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ElBaradei, Mohamed  

Katya Leney-Hall

Egyptian Nobel Laureate, diplomat, international civil servant, and scholar who served as the director general (DG) of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) between 1997 and 2009, was born in Cairo. His father was Mostafa ElBaradei, a lawyer and president of the Egyptian Bar Association, who campaigned for a free press and an independent legal system. ElBaradei studied law at the University of Cairo (1962), and completed his PhD in international law at the New York University School of Law (1974).

ElBaradei joined the Egyptian Diplomatic Service in 1964; his postings included the Egyptian Permanent Missions to the United Nations (UN) in New York and Geneva. Between 1974 and 1978 he served as a special assistant to the Egyptian foreign minister Working under another Egyptian diplomat who would later leave his mark on the UN Boutros Boutros Ghali he attended the Camp David ...

Article

Gordimer, Nadine  

Stephen Clingman

South African novelist, short story writer, essayist, and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, was born on 20 November 1923 in the small gold mining town of Springs east of Johannesburg Both her parents were Jewish immigrants her father Isidore was a watchmaker and jeweler from the Lithuanian Latvian border her mother Nan came from England Her father with his foreign accent and ways was disparaged in the family he also absorbed the dominant racial models of the time while her mother took more readily to anglicized colonial mores Gordimer grew up in a nonreligious environment though she attended a convent school for the sake of its superior education Early on she was a dancer and sometimes a truant exploring the physical possibilities of veld and mine dumps with innate energy and relish At the age of eleven however her mother withdrew her from school on the putative ...

Article

Ibn Battuta, Muhammad ibn Abdullah  

John Calvert

Moroccan writer and explorer, was born in Tangier, Morocco, into a well-respected Berber family of judges who adhered to the Maliki school of jurisprudence. Toward the end of his life he recounted his journeys in a book entitled A Gift to the Observers Concerning the Curiosities of Cities and the Marvels Encountered in Traveling. The work is one of the principal sources available to modern researchers for the social, economic, and political conditions of the fourteenth-century Islamic world. Although not as well known, Ibn Battuta’s travels were more extensive than the journeys of his younger European contemporary, Marco Polo. Over a period of twenty-eight years, he crossed the breadth of Africa and Asia and visited the equivalent of approximately forty-four modern countries. He combined his travels with scholarly pursuits, or with professional posts such as that of judge (qadi in cities along the way A native speaker ...

Article

King, Martin Luther Jr.  

John A. Kirk

Martin Luther King Jr. was born in Atlanta, Georgia, 15 January 1929. He attended Morehouse College in Atlanta from 1944 to 1948. Following in the footsteps of his father and his maternal grandfather, King decided to enter the ministry, and he completed his divinity degree at the predominantly white Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania in 1951. King went on to complete his PhD at the also predominantly white Boston University in June 1955. King took up his first post as a Baptist minister at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955, while writing his doctoral thesis. In December 1955, King became involved in a boycott of the city’s buses to protest segregation. The thirteen-month boycott ended in December 1956 after the U.S. Supreme Court ordered buses to desegregate.

The Montgomery bus boycott launched King’s civil rights leadership. In 1957 he helped ...

Article

Luthuli, Albert John Mvumbi  

Dorothy C. Woodson

South African teacher, Zulu chief, political leader, and Nobel Peace Prize winner, was born in Rhodesia around 1898 of South African (Zulu) parentage. His mother, Mtonya Gumede, was born and raised in the Royal Kraal of Cetshewayo, the Zulu king. His father, John Luthuli, was the elected chief of Groutville, home of the Umvoti Mission, an American Board of Commissioners station near Stanger, north of Durban, in what is now Kwa-Zulu Natal. He attended various local schools and was later awarded a two-year teacher-training scholarship at Adams College. Luthuli remained at Adams as a teacher, becoming one of only two African teachers at the school, the other being Z. K. Matthews (1901–1968). He married Nokukhanya Bhengu in 1927, and they had seven children.

In 1936 Luthuli reluctantly left Adams College and returned to Groutville after being elected to the chieftainship of the Umvoti Mission Reserve during which time he ...

Article

Mahfouz, Naguib  

Kurt J. Werthmuller

renowned Egyptian author and Nobel laureate for literature in 1988, was born on 11 December 1911 to a middle-class, conservative Muslim family in the Gamiliyya quarter of Old Cairo. He was named for the pioneering Coptic obstetrician Naguib Mikhail Mahfouz, who conducted his mother’s difficult delivery; and he spent the first twelve years of his life with his parents and six siblings in al-Gamiliyya, a traditional hara neighborhood alley in which rich poor and middle class alike resided and rubbed shoulders on a daily basis Among his family Mahfouz s father was stern but gentle natured and while his mother fulfilled her conservative roles she also led a relatively free daily life and often toted along the young Mahfouz on excursions to explore historical sites around Cairo It was their traditional neighborhood which provided the setting and template and colorful characters for many of his most famous and ...

