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Sierra Leonean public intellectual, was born in the southwest Nigerian city of Abeokuta in 1848. His father was from the Krio community in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Many people from Freetown were former slaves originally of Yoruba descent, and still others traded in southern Nigeria by the 1840s. His father may have been a Muslim notable in Freetown, but his Christian missionary uncle took him under his wing. His parents agreed to send him to the Church Missionary Society (Anglican) mission school in Freetown. Though he did not stay long in school, Abayomi-Cole proved to be a formidable intellect. He mastered Arabic, Latin, Hebrew, and Greek. In the 1870s and early 1880s, Abayomi-Cole made a living as a teacher. His lively intelligence attracted the interest of the Evangelical United Brethren Church, which appointed him a catechist in the Sierra Leonean town of Shenge in the Shebro district in 1885 ...

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Cathlyn Mariscotti

Egyptian Islamic scholar and prominent writer of Arabic literature, was born on 18 November 1913 into a conservative religious household in Dumyat (Damietta) in the Egyptian Delta. She was a descendent, on her mother’s side, of a shaykh of the Al-Azhar, the prestigious mosque and university in Cairo, and her father taught at Dumyat Religious Institute. Well acquainted with her family history, ʿAbd al- Rahman sought to continue this proud tradition. She began learning basic reading and writing skills before the age of five in a kuttab in her father s village This early instruction prepared her to read the Qurʾan ʿAbd al Rahman s later education became more difficult however as her father did not believe that girls should be educated outside the home because secular education did not provide proper instruction for them As a result ʿAbd al Rahman s mother would continually intervene to help her ...

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Ellis Goldberg

Egyptian jurist, government official, and author of one of the most important and controversial books of the twentieth century on Islam and politics, Islam and the Foundations of Governance. This short book, published in 1925, caused a storm of protest, and ʿAbd al-Raziq was arraigned before a jury of Egyptian religious leaders (including the grandfather of the late-twentieth-century al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri) and officially stripped of his status as a religious scholar (ʿalim).

Abd al-Raziq was born in the Upper Egyptian province of Minya to a well-known and relatively well-off family. He studied at Al-Azhar University. Although he was too young to have known the prominent Egyptian ʿalim Muhammad Abduh (d. 1905), his work appears to have been influenced by Abduh’s break with prevailing orthodoxy. Abduh was the highest jurisconsult (mufti) in Egypt at the time of his death. In 1915 ʿAbd al Raziq became a ...

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Khwezi Mkhize

South African-born poet, journalist, essayist, and novelist, was born on 19 March 1919, in Vrededorp, a slum in Johannesburg, though he later became an adopted citizen of Britain. His father was James Henry Abrahams Deras (or De Ras), an Ethiopian itinerant who settled in Johannesburg as a mine laborer. His mother, Angelina DuPlessis, was a Coloured woman whose first husband was a Cape Malay resident, with whom she had two children. His parents met and married in Vrededorp. Abrahams grew up as a Coloured, “a by-product of the early contact between black and white” (Abrahams, 1981 p 10 which made him aware of the social and political consequences of racial formation in South Africa His father died when he was still young Upon his father s death his family was thrown into poverty Abrahams later wrote that his mother went to work in the homes of white folk ...

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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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was born on 28 July 1942 to Charles Albert and Rosa Batista on a batey (sugarcane worker community) in Guaymate, La Romana Province, Dominican Republic. Albert’s father was from St. Kitts and Nevis, while her mother was a Dominican from Santiago de los Caballeros who later moved to La Romana, where they met and married. Charles Albert was a member of the so-called cocolo community, a somewhat pejorative term for blacks from the English-speaking Caribbean who settled in the Dominican Republic.

Born, raised, and educated on a batey, where living conditions were often deplorable and educational opportunities were limited and often difficult to obtain, Albert overcame many challenges and completed her primary and secondary education. Upon the death of her father in 1958 she the eldest child had to work to help support her family while attending school Her first professional job was as an elementary school teacher ...

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Alessandra Benedicty

was born on 22 April 1922 to a middle-class family in Gonaïves, Haiti. Although the date is not confirmed, nor has his death ever been officially recognized, general knowledge puts Alexis’s assassination at April 1961. Born twelve years before the end of the US military occupation of Haiti, Alexis would in a sense follow in the trade of his father: his father Stéphen Mesmin Alexis, himself a writer and man of politics, published the novel Le Nègre masqué (1933), and his family proudly traced its lineage to the Haitian revolutionary Jean-Jacques Dessalines. Alexis’s life oeuvre was grounded in political activism. Many scholars compare him to Jacques Roumain, fifteen years Alexis’s senior, also a Marxist, similarly an esteemed novelist, and who like Roumain died before the age of 40.

Today Alexis is known primarily for his novels and for his contribution to the conversation on magical and marvelous ...

