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Cajetan N. Iheka

Nigerian entrepreneur, philanthropist, politician, and publisher, was born on 24 August 1937 in the southwestern town of Egba, Abeokuta, in the present-day Ogun State, to Alhaji Salawu Adelekan Akanni Abiola and Zeliat Wuraola Ayinke Abiola (née Kassim). Although Abiola was the twenty-third child of his parents, he was their first surviving child as his older siblings had died at infancy or were stillborn. Because of several deaths that had plagued the family, Abiola was named “Kashimawo,” meaning “Let us wait and see.” It was not until his fifteenth birthday that his parents gave him a regular name, Moshood, having been convinced that the young Abiola had come to stay.

Although he was born and raised in a poor family the young Abiola exhibited some entrepreneurial tendencies when he started gathering and selling firewood at the tender age of nine With the proceeds from his business he was able to support ...

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

Carlos Dalmau

A passionate speaker and outspoken critic of United States imperialism and the 1898 invasion and occupation of Puerto Rico, Pedro Albizu Campos spent many years in prison for his role in the pro-independence nationalist movement, during the turbulent years of the 1930s through the 1950s. He opposed the annexation of Puerto Rico by the United States when the island was ceded by the Spanish after the Spanish-Cuban-American War (1895–1898). For Albizu, Puerto Ricans—ethnically mixed and culturally different—were not, and should not be, Americans. Independence was the only legitimate and anti-imperialist solution to the island's status.

From an early age Albizu stood out as an excellent student He grew up in the city of Ponce a municipality in southern Puerto Rico where he received a grant that gave him the opportunity to study chemical engineering at the University of Vermont He later graduated from the Harvard Law School where ...

Article

Walter Clarke

Somali Issa Abgal Mamassan, president of the Republic of Djibouti (1977–1999), was born on 15 October 1919 in the village of Garissa in present-day Somaliland. His parents were nomads from the Loyada area, which is located at the frontier with the former British Somaliland. According to his official biography, he left the nomadic life as a young man, and “on his own,” he was admitted to a Roman Catholic mission school in Djibouti, where he graduated from the primary school. As a young man, he earned his living doing odd jobs in the port and later taught in a primary school.

However, Hassan Gouled’s true love was politics. In 1946 he joined the Club de la Jeunesse Somali et Dankali a political group founded by Mahamoud Harbi His philosophical differences with Harbi quickly became evident He was elected representative in the Territorial Council in which he served ...

Article

Matti Steinberg

Palestinian leader, was born in Cairo, Egypt, on 24 August 1929 to ʿAbd al-Raʾuf, his father, and Zahawa Abu-Saud, his mother, who had emigrated from Palestine in 1927 Arafat himself was mysterious about his birthplace sometimes he would say I was not born before I became Abu ʿAmmar and sometimes he insisted on being born in Old Jerusalem next to the al Haram al Sharif the Islamic sacred site this version was adopted by official publications and Web sites of Fatah Behind this obscurity probably lay the uneasiness of Arafat as the leader of the Palestinian national movement to acknowledge that he had not been born in Palestine and that his Palestinian parents had emigrated voluntarily out of personal and not national reasons from Palestine seeking a better living His full name is Muhammad ʿAbd al Rahman ʿAbd al Raʾuf Arafat al Qudwa al Husayni During the early 1950s ...

Article

Oluwatoyin Babatunde Oduntan

Nigerian trade unionist, nationalist, and political leader, was born in Ikenne, Western Nigeria on 6 March 1909. He survived a difficult childhood following the death of his father in 1920 and the breakup of his family and completed schooling by fending for himself. Awolowo worked as a house-help, fetched firewood for sale, apprenticed as a letter writer, and worked as a typist and clerk, teacher, news reporter, contractor, transporter, and produce buyer on the way to studying for a law degree at the University of London between 1944 and 1946. Through this harsh experience, he developed self-reliance and confidence, a fearless and defiant attitude to authority, as well as skills as a community and labor organizer, qualities that were to serve him in good stead as he thrust into the stormy politics of colonial Nigeria.

The 1930s mark the high point of colonial rule in Nigeria British ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Algerian anticolonial leader and politician, was born on 25 December 1916 in the town of Maghnia in western Algeria. His family was relatively affluent, and he was the youngest child of five boys and several girls.

Although Ben Bella’s father was a practicing Muslim, Ben Bella himself never managed to master Arabic. He attended primary schools in Maghnia and graduated in 1930. Ben Bella was a phenomenal football (soccer) player at school, and he seriously considered becoming a professional athlete. However, he ended up joining the French army and served in numerous campaigns during World War II. His bravery and skill made him a legend in his own unit, and he eventually reached the rank of Sergeant Major. At the Battle of Monte Cassino in Italy, he carried his wounded company commander 1500 yards to safety and then took charge of the company Charles De Gaulle his future ...

