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María de Lourdes Ghidoli

Alfonsín was born on 12 March 1927 in the city of Chascomús, Buenos Aires Province, with Spanish and German heritage on his father’s side and British on his mother’s. He was the eldest of Ana María Foulkes and Serafín Raúl Alfonsín’s six children. He married María Lorenza Barreneche on 4 February 1949, and they also had six children: Raúl Felipe, Ana María, Ricardo Luis, Marcela, María Inés, and Javier Ignacio. Only Ricardo followed in his father’s footsteps, though he entered politics in the 1990s, after his father’s presidency.

Alfonsín spent his childhood in Chascomús, where he attended primary school. As an adolescent, he entered the Liceo Militar General San Martín (General San Martín Military High School), located in Villa Ballester (Greater Buenos Aires). From there, he graduated in 1945 at the level of second lieutenant of the reserve Later he studied at the law school of the Universidad ...


Ryan Irwin

South African Prime Minister (1978–1984) and executive state President (1984–1989), was born 12 January 1916 on a farm near the town of Paul Roux in Orange Free State. An Afrikaner by birth, Botha is commonly referred to as either “P.W.” or “Die Groot Krokodil” (The Great Crocodile). His parents, Pieter Willem and Hendrina, were influenced greatly by the South African War (Second Anglo-Boer War).

Upon completing his education in the early 1930s, Botha worked as a reporter and a National Party organizer in South Africa’s Western Province. He flirted briefly with a pro-Nazi organization named Ossewabrandwag in the years before World War II but ended his connections to the group in 1941. Following a stint as a government information officer during the war, Botha was elected to Parliament as a National Party representative in 1948 He was appointed Deputy Interior Minister ten years later ...


Alonford James Robinson

Pieter Willem Botha was raised in a militantly nationalistic Afrikaner family in the Eastern Cape. His mother’s first husband was killed in the Boer War (1899–1902), in which his father also fought for the Boers. At an early age Botha himself became an Afrikaner nationalist, leaving the University of Orange Free State Law School in 1935 to help found the National Party. A year later he became public information officer for the party and served on the Sauer Commission, the agency that helped to formulate the National Party’s racial program.

In 1948 Botha proved instrumental in helping D. F. Malan and the National Party come to power. That year he won a seat in Parliament, representing the Eastern Cape district of George. As a reward for party loyalty, Botha was appointed to a series of cabinet positions in the apartheid-era governments of Hendrik Verwoerd and Balthazar Johannes Vorster ...


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 ...


Mayda Grano de Oro

Born in poverty in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, to a Haitian father and a mother from the Antilles, Ulíses Heureaux was a principal political and military leader in the Restoration War along with Gregorio Luperón. This conflict, which significantly involved Afro-Dominicans in a fight for their sovereignty and against the reinstitution of slavery for the first time, resulted in Spain's final withdrawal from the Dominican Republic.

Heureaux, who was also known as Lilís, became one of the most important political figures of the nineteenth-century Dominican Republic. He began his political career as the military leader of Gregorio Luperón's Partido Azul (Blue Party), opposing Buenaventura Baez's Partido Rojo (Red Party) during Baez's six-year regime from 1868 to 1874. After this regime the presidency was limited to a two-year term, and between 1876 and 1882 the Blue and Red Parties alternated control of the government ...


Peter Limb

Nelson Rolihlahla Madiba Mandela was born in 1918 in the rural Transkei of South Africa. Here he absorbed Xhosa and African culture, notably the ideas of honor and ubuntu humanness or a feeling of fellowship and compassion From his parents and clan the young Mandela also heard stories of the historical resistance of Africans to white invasion From an early age he was groomed for a leadership role given that his father was descended from a minor house of royalty of the Thembu people a branch of the Xhosa nation The Thembu Paramount Chief Regent Jongintaba looked after Mandela following the early death of his father who had been the Paramount s chief councilor but who after resisting white domination had been deposed as headman by the government Mandela s given name was Rolihlahla troublemaker and his clan name Madiba reconciler would remain a praise name and term of ...


