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Grantley Herbert Adams was born in Government Hill, Barbados, then a British colony. His father, Fitzherbert Adams, was a black man and the head teacher of one of the island's largest primary schools, Saint Giles. His mother, Rosa Frances Adams, was a coloured woman (of mixed African and European descent). By West Indian standards, the Adams family was part of the lower middle class, removed from the endemic poverty that engulfed the disenfranchised black majority.

Like his father, Adams attended Harrisons College, the colony's premier secondary school. In 1919 he won a prestigious island scholarship to Oxford University in England, where he studied law. In England he met intellectuals from the colonized world, many of whom, like himself, had joined the Fabian Society, a socialist movement that supported decolonization and the end of the British Empire. In 1925 Adams returned to Barbados working as a lawyer ...

Article

Walter Clarke

nationalist leader and first prime minister of independent Djibouti, was born in the Mabla mountain area north of Obock, Afar. Ahmed Dini Ahmed was fired by an intense sense of social justice and fairness and worked at one time or another with all of Djibouti’s early preindependence leaders with the objective of facilitating an independent government in which all ethnic groups would work together for the betterment of all citizens. The failure of his close friendship with Hassan Gouled Aptidon immediately after independence was a personal blow to both of them, but was probably inevitable in two such committed but divergent individuals. Ahmed Dini had a political career roughly parallel to that of Hassan Gouled. He completed his primary school in Djibouti and then worked as a nurse’s aide. He became interested in politics at a young age. In 1959 after Gouled had been elected to the French National ...

Article

Klaas van Walraven

prime minister of Niger, was born in Soudouré, west of the capital, Niamey. Although he was the son of a village chief, Bakary was a talaka (a commoner), since his father did not hail from a noble family. Bakary was related by blood to Hamani Diori, Niger’s later president. Although he was a member of the Zarma ethnic community, many people in western Niger regarded Bakary as a Songhay, a closely related ethnic group. Later, he used this to mobilize political support along the Niger River valley.

At the age of 7 Bakary was taken by his uncle to the city of Tahoua central Niger where he was enrolled in a colonial primary school A diligent student he learned to speak Hausa before continuing his education in the capital It was here that his political consciousness began one day he met his father who had been sentenced to forced labor ...

Article

Ari Nave

Born in Quatre Bornes, Mauritius, Paul Bérenger was raised in a Franco-Mauritian family. He became interested in Marxist politics while studying philosophy, French, and journalism in Wales and in Paris, France. Upon returning to Mauritius, he immediately became involved in the independence movement. Finding the politics of the Mauritius Labour Party (MLP) too conservative, he created the left-wing Club des Étudiants Militants and began organizing demonstrations against the MLP and allied parties. He also became a union organizer, leading a series of strikes.

Bérenger envisioned a country unified by a common language and culture rather than divided by ethnic tensions. In 1969 he founded a new political party, the Mouvement Militant Mauricien (MMM), together with Dev Virahsawmy, a Telegu, and Jooneed Jeerooburkhan, a Muslim. The party’s socialist platform and nonethnic orientation appealed to the large working class, particularly dockhands, plantation workers, and unemployed youth.

In response to Bérenger s disruptive ...

Article

Lisa Clayton Robinson

Maurice Bishop became the prime minister of Grenada in a 1979 coup and rose to prominence as one of the most controversial figures in the Caribbean. Bishop was born in Aruba in 1944, but his parents, both native Grenadians, moved the family back to Grenada in 1950. He was educated at Catholic schools in St. George's and in 1963 won a scholarship to attend university in England. Bishop studied at Gray's Inn, London University's Holborn College of Law, and King's College. During this time he became involved in the Black Power Movement and was influenced by such leaders as Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Kwame Nkrumah, and Walter Rodney.

On his return to Grenada in 1970 Bishop went into private legal practice and cofounded a discussion group of young radical intellectuals and professionals The group evolved into the Movement for Assemblies of the ...

