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Alloron  

Stephanie Beswick

Sudanese leader, was the first prominent Bari private merchant, slave trader, and opportunist insurgent warlord. He rose to power during the 1860s by exploiting poisonous dynastic rivalries between Nyigilo and Subek, the royal sons of Lagunu, the unchallenged Bari leader in 1840, and their respective noble offspring. The faction of Nyigilo had enjoyed the support of Catholic missionaries up to their departure in 1860, but thereafter allied with the northern slave traders who at that time were establishing fortified trading operations throughout southern Sudan. It was to become an era, for the first time in Bari history, during which commoner traders such as Alloron found it possible to acquire economic and political power. However, the upstart was often reminded of his humble origins by the epithet “man without rain,” implying that he lacked the arcane fructifying powers of royalty.

The arrival of Turks northern Sudanese and Europeans ...

Article

Hassoum Ceesay

merchant, community leader, and socialite, was born Ada Jagne to Francis and Marie Jagne in Bathurst (now Banjul), Gambia. Little is known of her life before 1916, when she married Job Beigh, the richest merchant in Bathurst. Job owned choice real estate in Bathurst, many warehouses and shops, and a fleet of riverboats that transported merchandise to the ports of the Gambia River for European firms.

Job Beigh's career as a merchant exemplified the cutthroat business environment in the Gambia colony in the second half of the nineteenth century. He was born in Bathurst in 1847 and, following his secondary education in Freetown, Sierra Leone, he began his business career as a clerk with the Bathurst Trading Company, one of the six major European companies operating in Bathurst and upriver towns. Later, Job started trading on his own account in Bathurst in 1888 He was ...

Article

Amar Wahab

Pan‐Africanistleader in Britain in the early 1900s. Born in Sierra Leone, in 1869 he was sent to Cheshire to be educated and started working for the family firm, Broadhurst and Sons, in Manchester in 1905. By 1936 he is known to have been a cocoa merchant in the Gold Coast. He was heavily involved in the realm of Pan‐Africanist politics in Britain, becoming a founder member of the African Progress Union between 1911 and 1925. He became secretary of the Union in his sixties and continued as a member of the executive committee until its end. He worked with other leading supporters such as Duse Mohamed Ali, Edmund Fitzgerald Fredericks, and ‘the Black doctor of Paddington’ John Alcindor The Union organized around issues related to the welfare of Africans and Afro Peoples worldwide and vociferously advocated self determination This involved for example protests about ...

Article

Gail Saunders

was born in Nassau, New Providence, The Bahamas, on 11 August 1906. His father, George Butler, was a descendant of Glascow, an African slave owned by George Butler, a planter. Milo was named for his great-grandfather who was a well-off farmer in Bannerman Town, Eleuthera, one of the Bahamian Out Islands (also known as the Family Islands) 50 miles east of Nassau. Milo Butler’s mother, Frances (née Thompson), was an organizer and a community leader, and became known as “Mother Butler.” Milo’s grandfather Israel Butler acquired property in Nassau, in the Pond area where George and his wife, Frances, lived. Milo was the only surviving son of that union. He had seven sisters.

In some aspects Milo Butler was larger than life Tall and large of stature he made an imposing figure While he was fearless bold and courageous he was also gentle and usually soft spoken and always ...

Article

Benjamin R. Justesen

merchant, public official, religious leader, and longtime state legislator, was born in Perquimans County, North Carolina, the eldest son of free, mixed-race parents John Cail (Cale) and Elizabeth Mitchell, a homemaker, who were married in 1827. His father worked as a miller, later as a fisherman, and moved his large family—as many as nine children—to Edenton in nearby Chowan County in the 1850s. Little is known of Hugh Cale's early life or education, although he had learned to read and write by the end of the Civil War.

After the Union army occupied much of northeastern North Carolina in early 1862, Cale began working as a manual laborer for federal installations at Fort Hatteras and Roanoke Island. In 1867 he moved to Elizabeth City North Carolina where he commenced a singularly successful career as a grocer and held a number of local offices during and after ...