The first black president of South Africa, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela became a worldwide symbol of resistance to the injustice of his country’s Apartheid system. Imprisoned for more than twenty-seven years, and before that banned from all public activity and hounded by police for nearly a decade, Mandela led a struggle for freedom that mirrored that of his black compatriots. After his 1990 release from Victor Verster prison, his work to end apartheid won him the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize (which he shared with South African president F. W. de Klerk) and then the presidency itself a year later.

Mandela’s father, Chief Henry Mandela, was a member of the Thembu people’s royal lineage; his mother was one of the chief’s four wives. Mandela was born in Mvezo, Umtata, but grew up in Qunu, a small village in what is now the Eastern Cape Province At the age of ...


former president of South Africa (1994–1999), African National Congress (ANC) leader, and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, was born on 18 July 1918 in the rural village of Mvezo near Mthatha in rural Transkei The youngest of four sons he imbibed ideas of honor and humaneness and stories of resistance to white invasion from his Xhosa culture clan and family Descended from a minor or Left Hand royal house of the Thembu people his father Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa served as councilor to the Thembu paramount chief but after protesting aspects of white domination was deposed as village headman by the government After his father s early death Mandela was groomed for a local leadership role by the paramount regent Jongintaba Mandela s given name was Rolihlahla troublemaker and his clan name Madiba reconciler would remain a praise name and term of affection in years to come symbolizing his ...


Joel Gordon

Egyptian rebel officer turned president who defined an era in the Middle East, was born on 15 January 1918 in a suburb of Alexandria, the son of Abdel-Nasser Husayn, a minor postal official, and Fahima Hammad. A variation of his name is Jamal ʿAbd al-Nasir. He spent his early years in Upper Egypt, where his father was posted. At age seven he was sent to live with a paternal uncle and attend primary school in Cairo. In 1926 his mother died; at eleven he was summoned back to Alexandria to live with his father, who had remarried. It was an unhappy period in his life.

Nasser s school days were marked by the turbulent politics of Egypt s fragile liberal era In the early 1930s Egyptians took regularly to the streets to voice discontent with a king beholden to British masters and loyalist politicians who allied with the palace to ...


John Calvert

Gamal Abdel Nasser (15 January 1918–28 September 1970) was leader of Egypt from 1954 until his death in 1970. Nasser was an important figure in the history of the modern Middle East. He was the first Arab political leader effectively to challenge Western political and economic power in the region. Although the pan-Arabism that Nasser championed is no longer a vital political force, Nasser remains a revered figure in Egypt and the wider Arab world.

Nasser was born in 1918 in Alexandria in a family of humble origins. He father was a postal clerk. During his youth Nasser was exposed to the currents of political dissent that were present in Egypt in the 1930s Although Egypt s government was technically independent in fact it was subjected to the interference of the British Nasser participated in anti British demonstrations and was slightly wounded in the massive student ...


Robert Fay

Gamal Abdel Nasser is widely considered one of Africa’s greatest modern leaders. Although his leadership style was highly authoritarian and some of his foreign policy decisions had disastrous consequences, he was lauded not only for ending British Colonial Rule and implementing ambitious social reforms in Egypt, but also for his support for Third World independence movements worldwide.

Nasser was born in Alexandria, Egypt. He went to primary school in the village where his father, a postman, worked, then attended secondary school in Cairo, where he participated in street protests against the British. He briefly attended law school before entering the Royal Military Academy, graduating in 1938, and receiving a commission as a second lieutenant.

While serving in the Sudan, Nasser and three other officers formed the Free Officers, a secret organization that aimed to overthrow the British as well as the Egyptian monarch, Farouk I. In July 1952 ...


Jeremy Rich

Gabonese politician and judge, was born on 20 September 1942 to a Galwa family in the central Gabonese town of Lambaréné. The small Galwa community belongs to the minority Omyènè ethnic community that had received favored access to educational opportunities throughout much of the colonial period. She attended primary and secondary schools in Gabon, and her family was close to the extremely powerful Gabonese politician Georges Rawiri. Like Rawiri, Rogombe (née Etoumba) backed the single-party regime of Omar Bongo Ondimba established in 1968. She was a faithful member of Bongo’s Parti Démocratique Gabonais (PDG; Gabonese Democratic Party), and upon completing her undergraduate and graduate studies of law in France, Rogombe returned to Gabon to work for the government. After first working as a magistrate, Rogombe served as minister of women’s affairs and human rights in the 1980s under longtime prime minister Léon Mebiame, another PDG stalwart.

