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Eric Bennett

Sani Abacha attended primary and secondary school in his home state of Kano and then joined the army in 1962. As a soldier he attended the Nigerian Military Training College in Kaduna State (1962–1963) and then went to England for further military schooling. Abacha achieved steady promotions as a soldier and by the mid-1980s had entered Nigeria's military elite. In 1983 he was among those who overthrew Shehu Shagari, leader of the Second Republic, in a coup that led to the military rule of Muhammadu Buhari. In 1985 Abacha participated in a second coup, which replaced Buhari with General Ibrahim Babangida, who appointed Abacha minister of defense in 1990. As head of state, Babangida announced that free elections would be held in the early 1990s. In 1993 however after Babangida nullified the results of these belated free elections Abacha staged a third coup and ...

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Leyla Keough

Diane Abbott, a working-class Cambridge University graduate, made history on June 11, 1987, by becoming the first black female member of the British Parliament. Her outspoken criticism of racism and her commitment to progressive politics have made her a controversial figure in Britain's Labour Party.

Diane Abbott was born in 1953 in the working-class London neighborhood of Paddington. Her mother (a nurse) and father (a welder) had moved there in 1951 from Jamaica. Later they moved to lower-middle-class Harrow, where Abbott was the only black student at the Harrow County School for Girls. Graduating among the top in her class, she applied and was accepted into Newnham College at Cambridge University, despite a high school teacher's comment that attendance there would give her ambitions that were above her social status.

She began work after graduation at the home office a government department responsible for a broad range ...

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Ellis Goldberg

Egyptian jurist, government official, and author of one of the most important and controversial books of the twentieth century on Islam and politics, Islam and the Foundations of Governance. This short book, published in 1925, caused a storm of protest, and ʿAbd al-Raziq was arraigned before a jury of Egyptian religious leaders (including the grandfather of the late-twentieth-century al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri) and officially stripped of his status as a religious scholar (ʿalim).

Abd al-Raziq was born in the Upper Egyptian province of Minya to a well-known and relatively well-off family. He studied at Al-Azhar University. Although he was too young to have known the prominent Egyptian ʿalim Muhammad Abduh (d. 1905), his work appears to have been influenced by Abduh’s break with prevailing orthodoxy. Abduh was the highest jurisconsult (mufti) in Egypt at the time of his death. In 1915 ʿAbd al Raziq became a ...

Article

Jasper Ayelazuno

army officer and military head of state of Ghana, was born in Trabuom in the present-day Ashanti Region of southern Ghana and then part of Britain’s Gold Coast colony. He was the son of James Kwadwo Kutu Acheampong and Akua Manu. Raised as a Roman Catholic, he attended Trabuom Elementary School and St. Peter’s Catholic School in Kumasi, before receiving his secondary education at the Central College of Commerce at Swedru in the Central Region of Ghana. Having obtained his West Africa Secondary School General Certificate of Education at the ordinary level (popularly known as GCE O level) and a diploma in commerce, he worked in various places and positions. From 1945 to 1951, he was a stenographer/secretary at the Timber Sawmill in Kumasi, a teacher at Kumasi Commercial College, and the vice principal at Agona-Swedru College of Commerce.

Acheampong subsequently enlisted as a private soldier in the British ...

Article

Grantley Herbert Adams was born in Government Hill, Barbados, then a British colony. His father, Fitzherbert Adams, was a black man and the head teacher of one of the island's largest primary schools, Saint Giles. His mother, Rosa Frances Adams, was a coloured woman (of mixed African and European descent). By West Indian standards, the Adams family was part of the lower middle class, removed from the endemic poverty that engulfed the disenfranchised black majority.

Like his father, Adams attended Harrisons College, the colony's premier secondary school. In 1919 he won a prestigious island scholarship to Oxford University in England, where he studied law. In England he met intellectuals from the colonized world, many of whom, like himself, had joined the Fabian Society, a socialist movement that supported decolonization and the end of the British Empire. In 1925 Adams returned to Barbados working as a lawyer ...

Article

Matti Steinberg

Palestinian leader, was born in Cairo, Egypt, on 24 August 1929 to ʿAbd al-Raʾuf, his father, and Zahawa Abu-Saud, his mother, who had emigrated from Palestine in 1927 Arafat himself was mysterious about his birthplace sometimes he would say I was not born before I became Abu ʿAmmar and sometimes he insisted on being born in Old Jerusalem next to the al Haram al Sharif the Islamic sacred site this version was adopted by official publications and Web sites of Fatah Behind this obscurity probably lay the uneasiness of Arafat as the leader of the Palestinian national movement to acknowledge that he had not been born in Palestine and that his Palestinian parents had emigrated voluntarily out of personal and not national reasons from Palestine seeking a better living His full name is Muhammad ʿAbd al Rahman ʿAbd al Raʾuf Arafat al Qudwa al Husayni During the early 1950s ...

