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Ebenezer Ayesu

lawyer, chief judge, and president of Ghana, was born at Dodowa in the Greater Accra region of the Gold Cost (now Ghana) on 26 June 1906. His father was William Martin Addo-Danquah of Akropong, Akuapem. His mother was Theodora Amuafi, also from Akropong, Akuapem. After receiving his elementary education at the Presbyterian primary and middle schools at Dodowa, he enrolled in Achimota College in 1929, from where he was awarded scholarship to study mathematics, philosophy, and politics at Saint Peter’s College, Oxford University. Akuffo-Addo was one of the first students at Saint Peter’s College, matriculating in 1930, a year after the college was established. He went on to graduate with honors in philosophy and politics in 1933. He was later made an honorary fellow of the college, and in 1971 he was made a doctor of civil law at Oxford University.

In 1940 Akuffo Addo ...


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 ...


Richard A. Bradshaw

military officer, president, and emperor of the Central African Republic/Empire, was born on 22 February 1921 at Bobangui, Lobaye region, then in the French Equatorial African territory of the Middle Congo (now part of the Central African Republic) He was the son of headman Mindogon Mgboundoulou, who was murdered at the regional colonial headquarters in the Lobaye, and Marie Yokowo, who died a week after her husband. Bokassa belonged to the same Mbaka (Ngbaka) ethnic group as Central African Republic (CAR) leaders Barthélemy Boganda and David Dacko. His grandfather MʿBalanga took care of Bokassa until 1921, when he entered the Catholic missionary école Sainte-Jeanne-d’Arc at MʿBaiki. Bokassa then attended Bangui’s École de St. Louis (1928–1929), which was run by Father Charles Grüner, and an école missionnaire at Brazzaville (1929–1939). Enlisting in the French army on 19 May 1939, Bokassa became a corporal (1940 ...


Eric Young

A career soldier who had endured a tragic childhood, Jean-Bédel Bokassa ruled the impoverished Central African Republic with brutal repression, used its revenues for his personal enrichment, and crowned himself emperor. He committed barbarities that caused an international outcry and led to his removal from power.

When Bokassa was six years old, his father, a village chief of the Mbaka people, was murdered. Bokassa became an orphan a week later, when his mother committed suicide. Missionaries raised him until age eighteen when, at the outbreak of World War II, Bokassa joined the French Colonial Army. He participated in the 1944 landings in Provence and later served in Indochina and Algeria, attaining the rank of captain and earning the Legion d’Honneur and the Croix de Guerre. In 1960, after Oubangui-Chari became the independent Central African Republic, Bokassa helped create its army and, in 1964 was given the rank of ...


Robert Ross

South African lawyer and politician, was born in Cape Town on 6 December 1823. His father, Christoffel J. Brand, a member of a leading Cape family, was a noted journalist and parliamentarian and the first speaker of the Cape Parliament in 1854. Brand Sr. had presented a doctoral thesis to Leiden University in 1820 on the rights of colonists, which the British might have considered treasonable if it had not been written in Latin. By the 1840s he, along with a number of his fellow Dutch-speaking settlers, decided to cooperate with British rule, believing, accurately as it would turn out, that they would be able to dominate democratic institutions in the colony when they were eventually granted.

Jan, as he was known, followed his father to Leiden University in the Netherlands, where he studied law, and thereafter he was admitted to the British Bar. In 1849 ...


Kenneth P. Vickery

, lawyer, politician, and third president of independent Zambia (2002–2008), was born on 3 September 1948 in Mufulira on the Zambian Copperbelt. He was the second child of Patrick Mwanawasa, an intermittently successful trader, and Myria Makola. His background was Lenje and Lamba, two of Zambia’s smaller ethnic groups. Mwanawasa attended state boarding schools, and eventually earned a law degree at the University of Zambia in 1973. His training in law was key to his career.

After graduation Mwanawasa joined the Ndola (Copperbelt) branch of Jacques and Partners law firm. In 1978 he founded his own practice, Mwanawasa and Company, which enjoyed considerable success legally and financially. He married Ann Ziba, with whom he had one son (he also raised a daughter fathered out of wedlock earlier). They divorced in 1985. In 1988 he married Maureen Kakubo also a lawyer and they had four children Their marriage ...


Ertha Pascal-Trouillot, one of the first women lawyers in the Caribbean island nation of Haiti, became the first woman to serve on the country's Supreme Court. She also served as the provisional president of Haiti from March 13, 1990, to February 7, 1991.

Born in Petionville, Pascal was the ninth of ten children. Her father died while she was young, and the family had to survive on the money earned by her mother and siblings. In 1971 Pascal graduated from the École de Droit (law school) in Gonaïves. Soon afterward she married Ernst Trouillot, a lawyer and history teacher who had tutored her. Pascal-Trouillot became an active lawyer, working on cases of labor conflict and family rights at a time when most Haitian women who had completed law school were only assistants in law firms. In January 1979 Pascal Trouillot was the first ...


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 ...


Mary H. Moran

the twentieth and last president of Liberia’s First Republic, was born in Bensonville, outside of Monrovia in Montserrado County, on 13 May 1913. He came from a prominent family, descended from American settlers originally from South Carolina, and received his early education in local schools before graduating from the University of Liberia in 1934. The second of three brothers, he entered the family “business” of politics (his father was a member of the House of Representatives) and after a series of lower-level government positions he was elected to the House or Representatives as well in 1943.

In 1952 he was tapped to replace President William Tubman s first vice president C L Simpson when Tubman faced opposition within his own party the True Whig Party TWP and began to doubt the loyalty of his former running mate Tolbert kept a low profile and managed to remain ...


When William Richard Tolbert, Jr. took office as Liberia’s twentieth president in 1971, he seemed poised to continue the dominance of the True Whig Party (TWP), which had ruled Liberian politics for more than a century. Instead, Tolbert’s administration was plagued by indecision and confusion, and his 1980 assassination marked the beginning of two decades of political, economic, and social chaos.

A member of the Americo-Liberian elite, William Tolbert attended a private Episcopal high school and the University of Liberia, from which he graduated in 1934. He worked in various government jobs before his 1943 election to the House of Representatives. In 1951 Tolbert became William V. S. Tubman’s vice president, a position he maintained through five elections until Tubman’s death in 1971, when he became president.

Long under Tubman s shadow Tolbert took immediate steps to distinguish himself from his predecessor Wearing casual dress to his ...