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Article

Israel Gershoni

the third and last khedive of Egypt, ruled the country from 1892 to 1914. ʿAbbas was the seventh ruler in Mehmet ʿAli’s dynasty, which was established in the early nineteenth century. ʿAbbas came to the throne at the very young age of eighteen in January 1892 after his father, Khedive Tawfiq (r. 1879–1892), died unexpectedly. Born in Cairo ʿAbbas was educated by tutors at the Thudicum in Geneva and later in the Theresianum Military Academy in Vienna.

Unlike his father, a weak ruler who was considered a puppet of the British colonial rule, the young ʿAbbas strove to restore the original khedival status as sovereign ruler, patterned after the model established by his grandfather Ismaʿil (r. 1863–1879 and to assert Egypt s unique status as a semiautonomous province within the Ottoman Empire ʿAbbas s aspirations clashed with British rule particularly with the authority of the powerful agent ...

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Paulette Poujol-Oriol

Charles Alexis Oswald Durand became an orphan at the age of two when an earthquake destroyed the city of Cap-Haïtien in northern Haiti in 1842. Afterwards, Durand went to live with his grandmother in the frontier town of Ouanaminthe. Little is known of his first years of studies, but at age sixteen he was already working for his living as a tinsmith. While making pots and pans in the tiny village of Saint-Louis du Nord, he read and wrote his first verses. He was later offered a job as a primary school teacher.

Demesvar Delorme, a renowned politician and writer, assisted Durand in publishing his first books of poetry. Durand's reputation as a poet grew, particularly after the publication of “Choucoune” in 1883, which recounts how the narrator's beautiful black mistress is seduced by a white foreigner. Other works by Durand include Quatre nouveaux poèmes (1896 ...

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 ...

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Fabre-Nicolas Geffrard was a general in the Haitian army during the reign of Faustin Elie Soulouque. He participated in Soulouque's unsuccessful effort to invade the Dominican Republic in 1849. In 1859 Geffrard led the insurrection which deposed Soulouque, and subsequently assumed the presidency. In 1867 he was ...

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The son of slaves, Juan Gualberto Gómez was born in Santa Ana, Cuba. His parents bought his freedom, a practice allowed through manumission laws in Cuba. He was educated under the tutelage of mulatto (of African and European descent) poet Antonio Medina y Céspedes at a local religious school that was known to be a refuge for black children. Sensing that his racial background would limit his opportunities in Cuba, Gómez left the island in 1869 for Paris, France, where he studied the art of cabinetmaking and, later, engineering. Poverty soon forced him to leave his studies and pursue a career in journalism, a profession that would provide him with an outlet for expressing his political and social views.

Gómez's stay in Paris was a formative experience in his life. He became acquainted with various eminent members of Cuba's expatriate community, including separatists such as Vicente Aguilera ...

Article

Curt Johnson

doctor, explorer, and eponymous leader of the failed British coup in colonial South Africa, was born 9 February 1853 in Edinburgh, the son of a writer. His family moved to London, and Jameson took his medical degree from University College. He would come to be known popularly as “Doctor Jim.” Although by all accounts a competent, even accomplished doctor, Jameson was more attuned to the restless life of the adventurer; and it was that spirit of adventure, in addition to ill health, that brought him to southern Africa. He established a practice in Kimberley and became private physician to many of British South Africa’s more prominent personages, including the businessman, magnate, and arch-imperialist Cecil Rhodes; the Boer leader Paul Kruger; and (eventually) Lobegula, king of the powerful Ndebele of Matabeleland.

Jameson became enmeshed in Rhodes s schemes to extend British dominion northward in south central Africa beyond the Zambesi River ...

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Article

Nazneen Ahmed

Alias of Azaj Warqnah Ishete (1865–1952), Ethiopia's first modern‐trained physician and Ethiopian Minister to London at the time of the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1935. Born in Gondar, at the age of 3 Ishete was abandoned by his family during the capture of the fortress of Magada in 1868. Two British officers took him to India, assumed responsibility for his education, and christened him Charles Martin. Martin graduated from Lahore Medical College in 1882, becoming a medical officer in Burma in 1891. He was reunited with his family and his Ethiopian name on his visit to Addis Ababa in 1899. On another trip in 1908 as temporary medical officer in the British legation he treated the ailing Emperor Menilek. In 1919 he returned to Ethiopia to settle practising medicine and undertaking various forms of development work including the founding ...

Article

Joy Elizondo

José María Morales was the son of a military man who fought in the Battle of the Patricios in 1807 against the British forces. His father's continued participation in Argentina's independence and civil wars forced Morales to leave school early and work as a tinsmith. In 1838 Morales followed his father's example, setting out for Montevideo to fight with the Unitarians (who envisioned a centralized political system based in Buenos Aires) in exile against the Argentine leader Juan Manuel Rosas. Rosas enjoyed widespread support in the black community—including Domingo Sosa, another rising Afro-Argentine military figure and contemporary of Morales—in part because his opposition to Buenos Aires's white Creole elite allowed for a more socially diverse society. Rosas's highly authoritarian government sparked opposition, however, especially among some middle-class blacks, including Morales. Argentina's civil war lasted until 1852 when the Unitarians finally marched triumphantly into Buenos Aires and ...

