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Maxwell Akansina Aziabah

Ghanaian prime minister and sociologist, was born in Wenchi in the British Gold Coast colony on 11 July 1913. His mother was Nana Yaa Nsowaa, a prominent member of the royal Safoase Yefre matrilineage of Wenchi, and his father was Yaw Bosea. His mother later remarried, not long after Kofi was born. It is believed that Busia grew up under the tutelage of his stepfather, Kwabena Janso, since his biological father had little to do with him. At age six he was baptized Joseph Busia, a misspelling of his biological father’s surname that he would retain throughout his career.

As a boy Busia developed a keen interest in religious studies, which was bolstered by his contact with Wesleyan Methodist missionaries, notably the Reverend William Whittle and his wife Alice Whittle, a teacher. Busia impressed the Whittles, who encouraged his academic interests. In 1922 the Whittles brought Busia with ...


Martha King

Born a member of the royal family of Wenchi, Kofi Abrefa Busia attended the Kumasi Methodist and Mfantsipim Secondary Schools and Wesley College. He received a B.A. degree in politics, philosophy, and economics and then an M.A. degree in social anthropology from the University of Oxford. Busia wrote his doctoral thesis, titled The Position of the Chief in the Modern Political System of Ashanti, in 1951. He held teaching positions at the Ghana University College at Legon in the African studies and sociology departments.

Busia left the university to devote himself to politics in 1956. In the fall of 1957, he formed the United Party, composed of different parties in opposition to President Kwame Nkrumah He was outspoken in opposition to Nkrumah s government Busia fled to England in fear of the increasingly repressive government In exile Busia maintained his opposition to the Nkrumah regime ...


Emma Hunter

Tanzanian teacher and politician, was born in Machame on the slopes of Kilimanjaro in Tanganyika. His father was Solomon Nkya, one of the first African Lutheran ministers ordained by the Leipzig Evangelical Mission in Kilimanjaro. Eliufoo was educated at Makerere College in Uganda, at the time the foremost institution of tertiary education in East Africa. He was later awarded a scholarship to study for a BA in social sciences at Bethany College, Kansas, and then spent a year at Bristol University in England.

Eliufoo began his career as a teacher. After receiving his diploma in education, he taught at Makerere from 1944 to 1946. On his return to Kilimanjaro, he continued teaching and played an active role in the Lutheran Church. Kilimanjaro in the late 1940s was undergoing dramatic economic political and religious change The Chagga had enthusiastically embraced coffee planting after World War I and by the ...


Cyril Daddieh

university professor, political dissident, and former president of Ivory Coast from 2000–2011 was born in Mama, near Gagnoa (center-west region) on 31 May 1945 to Zepe Paul Koudou and Gado Marguerite. He attended primary and middle schools in Agboville and Gagnoa, completing his studies in June 1962. He went on to high school at the very competitive Lycée Classique d’Abidjan. After graduating in June 1965, Gbagbo enrolled at the University of Abidjan for a year before he transferred to the University of Lyon, in France, to study Latin, Greek, and French. His love of Latin earned him the nickname “Cicero.” However, Gbagbo did not complete his degree in Lyon; rather, he returned to the University of Abidjan, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in history in 1969.

Gbagbo became a trade unionist and an unflinching opponent of the regime of President Félix Houphouët-Boigny. In 1969 Gbagbo s ...


Leland Conley Barrows

What a life filled with ambiguity and paradox was that of Jomo Kenyatta (1894–1878), the first president of independent Kenya. In many ways he was a modernizer; however, he defended the practice of female circumcision. Although in this and in other respects he was a Kikuyu traditionalist, he recognized that modern nation-building required citizens of African countries to renounce or at least transcend their tribal loyalties. He was an early believer in pan-Africanism, though his support for it after the independence of Kenya was at best rhetorical. Kenyatta was a polemicist who praised socialism in various media, including the Daily Worker but he became a major capitalist at home Kenyatta s anti colonial credentials were impeccable yet he owed much of his political ascension to British blundering whereby he was held responsible for the Mau Mau outbreak imprisoned unjustly and enabled to emerge as a prison graduate ...


