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Jeremy Rich

Congolese evangelist and translator was born in Gombe a village inhabited by Kakwa speaking clans in the northeastern corner of the modern day Democratic Republic of Congo This community suffered greatly from slave raids launched by Zande chieftains like Zémio and Mopoï living to their north in the late nineteenth century However the threat of northern raiders was hardly the only challenge for the young boy His name Akudri signified one who waited since he was born after his mother was pregnant for more than nine months He also bore his father s name Dada which means one who has no family This would indeed be Akudri s own fate since an epidemic of meningitis killed his parents and all his siblings when he was very young The boy barely survived himself A grave was dug to prepare for his funeral by other people in the village but he managed ...

Article

Mary Hughes Brookhart

Born in Columbus, Ohio, Samuel Allen (also known as Paul Vesey) studied creative writing under James Weldon Johnson at Fisk where he graduated magna cum laude in 1938. He received his JD from Harvard in 1941. Until 1968 when he formally left law for literature, he was active in both fields.

He was drafted into the U.S. Armed Services in 1942 and served as an officer, though under the constraints of the segregated system, until 1946. From 1946 to 1947 he was deputy assistant district attorney in New York City. The following year he studied humanities at the New School for Social Research. In 1948 he went to Paris on the GI Bill, and after studying French, studied at the Sorbonne. He was employed variously with the U.S. Armed Forces from 1951 to 1955 as historian claims officer and civilian attorney in Wiesbaden Germany and in ...

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Margaret Wade-Lewis

linguist educator early computer language translator Africanist scholar of Arabic and Berber was born in Wildwood New Jersey to Joseph Henry Applegate and Nancy Berkley Applegate His father was a second generation New Jersey resident whose father was a Native American from Maine Applegate s mother whose father was also Native American migrated from Virginia to Philadelphia where Applegate s parents met around the time of World War I Neither parent had more than an elementary school education Hardworking and ambitious they held high aspirations for their children Applegate and his sister enjoyed the advantages of a small town working class upbringing along with direct contact with black artists and entertainers who frequented the seaside summer boarding house their parents operated in Wildwood New Jersey Although the family was not affluent Applegate s environment was sophisticated and urbane He recalled awakening to the sounds of Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington ...

Article

Kelly Boyer Sagert

Born in Hamburg, Germany, Ottilie Assing was the eldest daughter of David and Rosa Maria (Varnhagen) Assing. Her mother was an energetic teacher with a flair for singing and storytelling; her father was a well-known doctor who penned poetry and was prone to depression. David, born with the surname of Assur, was raised as an Orthodox Jew but associated with Christians. He and Rosa, who was not Jewish, raised Ottilie and her younger sister, Ludmilla, as "freethinking atheists, as true daughters of the Enlightenment, who saw themselves as members of a universal human race of thought and reason." They saw education as a "secular form of individual salvation."

Assing's life was not always easy; she witnessed savage anti-Jewish riots, and by the age of twenty-three she had lost both parents. In 1842 she and her sister moved from their hometown to live with an uncle Ludmilla adapted ...

Article

Rasheed Olaniyi

Ulli Beier, author, curator, and publisher, is preeminently associated with Yoruba art and culture, through which he distinguished himself as a quintessential poet, photographer, curator, author, translator, and publisher. Despite the cultural differences, Beier effectively integrated into Yoruba cultural norms and values. He joined the Yoruba society in 1950, and literally never departed. Beier interpreted his childhood through Yoruba cultural norms and worldview. He was a twin (ibeji), abiku child (a child “born to die”), and a dada child (one distinct in birth). As he noted, if he had been born Yoruba, he would have been a Sango devotee. He referred to himself sarcastically as Obotunde Ijimere, Sangodare Akanji, and Omidiji Aragbabalu. His colleagues and admirers refer to him as “Blackman in white skin” and “German-born Yoruba man.” He was known as the “white African” who defended African cultural heritage.

Beier was born in Glowitz Germany ...