Rogombe authored ...


Abiola F. Irele

The name of Leopold Sedar Senghor has become associated with the concept of Négritude, which provides the keynote of all his work, both as poet and as philosopher. There is a fundamental connection between the two aspects of his career and expression, for Senghor’s poetry represents an effort to invest Africa with poetic significance and thus provides the most sustained expression of Négritude’s imaginative revaluation of Africa. The thought processes reflected in the poetry are clarified in the ideological writings, which can be said to elaborate in discursive terms the themes expressed by means of images in the poetry.

Senghor was born in 1906 at Joal a coastal village in the Sine Saloum valley in central Senegal He began to learn French when at the age of seven he entered the Catholic elementary school in the nearby village of Ngasobil He received his secondary education at the Lycée van ...


Janet Vaillant

Senegalese poet, philosopher, politician, and first president of Senegal (1960–1980), was born in Joal, a small coastal town south of Dakar in what was then the French West African Federation, now Senegal. His father came from the Serer people and was successful in the peanut export trade. His mother, one of several wives, came from a small country village, where Senghor spent his early childhood. His father sent him away for education when he was seven, and at eight he entered a Catholic mission boarding school. A pious and academically gifted child, he excelled in his studies, gaining support from the missionaries to continue his education in Dakar. He also acquired a deep Catholic faith, from which came his conviction that peaceful solutions exist for the most difficult of problems and from which he drew sustenance throughout his life. In 1928 he went to Paris to continue his education ...


David P. Johnson

Demonstrating a rare combination of intellectual, artistic, and political skill, Léopold Sédar Senghor towered over modern Senegal, unlike any other figure in that country’s history. Senghor’s quest to find an artistic and political synthesis between African and European ways of life inspired his lifelong record of creative achievement. Although as a youth he immersed himself in French culture, his ultimate inability to become “a black-skinned Frenchman” led him to cultivate his “Africanness.” He helped to define two of the key political and intellectual movements of twentieth-century Africa: African Socialism and Négritude.

Born in Ndjitor, Senegal, to a Serer father and a Fulani mother, Senghor strove to represent all of Senegal’s peoples in his writing and politics. He attended Roman Catholic mission schools in what was then French West Africa, and in 1922 entered the Collège Libermann a seminary in Dakar where he intended to study for the priesthood He ...


Elizabeth Schmidt

president of Guinea, trade union leader, and champion of Pan-African unity, was born on 9 January 1922 in Faranah, Guinea. He attended qurʾanic school, lower-primary school, and vocational school, before continuing his studies by correspondence. Although revered as a pioneer of African nationalism, Touré tarnished his record with a postindependence regime that was notorious for its human rights violations.

In 1945, Touré helped to establish a trade union for African postal, telegraph, and telephone workers, holding the position of secretary-general. The following year, he organized the Union des Syndicats Confédérés de Guinée (USCG; Union of the Confederated Trade Unions of Guinea), which brought together all the Guinean affiliates of the French Communist Party’s Confédération Générale du Travail (CGT; General Confederation of Labor). Touré’s greatest success as a trade union leader came in 1953 when workers across the colonized regions of French West Africa went on strike to force ...


third president of postapartheid South Africa, was born 12 April 1942 in Nkandla, the eldest son of Nobhekisisa Zuma and his second wife, Geinamazwi. His father was a policeman, who died when Zuma was about four years old; his mother was a domestic worker in Durban. During his humble upbringing in this poor area of Zululand (part of what is now KwaZulu-Natal), Zuma was animated by stories of Chief Bambatha’s rebellion against colonialism that had taken place only thirty-six years before Zuma’s birth. Never formally schooled—working instead as a herd boy from a young age—Zuma attained some education by paying an older girl in his village to tutor him.

Influenced by a politically active half brother and by the activism he encountered on visits to his mother in Durban Zuma joined the African National Congress ANC at seventeen His earliest activities related to the South African Congress of Trade Unions ...