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Mohammed Hassen Ali

pharmacist, lawyer, and Oromo nationalist and political activist in Ethiopia, was mainly responsible for the formation of the Oromo Liberation Front, which in turn transformed Oromo cultural nationalism to political nationalism. He was born in the region of Wallaga. He lost both his parents while very young, and it was his elder brother, the Reverend Gudina Tumsa, who brought him up and provided him with the best education.

While at Haile Selassie I University, Baro Tumsa immersed himself in student politics as well as risky underground Oromo political activities. From 1964 to 1966 he served as secretary and president of the union of the university students in Addis Ababa It was under his leadership that university students were radicalized and energized More than many of his contemporaries Baro Tumsa realized that the Oromo and other conquered people of southern Ethiopia were landless subjects without rights who were exploited economically ...


Richard A. Bradshaw

leader of Ubangi-Shari’s independence movement and “Father of the Central African Republic,” was born on 4 April 1910 at Bobangui, Lobaye. His father Swalakpé and mother Siribé both belonged to the Mbaka (Ngbaka) ethnic group. Swalakpé, a local leader with five wives, died before Boganda’s birth during an attack by colonial troops on his village. Siribé, the third of Swalakpé’s wives, was beaten to death by a soldier shortly after her husband’s death. An orphan, Boganda was taken into custody by the head of the French post at M’Baïki, Lieutenant Mayer, who entrusted him to the care of Father Gabriel Herriau of the Catholic mission at Bétou. In 1920 the Bétou mission was closed and Boganda was taken to the St. Paul mission in Bangui, where he attended primary school until 1924 While at St Paul s he was baptized adopted the name Barthélemy 24 December 1922 and was ...


Eric Young

Born into a family of subsistence farmers, Barthélemy Boganda attended Catholic mission schools and seminaries in Brazzaville and Yaoundé. In 1938 he became the first Oubanguian Catholic priest. Sponsored by Catholic missionaries, Boganda was elected to the French National Assembly in 1946. But he soon realized the limits of his influence in France, and left the priesthood and returned to Oubangui-Chari to organize a grassroots movement of small African producers to oppose French colonialism. In 1949 he founded the Movement for the Social Evolution of Black Africa, a quasi-religious political party.

After his arrest for “endangering the peace” and detention for intervening in a local market dispute in 1951, Boganda became a messianic folk hero and the leading nationalist. The French realized that opposing Boganda would be dangerous and sought to accommodate him. In 1956 Boganda agreed to European representation on election lists in exchange for ...


Julia A. Clancy-Smith

Tunisian nationalist, writer, women’s rights activist, and artist, was born in the provincial city of Sfax, where her father worked in the Arabic publishing business and was an amateur actor, which helps explain her lifelong involvement in the arts. Her mother, Cherifa, was educated and quite unconventional; after her husband’s death, she taught primary school in Nabeul from 1943 on, riding a bike to school while still wearing a black veil, which scandalized the conservative local community. Since there were no educational institutions for Tunisian girls in the town, Dorra Bouzid studied in the local French secular school from the age of four on, with students from a range of religious and ethnic backgrounds. After her father’s death—his family had been opposed to Cherifa teaching school—Bouzid’s mother received a post in Tunis just prior to World War II and married again, to Mahmoud Messaâdi (1911–2004 an important figure ...


Amar Wahab

Pan‐Africanistleader in Britain in the early 1900s. Born in Sierra Leone, in 1869 he was sent to Cheshire to be educated and started working for the family firm, Broadhurst and Sons, in Manchester in 1905. By 1936 he is known to have been a cocoa merchant in the Gold Coast. He was heavily involved in the realm of Pan‐Africanist politics in Britain, becoming a founder member of the African Progress Union between 1911 and 1925. He became secretary of the Union in his sixties and continued as a member of the executive committee until its end. He worked with other leading supporters such as Duse Mohamed Ali, Edmund Fitzgerald Fredericks, and ‘the Black doctor of Paddington’ John Alcindor The Union organized around issues related to the welfare of Africans and Afro Peoples worldwide and vociferously advocated self determination This involved for example protests about ...