Michael Mwenda Kithinji

Kenyan scholar and politician, was the first-born son of Senior Chief Koinange of Kiambu. Mbiyu was named after his grandfather Mbiyu wa Gachetha, one of the earliest colonial chiefs in Kenya. His chiefly background provided him with an opportunity to pursue elementary education at an early age, joining the pioneer class of the Alliance High School in 1926. In 1927, he transferred to the Hampton Institute in Virginia. While at Hampton, Mbiyu noticed the absence of authentic African artifacts at the Hampton Museum and requested that his father address the problem. Koinange responded to his son’s request by shipping a container load of various African artifacts, which the museum used to establish the Koinange collection.

In 1930, Mbiyu joined Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio, where he studied for a degree in political science. He graduated in 1934 the first Kenyan African to obtain a bachelor s ...


Jeremy Rich

Malian historian and politician, was born on 2 February 1946 in the town of Kayes in Mali. He attended qurʾanic school in Kayes and then attended secondary schools in Bamako, Dakar, and Katibougou. He then went on to university studies in history at the École Normale Superieur (ENS) in Bamako, the capital of Mali, from 1965 to 1969. Like many other young Malian intellectuals in the 1960s, he supported the socialist policies of the ruling Union Soudanaise-Rassemblement Démocratique Africaine (USRDA; Sudanese Union-African Democratic Rally) party of president Modibo Keïta. Konaré became the secretary general of the youth wing of the USRDA at the ENS in 1967. Konaré had opportunity to continue his studies at the University of Warsaw in Poland from 1971 to 1975, and he received a doctorate in archaeology from this institution.

His stays abroad proved important to his political development as well as his ...


Nana Yaw B. Sapong

, teacher, diplomat, politician, and president of Ghana’s Third Republic, was born in Gwellu in the Upper Region of Ghana in 1934. His father was a blacksmith and farmer in a region noted for predominantly producing cereal, root crops, and legumes. Limann was an accomplished individual. After completing his elementary education at Lawra and Tamale, he earned a teacher’s certificate from the Tamale Government Teacher Training College in 1952 and the General Certificate Examination Advanced Level in 1957. This earned him a place at the London School of Economics, where he completed a bachelor of science in economics degree in 1960. He journeyed to France where he earned a doctorate in political science and constitutional law from the University of Paris in 1965 Limann also received a high diploma in the French language from the Sorbonne 1962 and a bachelor of arts in history from the ...


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 ...


Eric Young

The youngest of six children, Graça Machel, née Simbine, was a leading figure in Mozambique’s war for independence. She became a prominent national and international figure not only as an education and human rights advocate but also as the wife of the late Mozambican president Samora Machel.

In the early 1970s, Graça Machel received a scholarship to study romance languages at the University of Lisbon, Portugal. She soon became involved in clandestine work for the Mozambican opposition group Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO) and in 1973 went to Tanzania to join the war for independence. After some time in the “liberated zones” of Mozambique, she returned to Tanzania, where Samora Machel was also working with FRELIMO, to run FRELIMO’s school. In 1974 she was a member of the team that negotiated Mozambique s independence The following year she became minister of education and the ...


Jeremy Rich

president of the Republic the of Congo (Brazzaville), educator, and politician, was born to a Kikongo-speaking family on 31 December 1921 in the town of Nkolo, located in the southern region of the Republic of Congo. His father Debat (a European version of the Kongolese name Ndeba or Deba) sent him to a primary school at Boko. His parents belonged to a Protestant church, and his missionary education helped to develop his austere personality later in life.

