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Christopher Wise

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 ...


Gloria Chuku

omu (female monarch) and trader, was born in the nineteenth century in the city of Onitsha in southeastern Nigeria. Her father was Isagba Okwuona of Ogbendida village, Onitsha, and her mother was Ngbokwa Amasinwa Okigbo of nearby Ojoto. Nwagboka married Uzoka Egwuatu, an Igala immigrant from Ogbeotu village, Onitsha. While Nwagboka’s husband maintained two residences, one at Igala and another in Onitsha, she lived in Onitsha with her son, Egwuatu. Nwagboka started her trading career as an apprentice, but later became a successful trader herself due to her business acumen and her Igala connections, through which she bought elephant tusks, which she sold to European traders. Ivory was a very lucrative trade at the time, in high demand both locally and overseas. It was estimated that, in two consignments of ivory Nwagboka shipped overseas, she made £10,000. She gave some of the proceeds to Obi king Anazonwu 1823 1899 ...


Darshell Silva

(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 ...


Kim Miller

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 ...


Gabrielle Lynch

Kenyan spiritual and military leader (orkoiyot), was born around 1860 in Nandi. Koitalel was the youngest son of Kimnyole arap Turukat, an orkoiyot who could trace his lineage to the first unifying leader of the Nandi. Little is known of Koitalel’s maternal lineage or childhood, except that his father had over forty wives and that his family was relatively wealthy. As an adult, Koitalel also had around forty wives and lived at Kamng’etuny near Nandi Hills, where he led a prolonged resistance against British colonialism.

The position of orkoiik (pl.) refers to men with powers of divination, omen interpretation, prophecy, and medicine. These powers are inherited along clan lines, but are dependent on reputation. Prior to the mid-nineteenth century the orkoiik’s influence was limited to relatively small areas. However, in the mid-nineteenth century, a family of laibons (Maasai spiritual leaders) were welcomed and absorbed as orkoiik ...


Joel Cabrita

independent churchman and founder of the Zulu church Ibandla lamaNazaretha (Church of the Nazaretha, was born in Ntambamhlophe, in the district of Chief Langalibalele of the amaHlubi, in the Drakensberg region of Natal, South Africa, around 1870. Shembe’s parents had close ties to the Hlubi royal family. His father, Mayekisa, was a headman of Langalibalele, and his mother, Sitheya Hadebe, was daughter of Mlindi, who was a close relative of Langalibalele. Shembe was named Mdliwamfa, although he later changed his name to Isaiah at his Christian baptism.

Displaced by the deposal of Chief Langabilalele in 1873 1874 the family left the Ntambamhlophe area when Shembe was a child and moved to the nearby Free State province Shembe s father Mayekisa settled the family as labor tenants upon the farm of Afrikaaner Coenraad Grabe Unlike many of his Zulu Christian contemporaries Shembe did not attend school spending his childhood working upon ...


Coptic patriarch (pope) of Alexandria, was born Nazir Gayed on 3 August 1923 in the important Coptic center of Assiyut. He was educated in various parts of Egypt and graduated from Cairo University in 1943. As an undergraduate he gained degrees in history, literature, and theology and was a student of archaeology and classical Arabic. In spite of the enormous demands of high office, he should be counted among the elite quartet of leading theologians in the Egyptian Church.

Nazir Gayed experienced a spiritual call to the monastic life and entered the Monastery of the Syrians in the Western Desert in July 1954. As Father Antonious El-Souriani, he received a further vocation to the life of a hermit and between 1954 and 1962 lived alone in a desert cave for extended periods.

On Sunday 31 October 1971 an altar ballot took place in Cairo and a small ...