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Article

Robert Ross

South African lawyer and politician, was born in Cape Town on 6 December 1823. His father, Christoffel J. Brand, a member of a leading Cape family, was a noted journalist and parliamentarian and the first speaker of the Cape Parliament in 1854. Brand Sr. had presented a doctoral thesis to Leiden University in 1820 on the rights of colonists, which the British might have considered treasonable if it had not been written in Latin. By the 1840s he, along with a number of his fellow Dutch-speaking settlers, decided to cooperate with British rule, believing, accurately as it would turn out, that they would be able to dominate democratic institutions in the colony when they were eventually granted.

Jan, as he was known, followed his father to Leiden University in the Netherlands, where he studied law, and thereafter he was admitted to the British Bar. In 1849 ...

Article

David M. Carletta

Anténor Joseph Firmin was born in Cap-Haïtien in northern Haiti. He was a gifted child who attended Haiti's premier preparatory schools. After studying law, Firmin became the inspector of schools in Cap-Haïtien. He married Rosa Salnave, daughter of the former president Sylvain Salnave, in 1881. Two years later the government of Haiti sent Firmin to France as a diplomat. He was admitted to the Anthropological Society of Paris and became perhaps the first scholar of African descent to write a systematic work of anthropology.

In 1885 he published The Equality of the Human Races, a response to Count Arthur de Gobineau's four-volume set The Inequality of Human Races and to the racialist anthropology of the nineteenth century. Published between 1853 and 1855 de Gobineau s famous work was the first to assert the racial superiority of Aryan peoples while simultaneously reinforcing ideas of black inferiority Firmin ...

Article

James Jankowski

Egyptian lawyer, judge, nationalist leader, and prime minister, was born in Samanud in Gharbiyya Province on 15 June 1879. Of modest family background (his father was a timber merchant), Nahhas is a prime example of the trajectory of upward mobility experienced by the effendiyya, Egypt’s new middle class created by processes of modernization in the nineteenth century. Educated at the Nasiriyya Elementary School and later the Khedivial Secondary School, he was first in his class at the Khedivial Law School when he graduated in 1900. In 1904 he was appointed a judge in the National Court in Tanta, and served as a judge until dismissed from the courts in 1919 due to his political involvement.

In the pre–World War I period, Nahhas’s initial political sympathies were with the Watani Party of Mustafa Kamil and Muhammad Farid. When Saʿd Zaghlul organized the new Wafd Party to demand ...

Article

James Jankowski

Egyptian lawyer, cabinet minister, and prime minister, was born in Cairo in 1863. He belonged to the Topuzzadeh family and was thus a member of the Turko-Circassian (Ottoman-Egyptian) elite that dominated Egypt through the nineteenth century. Educated in Egypt, Geneva, and Paris, he held a French law degree. Rushdi began his public career as a lawyer in the Finance Ministry and later served as an inspector of education and as a judge in both the Mixed Courts and the National Court of Appeal. His first wife was the French feminist writer Eugenie Le Brun; after her death in 1908 he married a sister-in-law of Sharif Husayn of the Hijaz.

Rushdi was a fixture in Egyptian ministries before and during World War I. He served as minister of justice from 1908 to 1910, as foreign minister from 1910 to 1912, and again as minister of justice from 1912 ...

Article

Raymond Dumett

Ghanian lawyer and anticolonial activist, was born in Britain’s Gold Coast colony (present-day Ghana) on 3 June 1864. He was the eldest son of the prominent Gold Coast merchant John Sarbah and his wife, Sarah. Following in his father’s footsteps John Mensah Sarbah was educated at the Methodist primary school of Cape Coast before entering the newly opened Wesleyan High School (later Mfantsipim School) in 1876 at the age of twelve. Subsequently, he embarked to England at age sixteen for enrollment at Taunton College, Somerset, a private school also associated with Methodism.

The young Sarbah had little desire to follow his father in the coastal mercantile business, which by 1895 was entering into decline Instead with his parents continued support he continued to live in the UK and entered upon the study of the law at Lincoln s Inn Fields London After three years of study and apprenticeship ...