Born in what is now the province of KwaZulu-Natal, Mangosutho Buthelezi is related to the Zulu royal family through his mother, Princess Magogo. He is descended from Cetshwayo, a Zulu king who ruled in the late 1800s. Buthelezi’s father, who was chief of the Buthelezi ethnic group, died when Buthelezi was fourteen years old. Buthelezi’s uncle, Maliyamakhanda, was appointed regent to govern the ethnic group until Buthelezi was ready to assume the role of chief.

Buthelezi received his early education at Christian mission schools. He then attended South African Native College (now the University of Fort Hare) in Alice. During college Buthelezi joined the African National Congress (ANC) Youth League. He was subsequently expelled from college because of his political activities, but in 1951 he received his degree in history and Bantu administration a discipline designed to train black South Africans for certain government positions from the ...


Michael R. Mahoney

South African politician, was born on 27 August 1928 in Mahlabathini, KwaZulu-Natal province, to Chief Mathole Buthelezi and Princess Magogo, daughter of the Zulu king Dinuzulu and sister of his successor, Solomon. Buthelezi’s grandfather, Mnyamana, had been King Cetshwayo’s chief councilor, and the relationship between the two served as a model for Buthelezi’s own relationship with the Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini. After matriculating at the American Board mission school Adams College in Natal, Buthelezi attended Fort Hare University in the Eastern Cape, a hotbed of political activism, from 1948 to 1950. There he befriended such future African nationalist leaders as Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe and Robert Mugabe. His involvement in protests against a visit to Fort Hare by Governor General Brand Van Zyl led to his expulsion, but he was able to complete his B.A. at the University of Natal in 1951.

Buthelezi s first job after graduation was ...


Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni

a leading female nationalist and one of the luminaries of the Zimbabwe liberation struggle, was born in Cape Town in South Africa on 16 February 1925. Her maiden name was Ruth Nyombolo, and she hailed from a traditional South African community known as the “red blanket,” which her father led. She had a twin sister and was part of a family of four girls and one boy. Her father fought in World War I (1914–1918) and on his return from this war, he became politically active in the African National Congress of South Africa (ANC) that had been formed in 1912. Chinamano’s mother was a school teacher who was educated at the Lovedale Institute in the Cape Province.

Chinamano grew up in East London being looked after by her aunt Mrs Francis Mcanyangwa She went to the Welsh Primary School where she was motivated by her teachers stories ...


Ghirmai Negash

Eritrean-born Ethiopian linguist, Africanist scholar, and political activist, was born in Asmara, Eritrea. He was fluent in several European and African languages including Italian, French, Latin, Hebrew, Arabic, Amharic, and Tigrinya, his mother tongue. His main area of expertise was linguistics, with particular focus on the Semitic languages of Eritrea and Ethiopia, but his intellectual interest covered a broad spectrum, including history, policy studies, and culture.

Demoz graduated from Haile Selassie University, Addis Ababa, with a bachelor’s degree in 1956. He received a master’s degree in education from Harvard University in 1957 and later studied linguistics at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he received master’s and PhD degrees in Semitic languages in 1959 and 1964, respectively. Demoz started his professional career at Haile Selassie University, where he taught and served as dean of the Faculty of Arts from 1964 to 1967 He was also a ...


LaRay Denzer

Nigerian nationalist and women’s rights leader, was born on 27 July 1914 in Creek Town (now located in Odukpani Local Government Area, Cross River State). She was originally named Bassey Sampson Ekpenyong Efa. Her parents were Reverend Sampson Ekpenyong Efa (originally Okoroafor Obiasulor), an Igbo palm wine merchant turned teacher and clergyman from Agulu, Uzo-Igbo (near Awka, the present capital of Anambra State), and Inyang Eyo Aniemewue, a trader and dressmaker who traced her ancestry to King Eyo Honesty II (d. 1858), a powerful slave merchant and ruler in the 1840s and 1850s.

Young Margaret Ekpo obtained her school- leaving certificate in 1932, after which she became a pupil teacher. She wanted to attend teacher training college, but had to postpone this ambition when her father died in 1934. She taught in schools in Calabar and Aba until 1938 when she married John Udo ...