He graduated from the Lycée Edouard Renard in Brazzaville, then the capital of French Equatorial Africa, and became a schoolteacher. Massamba-Débat was first assigned to teach in the southern Chadian town of Fort-Lamy in 1945 He became deeply impressed with the leftist West Indian colonial administrator Gabriel Lisette who called for equal rights between Africans and Europeans and eventual independence for Chad from France Massamba Débat became the secretary of the leftist ...


Richard Pankhurst

Ethiopian statesman, prime minister, and writer, was born the son of Balambaras Endalkachew Abreqe, a respected warrior, and Weyzero Abonesh Tekle Maryam, in the district of Addis Addisgé, near Tegulet in northern Shewa, which had become prestigious during the reign of Emperor Menilek. His maternal uncle was one of that monarch’s principal noblemen, Ras Tesemma Nadew, later regent for Lij Iyasu. Mekonnen received a traditional Ethiopian church education, partly at the renowned church of Debre Libanos, and was an accomplished traditional church artist. He also learned French at the then new Menilek II school in Addis Ababa.

Joining the Ethiopian government service in 1916, Mekonnen held a number of different posts, including inspector of the Jibuti-Addis Ababa railway company, kentiba, or mayor, of Addis Ababa, deputy minister of the interior, and governor of Illubabor, with the title of dejazmach. In 1924 he accompanied Regent Tafari Makonnen the ...


Waseem-Ahmed Bin-Kasim

president of Ghana and university professor, popularly referred to as “Prof,” was born on 21 July 1944 at Tarkwa in the Western Region of Ghana, although he grew up in the town of Ekumfi Otuam in Ghana’s Central Region. Mills was born to a family that was Fante, an Akan-speaking ethnic group. In 1963 he earned his A-level certificate at the prestigious Achimota Secondary School in the capital city of Accra, before attending the University of Ghana, Legon, where he earned a bachelor’s degree (1966) and a professional certificate in law (1967). He distinguished himself in academia, earning a PhD at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London in 1970. Awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study in the United States, he earned a PhD in 1971 from Stanford Law School in Palo Alto California his doctoral dissertation focused on the relationship between ...


Christopher Fyfe

Student, born the son of Bureh, regent (Nengbana) of the Koya Temne of Sierre Leone, who in 1791 granted land for a settlement to an agent of the London‐based Sierra Leone Company (who mistakenly called him King Naimbana). Aged about 24, he went to England for education at the Company's expense. The directors welcomed ‘the Black Prince’ enthusiastically, particularly Henry Thornton, the chairman, and Granville Sharp, the originator of the settlement project, from whom he took new names and became Henry Granville Naimbana. They saw in him a means of fulfilling their mission to introduce ‘the Blessings of Civilization and Industry’ into Africa.

Described as easy manly and confident in deportment pettish and implacable in disposition and with a great thirst for knowledge he proved an excellent student A surviving letter he wrote is lucidly expressed and well written Thornton recorded anecdotes of his reactions to life ...


David William Cohen

Kenyan politician, was born on 31 March 1931 in Nyahera, Kisumu District, western Kenya. The eldest child of Susan and Erastus Seda, Ouko was educated in local primary schools and became a qualified primary school teacher after attending teacher training college. Through the 1950s, he continued his studies privately and via correspondence schools, and then gained entry to Haile Selassie University, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1958. In 1962, Ouko graduated with a degree in economics, political science, and public administration, and then undertook further studies in diplomacy at Makerere University in Uganda.

In 1963 on the eve of Kenyan independence Ouko joined the colonial civil service as an assistant secretary in the office of the British governor With independence Ouko became one of Prime Minister and President Jomo Kenyatta s first appointees to a senior civil service position that of permanent secretary He played a significant ...


