 Chraïbi devoted himself to literature and journalism, and in 1954 he began writing for the National Radio and Television Broadcasting System Ranging from epics to comedy ...

Article

Born in Kiagbodo, Nigeria, John Pepper Clark (also known as J. P. Clark-Bekederemo) was raised in the Ijaw homeland of southern Nigeria by his maternal grandmother, following his mother’s death when he was a baby. At the age of six, his father enrolled Clark in a school in the town of Okrika. After studying at Warri Government College from 1948to1954 , he studied English at University College in Ibadan where he founded the literary magazine The Horn. Clark graduated with honors in 1960.

After a year as a government information officer, Clark became an editorial and features writer for the Daily Express in Lagos. His first play, Song of a Goat, a tragedy that drew from Ijaw dramatic traditions, was published in 1961. Poems, Clark’s first collection of poetry, came out in 1962 the same year he accepted a scholarship to study ...

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Tiziana Morosetti

Nigerian playwright and poet, was born on 6 April 1935 in Kaigbodo, in the Ijo region of southern Nigeria. He attended the Government College at Ughelli and graduated in English at the University of Ibadan in 1960. In 1957 and 1958 he was also the editor of The Horn, a renowned student literary journal that became a reference point for writers like Wole Soyinka, Elechi Amadi, and Christopher Okigbo, who were at Ibadan with Clark-Bekederemo at the time, and in which some of the author’s first verses appeared. After working briefly as a journalist for the Lagos Daily Express, Clark-Bekederemo was a research fellow at Princeton University from 1963 to 1964 (an experience that resulted in his 1964 autobiography, America, Their America) and at the Institute of African Studies, Ibadan.

In 1964 he married Ebun Odutola (author of the volume Hubert Ogunde The Making of Nigerian Theatre ...