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Jennifer Carolina Gómez Menjívar

was born on 7 February 1954 in Lima, Peru. She was raised by her maternal grandmother, who taught her to sing when she was 3 and nurtured her dreams of becoming an artist from an early age, encouraging her to perform at school events as well as on children’s programs on radio and television. Born María Angélica Ayllón Urbina, the artist adopted her grandmother’s name as her stage name upon launching her solo career. Cherished by fans on two continents, Ayllón has released over thirty albums and has become a successful artist with a solid foundation in Peruvian “Creole” and Afro-Peruvian musical styles.

Ayllón began performing in the early 1970s in commercial venues in Lima that had a reputation for showcasing Creole music. She began her career alongside notable artists, and in 1973 she became the lead singer of Los Kipus a musical trio They toured Peru performed for ...


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 ...


Kathleen Gyssels

was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on 6 November 1898, the eldest daughter of Eugénie Malebranche (1875–1931), writer, and Georges Sylvain (1866–1925), minister of culture. Her uncle was the pan-Africanist Benito Sylvain, and she inherited from her father a sense of pride in the first black republic’s rich culture and religion. In particular, she was fascinated with the numerous facets of Haitian cultural expression, especially Vodou.

Sylvain attended religious schools for girls in Kingston, Jamaica, Port-au-Prince, and Paris. These primary and secondary schools were institutions that prepared young girls from Haitian upper-class families to become accomplished housewives. However, Sylvain left Port-au-Prince to go to Paris for her higher education, where she obtained her bachelor’s degree and doctorate at the Sorbonne.

While at the Sorbonne she was invited by the Polish anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski to attend his seminar at the London School of Economics Malinowski also found ...


James Kilgore

Zimbabwean freedom fighter and politician, grew up in a politically minded family. Her father, a bricklayer, was frequently detained by the white minority government, and Dongo recalled visiting him in prison when she was just seven years old. At fifteen she left secondary school and walked two hundred miles to Mozambique to join the freedom fighters of the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU, later ZANU-PF, for “Patriotic Front”). ZANU was conducting a liberation war against the colonial regime led by Ian Smith, leader of Rhodesia (modern-day Zimbabwe). Dongo trained as a medical assistant. She took the Chimurenga (“liberation war”) name of “Tichaona Muhondo” (“We shall see on the battlefield”).

At independence in 1980 she returned to Zimbabwe, completed a typing course, and worked as the Secretary for Women’s Affairs in the national headquarters of ZANU-PF in Harare. In 1983 she took a position in the Ministry of State Security ...


Gerald Horne

American social scientist, author, educator, civil rights leader, and Pan-Africanist, was born William Edward Burghardt Du Bois on 23 February 1868 to Alfred Du Bois and Mary Silvina Burghardt Du Bois, in the predominantly white hamlet of Great Barrington, Massachusetts. William’s maternal great-great-grandfather, Tom Burghardt, born in West Africa in the early 1730s, was captured and brought to America by Dutch slavers. Du Bois would later recall hearing in his childhood a West African song that was perhaps of Senegambian Wolof origin.

Du Bois had a fondness for his New England birthplace and by his own account had a relatively charmed childhood An only child abandoned by his father whom he did not remember his doting mother and relatives and supportive teachers muted the pangs of racism sharpened by Reconstruction These heady years permeated the nation not just the South Hence his early years were shaped by genteel poverty Victorian ...


Carmen De Michele

Nigerian curator, art critic, writer, and academic, was born in Kalaba, Nigeria, a middle-sized city close to the Cameroonian border, on 23 October 1963. He grew up in Enugu in eastern Nigeria, where he attended a British boarding school. He was taught to speak in English in addition to his native Igbo.

In 1982 Enwezor moved to the United States, where he enrolled at the Jersey City State College (now New Jersey City University) in Jersey City, New Jersey, as a political science major. He earned a BA in political science in 1987. Enwezor entered the world of art through friends and by visiting a large number of art exhibitions. He turned his attention not only to contemporary American and European art but also to modern African art. He noticed that African artists were severely underrepresented in the American art scene. In 1989 Enwezor became a freelance ...


Florian Pajot

historian and political leader of Burkina Faso, was born in 1922 in Toma, a small village in Upper Volta, then a French colony. Often referred to as “Le Professeur” (“The Professor”), Ki-Zerbo was the son of Alfred Diban Ki-Zerbo, who was known as the first Christian in Upper Volta. His parents brought him up in the African rural tradition, which entailed pastoral and agricultural activities. This did not prevent him from studying at the missionary school run by the French Pères Blancs (White Fathers). Despite their traditional background, Ki-Zerbo’s parents allowed him to go to Bamako and then Dakar to complete his studies. He successfully passed his leaving certificate and then he turned his attention to his lifelong struggle for African independence.