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Silvia Regina Lorenso Castro

was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico, on 11 September 1941. As a 9-year-old boy he migrated to the United States with his parents and two siblings during the great migration after World War II. At an early age, his mother, Maria del Socorro Algarin, and aunt, Carmen Ana Figueras, sparked his passion for literature and language. His father, Miguel Algarin, a mechanic who enjoyed listening to opera while working on cars, fueled his appreciation for music. Unlike many of his generation, he grew up with a strong parental presence. While living in the projects in Queens, New York, he was surrounded by cultural and social activities organized by his parents, relatives, and neighbors.

His family background significantly shaped his politics of racial identity Many Puerto Ricans who relocated to the mainland sensed that racial discrimination was more prominent in the United States than in their homeland However Algarin remarks ...

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Jessica Falconi

Angolan essayist, poet, and militant anticolonialist, was born in Golungo Alto, Kwanza-Norte province, Angola. The son of José Cristino Pinto de Andrade, one of the founders of the African National League (Liga Nacional Africana), and Ana Rodrigues Coelho, he came to be known as a “Citizen of Africa.” At two years of age, he moved with his family to Luanda, where he completed his primary and secondary school studies. The proto-nationalist ideas of his father, the growing urbanization of Luanda, and the heterogeneous racial and social atmosphere of the Luanda Catholic seminary constituted the primary elements that marked the formation of his personality.

In 1948 he traveled to Lisbon, where he began a course in classics in the Department of Letters and frequented the Casa dos Estudantes do Império (House of Students of the Empire), an institution created in 1944 to support students from the colonies which quickly was ...

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Lesley S. Curtis

from a prominent Haitian family of both European and African ancestry. Céligny’s date of birth is listed as 1801 on a birth certificate filed in 1805, which has created some confusion as to his real age. His father was Alexis Antoine Ardouin and his mother was Lolotte Félix Galez. Birth certificates of his younger siblings reveal that he grew up in close contact with his father, his father’s wife, Suzanne Léger Ardouin, and their seven children, including the famous historian Beaubrun Ardouin and the poet Corolian Ardouin. Céligny married Marie Angélique Liautaud in 1823 and had six children.

Céligny’s most significant work, Essais sur l’histoire d’Haïti (Essays on the History of Haiti) was written and published in sections in the late 1830s. It appeared as a revised collection in 1841, but was only published in its entirety in 1865 sixteen years after the author s death Beaubrun ...

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Juan Sebastian Rojas

was born in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, on 29 October 1970. She was raised in the Amelia neighborhood by her grandparents Saturnino Pizarro, a worker at the Puerto Rican Cement Company, and Petronila Cartagena, a housewife. Arroyo Pizarro has authored two novels (Los documentados, 2005; Caparazones, 2010), three collections of poems (Medialengua, 2010; Perseídas, 2011; Saeta: The Poems, 2011), and nine books of short stories, including Ojos de luna, 2007, a finalist for the Institute of Puerto Rican Literature National Award. La Macacoa: Vivirse la creación literaria (2010) was a guide to budding writers, in which Arroyo Pizarro offered advice and strategies for individuals attempting to break into the field.

In 2007Arroyo Pizarro was named one of the most promising young writers in Latin America by UNESCO the Hay Festival and the secretary ...

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Ama Mazama

Molefi Kete Asante (b. 1942–), African American author and scholar, is best known for articulating the Afrocentric theory in the 1980s and 1990s and for creating, during the same period, the first Ph.D. program in African American Studies.

Molefi Asante was born in the small southern town of Valdosta, Georgia, where he spent his first years experiencing the blunt racial segregation and discrimination characteristic of the era. However, he was identified very early in life as possessing out of the ordinary intellectual capacities. As a result, he left Valdosta at age eleven to attend the Nashville Christian Institute, a black boarding school, from which he graduated in 1960. Asante eventually received a Ph.D. in Communication from UCLA in 1968 at age twenty six On obtaining his Ph D Asante launched a brilliant and quite prolific academic career becoming full professor only four years later and ...

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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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Steven J. Niven

James Arthur Baldwin, essayist, novelist, and activist, was born in Harlem, New York, on 2 August 1924, to Emma Berdis Jones, a domestic. He never knew the identity of his biological father, but when James was three years old his mother married David Baldwin, a laborer and storefront preacher. James Baldwin’s early years were shaped by the powerful influence of his stepfather and by teachers and others at Frederick Douglass Junior High School, notably the poet Countee Cullen, who recognized and encouraged his precocious talents as a writer. Saved as a teenager, Baldwin preached at the Fireside Pentecostal Assembly, but was drawn increasingly to the world of books and writing, which provided respite from an increasingly difficult relationship with his harsh, unloving, and jealous stepfather, and with his growing realization that he was gay. In 1944 after abandoning the church and following the death of his stepfather ...