Article

Redie Bereketeab

chief executive of the autonomous Federa state of Eritrea (1952–1962) and Ethiopian government official, was born on 12 March 1914 in Segeneyti in Akkele Guzay, Eritrea. When he reached school age, he attended elementary school at Adi Keyih, Akkele Guzay, and secondary school at Keren Catholic School.

During the Italian occupation of Ethiopia (1936–1941), Asfaha accompanied General Nasi, who was posted as vice-representative in Ethiopia, and worked there until the defeat of Italy. Initially he worked as an interpreter, and later he held various high positions in Tigray until 1941. Upon the defeat of Italy and the reinstallment of Emperor Haile Selassie to the throne, Asfaha remained in Ethiopia, where he became an ardent supporter of the union of Eritrea with Ethiopia.

Asfaha was frequently dispatched to Eritrea by Ethiopia, particularly during 1941 and 1942 to persuade Eritreans to accept the union with Ethiopia ...

Article

Kristopher Cote

public servant, politician, and businessman in present-day Uganda, was born in the Kingdom of Buganda in 1894. His father, Thomas Ssemukasa, was a subcounty chief and general of Kabaka (King) Mwanga’s army. His name, which was not a customary clan name, means “it is better to die on the battlefield than to die of a natural death.” He was educated at an elite private school, King’s College in Buddo, and at Sheffield College in England. Upon his return to Uganda he was a clerk in the protectorate government, but soon he became an outspoken politician and businessman who challenged the application of British administration in Uganda.

After several years of service to the protectorate government, Baamuta was appointed secretary of the Lukiiko (the Bugandan parliament). He was a vociferous defender of the rights afforded to the Buganda Kingdom under the terms of the Uganda Agreement (1900 which ...

Article

Sônia Beatriz dos Santos

was born on 27 March 1953 in the city of Porto Alegre, state of Rio Grande do Sul.

Bairros’s interest in political issues began when she was in school. In 1979 she adopted the city of Salvador, state of Bahia, as her main residence; it was in this city that she began to participate in the Unified Black Movement (Movimento Negro Unificado, MNU); she remained involved in this organization until 1994.

She began her activism in the women’s movement in 1981 within the Women’s Group of the MNU. Bairros was a vocal member of this group, and she participated in the main initiatives of the black movement in Bahia and Brazil. In 1991 she was elected the first national coordinator of the MNU.

In 1994 Luiza Bairros joined the Labor and Social Action Secretariat of the State of Bahia managing support for independent workers programs and participating in ...

Article

Gerhard Seibert

politician and foreign minister of São Tomé and Príncipe, was born Alda Bandeira Tavares Vaz da Conceição on 22 September 1949. She was the daughter of a male nurse and his wife on the Àgua-Izé estate, Santana District, São Tomé Island. She married Noberto Costa Alegre, with whom she has two daughters. Bandeira attended primary school and secondary school in São Tomé and Luanda, Angola, respectively. From 1972 to 1974 she studied German philology at Lisbon University.

During her country’s decolonization process, following the Carnation Revolution of 25 April 1974 in Portugal, Bandeira became one of the prominent student members of the radical Associação Cívica pró-MLSTP, which struggled for her country’s total independence from Portugal under the leadership of the Liberation Movement of São Tomé and Príncipe (MLSTP, founded in 1972), whose leaders were exiled at that time in Libreville, Gabon. However, in March 1975 owing to a ...

Article

Juan Fandos-Rius

official and diplomat of the Central African Republic (CAR), was born on 6 June 1923 in the Poto-Poto neighborhood of Brazzaville in the Middle Congo. His mother was a Gbaya from the Bouar-Baoua region of Upper Sangha, then part of the Middle Congo but later attached to the colony of Ubangi-Shari. His father, Jean Bandio, a Gbaya, grew up in the Carnot region of Upper Sangha, but was sent by the French to serve as a nurse in the capital of French Equatorial Africa (FEA), Brazzaville. Jean-Arthur, the fifth of Jean Bandio's ten children, studied at the École Urbaine (Urban primary school) from 1933 to 1939, then from 1940 to 1944 at Brazzaville's École Edouard-Renard Edouard Renard School which trained Central Africans to serve as administrative assistants and primary teachers for FEA Bandio s classmates at Edouard Renard School included many future leaders of the independent states ...