Article

Robert Fay

Born at Cape Coast in 1864, John Mensah Sarbah (also known as Kofi Mensah) was the first son of John and Sarah Sarbah. He attended the Cape Coast Wesleyan School and the Taunton School in England. Sarbah studied law at Lincoln’s Inn in London and in 1887 was the first Gold Coast African admitted to the bar.

Upon his return to Cape Coast, Sarbah established a successful law practice. He considered the traditional political institutions of the Gold Coast basically democratic in nature, and devoted his legal expertise to modernizing these institutions and integrating them into the colony’s legal apparatus. At the same time, he fought for laws protecting Africans from colonial oppression and exploitation. Among his many accomplishments, Sarbah, with the help of Joseph Casely-Hayford, succeeded in defeating the Lands Bill of 1897 which would have ignored traditional property rights and allowed the British government to dispose ...

Article

Haggai Erlich

Egyptian writer, was born in January 1872 to a landowning family in Lower Egypt. He attended a local traditional Islamic school (kuttab) and chose to go to the khedivial secondary school rather than to al-Azhar. Having read translated scholarly works, notably Darwin’s Origin of Species, he was admitted in 1889 to the Khedivial Law School, the alma mater of many of Egypt’s modern politicians and leaders. As a young student, he founded Egypt’s first law review, Majallat al-Tashriʿ (Legislative Review). He graduated in 1894, entered government service, and in 1897 began collaborating with the nationalist leader Mustafa Kamil, who had the support of Khedive ʿAbbas II. They advised him to go to Switzerland and acquire Swiss citizenship so that he would enjoy immunity as a journalist and would be able to criticize the British occupiers freely. However, in Geneva in 1897 he came under ...

Article

James Jankowski

lawyer, minister, and twice prime minister of Egypt, was a descendant of one of the prominent Ottoman-Egyptian families that dominated Egyptian politics in the nineteenth century. Educated at the ʿAbdin Secondary School, the Higher Teacher’s College, and the School of Law, Tharwat had a distinguished legal career. He initially worked in the State Domains Administration and then in the Justice Ministry, where he eventually became director of administration for the National Courts and chancellor of the National Courts of Appeal. He served briefly as Governor of Asyut Province (1907–1908) and later as head of the Public Prosecutor’s Office (1908–1914).

Tharwat’s political career dates to 1907, when he was a founding member of the new Umma Party. His ministerial career commenced in 1914. He was Minister of Justice from 1914 to 1919, Minister of Interior in 1921 and again in 1922 Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1926 ...

Article

James Jankowski

Egyptian lawyer, nationalist leader, and prime minister, was born in the village of Ibyana, Gharbiyya Province, where his father was village ʿumda or leader. Zaghlul’s initial education was traditional: study at the village kuttab followed by four years at al-Azhar. Both his family and educational backgrounds were important components of his political persona; from a moderately well-off peasant family, raised in a village in the Delta, and educated in the indigenous educational system, Zaghlul was a leader with the popular touch, a man with whom the indigenous Egyptian majority, long dominated by foreigners, could and did identify.

Zaghlul had a long public career before he became the dominant figure in Egyptian politics after World War I. Associated with the failed ʿUrabi movement of the later 1870s and early 1880s, when he edited the official gazette al-Waqiʿi al-Misriyya he was arrested but cleared on the charge of ...

Article

James Jankowski

Egyptian lawyer, politician, and prime minister, was born in Alexandria into a family of Circassian background on 14 November 1864. As was the case with many members of the Turko-Circassian elite who dominated Egyptian politics in the nineteenth century, his education was cosmopolitan; the Lazariyya College in Alexandria, the Jesuit Collège St. Joseph in Beirut, the School of Languages in Cairo, finally Aix- en-Provence University in France, where he received his law degree in 1887. First employed in the public prosecutor’s office, Ziwar was appointed to the courts in 1899 and served as advocate-general of the National Tribunals and later as a judge in the National Court of Appeal. He also served as governor of Alexandria.

Ziwar’s political career began in 1917, when he was appointed minister of Waqfs. He served in several Egyptian cabinets over the next decade: minister of education in 1919 minister of ...