Thanks to a scholarship, Ki-Zerbo went to Paris in 1950 to attend the Sorbonne where he pursued a degree in history Influenced by his father s own ...


Jeremy Metz

was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on 22 December 1953 into an upper-middle-class family. Lahens was particularly close to her mother, who supported her early interest in literature. She has returned in her writing to her childhood home, which she described as a privileged “space of origins,” in her short story “La chambre bleue.” Lahens left Haiti at the age of 13 to continue her secondary school studies in Paris. She remained in France until 1978, when she returned to Haiti after receiving an advanced degree in comparative literature from the Sorbonne. For the next seventeen years, Lahens taught literature at the École Normale Supérieure (ENS) of the Université d’Etat d’Haïti. In 1996–1997, she joined the Haitian government’s Ministère de la Culture during the tenure of the activist documentary filmmaker Raoul Peck. In 1998 she directed the work on Haiti for UNESCO s Route de l Esclavage project ...


Jeremy Rich

physical anthropologist and archaeologist who discovered evidence of early human life in the Rift Valley of East Africa, was born Mary Douglas Nicol on 6 February 1913 in London, England. Her father was the painter Erskine Edward Nicol and her mother was Cecilia Marion (née Frere) Nicol. During Mary’s childhood, her family moved around a great deal. Erskine Nicol painted various portraits and subjects in England, France, Italy, Egypt, and elsewhere. Mary’s prolonged sojourns in southern France provided her with the chance to develop a fluent command of French. While she enjoyed greatly her talks and walks with her father, she found her mother’s Catholic faith stultifying even as she developed some friendships with individual priests. Her childhood came to a sudden end in the spring of 1926 when her father passed away from cancer Mary s mother decided to place her daughter in a Catholic convent but ...


was born in the Vere district of the parish of Clarendon, Jamaica, on 28 September 1927 to the teachers Richard James Mahoney Lewin and Asanath Sylvia Lewin. The elder of two daughters, she grew up in the rural village of Hayes in South Clarendon, and was surrounded by music from an early age. Her father was headmaster, choirmaster, and music and history teacher at the village school she attended. Her mother was a staff member at the school, and also played the piano. Lewin was raised hearing a variety of musical styles, including Jamaican folk music and European classical music “from Handel and Mozart, Haydn and Elgar” (Lewin, 2000, p. 4).

Lewin learned to play both the piano and violin at an early age and she won one of the Vere Scholarships to attend Hampton High for Girls an elite grammar school in neighboring St Elizabeth From there ...


Alessandra Benedicty

was born on 3 September 1958 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. She grew up on the rue Carlstroem, which connects two main arteries of the city, Avenue John Brown and Avenue Lamartinière (also known as Bois-Verna). Her uncle owned the Eldorado cinema space, which showed mostly Italian and American Westerns, musicals, and French films. As a family member, she had unlimited free entry. Mars attended primary school with the Soeurs de St. Joseph de Cluny, in the center of Port-au-Prince, near her mother’s small souvenir shop; she attended secondary school at the Centre d’Études Secondaires, followed by accounting and secretarial school.

Mars began writing in her thirties, after a career in high-level administration, notably working for the Japanese Consulate in Port-au-Prince. She first wrote poetry and later prose fiction: novels and short stories. Her novels include Kasalé (2003), L’heure hybride (2005), Fado (2008), Saisons sauvages ...


Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni

, Zimbabwean politician and academic who came to the limelight through an active life in student politics, civil society activity, and mainstream national politics in 1999, was born on 7 July 1961. His father was Gideon Gidi Mathonsi Ncube, who was killed by the Fifth Brigade in the 1980s. The Fifth Brigade was a brutal wing of the Zimbabwe National Army that was answerable to President Robert Mugabe and that targeted all those, especially the Ndebele-speaking minority, that supported the Patriotic Front–Zimbabwe African People’s Union (PF-ZAPU) led by Dr. Joshua Nkomo. His mother was Lydia Diya Ncube (née Nyathi). Ncube grew up in Lower Gwelu (now known as Lower Gweru) under Chief Sogwala in a rural communal village called Maboleni.

Ncube started his schooling at Makhulambila Primary School in a neighboring village called Makhulambila some 5 kilometers from his parents homestead In this school he attended grades one ...


Aili Tripp

, Kenyan politician, was born on 1 January 1952 in Mbooni, Makueni District, of Kamba lineage. She obtained management and secretarial training at Government Secretarial College, Kianda College, and the Kenya Institute of Administration for Business. She first worked as a secretary and eventually became a successful plastics and bakery businesswoman. Prior to going into politics, Ngilu had held the position of managing director of a food manufacturing company. She was elected a Member of Parliament for Kitui Central in 1992, 1997, 2002, and 2007.

