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José Antonio Fernández Molina

was born in Cartago, Costa Rica. He amassed the nation’s largest fortune during the first half of the nineteenth century and served in several political posts. Aguilar Cubero was identified as mulatto when he was baptized and was the great-grandchild of a mulatto slave woman. His grandfather and father were involved in businesses such as cacao production in the Caribbean coast and trade with Nicaragua. Immediately after independence in 1821, ethnic categories, which were an integral part of the colonial social hierarchy imposed by Spanish rule, were abolished and legally forbidden in the new Federal Republic of Central America, which encompassed Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua for two decades.

It was within this new framework that Aguilar Cubero became an important coffee producer and trader serving as the intermediary between local coffee producers and foreign markets According to family tradition he learned to write while working ...

Article

Steven J. Niven

blacksmith and state legislator, was born to slave parents whose names have not been recorded. Nothing is known of his childhood, other than that he had one brother, Sam. By the time he reached adulthood, Charles Caldwell was working as a blacksmith in Clinton, a small village in Hinds County twelve miles from Jackson, Mississippi. Given that Mississippi's slave population expanded rapidly in the three decades after 1830, it is quite possible that Caldwell was born in another state to planters who had then brought or sold him on the lucrative Mississippi market.

Caldwell s skilled trade provided him a degree of relative autonomy in his work and may have enabled him to travel with fewer restrictions than the average plantation slave Slave blacksmiths carpenters barbers and other skilled workers often learned to read and write as Caldwell did and generally enjoyed a high status within the African American ...

Article

Cajetan N. Iheka

Nigerian entrepreneur, industrialist, and philanthropist, was born on 10 April 1957 in the Northern Nigeria state of Kano to the family of Mohammed Dangote and Hajiya Mariya Dangote (née Dantata). His father, Mohammed, was a businessman, while his mother was a granddaughter of the successful businessman Alhaji Alhassan Dantata. Dangote attended his primary and secondary schools in Kano before proceeding to Alazahar University in Cairo, Egypt, where he studied business. He admitted in an interview that his interest in business started during his primary school days in Kano, where he bought cartons of sweets (candy), which he then resold at a profit. That early entrepreneurial spirit—and the perception that there was money to be made from Nigerians’ love of sugar—would launch his later business successes.

In 1977 with the help of a loan from his uncle Alhaji Sanusi Dantata Dangote started what is today known as the Dangote Group ...

Article

Julie Winch

businessman and social reformer, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Thomas Forten, a freeborn sailmaker, and Margaret (maiden name unknown). James's parents enrolled him in the African School of abolitionist Anthony Benezet. When James was seven, his father died. Margaret Forten struggled to keep her son in school, but he was eventually forced to leave at age nine and work full time to help support the family. His family remained in Philadelphia throughout the American Revolution, and Forten later recalled being in the crowd outside the Pennsylvania State House when the Declaration of Independence was read to the people for the first time.

In 1781, while serving on a privateer, Forten was captured by the British and spent seven months on the infamous prison ship Jersey in New York harbor.

After a voyage to England in 1784 as a merchant seaman Forten returned ...

Article

Carl Moneyhon

politician and Texas state senator, was born in Alexandria, Louisiana. His parents (names unknown) were slaves on the plantation of Martin G. Despallier, where Gaines learned to read and write. In 1858, after Despallier's death, Gaines was sold to an owner in New Orleans who hired him out to work on a steamboat. He escaped on a trip up the Ouachita River and lived in Camden, Arkansas, for six months. He later went back to New Orleans, where he was captured and returned to his master, who subsequently sold him in 1859 to C. C. Hearne, a planter in Robertson County, Texas.

In 1863 Gaines ran away from the Hearne plantation hoping to escape to Mexico He was captured by a frontier ranger company near Fort McKavitt in western Texas The company did not send him back to Hearne but left him in Fredericksburg where he ...

Article

Sean Jacobs

South African politician and businessman, was born on 5 March 1953 in the then new township of Soweto, south of Johannesburg. His father worked as a clerk at Johannesburg General Hospital. As a child, Sexwale was a keen karate enthusiast, resulting in his receiving the nickname “Tokyo.” In 1973 he matriculated from Orlando West High School in Soweto. While at school Sexwale, a local student leader, had become a follower of Steve Biko’s Black Consciousness Movement. Shortly afterward he left South Africa. By then he had also become involved with the banned African National Congress (ANC). He joined Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the military wing of the ANC. In 1975 he completed a business degree at the now disbanded University of Botswana, Lesotho, and Swaziland. He later completed a military officers’ course in the Soviet Union.

In 1976 Sexwale reentered South Africa on a mission for MK but was ...