Ebenezer Ayesu

chief (traditional ruler), economist, business leader, university administrator, and philanthropist, was born Emmanuel Noi Omaboe on 29 October 1930 in Amanokrom, Akuapem in the eastern region of Ghana. His parents were Madam Mary Opibea Awuku of the royal Asona family of Amanokrom and Mr. Peter Nortey Omaboe, a prominent goldsmith resident at Mamfe and a citizen of Osu. He was enrolled in Mamfe Presbyterian Junior School from 1936 to 1942, completed his primary education at the Suhum Presbyterian Senior School in 1945, and from 1946 to 1950 studied at Accra Academy. There, he was a peer of several students who would be future leaders of Ghana, including Peter Ala Adjetey, who went on to a career as a noted lawyer and speaker of Ghana’s parliament (2000–2004). In 1951 he entered the University College of the Gold Coast now the University of Ghana to study economics ...


Britta Behrendt

also known as Jandi Paula and Frater Alexander Paula, was born on 2 May 1937, in Curaçao. His mother, Tomasa Juana Fransisca, made straw hats and worked as a servant in the Jewish family of Shon Mongui Maduro, and his father, Jan Sebastian Paula (“Papa Jan”), worked at the harbor. Paula was of African descent and born out of wedlock as Alejandro Felippe Fransisca. From the age of 3 he lived with his godmother. His father acknowledged Paula as his son in 1945 and married Tomasa in 1957. In 1966 Paula married Monica, and they had two children, Brent and Melanie.

The Catholic Church played a major role in Paula s education he attended the Catholic school of the Fraters of Tilburg Bewaarschool Wishi on Curaçao then the Catholic junior high school Meer uitgebreid lager onderwijs MULO St Thomas College in order to become a priest He also ...


James Jankowski

Egyptian educator, politician, and briefly prime minister, was born into a landowning family. He was educated at the Higher Teacher’s College and the Khedivial Law School. Fluent in English and French, he was a member of Egypt’s cosmopolitan elite of the early twentieth century. Trained as an educator and lawyer, he served as headmaster of the Muhammad ʿAli School in Cairo, later taught mathematics, geography, and history at al-Azhar, and also worked as a legal adviser in the Administration of Awqaf.

Sabri began his national political career as a supporter of the Wafd Party. Elected to the Chamber of Deputies in 1926 as a Wafdist deputy, in 1930 he separated from the Wafd by endorsing the autocratic regime of the anti Wafdist prime minister Ismaʿil Sidqi For the remainder of his political career Sabri was an independent formally unaffiliated with any of Egypt s political parties Elected the ...


Robert Fay

Born at Cape Coast in 1864, John Mensah Sarbah (also known as Kofi Mensah) was the first son of John and Sarah Sarbah. He attended the Cape Coast Wesleyan School and the Taunton School in England. Sarbah studied law at Lincoln’s Inn in London and in 1887 was the first Gold Coast African admitted to the bar.

Upon his return to Cape Coast, Sarbah established a successful law practice. He considered the traditional political institutions of the Gold Coast basically democratic in nature, and devoted his legal expertise to modernizing these institutions and integrating them into the colony’s legal apparatus. At the same time, he fought for laws protecting Africans from colonial oppression and exploitation. Among his many accomplishments, Sarbah, with the help of Joseph Casely-Hayford, succeeded in defeating the Lands Bill of 1897 which would have ignored traditional property rights and allowed the British government to dispose ...


Jeremy Rich

Togolese politician and intellectual, was born in the southern Togolese town of Tové on 15 August 1895. His family was a prominent among Ewe-speaking communities. After receiving an education from German Protestant missionaries, he moved shortly before World War I to the German colony of Cameroon to work as a clerk for a German attorney. With the advent of war, the German governor Karl Ebermayer selected Savi de Tove to become his personal secretary. After French forces defeated most of the German colonial army, Savi de Tove joined Ebermayer in his flight to Spanish Guinea. He then worked in the German embassy in Madrid, before staying a short time in Germany itself in 1918 Once the war ended Savi de Tove returned to Togo His gift for learning languages proved perfect for his new job as a schoolteacher He became the head of schools for the Église Protestante ...