Article

Benjamin R. Justesen

carpenter, merchant, public official, and legislator, was born in Beaufort County, near Washington, North Carolina, of unnamed parents, probably free. Little is known of his early life or education, only that he was both free and literate when he moved to Tarboro, the Edgecombe County seat, in 1860, according to that year's federal census.

Within just a decade of his arrival in Tarboro, the mixed-race carpenter acquired significant social standing, a comfortable income, and political influence at both the local and state levels in the state's new Republican Party. Cherry's marriage in March 1861 to Mary Ann Jones (b. 1837) secured his place in the social ranks of the largely African American town. The daughter of a white Edgecombe planter and his free mistress, Miss Jones was the owner of her own house and a respected church leader The rest of her husband s achievements came ...

Article

Hassoum Ceesay

Gambian merchant and the first Gambian woman to enter active politics, was born Hannah Johnson on 14 January 1893 in Bathurst (present-day Banjul) to C. C. Johnson, a Krio civil servant on postings from Freetown, Sierra Leone, and Elizabeth Johnson, a schoolteacher. Forster attended St. Mary’s Primary School in Banjul, and in 1907 she proceeded to Freetown to attend high school, as there was no secondary school in Gambia. The death of her mother forced her to cut short her schooling in 1911 to become a teacher in her former school in Banjul. She married in 1913.

When her husband died leaving her with two children Forster left her teaching job to venture into trading She owned shops in Banjul and in the Gambia River ports of Kaur Kuntaur and Kartong Unlike other Banjul merchants who traded upriver only during the five months of the groundnuts trade season from December ...

Article

Caryn E. Neumann

a street merchant who died at the hands of police during an arrest for selling untaxed cigarettes, was born in New York City to Gwen Carr and her husband. He grew up in the Gowanus Houses, public housing projects in the Boerum Hill section of Brooklyn. Described by friends as a genial, generous, neighborhood peacemaker, Garner completed his education at Ohio Diesel Tech Institute in 1988. Garner met his wife, Esaw “Pinky” Garner, in the 1980s on a telephone party line, an early version of a chat room. The couple raised six children and had two grandchildren.

Garner had a history of arrests for marijuana possession and selling untaxed single cigarettes He typically worked from the corner of Bay Street and Victory Boulevard in Staten Island where he sold bootleg cigarettes at $7 a pack and 75 cents for single cigarettes or loosies New York City places a tax ...

Article

Bruce L. Mouser

trader, traditional medical practitioner, and political arbiter, was born on the coast of Guinea-Conakry. She is also known as Elizabeth, Beth, and Liza Heard. Her likely father was a British merchant attached to commercial firms maintaining factories at Bance Island in the Sierra Leone River or on the nearby Iles de Los. It was customary for African headmen to arrange a husband/wife relationship for resident foreign “strangers”—of which Heard’s father was likely one. Her mother’s name and relationship to local leaders are unknown. At a young age, Betsy was recognized as exceptionally intelligent, and she was sent to Liverpool, where she was boarded and educated, with the expectation that she would return to the Windward Coast as an agent for European commerce and Liverpool interests.

By the 1790s Heard had established a commercial footing at Bereira on the southern Guinea Conakry coast At that time Bereira was a border ...

Article

Elsie A. Okobi

merchant and king of Opobo, was born in the village of Umuduruoha in the densely populated Igbo heartland of eastern Nigeria (now in Imo State). He was born into the Isu clan, and his father, Ozurumba, was most likely a farmer who supplemented that work by trading or with a skilled profession such as blacksmithing. His mother’s name was Uru. At the approximate age of twelve, Jaja was sent to live with relatives in Nkwerre, from where he was kidnapped and sold into slavery. From Nkwerre he was brought to Akwete and sold to a trader named Odiari from the Royal Canoe House of Opobo. (Canoe houses had begun in the delta as trading and fighting communities capable of manning and maintaining a war canoe; the trading center city-states of the eastern delta—Brass, Nembe, Bonny—each consisted of several organized canoe houses.)

Given the name Jubo Jubogha Jaja stayed with his ...

