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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

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

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

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 ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

king of the Tio kingdom of the Téké people, was born at the village of Ngon, near the Gamboma River in modern Republic of the Congo. He belonged to a royal lineage since his probable grandfather, Opontaba, had been king. His kingdom engaged in several wars against Bobangui slave traders who lived north of the Malebo Pool on the Congo River in the mid-nineteenth century. The pool served as a vital meeting place for slave and ivory trading and had been controlled by Téké leaders for several centuries. Bobangui forces ultimately forced Iloo to make some concessions toward their demand for trading rights on the pool in the 1850s or 1860s. Between 1865 and 1870 Iloo was elected king by a group of powerful noble leaders The monarchy did not pass down directly from father to son among the Téké Kings were chosen by negotiations between a council of ...

Article

Kanuni  

Heike Becker

hompa (queen) of the Kwangali people in the northeastern Namibian Okavango region for more than thirty-five years, was probably born around the turn of the twentieth century. Very little is known about her background except that she was a member of the Kwangali royal clan. Her exact date of birth is unknown, but she was described as a young woman when she first came to power in 1923.

Kanuni became a regent in 1923 after the death of the previous hompa, Kandjimi. As a sister to both the previous hompa and his successor, she first reigned in place of the new hompa Mbuna who was still very young but had been chosen as Kandjimi s successor and approved by the colonial authorities under the newly established Native Commissioner for the Okavango District René Dickmann Mbuna also referred to as Kandjimi II died in an accident in the ...

Article

Phillip A Cantrell

first president of Rwanda, was born on 1 May 1924 in Tare, Rwanda, to a Mushi father from the Belgian Congo and a Hutu mother. Kayibanda was educated at the Petit Séminaire and Grand Séminaire, both in Nyakibanda. Following his formal education, he worked as a primary school teacher in Kigali at the Institute Classe until 1952.

While in Kigali, he became involved in a Rwandan cultural association known as the Amitiés Belgo-Congolaises and wrote several articles for a monthly periodical called L’Ami, published by the Catholic seminary at Kabgayi. In 1953 Kayibanda left his teaching post to become a secretary for the education inspection division in Kabgayi and edited L’Ami. By 1955 Kayibanda was working as the personal secretary to Monsignor Andre Perraudin and as an editor for the Church-owned newspaper, Kinyameteka, becoming its editor-in-chief in 1956 In December of that year the Church ...

Article

Phillip A Cantrell

mwami (king) of Rwanda from 1860 to 1895, was the descendant of a long line of monarchs who ruled a steadily expanding Tutsi kingdom in central Rwanda. During his thirty-five years as mwami, Kigeri (also known as Rwabugiri) received the first Europeans explorers into Rwanda and vastly enlarged the kingdom, establishing the territorial basis for the modern state. His efforts to centralize his rule resulted in the permanent subjugation of the Hutu majority and the creation of an ethnic/racial divide that haunts Rwanda down to the present.

Determined to expand the power of his throne Kigeri mobilized the populace into armed regiments to engage in wars of expansion against neighboring kingdoms in every direction even southward into present day Burundi As the kingdom grew Kigeri centralized and expanded the powers of the Tutsi monarchy Hereditary clan chiefs who in many cases were Hutu chiefs were replaced by royal ...

Article

Enocent Msindo

king of Matabele (in present-day Zimbabwe), was born in the late 1830s to Mzilikazi Matshobana Kumalo (clan name), the first Ndebele king who occupied Matabeleland of Zimbabwean in 1838, having migrated with his clan from Natal, South Africa, in the 1820s. As a child of a minor Swazi wife, Lobengula became king by chance because the would-be heir Nkulumane’s whereabouts were unknown, perhaps because he had been killed for trying to usurp power or because he had exiled himself in Natal. Therefore, when Lobengula came to power, he was initially viewed as an illegitimate successor (especially by the Zvangendaba royal faction). This background would perhaps influence his style of rule, which was a mixture of the authoritarian style of his predecessor and a more consultative approach that Ndlovu-Gatsheni (2003) controversially called the “democratic” style of governance characteristic of Ndebele settled life. Lobengula was inaugurated on 22 January 1870 ...

Article

Michael R. Mahoney

was king of the Hlubi people in southern Africa. The upheavals that plagued the area of the present-day province of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa in the late 1700s and early 1800s had led to the killing of the king, Mthimkhulu, and the scattering of his people. In the early 1800s a large number of the Hlubi settled along the upper reaches of the Thukela river and attempted to reconstitute the chiefdom, naming Mthimkhulu’s son Dlomo as their king. Dlomo was himself killed at the orders of the Zulu king Dinuzulu. The Hlubi kingship then fell to Langalibalele, also known as Mthethwa. However, Langalibalele’s cousin Mini contested the throne. The resulting succession dispute was only resolved when Mini was killed by Dingane’s soldiers.

When the Boers and later the British annexed Natal in the late 1830s and early 1840s and the Thukela became the border between Natal and the Zulu kingdom ...

