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Terence M. Mashingaidze

nationalist politician, first titular president of independent Zimbabwe, statesman, peace broker, clergyman, author, soccer administrator, academic, poet, and journalist, was born on 5 March 1936 at Esiphezini, in Essexvale (now Esigodini) District near Bulawayo in Southern Rhodesia. The versatile Banana’s father, Aaron, was a migrant laborer from Malawi while his mother, Jese, was a Zimbabwean Ndebele woman. Banana married Janet Mbuyazwe in 1961; the marriage produced three sons and a daughter. Banana attended Mzinyati primary school and Tegwani High School. He trained as a teacher at Tegwani Training Institute and then attended Epworth Theological Seminary, resulting in his ordination as a Methodist preacher in 1962 Subsequently he worked as a Methodist schools manager principal chairperson of the Bulawayo Council of Churches and member of the Rhodesian Christian Council and World Council of Churches In the 1970s Banana attained a BA with honors in theology through distance learning from ...


Jeremy Rich

Sarduana of the Sokoto caliphate and prime minister of northern Nigeria, was born on 12 June 1909 in the city of Rabbah in northern Nigeria. Bello’s father Ibrahim was the grandson of Uthman Dan Fodio (1754–1817), the religious leader who founded the Sokoto caliphate in the early nineteenth century. Ibrahim was also the chief of Rabbah.

Like many northern Nigerian Muslim leaders Ibrahim sought to build close ties with the British colonial administration and sent his children to Western schools Bello first attended to a Western primary school in the provincial capital of Sokoto He learned to speak English fluently at Sokoto Middle School but he also continued to develop his Muslim faith Bello then graduated from Sokoto and decided to become a teacher With his father s blessing Bello enrolled at Katsina Teachers College where he spent five years Once Bello successfully finished his studies at Katsina ...


Eric Bennett

Ahmadu Bello was a descendant of royal blood: his grandfather, Atiku na Rabah, was the seventh sultan of Sokoto in the years 1873–1877; his great-great-grandfather, Usuman dan Fodio (1754–1817), founded and ruled the Sokoto Caliphate. Throughout his life, Bello relied on his illustrious ancestry as a source of political power.

Bello studied at the Sokoto provincial school and then trained as a teacher at Katsina College. He received less Western education than did other prominent Nigerian politicians. Nevertheless, his status and family connections smoothed his ascent to power. Although his cousin Abubakar beat him out for the highest traditional position, the sultanate of Sokoto, Abubakar granted Bello the high position of sardauna, or military commander of the caliphate.

As regional administrator and sardauna, Bello achieved considerable power during the 1940s. His most significant advance, however, came with his membership in the Northern People’s Congress (NPC) in 1951 Shortly ...


Alonford James Robinson

George Gordon was born in Jamaica to a black slave and her wealthy white master. His father, Joseph, devoted more time to running his estate and furthering his political career than he did to his colored son. Like most wealthy whites in Jamaica during the 1820s, Joseph Gordon was both a member of Jamaica's exclusive House of Assembly and a custos in Saint Andrew's Parish—the highest administrative official in the local province.

As the illegitimate son of the slave master, George Gordon learned the importance of self-reliance at an early age, even teaching himself how to read and write. Much to his father's surprise, he showed signs of proficiency in accounting at an early age. By age ten he was a skilled bookkeeper, and around this time Joseph Gordon decided to free his son, sending him to live with his godfather, businessman James Daley, in Black River, Jamaica.

With ...


Edna G. Bay

kpojito, the reign-mate of King Tegbesu (r. 1740–1774) of the Fon kingdom of Dahomey (located in what is now southern Benin), was a commoner and possibly a slave. She was without question the most powerful female figure in eighteenth-century Dahomean history and arguably one of the most important individuals in the history of the kingdom. A woman noted for her spiritual powers, Hwanjile ruled in tandem with King Tegbesu. Together they secured the kingdom from various internal and external threats and reordered the spiritual life of the kingdom, ushering in a period of relative peace and prosperity.

Hwanjile was from Ajahome, an area to the west-southwest of Dahomey’s capital, Abomey. She was already an adult with two children and a reputation as an effective priest of the vodun or spirits when she came to Dahomey probably as a captive of war during the reign of King Agaja ...


Jonathon L. Earle

prince of Buganda, and titular head of the Muslim community in Uganda, was born around 1835, a son of Kabaka Ssuuna Kalema Kansinge II (r. c. 1830–1857). Born Omulangira (prince) Ssimbwa Ssempebwa, Mbogo’s mother was Kubina, a member of the Fumbe (Civet Cat) clan. However, at an early age, Mbogo was entrusted to the care of Muganzirwazza, mother of Kabaka Walugembe Mukaabya Muteesa I (1838–1884, invested 1857). Muteesa and Mbogo were raised together under her care. Following Ssuuna’s death, Muganzirwazza had the overwhelming majority of the princes executed, a practice not unheard of by queen mothers in earlier Ganda history. Upon learning of the planned execution of Mbogo, the new king petitioned his mother, resulting in Mbogo’s release.