Article

Gillian Whitlock

the Danish writer also known as Isak Dinesen, who lived in British East Africa (present-day Kenya), was born Karen Dinesen at Rungstedlund, Denmark, on 17 April 1885. Her father, Wilhelm Dinesen, was a military officer, landowner, and Member of Parliament; the Dinesens were an ancient Danish family of landed gentry. Her mother, Ingeborg Westenholtz, was the eldest daughter of the wealthy businessman and finance minister Regnar Westenholtz. Following the suicide of Wilhelm Dinesen in 1895, Ingeborg Dinesen raised her three daughters and two sons in a maternal household, where Karen was known as “Tanne.” As a young woman, Karen Blixen attended art school, mastered several European languages, frequented the aristocratic circles of upper-class young people in Denmark, and began to publish short stories in Danish periodicals in 1907 under the pseudonym Osceola None of these early stories attracted particular attention and she felt discouraged as a writer ...

Article

Richard A. Bradshaw

military officer, president, and emperor of the Central African Republic/Empire, was born on 22 February 1921 at Bobangui, Lobaye region, then in the French Equatorial African territory of the Middle Congo (now part of the Central African Republic) He was the son of headman Mindogon Mgboundoulou, who was murdered at the regional colonial headquarters in the Lobaye, and Marie Yokowo, who died a week after her husband. Bokassa belonged to the same Mbaka (Ngbaka) ethnic group as Central African Republic (CAR) leaders Barthélemy Boganda and David Dacko. His grandfather MʿBalanga took care of Bokassa until 1921, when he entered the Catholic missionary école Sainte-Jeanne-d’Arc at MʿBaiki. Bokassa then attended Bangui’s École de St. Louis (1928–1929), which was run by Father Charles Grüner, and an école missionnaire at Brazzaville (1929–1939). Enlisting in the French army on 19 May 1939, Bokassa became a corporal (1940 ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

president of Gabon, was born on 30 December 1935 in the village of Lewai (now Bongoville) in the southeastern Haut-Ogooué region (in present-day Gabon) to the Tèkè family. His father was Basile Ondimba and his mother Jeanne Ebori. He was the youngest of twelve children. His father died before Bongo reached puberty. As the Haut-Ogooué province belonged to the French Congo colony rather than Gabon from 1926 until 1947, Bongo studied in schools in the Congolese capital of Brazzaville rather than Libreville. Once he finished his studies in 1953, he became a postal clerk. After several years, he joined the French air force. By 1959 Bongo reached the rank of first lieutenant after serving in Chad and the Central African Republic.

With the coming of independence in 1960, Bongo chose to become a civil servant rather than run for political officer. In 1961 he supported candidates ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Algerian politician and anticolonial military leader, was born Mohammed Ben Brahim Boukharouba in the Algerian town of Aïn Hesseinia, near Guelma, on 23 August 1932. Although Boumedienne was fluent in French through his primary school studies at a public school, he also chose to attend Islamic schools where the language of instruction was Arabic. Unlike some other future Algerian leaders who lacked a firm command of classical Arabic, Boumedienne thus could express himself in both French and Arabic as a result of his education.

The brutal crackdown of Algerian nationalists by European settlers and the French military on 8 May 1945 dramatically shaped Boumedienne s life Rather than accept eventually being forced to join the French military as a conscript he moved to Tunisia where he attended classes at the Zitouna University known for its advanced courses in Islamic law and theology After some time Boumedienne attended the ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Tunisian politician and anticolonial activist, was born on 3 August 1903 in the Tunisian town of Monastir, located roughly 100 kilometers south of the capital of Tunis. His family was relatively poor, but several of his seven siblings raised enough money to send Bourguiba to French-run schools in Tunis.

Bourguiba attended the College Sadiki middle school and the Lycée Carnot secondary school. After Bourguiba passed his baccalaureate examinations in 1924, he moved to Paris to study law and political science. Bourguiba spent three years studying before he received his law degree. During that time, he met a Frenchwoman named Mathilde Lorain, and they married in 1927. On 9 April 1927 Mathilde gave birth to their first child and only son Habib Bourguiba Jr He then returned with his new family to Tunis Since the decade before World War I Western educated Tunisians had protested discriminatory policies on ...

Article

Katya Leney-Hall

Egyptian diplomat, jurist and scholar who, during 1992–1996, served as the sixth Secretary-General (SG) of the United Nations (UN), the first African and Arab to hold the position, was born in Cairo on 14 November 1922 into a distinguished Coptic Christian family. His grandfather, Boutros-Ghali Pasha, was the Egyptian minister for finance and, from 1894, foreign affairs. He was prime minister from 1908 to 1910 when he was assassinated by a nationalist angered with his advocacy of the extension of the Suez Canal Company s concession Boutros Boutros Ghali pointed out in an interview that the reality was that the population was happy to get rid of a Christian and his grandfather s assassination set off a wave of Coptic Muslim clashes Although not overtly religious himself his family s history status and influence on the Coptic Church were to form Boutros Ghali who would later perceive ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

