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pioneering Nigerian feminist, civil servant, and democratic activist, was born on 17 December 1923 in Okeigbo, a small town in present-day Ondo State, Nigeria. Her full name was Felicia Folayegbe Mosunmola Idowu Akintunde-Ighodalo. Her parents were Benjamin Olojomo Akintunde, a farmer, and Sarah (Ogunkemi) Akintunde, a direct descendant of the war leader and uncrowned Ooni-elect Derin Ologbenla of the Giesi Ruling House of Ile-Ife. Fola, as she was known, was their fourth, but first surviving, child. Although her parents were early converts to the Christian Missionary Society (CMS) mission in Ondo, she grew up in a family compound whose members also included followers of traditional Yoruba religious practices and Islam. Her father encouraged her to be self-reliant and assertive even if her actions sometimes disregarded gender expectations.

Young Fola Akintunde attended the local mission school whose headmaster recognized her potential and persuaded her father to allow her to complete primary ...

Article

E. J. Alagoa

Nigerian student leader, teacher, policeman, and revolutionary, was born in the Niger Delta Region community of in Oloibiri, on 10 September 1938. He was the son of Jasper Pepple Boro, a schoolmaster at Kaiama in the Kolokuma-Opokuma district of Bayelsa State in present-day Nigeria. He took the name Adaka, meaning “lion,” when he began his revolutionary campaign to create an independent Niger Delta Republic and secede from Nigeria in 1966. The movement was crushed by the Nigerian armed forces in only twelve days.

Born in Oloibiri, the community near which oil was first discovered and exploited in the Niger Delta, Boro became more and more agitated by the neglect that his Ijaw people (also known as Izon or Ijo) suffered from the federal government of Nigeria after the country gained independence from Britain in 1960 The Izon were possibly the most vociferous group expressing fear of ...

Article

Leigh Kimmel

politician and the first African American statewide elected officeholder in Illinois, was born in Centralia, Illinois, the son of Earl, a worker with the Illinois Central Railroad, and Emma Burris. His family also ran a store to supplement his father's railroad wages. Because both of his parents were busy during the day, when Burris was four years old he would often accompany his older siblings to school, where he would sit on the platform outside the door, listening to the class being conducted inside.

While he attended Centralia Township High School he was active in sports becoming an All State defensive safety in football in spite of being only five feet six inches inches tall He also became increasingly aware of racial discrimination in his community during high school and at sixteen he helped to integrate the Centralia public pool When the city unofficially designated the pool for whites only ...

Article

Matthew V. Bender

colonial civil servant in Kenya, Tanganyika, the Bahamas, Northern Rhodesia, and Uganda, was born Charles Cecil Farquharson Dundas. The son of a lifelong British consular officer, Dundas spent little time in his native Scotland. In 1903, at the age of nineteen, he took his first post in the Hamburg office of the prominent shipping company Elder-Dempster. Five years later he entered the British colonial service and received his first posting in the coastal city of Mombasa, Kenya. Dundas served in various capacities in both Mombasa and Nairobi until 1914, when he took a post with Indian Army forces dispatched to invade German East Africa.

Dundas’s performance in both Nairobi and Mombasa, as well as during World War I, helped him to establish himself as a rising star in the colonial service. In 1921 he was named commissioner of the Moshi District Tanganyika Territory The posting situated in ...

Article

Bahru Zewde

, Ethiopian intellectual, civil servant, political activist, and coup leader, was born in Addis Ababa and educated first at the Teferi Mekonnen School and subsequently at the Haile Selassie I Secondary School (Kotebe), the first secondary school in Ethiopia. He was one of the young Ethiopians sponsored by Crown Prince Asfa Wossen, to pursue higher education in the United States. Thus he acquired his BA degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his MA from Columbia University, writing a thesis on “The Impact of White Settlement Policy in Kenya.” His sojourn in New York was to prove important not only in academic terms, but also in imbuing him with a spirit of Pan-Africanism and a lasting concern for social justice.

On his return to Ethiopia Germame joined the civil service as secretary to the Minister of Interior But fired up by the need for reform he started to organize like ...

Article

Leland Conley Barrows

Beninese jurist, historian, international civil servant, human rights activist, and chief justice of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Benin, was born on 15 March 1934 in the town of Zinvié, not far from Abomey, the former royal capital of the Fon Kingdom of Dahomey. Because Glélé’s intellectual talents were recognized by his Roman Catholic primary school teachers, he was enabled to complete his secondary education at the Lycée van Vollenhoven in Dakar, Senegal, where he earned the lettres classiques baccalaureate in 1955. After a year of studying law at the newly founded University of Dakar, he entered the preparatory section of the prestigious Lycée Louis-le-Grand in Paris in order to qualify, in 1958, for the diploma of civil administration, awarded by the National School for the Training of Overseas Administrators (the former École Coloniale). He then went on to earn the licence in law in 1960 ...

Article

Hassoum Ceesay

pioneering Gambian student, civil servant, and political leader, was born Hannah Small, on 1 August 1884. She was of Aku or Krio origins, was raised in a staunch Methodist family in Bathurst (now Banjul), and attended the city's Wesley School, where she attained the highest possible grade, Standard Seven, in 1902. She was the first woman in Gambia to do so. At that time, there were no secondary schools in Bathurst. The pursuit of a secondary education required travel to Freetown, Sierra Leone, which only a few families could afford. Pupils in Bathurst were thus limited to a Standard Seven education, which enabled them to enter the job market as clerks for the European firms or in the government's clerical service.

Hannah Small grew up at a time when Bathurst was struggling to emerge from a time of social and economic depression created in the ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Congolese (Brazza-ville) political and social activist, was born in Manzakala in the Republic of the Congo (Brazzaville). His father Ngoma, a Lari-speaking man originally from the village of Mpangala, died before Matsoua was born. His mother Nkoussou, born in Manzakala, thus had to raise him herself. As a child and adolescent, he attended Catholic mission schools in the Mbamou region and at Brazzaville, the capital of French Equatorial Africa. Although he attended seminary, he ultimately abandoned plans for a religious vocation and moved to Brazzaville in 1919. There, the French government customs agency hired him as a clerk.

In 1922 he joined a French military unit and left Brazzaville for Paris. The matriculation badge 22 he received as a new recruit later became a common image employed by his followers. After receiving training in France, Matsoua participated in the Rif campaign in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco in 1925 ...

Article

Richard A. Bradshaw and Juan Fandos-Rius

Central African educator, government minister, businesswoman, political prisoner, and reportedly the first African woman to run for president, was born Jeanne-Marie Ruth on 17 June 1937. She was the daughter of a French father and an African mother in Bangassou, a predominantly Nzakara region in the southeastern corner of the French colony of Ubangi-Shari (now the Central African Republic [CAR]). As a métis offspring of a French father, Jeanne Marie had privileged access to whatever French education was available in the region during the last two decades of colonial rule, which was particularly rare for Ubangian women at this time. In 1956, when she was only twenty-three years old, she became a monitor or supervisor for the educational system in the colony, which became an independent nation in 1960 This was certainly an exceptional position for a young woman to have at this time She remained active ...