Article

Daryle Williams

alias Paula Brito, pardo writer, translator, and publishing entrepreneur, often called the father of the Brazilian black press. Born on 2 December 1809 to Jacinto Antunes Duarte, a carpenter, and Maria Joaquina da Conceição Brito, Paula Brito took the surname of his maternal grandfather, Martinho Pereira de Brito (c. 1730–1830), commander of a pardo (colored) militia regiment and a disciple of famed mulato sculptor Mestre Valentim. He spent his early childhood in Rio de Janeiro, a bustling Atlantic port-city undergoing tremendous changes following the arrival of the Portuguese Court in 1808, before settling in Suruhy, near the upper reaches of Guanabara Bay. The young boy learned to read and write in the household of his older sister.

Returning to the capital in 1824 Paula Brito entered the burgeoning world of print culture first as an apprentice in the national printing office and then as an editor for ...

Article

Martin Tsang

As a second-generation, Cuban-born Afro-Chinese (his father was Chinese and his mother Afro-Cuban), Chuffat Latour’s Chinese heritage originated with the more than 125,000 indentured laborers who arrived on the island between 1847 and 1874, primarily from China’s southeastern Guangdong Province. He was born while both African slavery and Chinese indenture were active in Cuba and, as such, witnessed as well as formed part of the growing Chinese presence on the island. In addition, his generation of Chinese and mixed Chinese Cubans experienced the struggle for independence from Spain (1868–1898), the gradual abolition of slavery (1870–1886), and the US military intervention (1898) and occupation (1899–1902). Like fellow Afro-Chinese Cuban Wifredo Lam (1902–1982), this generation envisioned on a large scale an ethnically homogenizing national identity later theorized as transculturation by Fernando Ortiz.

Being of mixed race Chuffat Latour was positioned in ...

Article

Allen J. Fromherz

North African translator, was born near Tunis in the early eleventh century (scholars estimate between 1010 and 1015). Constantinus Africanus (Constantine the African) was famed for introducing many principles of Arab medicine and scientific enquiry to the northern shores of the Mediterranean. The first known biographies of Constantinus Africanus were written and modified by Christian monks from the monastery of Monte Cassino. This occurred several decades after his death. As such, much of the information on the life of Constantinus must be seen trough the lens of these monastic sources. As a convert from Islam to Christianity, he was held up not only as a rare success of conversion but as an example of the intellectual accomplishments of Monte Cassino.

The writings of Petrus Diaconus a monk at Monte Cassino who wrote one of the earliest biographies claimed that Constantinus Africanus was born in Carthage and traveled throughout the ...

Article

Don E. Walicek

was born on 16 May 1927 into a middle-class family in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. His father, Montrosier Dejean, was an accountant who served for a time as the nation’s minister of finance, and his mother, Maria Parisot, was a homemaker. After completing his early education in Haiti, Dejean moved to New England, where he studied theology and thereafter entered the priesthood. He later returned to Haiti and served as a parish priest of Port-Salut for almost a decade. There, as the linguist Arthur Spears (2010) notes, Dejean used Haitian Creole with parishioners and translated the four Gospels from Greek into Haitian Creole. These experiences motivated him to pursue a graduate degree in language and linguistics. He earned an M.A. in biblical Hebrew from Johns Hopkins University in 1964 He returned home shortly thereafter but the violence of the François Duvalier regime forced him into exile in Paris five ...

Article

David Michel

was born to peasant parents on 12 August 1929 in Haiti. He grew up in Port-au-Prince where he attended the Lycée Pétion, a high school named for Haitian president Alexandre Pétion (1770–1818). At the time, Creole, the mother tongue of all Haitians, was not considered a language. The future minister graduated from the local Episcopal seminary and studied sociology for one year at Wayne State University in Detroit. He was ordained a priest by the Episcopal Church of Haiti (ECH) in 1953, and married Marie Mathilde Joseph. Désir had two sons, Jean Marc and Roger Emmanuel.