Elsie A. Okobi

Nigerian journalist and anticolonial activist, was born in Onewa in Uromi Edo State, Nigeria, in 1923. His father was Okotako Enahoro and his mother, Inibokun Okoje. The British killed his great-grandfather, and his father spent over twenty years in exile, developments that go a long way to explaining Enahoro’s hatred for Nigeria’s colonial rulers (Sklar 1963).

Enahoro was educated at Government School Uromi, Government School Owo, and King’s College Lagos, where he became involved in student activism as well as antiwar and anticolonialist activities and became chair of the Nigerian Union of Students. Two leaders of the newly formed Nigerian Youth Movement, H. O. Davis and Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, inspired Enahoro. In 1942 Enahoro joined the West African Pilot as a reporter and enrolled at the Extra-Mural Department, University of Ibadan, taking courses in English and economics. In 1944 at the age of twenty one he became the ...


James Jankowski

Egyptian lawyer, judge, and nationalist leader, was born in the delta village of Kafr al-Musayliha in Minufiyya Province on 23 December 1870. Son of a prominent landowning family, Fahmi was educated at first in the traditional educational system of his village primary school (kuttab), the Ahmadi Mosque in Tanta, and al-Azhar, but later entered the secular school system, attending the Khedival Secondary School in Cairo, and graduating from the School of Administration in 1890.

After working in the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the Administration of Waqfs through the 1890s, in 1903 Fahmi opened a private law practice. He was elected to the new Legislative Assembly in 1913. One of Egypt’s most distinguished lawyers, in 1914 Fahmi became president of the Egyptian Bar Association for the first time he would hold this position twice more in later years He also served as president of the ...


Godfrey Muriuki

Kenyan political activist and government minister, was born in March 1914 in Thogoto Village, in the Dagoretti Location of the Kiambu District of Kenya. He was the first child of Samuel Gitau and Mariam Nyaguthii. At that time, his father worked at the Church of Scotland Mission (CSM), in Kikuyu, as an overseer. Both of his parents were among the first Kenyan Africans to embrace Christianity. Consequently, Gichuru was baptized on 12 April 1914, and he remained a staunch Christian throughout his life.

He started his education at the CSM Kikuyu Primary School at the age of eight years, having already attended a kindergarten for two years. He was academically gifted and qualified for admission to the prestigious Alliance High School in 1929. He remained there until 1931. From 1932 to 1934 he studied at Makerere University then the only institution of higher learning in the ...


David Goldsworthy

Kenyan political leader, was born Thomas Joseph Odhiambo Mboya near Thika, north of Nairobi, on or about 15 August 1930. He was the eldest of the six children of Leonardus Ndiege, a sisal cutter from Rusinga Island, Lake Victoria, and Ndiege’s wife Marsella Awuor. By ethnic identity Mboya was a Suba Luo. He was baptized a Catholic and was given the additional name of Joseph at his confirmation. Between the ages of 7 and 17, he attended Irish-run schools in widely dispersed parts of the country. In his book Freedom and After (1963), he maintained that his nontribal outlook in later life owed much to a childhood during which he lived among and learned the languages of several of Kenya’s major ethnic communities, notably Luo, Kikuyu, and Kamba.

From 1948 to 1950 Mboya attended the Jeanes School a vocational training college at Kabete near Nairobi There ...


Robert Fay

Tom Mboya was born in Kilima Mbogo, Kenya, near present-day Nairobi. The son of a poor Luo sisal cutter, he realized that he had a “keen sense of the political” while attending mission schools. He became politically active through the labor movement—the only legal avenue for social protest in colonial Kenya—while working as a sanitary inspector.

As elected secretary of the African Staff Association in 1951 and founder of the Kenya Local Government Workers Union in 1952 Mboya had an initial goal of better working conditions for Africans Soon however the British colonial government s repressive response to the Mau Mau Rebellion convinced him that economic improvements were not enough At a time when many nationalist leaders were detained in concentration camps Mboya became a leader in the independence struggle with strong support from Kenyan workers After spending two years at Oxford University studying industrial relations Mboya was elected ...