In 1997 Ngilu became the first woman in Kenya to run for president Later in the race environmentalist and Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai also announced her candidacy making her the second woman to join the presidential race During the race Ngilu earned the nickname Mama Masaa a term that plays on her party s symbol the clock suggesting that she is ...


Mario Angel Silva Castro

to be elected to the national legislature, was born Edgardo Ortuño Silva on 10 June 1970 in Montevideo, Uruguay, the son of Jesús Ulises Ortuño, an employee of Obras Sanitarias del Estado (State Sanitation Works, or OSE), and María Julia Silva, a service assistant at a health clinic. He completed his primary studies and high school in public school, later graduating as a professor of history from the Instituto de Profesores Artigas. In 1998 he married Daniela Stinton, with whom he had three children: Mauro, Belén, and Lía.

Ortuño spent his childhood in La Blanqueada a neighborhood with few Afro descendants His family had economic difficulties and his parents instilled in him and his sisters self improvement as a goal Breaking deeply rooted stereotypes in Uruguayan society and overcoming social and personal conditions became the central focus of his life The Ortuño family maintained a close connection with Afro Uruguayan ...


Cyril Daddieh

an economist and international banker-turned-politician in Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), was born in Dimbokro on 1 January 1942. This birthplace and his subsequent claim to Ivoirian nationality is highly contested in Abidjan, the Ivoirian commercial capital. He attended secondary school in Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso) and then proceeded to the University of Pennsylvania on a Fulbright scholarship as a national of Burkina Faso. He received his bachelor’s degree (BA) in mathematics, followed by an MA and a PhD in economics, awarded in 1967 and 1972. respectively.

“ADO,” as Ouattara is popularly known to his supporters, has had an illustrious career in international banking and finance spanning nearly four decades. He first joined the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in April 1968 as chief economist Ouattara left five years later to join the Central Bank of West African States BCEAO as head of mission in Paris where he ...


Jeremy Rich

French filmmaker and ethnographer active in Niger, was born on 31 May 1917 in Paris. His father was an adventurous naval officer who had traveled as far as Antarctica. His mother had a deep love of poetry and painting. Their son would combine his parents’ interests in his later life.

The Rouch family moved often in Jean’s early life, and he spent time in Algeria, Morocco, and Germany. In 1937, he entered the École des Ponts et Chausées to study engineering. Rouch did so at the behest of his father rather than out of a real interest in the subject matter. However, Rouch found plenty of opportunities to take other courses outside of engineering and science.

In his last year of studies Rouch met anthropologist Maurice Griaule whose work on Dogon communities in West Africa would later be one of the most well known and controversial examples of French ...


Ada Uzoamaka Azodo

Senegalese novelist, dramatist, and literary and cultural activist, was born on 27 April 1941, on the island of Saint-Louis, the first capital of Senegal before Dakar, to Abdoulaye Fall and Adja Khoudia Diaw. In Paris, on 30 May 1963, she married fellow Senegalese Samba Sow, a recent university graduate in economics at the time and a popular basketball player, adopting his last name as her middle name. Today, Aminata Sow Fall is so well known worldwide that she can be listed in bibliographical entries without the need to place her last name first.

In her conservative and hospitable family her father who had attended L École des Fils de Chefs later worked outside the home as treasurer while her mother stayed at home as housewife and mother to provide nurturing to all with the help of live in servants Many young people and villagers frequented their home bringing ...


Maria Cristina Fumagalli

was born in Castries, St. Lucia, on 23 January 1930 to Warwick Walcott and Alix Marlin Walcott Derek had a twin brother Roderick and an older sister Pam born two years earlier Although the majority of the St Lucian population were Catholic and spoke a French based Creole the Walcotts were Anglophone and part of the Methodist minority that nonetheless played a major role in the cultural policies of the island Walcott s father Warwick the son of a white Barbadian and a St Lucian woman of African descent died when Derek and Roderick were only 1 year old he was a bright and dependable civil servant and talented amateur artist fond of literature and classical music Warwick s wife Alix the daughter of a white Dutch colonial of St Maarten and an Afro Caribbean woman was a hardworking ambitious and determined woman who taught for years at St ...


Paul K. Sutton

was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, on 25 September 1911. His mother, Eliza Boissière, was of primarily French Creole ancestry, and his darker-skinned father, Henry, a minor post office official, was of African and European descent. Williams was the eldest of twelve children and he recounts in his autobiography that life was a “daily problem of making both ends meet” (1971, p. 27). He was a clever child and, at the age of 10, won one of only eight scholarships to Queen’s Royal College (QRC, in Port of Spain), then the premier secondary school in the country. At QRC he excelled academically, winning many prizes, and in 1931 at his third attempt he won the Island Scholarship and elected to study history at the University of Oxford In itself the choice of subject was unusual since most who won the scholarship chose to pursue medicine ...