Father Désir served several congregations before being appointed dean of Holy Trinity Cathedral, the largest Episcopal church in Port-au-Prince. In 1963 he resigned the deanery because he was reprimanded for preaching change within the Episcopal Church and Haiti At the time Désir s superior was Charles A Voegeli a ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

early Congolese Protestant, skilled translator, and author, was born to a Kikongo-speaking family in the town of Padwa, located in northern Angola. At a very young age, Dundulu became the ward of his powerful uncle Tulante Mbidi. Dundulu’s uncle was the chief of the village of Lemvo and a regionally renowned ivory and slave trader. This territory was under the domain of the Kongolese monarch Dom Pedro V, who brought the British Missionary Society minister William Bentley to Dundulu’s village in 1879 Bentley was trying to learn Kikongo and found Dundulu to be an excellent instructor With the consent of Tulante Mbidi and the Kongolese king Dundulu became Bentley s teacher and colleague He displayed his gift for language by quickly learning how to read and write Bentley called him Nlemvo after the name of his home village Bentley believed this word meant obedience in Kikongo but it later ...

Article

Emilio Jorge Rodríguez

was born Nidia Maria Enrica Ecury on 2 February 1926 in the fishing village of Rancho in the western region of Oranjestad, Aruba. She was the daughter of Nicasio Segundo “Shon Dundun” Ecury, a first-generation freeborn Aruban businessman and honorary consul of Haiti in Aruba, and Ana Paulina Wilhelmina Ernst, of German descent and a native of Curaçao who was a famous pastry chef. Nydia was the younger sister of the Aruban war hero Boy Ecury (1922–1944), a member of the Dutch Resistance during World War II, who was captured and executed by the German forces occupying the Netherlands. The family mansion where Nydia was born is a fine example of colonial architecture and is now the home of the National Archeological Museum of Aruba.

Ecury completed her studies in English literature and journalism in Canada and established herself in Curaçao in 1957 where she worked as ...

Article

Ethan Michael Key

active in Naqamte, Western Oromia, Ethiopia during the first half of the twentieth century. She is most remembered for being part of an Oromo language translation project in Eritrea, which produced both the Macaafa Qulqulluu (Holy Bible, 1899), translated by Onesimos Nasib, and the Jalqaba Barsiisa (Oromo Spelling Book, 1894), co-authored by Aster and Onesimos.

Born around the year 1870 in the independent Oromo kingdom of Limmu Ennarya in the Gibe River region, Aster was “enslaved by way of reprisal when her people refused to build the king of Limmu a new residence” (Arén 1978: 295–296). In 1886 she was on a ship crossing the Red Sea when the Italian coast guard intercepted liberating the slaves onboard because the Italian government sought to increase its presence in the Red Sea including its future colony of Eritrea After this she went to the Swedish Evangelical Mission at Imkullu ...

Article

Ghirmai Negash

Eritrean Tigrinya-language writer, historian, translator, linguist, and professor of African languages, was born and grew up in Yeha, an ancient historical village in Tigray, the northernmost Ethiopian province bordering Eritrea. Yeha is remarkable for its unique and early archaeological sites, as well as for its proximity to and historical connections with the well-known city of Axum, which formed the center of the Axumite kingdom during the reign of the Queen of Sheba, and still remains Ethiopia’s oldest cultural center. Giyorgis is considered one of Ethiopia’s and Eritrea’s most important intellectuals; he lived and wrote during the Italian colonial era in Eritrea. He is considered by many the true founder of secular, modern African literature in Tigrinya.

The consciousness of precolonial history evident in Yeha had a lasting influence on Giyorgis s imagination affecting everything he wrote from literature to history Another important influence on Giyorgis s formation as a native ...

Article

Kizito Muchemwa

Zimbabwean essayist, novelist, poet, editor, translator, writer-in-residence, visiting lecturer, and cultural critic, was born to Ruvaro Muza Hove, a farmer, and Jessie Hove, his wife, in rural Mazvihwa, Zvishavane, a linguistic and ethnic buffer zone in the Midlands Province of Zimbabwe. Hove’s father, a local chief, was a polygamist who brought the family into contact with colonial modernity. The family migrated in the 1960s to Copper Queen Gokwe a district that took in the colonially displaced from different parts of the country following the enactment of many laws dispossessing Africans of their land Hove s time in Mazvihwa and Gokwe explain the writer s ability to speak more than one local language a significant achievement in a racially and ethnically polarized country The aspects that have shaped the writer s sensibility are colonialism missionary education orature war and Zimbabwe s postindependence experience He escaped political persecution at home following ...