Article

Genaro Vilanova Miranda de Oliveira

West African–born self-manumitted slave and prosperous merchant who lived in Brazil in the first half of the nineteenth century. Accused of collaborating with the 1835 slave and Muslim-led Malê Revolt in Salvador da Bahia, de Jesus was deported to Africa and forced to abandon all properties and businesses in Brazil. Documents refer to de Jesus as belonging to the Jeje nation, a nineteenth-century slave classification today associated with people from the region of the former kingdom of Dahomey (present-day Benin). The reasons behind de Jesus’s arrival in Brazil are not fully clear. Possibly, he was enslaved and sold as a result of retaliatory, military incursions of the kingdom of Oyo against its tributary kingdom of Dahomey.

After ten years working as a wage-earning slave (escravo de ganho), de Jesus was able to buy his freedom in 1810 An alternative explanation for his manumission argues that he received ...

Article

Rosemary Elizabeth Galli

warlord, trader, and founder of perhaps the greatest Yao dynasty in Niassa in northern Mozambique, was the grandson of Syungule, head of the Chisyungule lineage. Mataka Nyambi, along with his biggest rival Makanjila, was instrumental in transforming the Niassa Yao from a society of matriclans to one governed by territorial chiefs. In the process, he brought a large population under his control and gained many wives; he is said to have had six hundred wives and numerous children. In about 1875 Mataka (now Mataka I) beheaded his adversary Makanjila.

A fierce drought drove the Niassa Yao to invade and ransack their neighbors for food and, subsequently, slaves in the 1830s Attacks by Nguni raiders have been responsible for their militarization Small and weak matriclans submitted to the stronger territorial chiefs and even sought their protection Mataka Nyambi was both feared and admired for his military prowess In addition trade ...

Article

Peter J. Duignan

fifth president of the Republic of Liberia, was born in Newark, Ohio, the son of John Roye, a wealthy merchant. His mother's name is unknown. His father died in 1829, leaving some personal property and land to Roye. He went to public schools in Ohio, attended Oberlin College, and taught for a few years in Chillicothe. He also tried his hand as a sheep trader and shopkeeper in various parts of the Midwest. After his mother died in 1840 he was influenced by the emigration movement to escape American prejudice. He rejected the idea of going to Haiti and instead traveled to Liberia in 1846 just before an independent republic was installed there in July 1847, taking with him a stock of goods.

At the time of Roye s arrival the new republic faced a variety of ills The dominant Americo Liberians remained a small minority threatened ...

Article

Micol Seigel

also known as “Sabina of the Oranges,” was an Afro-Brazilian quitandeira (street vendor) who peddled fruit from a street stand in front of the Faculdade de Medicina (School of Medicine) in Rio de Janeiro. Unfortunately, little is known definitively of her or her life, including her given name, parentage, and family life. She is best known for her long career as a street fruit seller, which figured prominently in a protest march on 25 July 1889, in favor of the abolition of the Brazilian monarchy and a transition to republican government.

The march departed from the Faculdade de Medicina and proceeded through Rio de Janeiro s chic shopping districts featuring jeering medical students with oranges speared on the ends of canes The city press reported on the protest extensively giving plentiful attention to the role of Sabina though much of what they wrote was wrong or unreliable Most reporting ...

Article

Raymond Dumett

overseas merchant, teacher, and civic leader in the Gold Coast, was born about 1834 and was related to the royal family of Anomabu state in the central Gold Coast We know little about his youth or early education but it seems clear that he came under the influence of the renowned traveling Methodist preacher Reverend Thomas Birch Freeman in the 1840s We also have evidence that he spent much of his early manhood as a mission agent and teacher for the Weslyan Missionary Society of the Gold Coast established by Freeman From this he acquired the education needed for effective correspondence commercial arithmetic and business relationships on the coast and in England There is no doubt about his commitment to Christianity but the lure of business profits from overseas trading also attracted him In fact there is strong evidence that he doubled as a both a teacher and an ...