Article

Betty Sibongile Dlamini

prince and prime minister of Swaziland, was born in 1914 at Nkhungwini area in the Shiselweni region of Swaziland. A great-grandson of King Sobhuza I, he was the son of Prince Majozi Ndzabankhulu Dlamini. Makhosini Dlamini received his primary education at Bulunga Mission and graduated from Matsapha Swazi National High School. He obtained his teaching qualification from Umphulo Training Institute in Natal and served as a teacher between 1939 and 1949 in schools including Bethel Mission School, Franson Memorial Bible School, Lobamba National School, and Matsapha Swazi National High School. In some of these schools he served as head teacher and he was a pioneer and founder member of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT). In 1943 he was elected secretary general of SNAT. As a teacher he loved singing and conducting choirs.

In 1949 he left teaching and served as a development officer in the Shiselweni region ...

Article

Richard A. Bradshaw

prime minister (1974–1976) of the Central African Republic (CAR), prominent business leader, and women’s rights activist, was born in Bangui, then in the territory of Ubangi-Shari in French Equatorial Africa, in 1925. She belonged to the Mbaka (Ngbaka) ethnic group from the Lobaye region in southwestern CAR. Although she attended elementary school, she never became proficient in French and so almost always spoke in the CAR’s national language, Sango, in which she delivered impassioned speeches at political rallies. Domitien married the European owner of a coffee plantation, and after he passed away, she married Jean Baka, a mayor in the Lobaye region. She became a wealthy businesswoman who owned plantations and conducted commerce in cloth and agricultural products. In the early 1950s she joined the Mouvement d Évolution Sociale d Afrique Noire MESAN Movement for the Social Evolution of Black Africa and supported Barthélemy Boganda and President David ...

Article

Dag Henrichsen

Namibia’s first prime minister (1990–2002), was born on 3 August 1941 in the Grootfontein district of the Otjozondjupa region in central Namibia. He trained as a teacher at the Augustineum Training College in Okahandja between 1958 and 1961, where he became a student activist against the apartheid politics of the South African administration. He then also joined the newly founded South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) of Namibia, soon experiencing harassment by the South African police and thus fleeing into exile to Botswana in late 1962. Here he became the assistant to SWAPO’s representative in Francistown until 1964, when he was granted a scholarship to study in the United States. Initially he attended Temple University (1964–1966); he later graduated with an MA in international relations from the New School of Social Research in New York.

Simultaneously he became a SWAPO petitioner to the UN until 1971 at ...

Article

Aissata Sidikou

first president of the Republic of Niger, was born on 26 June 1916, in Yéni, a rural village of the Boboye region in western Niger, about 75 kilometers from Niamey, the capital city. Officially, however, he is recorded to have been born on 6 June 1916 in another village, named Soudouré, not far from Niamey. In time, he would rise to become the first democratically elected president of the newly independent country of Niger in 1960.

Nothing in Hamani’s early life seemed to earmark him for the role of a refined politician. His father Hamani Niandou was trained as a nurse by a French colonial doctor; and Hamani was raised in his early childhood by his grandmother according to traditions. He started primary school in 1923, and when both his father and grandmother passed away in 1927 and 1928 respectively he went back with his mother ...

Article

Chris Saunders

Boer general, Afrikaner nationalist, and South African prime minister, was born near Wellington in Cape Province in 1866 He studied law at Victoria College Stellenbosch and then at the University of Amsterdam After practicing as a lawyer in Pretoria he was appointed a judge in the Orange Free State OFS then became legal adviser to the OFS forces during the Anglo Boer War before becoming a general and leading a guerrilla commando on daring raids against the British After the war he became active in politics founding the Orangia Unie Party When the Orange River Colony ORC became self governing Hertzog joined its cabinet as attorney general and director of education in which capacity he demanded equal status for English and Afrikaans in schools He represented the ORC in the negotiations for a Union of South Africa and the first prime minster of the Union Louis Botha asked him ...