Article

Richard A. Bradshaw and Juan Fandos-Rius

military officer and government minister in the Central African Republic (CAR), born on 10 October 1923 at Carnot in what was then the Middle Congo but became part of Ubangi-Shari and eventually the CAR. His parents were Gbaya, the ethnic identity of most inhabitants of the Upper Sangha region where he was raised. After primary school in Upper Sangha, he studied at École préparatoire militaire Général Leclerc (Leclerc military academy) in 1946 at Brazzaville, Middle Congo, then trained to become a tank mechanic. He also qualified as a howitzer operator and, in 1950, as an assistant physical education and sports instructor. From 1951 to 1956, Banza served in the 1st Battalion of Gabon-Congo Riflemen, then as a noncommissioned officer in Morocco and Tunisia before attending the École de formation des officiers ressortisants des territoires d’outre-mer (school for training officers for service overseas) in Fréjus and Fontainebleau, France.

By ...

Article

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 ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Paul Bjerk

Tanzanian politician, was born in January 1925 at a mission station in Ikizu, Musoma, in colonial Tanganyika. He belonged to a Christian agricultural family of relatively comfortable means by the standards of the African population of Tanganyika, then under British administration. He received his education in Tanganyika in the early 1940s, receiving a Grade II certificate as a teacher from the Ikizu Secondary and Teacher Training School in 1945. In 1953, as a result of his work with the agricultural cooperative movement, he was given a scholarship to attend a course in cooperative development at Loughborough College in Leicester, United Kingdom. He married his wife, Hilda, in 1958, and they had nine children. His brother Mark Bomani also had a prominent political career and currently works in Dar es Salaam as a lawyer in private practice.

Bomani’s early adult life, beginning in 1947 was defined by ...

Article

Matthew LeRiche and John Young

Sudanese journalist, politician, and government official, is the son of a Dinka chief from Twic Mayardit County in the province of northern Bahr El Ghazal, in southern Sudan. Bona has pursued careers in journalism, academia, and most prominently, politics. After the 2010 national election, he was named advisor to President ʿUmar al-Bashir, of the National Congress Party (NCP).

An accomplished student and athlete, Bona went to the US on scholarship. While there, he earned an MA in journalism and communications before returning to Sudan, where he became a leading southern Sudanese nationalist. Building on his academic training, Bona became the editor-in-chief of The Advocate, an early publication defending the human rights of southerners and calling for devolution of power to the south. He was a cofounder of the Southern Front and served as its first secretary-general. He was then elected to the national assembly in 1968 only to ...

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Jeremy Rich

Gabonese politician and foreign minister, was born on 10 April 1956 to Omar (then Albert-Bernard) Bongo Ondimba and Louise Mouyabi Moukala in Franceville, capital of the southeastern Gabonese province of Haut-Ogooué. At the time of her birth, her father, Omar Bongo Ondimba, later president of Gabon, was a lieutenant in the French air force. Little public information is available about her childhood and adolescence, but she attended the University of California–Los Angeles in 1979 with her younger sister Albertine. Her father had purchased a home for roughly 2.2 million dollars US in Beverly Hills, California. Shortly before moving to the United States, she reportedly had a short romantic relationship with the Jamaican reggae singer Bob Marley.

Pascaline Bongo finished her studies in the United States and returned to Gabon Although little detailed information exists about her activities in the 1980s she rose to prominence in her father s government after ...

Article

Walter Clarke

Djiboutian political figure, was born in Djibouti, but he grew up in Tadjoura. Aboubaker Ibrahim Chehem Pacha, who facilitated the earliest agreements with France in the 1860s, was his great-grandfather. His grandfather was Bourhan Baye, the first mayor of the village of Djibouti. Bourhan completed elementary school and joined the Territorial Ministry of Education. Like many early political figures in the French colony, he first gained a reputation as an orator and debater in the Club de la Jeunesse Somalie et Dankalie, Mahmoud Harbi’s political movement. In 1957, Bourhan was elected deputy for Obock and Tadjoura.

Reacting to the increasing radicalization of Harbi, Bourhan joined the political group led by Ibrahim Mohammed Sultan in 1958 and was again elected to the territorial assembly. In June 1960 by now a fervent supporter of General Charles de Gaulle he was appointed vice president of the Council of Government replacing ...

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Article

David Killingray

Guyaneselawyer, politician, and diplomat who was appointed travelling secretary of the League of Coloured Peoples (LCP) during the Second World War. Carter was born in the British colony of British Guiana. He attended Queen's College, Georgetown, and came to London University in 1939 to read law, qualifying as a barrister at the Middle Temple in 1942. During the war years the LCP grew in members and significance, and so did its concern for the welfare of the many military and labour volunteers from the colonies. Another concern was for the large numbers of African‐American soldiers in Britain from 1942 onwards. Carter became general and travelling secretary of the LCP in early 1942 using his legal skills to deal with numerous instances of racial discrimination and also the case of an African American soldier sentenced to death for rape by a US military court Carter ...