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Ana Rodríguez Navas

is widely reported to have been born in the far eastern town of Banes, Cuba, in 1918, although the researcher Ana Gloria González Ochoa argues convincingly that he was actually born in Havana in 1914. Baquero was initially raised in poverty by his Afro-Cuban mother, and subsequently brought up and educated by his father. He displayed early literary talent, publishing his first poems and articles while still a teenager. After earning degrees in agronomy and the natural sciences from the University of Havana, Baquero turned to writing in earnest, and during the 1950s he became one of Cuba’s most influential columnists, public intellectuals, and men of letters. He is today chiefly remembered for his poetry, much of it penned during his lengthy exile in Spain, and is placed among the most important Cuban poets of the twentieth century.

Initially affiliated with José Lezama Lima’s Orígenes group Baquero ...

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Floris Barnett Cash

Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones), the leading agent of change and promoter of a new “relevant” black literature of the 1960s, influenced the development of contemporary black letters. Amiri Baraka is the author of twenty plays, three jazz operas, seven books of nonfiction, and thirteen volumes of poetry. Born Everett Jones in Newark, New Jersey, he is the son of Coyette Jones, a postal worker and elevator operator, and Anna Lois Russ Jones, a social worker. Baraka graduated with honors from Newark’s Barringer High School in 1951 at the age of fifteen and received a scholarship to Rutgers University in Newark. A year later, “LeRoi” transferred to Howard University, where he remained briefly before joining the U.S. Air Force in 1954. Stationed at Ramsey Field, Puerto Rico, for two years, he read extensively, wrote poetry, and traveled to Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.

In 1957 ...

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Hédi Abdel-Jaouad

Tunisian poet, critic, and essayist, was born in Majel Bel Abbès, near Kassérine, Tunisia, where his father was employed with the railway system. His family originates from Gabes, in southeast Tunisia. Bekri’s mother died when he was ten years old, which affected both his personal and literary journeys. He attended the Lycée of Sfax, where he was active in various literary and artistic circles. At the age of eighteen he published his first poems, in the school’s literary journal. He then attended the University of Tunis, where he majored in French literature. During the turbulent years following May 1967, the university was a hotbed of political activism. Bekri was arrested for his political opinions in 1972 and was sentenced and jailed in 1975. Upon his release in 1976 he left for France and has since resided in Paris where he was granted political asylum Bekri completed a ...

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Patrick Bellegarde-Smith

Dantès Bellegarde was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti in 1877. His family had long been at the center of Haitian politics. Bellegarde's mother was Marie Boisson and his father Jean-Louis Bellegarde. His maternal great-grandfather, Jacques Ignace Fresnel, was named judge by Jean-Jacques Dessalines, a leader of the Haitian Revolution, who became the first leader of the independent state in 1804 and soon proclaimed himself Emperor Jean-Jacques I. This same great-grandfather was later minister of justice under President Jean-Pierre Boyer, who ruled all of Haiti from 1820 to 1843. Bellegarde's paternal grandfather, Jean-Louis de Bellegarde, was a duke and marshal in Haiti's second empire during the rule of Faustin Soulouque, who declared himself emperor and ruled from 1847 to 1859. Bellegarde's aunt, Argentine Bellegarde (1842–1901), was a noted educator and an early feminist. Bellegarde married Cécile Savain (1875–1965 ...

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Cilas Kemedjio

Mongo Beti (born Alexandre Biyidi-Awala) was born in 1932 in Akometan near Yaoundé, during the colonial period when Cameroon was ruled by France and Great Britain, under the trusteeship of the League of Nations and then the United Nations. Beti died on 7 October 2001, at the Douala General Hospital in Cameroon. He wrote his first novel (Ville cruelle, 1954) as Eza Boto, which, in the Beti language, literally means the “people from elsewhere, the strangers.” With his second novel, he adopted Mongo Beti, which translates as “the child of the Beti,” his ethnic group. Beti would have been a German citizen, but Western history decided differently, and he became a French subject. Unlike the preceding generation, which followed the paths of German schooling before leaving for Germany, Beti went to the French colonial school, continuing his studies in France after his baccalauréat.

Beti arrived in ...

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Born Alexandre Biyidi-Awala in Mbalmayo, a town near Yaoundé, he adopted the pen name Eza Bota with his first work and thereafter used the pseudonym Mongo Beti. Educated in Catholic mission schools and then at a French lycée in Yaoundé, Cameroon, Beti went to France in 1951 to study literature at the University of Aix-en-Provence. He published his first novel, Ville cruelle, in 1954. This work introduces the major themes of his early writing: the social disorientation caused by colonialism, and the African’s revolt against traditional village life, especially its patriarchy.

With his second novel, Le pauvre Christ de Bomba (1956; The Poor Christ of Bomba, 1971 Beti established himself as an important Francophone French language writer The novel was banned in Cameroon however because it presumes a complicity between missionaries and the government in maintaining colonialism Written in the form of ...