Elena Vezzadini

Egyptian educationalist nationalist and feminist was born in al Zaqaziq on the Nile Delta Her father was an officer of the Egyptian Army killed before her birth during an expedition to Sudan most probably to quell the Mahdist upheaval 1881 1885 Her mother was a housewife illiterate whose name and origins are unknown and who reared her and her only brother alone From al Zaqaziq the family moved to Cairo so that Nabawiyya s brother could attend primary and secondary schools and later be admitted to the Cairo Military College This gave Nabawiyya the chance to attend the Girls Section of the Abbas Primary School After that Nabawiyya decided to enter the al Saniyya School for Teacher Training against her mother and brother s will Among middle class families like hers work for women was frowned upon and teaching was seen as particularly deplorable because it entailed regular breaches of ...


Hannington Ochwada

first Kenyan vice president, was born at Nyamira Kang’o among the Luo people of Sakwa, Kenya, and christened Obadiah Adonijah in the Anglican Church. His father, a woodworker, was called Odinga, son of Rayila, and his mother was Opondo Nyar Magolo. The family also farmed for a living and kept some animals. After a few years of home schooling from his eldest stepbrother, Abisai Ajuang’, Odinga commenced his formal education in 1926 at Maranda Primary School. He went to Maseno School three years later, joining Alliance High School in 1934 and within two years received a scholarship to Makerere College to study teaching. In 1939 he graduated from Makerere University College with a diploma in education.

After graduating from college Odinga returned to teach at Maseno for four years before moving on to Maseno Veterinary School as headmaster Throughout his career as a teacher he was opposed to the overly ...


Robert Fay

After his death in 1994, Oginga Odinga was described by Kenyan President Daniel Arap Moi as a “patriotic citizen,” ironic praise for a man who spent most of his career in opposition to the government. As Moi also noted, Odinga was a nationalist as well, a teacher who became a leading member of the independence struggle while president of the Luo Union from 1952to1957 . In addition, he was one of the first Africans to be directly elected to the colonial government’s legislative council.

In 1960 Odinga, with fellow Luo Tom Mboya, founded the Kenya African National Union (KANU). After Kenya achieved independence in December 1963 he served briefly in Jomo Kenyatta’s administration, first as minister for home affairs and then as vice president. But Odinga’s political beliefs lay considerably to the left of Kenyatta’s, and in 1966 he resigned to form the Kenya People s Union ...


Angolan poet, historian, research scholar and teacher, nationalist, editor, and foundation officer, was born in Maquela do Zombo, Angola, on 5 April 1934. His parents were Jorge de Oliveira, an African born in Ambriz, and Maria da Conceicao Fernandes de Oliveira. At a young age Oliveira moved to Angola’s capital, Luanda, where his father was a postal employee. His father was African, and his mother was either a white Portuguese or a mestica. Thus, he was a member of the mulatto or mestico community, which, as late as 1950 was a significant minority in the colony s capital In primary and secondary schools in Luanda young Mário António achieved academic distinction and soon began to publish poetry Raised and educated as a Catholic he was by age 17 a militant social Catholic In the following year he had a radical political awakening rejected Catholicism and embraced Marxism ...


Cheryl Johnson-Odim

Nigerian political activist, anticolonial nationalist, and leader of market women in Lagos, was born in Lagos, Nigeria. She was a member of the Awori subgroup of the Yoruba, a major ethnic group in southwestern Nigeria. Lagos (known as Eko in Yoruba) was the capital city of Nigeria from 1914 until 1991 and is still the second-most-populous city in Africa. The Awori settled in Lagos and environs at least as early as the fifteenth century and are believed to be the direct descendants of Olofin, a son of Oduduwa, considered the father of the Yoruba nation. Pelewura’s mother was a well-respected trader of fish, and Pelewura apprenticed to her mother and became a fish trader. Little is known about her father.

Like many of the Yoruba people Pelewura was Muslim Islam was introduced to the Awori before the nineteenth century and well before Christianity Pelewura never made the pilgrimage to Mecca ...