Article

Marveta Ryan

Poverty and racism forced Martín Morúa Delgado, born in Havana, Cuba, to a Spanish immigrant father and an ex-slave mother, to leave school at an early age and find work. He managed to educate himself, often by purchasing books with part of his salary. His experiences working in a barrel factory led him to become a labor activist. Besides organizing workers in several Cuban cities, Morúa made speeches and wrote newspaper and magazine articles on workers' rights, thus launching his career as a political leader and a journalist.

In the nineteenth century, paid readers read books aloud to factory workers while they engaged in nonmechanical tasks like rolling cigars. Even before slavery had been abolished, Morúa was the first man of African descent to become a professional reader in Cuba. He also became the first reader of color in New York, New York when he worked in ...

Article

Sanjay Mistry

The first Asian elected to the House of Commons. Dadabhai Naoroji was born in Bombay in 1825. The son of a Parsee priest, he was educated at Elphinstone Institute School and later became a teacher.

In 1855 Naoroji was appointed Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy. He became involved in politics and in 1867 helped to establish the East India Association. He was one of the first leaders of the Indian nationalist movement, who supported independence for India. He played an important role in establishing the Indian National Congress in 1865 and in 1886 was appointed President of the Indian National Congress.

Naoroji moved to England and joined the Liberal Party, and in July 1892 was successfully elected to Parliament where he represented Finsbury He therefore became the first Asian to be elected to the House of Commons Although he promised that his first duty would be to ...

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

James Jankowski

Egyptian educator, politician, and briefly prime minister, was born into a landowning family. He was educated at the Higher Teacher’s College and the Khedivial Law School. Fluent in English and French, he was a member of Egypt’s cosmopolitan elite of the early twentieth century. Trained as an educator and lawyer, he served as headmaster of the Muhammad ʿAli School in Cairo, later taught mathematics, geography, and history at al-Azhar, and also worked as a legal adviser in the Administration of Awqaf.

Sabri began his national political career as a supporter of the Wafd Party. Elected to the Chamber of Deputies in 1926 as a Wafdist deputy, in 1930 he separated from the Wafd by endorsing the autocratic regime of the anti Wafdist prime minister Ismaʿil Sidqi For the remainder of his political career Sabri was an independent formally unaffiliated with any of Egypt s political parties Elected the ...

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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

Robert Skinner

South African nationalist, was born near Riebeeck West, in the Cape Colony. After beginning his schooling late at twelve years old, he soon showed a remarkable capacity for learning and gained entry to Victoria College, Stellenbosch. Here he encountered the political ideas of Jan Hendrik Hofmeyr, began to formulate ideas about a unified South Africa, and discovered an interest in botany. It was during this time that he met his future wife, Isie Krige. His academic success was awarded with a scholarship for overseas study, and in 1891 he traveled to the United Kingdom, where he studied law at Christ’s College, Cambridge.

Having passed his law examinations in London, Smuts returned to South Africa in 1895, where he began to be involved in political activities, supporting the partnership between Hofmeyr and Cecil Rhodes. However, following the Jameson Raid of 1896 Smuts became disillusioned with Rhodes and became an ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

explorer and representative of Leopold II of Belgium’s efforts to build a Central African empire, was born with the name John Rowlands on 28 January 1841 in Denbigh, Wales. He came from an impoverished background. His mother, Elizabeth Parry, was nineteen years old and unmarried, and there is some debate over who his father may have been. While Stanley believed his father was an alcoholic named Rowlands, a lawyer named James Vaughan Horne may have actually been his father. In any event, his mother left Henry in the care of his grandfather, but his death in 1846 resulted in the boy’s placement in a workhouse for abandoned children and poor people. He only met his mother in 1850 Extremely bitter about his extended family s unwillingness to treat him as one of their own as well as the physical and psychological abuse he experienced in the workhouse Stanley graduated ...

Article

Elizabeth Heath

Sir Henry Morton Stanley was born John Rowlands in Denbigh, Wales. Beginning his career as a journalist, Stanley first traveled to Africa in 1869 on assignment for the New York Herald. The newspaper dispatched Stanley to find David Livingstone, a Scottish missionary who had gone to explore Africa and subsequently disappeared from the public eye. Traveling from Zanzibar into the interior of east Africa, Stanley finally met the ailing Livingstone at Ujiji, a town on Lake Tanganyika, on November 10, 1871. Stanley is said to have greeted Livingstone with the famous remark, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” After Livingstone was nursed back to health, they explored the northern end of Lake Tanganyika. Stanley returned to Europe in 1872 but was sent back to West Africa the following year to report on the British campaign against the Asante.

In 1874 the New York Herald and London Daily ...

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 ...