Article

David Perfect

first President of The Gambia (1965–1994), was born at Barajaly, MacCarthy Island Province (now Central River Region) on 16 May 1924. He was originally called Kairaba, but took the names Saihou Almamy in childhood. His father, Almamy (1882–1961) was a prosperous, but illiterate, Mandinka Muslim farmer and trader; his mother was called Mama Fatty. Educated in the Gambian capital, Bathurst (Banjul), at the Mohammedan School (1932–1939) and the Methodist Boys’ High School (1940–1945), he then trained as a nurse at the Royal Victoria Hospital (1945–1947) before studying veterinary medicine at Achimota College in the Gold Coast (present-day Ghana). Following this, he was sent by the Colonial Office to Scotland to attend the University of Glasgow’s Veterinary School; he graduated as a veterinary surgeon in December 1953. He later went back to Scotland in 1957 to earn a diploma in tropical veterinary medicine at the University of Edinburgh ...

Article

Simon Gikandi

Sir Apolo Kagwa (c. 1865–1927) dominated the political landscape of the kingdom of Buganda from the late 1880s to 1925, when he resigned all his positions in the government. During this period, Kagwa was the major figure in the transformation of Buganda from a powerful and autonomous feudal kingdom to a semiautonomous region in the British empire in East Africa. As an administrator holding major positions in Buganda, he was the architect of the 1900 Buganda Agreement, the treaty that defined the kingdom’s relation to the new empire; he was also a key participant in the development of new institutions of culture and governance.

As an elder and leader of his community one interested in questions of history and culture he was often the source of information on many aspects of Buganda life in the precolonial period and the key informant for the ethnography of Buganda for ...

Article

Walter Clarke

onetime prime minister of the Republic of Djibouti, was born in Obock into an Afar family. Kamil graduated from the prestigious Institute of Political Studies at the University of Paris (Sorbonne) in the early 1960s and obtained a license as a notary (notaire) before his return to the French Somali Coast, as the colony was then known. The role of the notaire in the French justice system is considerably broader than in the United States; the notaire may act as an advisor on all matters concerning property, family law, and contracts. The French notaire is expected to be a good listener, impartial, and independent. Abdallah’s preparation as a notaire appears to have been a good fit for the roles he has played in the political system of his country.

Kamil s relations with Ali Aref Bourhan another Afar politician who served as vice president and then president of ...

Article

Leland Conley Barrows

What a life filled with ambiguity and paradox was that of Jomo Kenyatta (1894–1878), the first president of independent Kenya. In many ways he was a modernizer; however, he defended the practice of female circumcision. Although in this and in other respects he was a Kikuyu traditionalist, he recognized that modern nation-building required citizens of African countries to renounce or at least transcend their tribal loyalties. He was an early believer in pan-Africanism, though his support for it after the independence of Kenya was at best rhetorical. Kenyatta was a polemicist who praised socialism in various media, including the Daily Worker but he became a major capitalist at home Kenyatta s anti colonial credentials were impeccable yet he owed much of his political ascension to British blundering whereby he was held responsible for the Mau Mau outbreak imprisoned unjustly and enabled to emerge as a prison graduate ...

Article

Robert Fay

Jomo Kenyatta was born in Ichaweri, British East Africa (now Kenya), and his life spanned almost the entire period of British Colonial rule in the area that is now Kenya. Raised in the countryside near Mount Kenya and educated at a Church of Scotland mission school, Kenyatta became a leading member of the generation of African elites who rose in protest of oppressive colonial policies. Kenyatta’s political career began in 1922 when, while working as a civil servant in Nairobi, he joined the East African Association (EAA), a short-lived Kikuyu organization led by Harry Thuku that was formed to regain stolen African lands from white settlers.

Pressure from the colonial administration forced the EAA to disband in 1925 and reform as the Kikuyu Central Association (KCA). In 1928 Kenyatta became the KCA’s general secretary and the editor of its journal, Muiguithania (the Reconciler). Muiguithania publicized and gathered ...