According to Emin Pasha s diary Islam first reached the courts of Buganda in the person of Sheikh Ahmed bin Ibrahim a Zanzibari trader whose family migrated from Oman during ...


Born in Menkwaneng the son of a Sotho leader Moshoeshoe began to gather together refugees from the upheaval in southeastern Africa known as the Mfecane in the early 1820s Retiring to an impregnable mountaintop known as Thaba Bosiu Sotho for Mountain of the Night he fought off several attacks but more often used his formidable diplomatic skills to defend his growing number of Basotho people In the early 1830s French missionaries arrived in the region While continuing to support the traditional customs and religion of the Sotho Moshoeshoe welcomed the missionaries and sought their advice in dealing with the British and the Afrikaner groups or Boers who were seeking to colonize southern Africa Fearing Afrikaner settlement on his lands he asked for British protection but an alliance with the government of the Cape Colony was not enough to prevent armed incursions by settlers into Basotho territory Fighting between the Basotho ...


Chris Saunders

founder of the Basuto nation Relatively little is known of his early life though he probably acquired his name meaning the shaver from his success in capturing the cattle of his enemies Born near the upper Caledon River in what is now Lesotho Moshoeshhoe s success as a junior chief attracted to him refugees and victims of wars during the turbulent decades of the early nineteenth century and he gradually built up a sizeable following He established himself first at Buthe Buthe then at Thaba Bosiu mountain of darkness a mountaintop citadel that his enemies found impossible to capture When attacked by the Zulu he agreed to pay tribute to Shaka in return for being left alone From Thaba Bosiu he skillfully played off the British and Boers in the lands along the Caledon River from the 1830s and won the allegiance of Sotho speakers living as far west as ...


Allen J. Fromherz

was born Elizabeth Tshala Muana Muidikay in the town of Lubumbashi in the Katanga region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The second of ten children, her father, Amadeus Mudidikay, was killed in the northeastern Congolese town of Watsa during the 1964 Simba revolt By the age of two Elizabeth had begun to sing while she lived with her mother Alphonsine Bambiwa Tumba at the Kibembe military camp in Lubumbashi Bambiwa Tumba moved the young Muana a play on words given muana also means child in Lingala to the city of Kananga located in the Kasai region of the Congo After completing her primary and secondary education in Kananga in the early 1970s Muana decided to leave the region Apart from the death of her father Muana had also suffered in other ways She had been forced into an arranged marriage and had lost a daughter in infancy Wanting ...


Allen J. Fromherz

whose name means the one who calls for victory with the help of God, was one of the most influential rulers of the Hafsids, recognized by Mecca as the spiritual leader of the Islamic world, renowned for his military prowess, remarkable building program in medieval Tunis, and his signing of a treaty in 1270 that ended the eighth crusade. His reign made Tunis one of the greatest cities of the Islamic world. He was, to many, one of the most powerful and respected rulers in the Muslim world in the second half of the thirteenth century, a century that saw many calamities for the Dar al Islam (the Abode of Islam). For instance, there was the Mongol invasion and fall of Baghdad, which led to the crushing of the last Abbasid caliph in 1248 and the destruction of Muslim cities throughout the east The origins of the Hafsids however ...


a prince known in Europe as the Catholic Bishop Dom Henriques, was the son of King Afonso I of the Kongo kingdom in West Central Africa. He is renowned as the first West-Central African to become a bishop in the Catholic Church, in 1518. He was educated in theology in at the monastery of Santo Elói in Lisbon, Portugal. As the son of the Kongolese king who had converted to Christianity, Prince Ndoadidiki was raised as a Catholic in the Kongo and epitomized the acculturation of one major West African royal family into Catholic Portuguese culture. Like a few other Christian Kongolese princes before him, Prince Ndoadidiki went to Portugal to attend school. While there, he received a knighthood and the title “Dom,” signifying a Portuguese nobleman.

Kongo was the only West Central African kingdom that Portugal converted to Christianity during their first century in that part of the ...



J. C. Winter

Mangi (king) of Keny in the southern Rombo region of Kilimanjaro (in present-day Tanzania) from c. 1800 to 1837, also known as Horombo and Rombo, was famous for having initiated a socio-military revolution and religious reformation in Chagga that brought it in line with the western world at the time, thereby ending Mamba’s rule over eastern Chagga. He unified by conquest all of eastern Chagga under his rule, then met with Mangi Rengua of Machame at the Nanga River between Mochi (Old Moshi) and Kiruwa in 1823, and they agreed that each should rule unmolested over his own half of Chagga.