Article

Hans P. Hahn

The life of Janheinz Jahn was dedicated to the support and dissemination of African literature in German-speaking countries. He was a pioneer in that pursuit—to impart African literature—with restless engagement and consequence. After studying the history of arts and the Arabic language in the 1930s, he was a soldier during World War II and became a prisoner of war. After his release in 1946, he worked as a freelance writer and journalist. Throughout the rest of his life, he never had an academic position and made his living from publishing books.

In 1950 he met Leopold Senghor when the latter was in Frankfurt am Main at the invitation of the Institut Culturel Français This meeting and the conversations with Senghor left such deep and lasting impressions that a short time later Jahn himself started to give public lectures on African literature At the same time he initiated ...

Article

Heike Becker

the first Herero convert to Christianity, a translator, a teacher, and a midwife, was born in September 1837 as the daughter of Kazahendike and his wife Kariaavihe in Hereroland in what is today central Namibia. Her family was among those Herero who were impoverished and displaced by the conflicts that were ravaging central Namibia in the 1840s (especially those between Jan Jonker Afrikaner and Tjimuhua) and who subsequently gravitated toward the early missions in search of shelter and livelihood. Urieta Kazahendike was about ten or twelve years old when she came to live with German-born missionary Carl Hugo Hahn and his English wife Emma, née Hone, who had arrived in Namibia in 1844. Kazahendike lived with the Hahns first at Otjikango, about 70 kilometers north of Windhoek, which the missionaries called “New Barmen.” In 1855 she followed the Hahn family to Otjimbingwe to the west of Otjikango From ...

Article

Kenneth Ombongi and Marcel Rutten

Harry Leakey was an embodiment of European tropical adventure and a product of the Christian missionary age. With a Franco-British background, Leakey was brought up by a single mother after his father died when he was only three. He was born in France in 1868, and his mastery of French earned him a livelihood as a grammar school teacher when he went to England. Besides a Cambridge education, which took him through the Oxbridge (Oxford and Cambridge) citadel of education for those who worked overseas, he had close relatives who were already missionaries, from whom, perhaps, he drew inspiration for missionary work in Africa. His cousin was a missionary in Uganda from 1892 onward. Leakey’s wife, Mary, also came from a missionary family; her sister and husband went to Uganda as missionaries in 1898.

The colonial environment in which Leakey operated shaped his life thoughts and activities He ...

Article

Allen J. Fromherz

known in Latin as Raimundus Lullus, Ramon Llull was a Catalan intellectual, translator, doctor, mathematician, theologian, and missionary born in 1232 or 1233 in Palma, the capital of the island of Majorca in the western Mediterranean south of Barcelona. The Catalans had almost suddenly become masters of the western Mediterranean, and the conquest of Majorca by King James I from the Berber North African Almohad Empire in 1229 three years before his death was still fresh in 1232. Ramon Llull would spend most of his life at a crossroads between the Christian powers of Europe and the Muslim powers of North Africa, absorbing the influence of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian traditions. Having experienced an Augustinian conversion from a life licentiousness to one of spiritual contemplation, the first decades of his life from a biography, Vita coaetanea are described as given to ...

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Trevor Hall

was born in Benin, Nigeria, and enslaved in Portugal. He then returned to Benin, where he worked as a slave of the Portuguese king in a trading outpost owned by King João II (r. 1481–1495) and his successor King Manuel I (r. 1495–1521). Lourenco’s reason for renown was that in 1501 King Manuel I manumitted him, because of the exceptional services he had rendered to the Portuguese monarchs when he worked in Africa (Arquivo Nacional da Torrre do Tombo, Chancelaria de D. Manuel, Liv. 17, fol. 40v, 1501, in Portugallae Monumenta Africana, 1993, vol. 1).

In 1471 the first Portuguese ships sailed to Benin where they probably purchased pepper brass and iron Later the Portuguese established commercial military and diplomatic relations with the Obah the title given to Benin s king The Portuguese businessman Fernão Gomes dispatched the first Portuguese ships to Benin after purchasing a ...