Article

Alexandre Hatungimana

prime minister of Burundi from June 1993 to February 1994, was born Sylvie Ntigashira in Mugoyi in the province of Bujumbura on 24 November 1953. After primary and secondary studies with the sisters of the Ijenda parish, she attended the University of Burundi (Faculty of Economic Sciences), from which she graduated in 1979 with a degree directed toward banking credit. In 1990 she obtained a Diplôme d’études supérieures (DES) in banking and finance at the Centre International de Formation de la Profession Bancaire in Paris. The same year, on returning to her country, she was hired at the Banque Centrale BRB (Banque de la République de Burundi) where she directed the department of research and statistics (1990–1991), the focal point of the IMF and the World Bank in Burundi. From 1991 to 1993 she maintained the Programme d’Ajustement Structurel (PAS) attached to the prime ministry. In 1973 ...

Article

first prime minister of the Republic of the Congo (later Democratic Republic of the Congo), was born 25 July 1925 in Onalua a small village in Kasai Province Belgian Congo His parents belonged to the small Tetela ethnic group known for its resistance to Belgian colonial domination which in Onalua was well anchored and brutally asserted Lumumba was a curious even audacious child with a sharp intelligence He did not allow himself to be ruled by adults or his comrades and was remembered as a leader always ready to defend his friends His assertive temperament distinguished him but also got him into trouble for he could not succeed in an environment like the colonial Congo where docility passed for a primary virtue An autodidact he was shaped by neither family school nor religion he observed everything keenly imposing himself on his society and surprising above all the Belgian colonial ...

Article

Lokangaka Losambe

Patrice Emery Lumumba was born on 2 July 1925 at Onalua, in Katako-Kombe Territory, Sankuru District, in the present-day Orientale Kasai Province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. After an early-childhood African homestead education at the hands of his peasant parents, he first enrolled in a Catholic school and then, at the age of thirteen, moved to a Protestant mission school run by Swedish Methodists. While the homestead education inculcated communal, humane African values in the young Lumumba, the assimilationist Catholic education exposed him to exclusive colonial strictures. As Jean-Paul Sartre accurately states in his introduction to a collection of Lumumba’s speeches edited by Jean Van Lierde and entitled Lumumba Speaks p 7 Reverend Fathers wanted to make him a catechist and the more practical minded Swedes wanted to teach him a trade that would enable him to get out of the peasant class and work for a ...

Article

A charismatic and energetic statesman, Patrice Lumumba became politically active as a young postal worker when he organized a postal workers’ union in Stanleyville (now Kisangani) in what was then the Belgian Congo. In October 1958 he became involved with national politics, founding the Mouvement National Congolais (MNC), Congo’s first national political party. In December, Lumumba took an MNC delegation to the All-African People’s Conference in Ghana, where he met with leaders of Pan-Africanism and became friends with Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first African prime minister. Influenced by the spirit of nationalism and anticolonialism that pervaded the conference, Lumumba returned to the Republic of the Congo a militant, ready to demand independence.

Lumumba made the first public appeal for independence in January 1959 On October 31 that year he was arrested and held responsible for riots that broke out after a meeting of the MNC From jail he and his ...

Article

Alonford James Robinson

Norman Washington Manley was born to coloured parents—a term used to describe persons of mixed racial heritage—during the time of British colonialism in Jamaica. His father, Thomas Albert Samuel Manley, was a leading produce trader who did business with companies in the United States. His mother, Margaret Shearer, was the fair-skinned daughter of Irish and colored parents. The couple had four children, including Norman, and the family eventually settled in an upper-middle-class, predominantly white Jamaican community known for its conservatism.

Norman was just seven years old when his father died, in 1900. His mother worked hard to maintain the family's middle-class status, sending Norman to elementary school and then on to Jamaica's most prestigious secondary school, Jamaica College. Norman excelled at Jamaica College both as an athlete and as a debater. In 1914 he was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship which allowed him to study at ...