first female prime minister of Senegal, was born in the coastal city of Saint Louis, Senegal. She came from a family of lawyers, including her father, one brother who worked for the Supreme Court of Senegal, and another brother who received an advanced law degree, became a professor of international law, and eventually became the head of the University of Dakar. Boye herself attended primary school in her home city before graduating from the Lycée Faidherbe secondary school and enrolling in an undergraduate law degree program at the University of Dakar in 1963 She then studied law at the Centre National d Études Judiciaries CNEJ in Paris Once she finished her studies in France she returned to Senegal and began to work as an assistant prosecutor for the government Boye became an assistant judge in a court at Dakar and later rose to be president of the Senegalese Court ...

Article

Ana Luiza Libânio

was born Leci Brandão da Silva, on 12 September 1944, in Madureira, suburb of Rio de Janeiro, and was raised in Vila Isabel, a neighborhood known for its contributions to samba. Her father, Antonio Francisco da Silva, a school janitor, and her mother, Lecy de Assumpção Brandão, a housewife and later school janitor, were able to provide her with a rich educational background, teaching her an appreciation for samba and other forms of music, including classical, opera, and jazz. She grew up enjoying Brazilian popular music (Música Popular Brasileira, or MPB), but also became a fan of international singers. Though she had eclectic musical tastes, she regarded samba as her favorite genre, especially the songs through which she could protest against social injustice.

Brandão had to start working at an early age in order to contribute to the household finances Working as operator attendant and factory worker during the ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Bonnie A. Lucero

was born to enslaved parents in 1874. He became a prominent political figure and black activist in the early Cuban republic. Little is known about his early years, but Campos Marquetti participated actively in the Cuban struggle for independence from Spain. While at least one source claims that his involvement in the Cuban struggle for independence dates back to the Ten Years’ War (1868–1878), his year of birth in 1874 makes this unlikely. The official record of the Cuban army indicates that he enlisted in the summer of 1898, though he worked closely with prominent independence leaders, including José Martí, prior to his official enlistment. He also helped Juan Gualberto Gómez plan the insurrection in 1895 escaping imprisonment on the Isle of Pines numerous times He was finally sent to the Spanish prison at Ceuta off the coast of North Africa where he escaped before ...

Article

Rowena I. Alfonso

later known as Kwame Ture, was born on 29 June 1941 in Port of Spain, Trinidad, to working-class parents Adolphus Carmichael and Mabel Charles. He was christened Stokely Standiford Churchill Carmichael. At age 7, Carmichael attended Eastern Boys School in Port of Spain. In the 1950s, Trinidad was still a British colony, and talk of independence filled Carmichael’s home. In his autobiography, Carmichael recalls the sounds of a steel pan playing calypso music as one of his earliest childhood memories.

In June 1952 11 year old Carmichael immigrated to the United States with his family where they lived in an apartment in the South Bronx in New York Carmichael enrolled in an elite public school the Bronx High School of Science after passing a difficult entrance exam At Bronx Science he befriended Gene Dennis the son of a jailed Communist Party USA CP leader and attended Young Communist meetings ...

Article

Paul Breslin

Martinican poet, playwright, essayist, and political leader, was born on 26 June 1913, in Basse Pointe, Martinique. His parents, Fernand and Eléonore Césaire, were of modest means but devoted to their six children’s education. In 1924, Césaire entered the Lycée Schoelcher in Martinique’s capital, Fort-de-France. In 1931 he went to France to study at the Lycée Louis-le-Grand, then, in 1935, at l’École Normale Supérieure. In Paris, Césaire developed friendships with other young black intellectuals and writers, most notably the Senegalese Léopold Sédar Senghor and Léon Damas (1912–1978), a French Guianese who had been his schoolmate at the Lycée Schoelcher. In 1937, he met and married a fellow Martinican student and poet, Suzanne Roussi (1915–1966). The marriage produced six children, one of whom, Ina Césaire (1942– ), became a prominent writer as well.

Césaire and his circle sought a definition of black identity They were influenced by the ...

Article

Miguel Gonzalez Perez

was born in Bilwaskarma, in Nicaragua’s North Atlantic Autonomous Region, on 10 November 1947. She is best known for the leading role she played in promoting the peace negotiation process that in 1986 ended a ten-year military conflict that pitted the FSLN (Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional, or Sandinista National Liberation Front) revolutionary government against the Miskito indigenous rebels who were struggling for autonomy along the Nicaraguan Caribbean coast. She is also an international advocate for the rights of indigenous peoples.

Cunningham grew up in Waspam the capital city of the Wangki River region near the border with Honduras which is considered the motherland of the Miskito people She was born to Nester Judith Kain Nelson and Wilfred Bill Cunningham Davis both from Pearl Lagoon on the southern part of the Caribbean coast She grew up in a working class family of mixed cultural heritage of Miskito African and ...