Article

Mandela, Nelson Rolihlahla  

Kate Tuttle

The first black president of South Africa, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela became a worldwide symbol of resistance to the injustice of his country’s Apartheid system. Imprisoned for more than twenty-seven years, and before that banned from all public activity and hounded by police for nearly a decade, Mandela led a struggle for freedom that mirrored that of his black compatriots. After his 1990 release from Victor Verster prison, his work to end apartheid won him the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize (which he shared with South African president F. W. de Klerk) and then the presidency itself a year later.

Mandela’s father, Chief Henry Mandela, was a member of the Thembu people’s royal lineage; his mother was one of the chief’s four wives. Mandela was born in Mvezo, Umtata, but grew up in Qunu, a small village in what is now the Eastern Cape Province At the age of ...

Article

Mandela, Nelson Rolihlahla  

Peter Limb

former president of South Africa (1994–1999), African National Congress (ANC) leader, and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, was born on 18 July 1918 in the rural village of Mvezo near Mthatha in rural Transkei The youngest of four sons he imbibed ideas of honor and humaneness and stories of resistance to white invasion from his Xhosa culture clan and family Descended from a minor or Left Hand royal house of the Thembu people his father Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa served as councilor to the Thembu paramount chief but after protesting aspects of white domination was deposed as village headman by the government After his father s early death Mandela was groomed for a local leadership role by the paramount regent Jongintaba Mandela s given name was Rolihlahla troublemaker and his clan name Madiba reconciler would remain a praise name and term of affection in years to come symbolizing his ...

Article

Morrison, Toni  

Furaha D. Norton

In her bestselling novels as well as her nonfiction Toni Morrison has created a sweeping panorama of the diasporic black experience in America In novels whose settings range from the American rural South and the industrial and urban North to the western frontier and which cover historical periods from the colonial era through the contemporary period she has used African American history myth and folklore as well as sharp insight into human behavior and motivation to create stories and characters that establish the black experience in America as one of tremendous nuance and complexity In her often fragmented nonlinear narratives the specters of slavery and ongoing racial oppression and inequality are ever present along with astonishing resilience and humanity Morrison s work has inspired an entire generation of students and scholars and has changed how readers understand race and history in literature the postmodern novel and how writers use folklore ...

Article

Sadat, Muhammad Anwar al-  

James Jankowski

Egyptian army officer, nationalist, and president, was born in the village of Mit Abu al-Kum, Minufiyya Province, on 25 December 1918. An educated effendi, his father was an army clerk who served in the Sudan where he met Sadat’s mother. Sadat’s early years were spent in Mit Abu al-Kum under his grandmother’s care; the reunited nuclear family moved to Cairo in 1925 upon his father’s return from the Sudan. Sadat’s educational experience was diverse: early schooling in the village kuttab and briefly in a Coptic school in a neighboring village before moving to Cairo and attendance at a number of primary and secondary schools in Cairo before receiving his General Certificate of Education in 1936. He was admitted to the Royal Military Academy in 1936 as part of the first class admitted on a competitive basis. He graduated in 1938 and was commissioned into the Egyptian ...

Article

Soyinka, Wole  

Biodun Jeyifo

Nigerian writer and the first African to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, was born Oluwole Akinwande Soyinka on 13 July 1934 in Abeokuta Nigeria One of the most prominent writers and public intellectuals in the world his international fame rests as much on his writings as on his widely admired fearless advocacy of human rights and social justice both in his native Nigeria and in other countries in Africa Primarily a playwright and dramatist Soyinka has written in virtually all of the literary genres and he has written rather prodigiously his corpus comprising more than forty five works of drama fiction poetry translation and nonfictional criticism memoirs and philosophical reflection Now in the eighth decade of his life he has spent six of those decades in a sustained unbroken work of social activism that stands as a necessary complement to the primacy of his life and career as ...

Article

Theiler, Max  

Stephen Wagley

South African medical researcher and Nobel Prize winner active in the United States, was born in Pretoria, Transvaal (South African Republic, later South Africa), on 30 January 1899, the son of Arnold Theiler, a veterinarian, and Emma Jegge.

Theiler studied at Rhodes University College, Grahamstown, before entering the two-year premedical program at the University of Cape Town; he graduated in 1918. He left for London in 1919 and underwent medical training at Saint Thomas’ Hospital, University of London, receiving a diploma of tropical medicine and hygiene in 1922; he was denied the MD because the university did not recognize his studies at Cape Town. He never received an academic degree.

While taking a course at the London School of Tropical Medicine, he met Oscar Teague of Harvard University, who offered him a position there. Theiler moved to the Harvard University School of Tropical Medicine in 1922 where ...

Article

Zumbi dos Palmares  

Stuart Schwartz

Maroon leader also known as Zumbi, lived much of his life in the interior of the captaincy of Pernambuco in an area that is today the Brazilian state of Alagoas. The circumstances of his birth and early life are basically unknown, but those of his later life and death have become a matter of national debate, pride, and legend. In 1978 Brazil declared 20 November to be the Dia Nacional da Consciência Negra (National Day of Black Consciousness), which in 2003 became a holiday commemorating the death of Zumbi of Palmares This date is one of the few secure facts that remain about the last leader of Palmares the largest Maroon community in Brazil His life and death like the history of Palmares itself have been shrouded in myth and controversy but both Zumbi and Palmares have become symbols of Afro Brazilian resistance to slavery and more recently of ...