Article

Philippe Girard

who was executed when he attempted to spark a slave revolt in Jamaica during the Haitian Revolution. Isaac Sasportas was born in Cap-Français, Saint-Domingue (present-day Cap-Haïtien, Haiti). The 1685 French law known as the Code Noir ostensibly banned the presence of Jews in French colonies, but it was often ignored. Sasportas’s father was a merchant in Cap-Français; another Sasportas family member was a slave-owning indigo planter in southern Saint-Domingue.

Sasportas was the scion of a wide-ranging kinship network that, like most Sephardic families, had originated in the Iberian Peninsula before scattering after the 1492 expulsion of Jews from Spain. One famed ancestor was Jacob Sasportas, an anti-Sabbatean rabbi who died in Amsterdam in 1698. Other family members lived in Bordeaux, London, and Curaçao, where in 1730 Sasportas’s namesake, Rephael Jeshurun, built Curaçao’s synagogue, the oldest in the New World.

No record survives that would document Isaac Sasportas s early ...

Article

Ray A. Kea

Cape Coast, Gold Coast (later Ghana), trader-broker and officer holder, was also referred to in the documents as “Abee Coffu Jantie Seniees,” “Jan Snees,” “Janque Senece,” or “Johan von Sinesen.” The time and place of his birth are not known. Information about him comes from contemporary trading company records (principally Danish, Dutch, and English) and published texts, which cover a period from the 1640s to the 1670s.

Jantie Snees came from a commoner background and is probably to be identified with a man named Jantie van roeye or Jantie son of the boatman who lived in Kormantse a Fante coastal town where the Dutch West Indies Company had a fort Snees was employed by the company as a trading servant or broker in the 1640s By the late 1650s he was a rich merchant living in Little Komenda a coastal town in the Eguafo polity He was one of the ...

Article

Benjamin R. Justesen

public official, Prohibitionist, and legislator in two states, was born a slave in Pasquotank County, North Carolina, the mixed-race son of Jane Sykes, a slave, and an unnamed father. His mother's owner was Caleb Sykes, an Elizabeth City, North Carolina, cabinetmaker. Only the year of his birth is recorded. Nothing is known of Sykes's early life, or his education before the Civil War, although he had learned to read and write by the war's end.

Sykes first appears in public records as a delegate to the North Carolina Colored Convention of 1866, and he soon became active in the state's new Republican Party. In 1868, he was selected as a member of the North Carolina Republican Party Executive Committee and was appointed as a magistrate by Governor William W. Holden The same year Sykes was also elected as Pasquotank County s first ...

Article

Steven J. Niven

waiter, storekeeper, and politician, was born near Montgomery, Alabama, to slave parents whose names-are unknown. His parents had been brought to Alabama from South Carolina in the 1830s by their owner, William H. Taylor, who became a wealthy planter in Montgomery County. Taylor also owned Thompson but appears to have allowed him to hire out his time as a waiter at the Madison House hotel in Montgomery prior to the end of the Civil War. Thompson learned to read and write and probably enjoyed greater freedom than most slaves in Alabama, though as a slave he was not allowed to marry legally. He did, however, have a common-law wife, Binah Yancey, who was born in 1842 in Alabama and was owned by William Lowndes Yancey a prominent Alabama secessionist politician Like her husband Binah Yancey was able to read and write and enjoyed a ...

Article

M. W. Daly

Sudanese merchant prince, was a Jaʾli Arab born at al-Jayli on the right bank of the main Nile about 25 miles (40 kilometers) north of Khartoum. He rose to prominence as a trader and virtually independent ruler in the hinterlands of Egypt’s African empire in the 1860s–1870s.

Although the northern Sudanese had engaged in long-distance trade before the Turco-Egyptian conquest of 1820–1821 the colonial regime s policies especially of taxing agriculture drove many young men from the land and into commerce Of these al Zubayr emerged as the most famous and formidable accompanying indeed preceding the Egyptian flag into the Bahr al Ghazal and beyond to dominate the trade in ivory and slaves Egypt prompted by Europe and increasingly employing European agents was never able to suppress the slave trade which matched demand from northern Sudan Egypt and beyond with supply from as far as central Africa Al Zubayr ...