Article

Walima T. Kalusa

king of the Lozi people (in present-day Zambia), was born in the Bulozi plain around 1842. His father, Litiya (or Litia), was one of the numerous sons of Mulambwa, the greatest Lozi sovereign. As a boy, Lewanika, initially known as Lubosi (“the escaped one”), fled with his father from the plain to Nyengo on the western margins of the kingdom in modern Zambia. This followed intermittent bloody coups and counter-coups between two main rival factions contesting the Litungaship (kingship) many decades after the death of Lewanika’s grandfather in the 1830s. Litiya supported the faction led by his own brother Imbuwa. When Imbuwa and Litiya fell out in 1856 the latter with his son returned to the Bulozi plain to reconcile with Sekeletu the king of the Kololo who had invaded the plain in the 1830s Sekeletu killed Lewanika s father and other Lozi royals but he spared the ...

Article

Fred Morton

reigning kgosi (chief, king) of the Bakgatla baga Kgafela people from 1875 to 1920, during which the Bakgatla emerged as a major power in the western Transvaal–eastern Bechuanaland region, was born at Mmasebudule southeast of Pilanesberg, in the then–Rustenburg district, South African Republic. Linchwe was the eldest son of kgosi Kgamanyane Pilane (r. 1848–1875) and his senior wife Dikolo Ramantsana Tlou of Mabieskraal. He spent part of his childhood at his father’s new capital at Moruleng, located on Saulspoort 269, a farm owned by S. J. P. (Paul) Kruger, Rustenburg Commandant and later president of the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek (South African Republic, or “ZAR,” often informally known as the Transvaal Republic). Like other youth, Linchwe lived much of his time away from home at his father’s cattle posts north of the Pilanesberg. A Dutch Reformed Mission station was started at Saulspoort in 1866 but Linchwe was not allowed by ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Gabonese politician, was born on 9 February 1902 in Libreville to a Fang-speaking clerk and Louise Bendome. He belonged to a fairly well-off Fang-speaking family from the coastal Estuary province. M’ba was educated by Catholic missionaries. While coastal Omyènè communities such as the Mpongwe of Libreville often considered Fang speakers to be barbaric, M’ba befriended Mpongwe people in school. His relationships with Catholic missionaries, however, were less cordial. M’ba ultimately practiced polygynous marriage, became initiated into the bwiti indigenous religious tradition, and criticized missionaries for supposedly destabilizing masculine command over Fang women.

After he finished his education, he briefly became a customs agent and an accountant who worked on the southern Gabonese coast. He soon became a protégé of colonial officials who had created a new class of state-appointed chiefs in 1920 to aid efforts to collect taxes, recruit men for forced labor details, and monitor Gabonese communities. In 1926 ...

Article

Matthew V. Bender

first Paramount Chief of the Chagga people, was born in Marangu, Kilimanjaro (in present-day Tanzania), on 12 June 1915. Born into the prominent Lyimo clan, he was the grandson of Marealle I and nephew of Petro Itosi, both long-serving chiefs of Marangu. After completing his secondary schooling in 1934, Marealle entered the colonial administration, working as a clerk in seven different district offices throughout Tanganyika (present-day Tanzania). Ten years later, he received the opportunity to further his studies abroad, spending two years in the United Kingdom at the University of Wales in Aberystwyth and the London School of Economics.

In 1946 Marealle returned to Tanganyika and took a position as a social welfare officer in the colonial administration Two years later he was appointed program manager of the Dar es Salaam Broadcasting Station Swahili service the predecessor of the Tanganyika Broadcasting Corporation While in Dar es Salaam ...

Article

Meli  

J. C. Winter

mangi (king), 1892–1900, of Mochi in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania (a realm that since 1919 has been known as “Old Moshi,” near the municipality of Moshi), who is mostly remembered for his victory over the German occupation forces in Kilimanjaro in June 1892 and was defeated in August 1893 by the combined German colonial forces. “Meli,” a Swahili word that translates as “steamship” or “mailboat,” was the name he took at his circumcision. He probably underwent his ngasi initiation (initiation into adulthood) in 1886 as a member of the Kiruru age set, acquiring his other name, “Kiwusa,” which means “crowd.” In the struggle for succession in 1891, at least one contending brother was murdered.

No sooner had Meli become mangi in Mocshi in late 1891 when a neighboring mangi Marealle conceived a plot to overthrow him with the aid of the new rulers of the land He arranged that an ...

Article

Mkwawa  

Catherine Cymone Fourshey

paramount chief of the Hehe people in the southern highlands of German East Africa/Tanganyika (present-day Tanzania) from the early 1880s. His name was Mkwavinyika; it has been written many ways, including Kwawa, Kuawa, Qwawa, Mkwaba, Mkuanika, Mukwawi Nyika, Kwawinjika, and Mkuu wa Nyika.

Paternally he was descended from the Muyinga dynasty and his mother, seNgimba, was descended from chiefs of Ilole, while his grandmother was daughter of a Lugemba chief. His wife, seMusilamugunda, was related to several chiefs. His father, Munyingumba (d. 1879), formed the Hehe chiefdom between the 1860s and 1870s by conquering and unifying the clans between Iringa and Njombe into a more centralized polity. The confederation of people, spread over an 8,000–square mile area, emerged primarily as a means of defense against encroaching Ngoni regiments that spread into eastern Africa from southern Africa.

Mkwawa did not inherit the position of paramount chief from ...