When Orombo became the Mangi of Keny his realm was tiny and insignificant as for the past one hundred years Mamba succeeding Ugweno had dominated eastern Chagga Each mangidom consisted of localized patrilineal clans having noble warrior and cattle keeping lineages whose male and female youths passed ...


Karina Hestad Skeie

Christian queen in the Kingdom of Madagascar, was born Ramoma, the daughter of Prince Razakaratrimo from the Imamo province of central Madagascar, and Princess Rafarasoa, the sister of Queen Ranavalona I. As she belonged to the porous political and ethnic group called Merina, she is also called a Merina queen, and the Kingdom of Madagascar the Merina kingdom, to distinguish it from other kingdoms existing earlier and simultaneously elsewhere in Madagascar. It is known that Ramoma had three brothers, and that she learned how to read and write. Sometime in 1845 or 1846 she married her cousin Rakoto (Rakotond Radama), joining her cousin Queen Rasoherina (born Princess Rabodo) as one of his wives. Upon his mother Queen Ranavalona I’s death in 1861, Rakoto ascended the throne as King Radama II. At the time, Ramoma’s eldest brother, Ramboasalama, was Radama II’s rival to the throne.

After Radama II s assassination ...


Fred Morton

kgosi (king, chief) of the Bakwena of Bechuanaland (r. 1829–1892), presided over the creation of the first large state adjoining the Kalahari. He was the eldest son of the Kwena kgosi Motswasele II, a tyrant who was assassinated by his brothers in 1821, at which point the Kwena fragmented. Sechele was taken into hiding by his uncle Segokotlo, but this group suffered from reprisals from Kwena aspirants and from attacks by the Kololo (Fokeng) of Sebitwane and the Ndebele of Mzilikazi. In about 1830, after having moved from one haven to another, young Sechele assumed leadership of a Kwena group based in the north at Lephephe and began the long process of reunification, which was completed in 1845 with the death of his rival and distant uncle, Bubi.

In 1848 Sechele was baptized by David Livingstone of the London Missionary Society LMS Sechele s capitals at Tshonwane ...


Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni

Zimbabwean political activist, was born in Invercargill, New Zealand, on 13 July 1908. His father was a Scottish bricklayer who had immigrated to New Zealand in the 1860s. He was educated at Otago University and Glen Leith Theological College in New Zealand as well as at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa. He started work at a family business known as Thomas Todd & Sons before becoming a minister; he was ordained in 1931 in the Evangelical Order of the Associated Churches of Christ. He married Jean Grace Wilson.

In 1934 he migrated to Southern Rhodesia present day Zimbabwe to continue with missionary work He became at teacher at Dadaya Mission School in the Shabani now Zvishavane district eighty miles east of Bulawayo On arrival he bought a farm known as Hononui Ranch which would be his home for the rest of his life Due to ...


Jean-Philippe Dedieu

president of the Republic of the Congo (Brazzaville), was born on 9 June 1917 in Madibou in the South Congo to a Lari family, who were probably merchants or traders. The trajectory of Youlou illustrates the influence of missionary schools and clergy on the structuring and development of political life in French Equatorial Africa. After having been baptized in 1926, he entered into the minor seminary in Brazzaville in 1929. He completed his theological education in several religious institutions in Congo, Cameroon, and Gabon. Ordained a priest on 9 June 1946, he began his ministry at Saint-François parish in Brazzaville.

Despite opposition from the Catholic Church, Youlou gradually became involved in Congolese political life. He participated in several youth movements and charity organizations, which allowed him to build a network of support. In December 1955 church officials permanently suspended him from his parish duties This decision ...


Eric Young

The son of a Lari merchant, Fulbert Youlou, whose surname means “Heaven” in Lari, was born in Madibou, Moyen-Congo (now the Republic of the Congo). He was baptized at age nine and entered the seminary three years later. While attending mission schools in Gabon and Cameroon, he befriended Barthélemy Boganda, the future president-emperor of the Central African Republic. Youlou later taught in mission schools in what was then French Moyen-Congo, and was ordained in 1946. When Youlou began campaigning for public office, however, he was defrocked. Ignoring the censure, he insisted on wearing his ecclesiastical robes. He also claimed the mantle of Andre Matsou, the dead leader of an anti-French, quasi-religious Lari self-help organization. In 1956 Youlou was elected mayor of Brazzaville and founded the Lari dominated Democratic Union for the Defense of African Interests UDDIA a party supporting close ties with France A year later he ...