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Shani Roper

chief minister of Barbados (1948–1958); premier of Barbados (1954–1958); and prime minister of the West Indian Federation (1958–1962), was born on 28 April 1898 in Government Hill, Barbados. The third of seven children born to Fitz Herbert and Rosa Adams (née Turney), Adams attended St. Giles’ Primary and later Harrison College. In 1918 Adams was awarded the Barbados Scholarship, which enabled him to attend Oxford University to study law. At Oxford, he regularly participated in political debates and became a member of the Liberal Party there. He campaigned for the Liberal candidate Frank Gray in 1922–1923 and canvassed for C. B. Fry in 1924. He returned to Barbados in 1925. Adams met and eventually married Grace Thorne in 1929 One year later she gave birth to their only child John Michael Geoffrey Adams otherwise known as Tom Adams prime minister of ...


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 ...


Klaas van Walraven

prime minister of Niger, was born in Soudouré, west of the capital, Niamey. Although he was the son of a village chief, Bakary was a talaka (a commoner), since his father did not hail from a noble family. Bakary was related by blood to Hamani Diori, Niger’s later president. Although he was a member of the Zarma ethnic community, many people in western Niger regarded Bakary as a Songhay, a closely related ethnic group. Later, he used this to mobilize political support along the Niger River valley.

At the age of 7 Bakary was taken by his uncle to the city of Tahoua central Niger where he was enrolled in a colonial primary school A diligent student he learned to speak Hausa before continuing his education in the capital It was here that his political consciousness began one day he met his father who had been sentenced to forced labor ...


Eric Bennett

Unlike other members of the northern Nigerian elite that he was to join, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa was born into a low-status, non-Fulani family. He attended primary and secondary school in Bauchi State and then enrolled at Katsina Higher College. In 1933 he became a schoolmaster, and in 1934 he published Shaihu Umar, a novel.

Balewa’s political career began in 1943 when he cofounded the Bauchi General Improvement Union, a group that promoted modernization and criticized British colonialism in Nigeria. Less radical than his cohorts, Balewa won election in 1946 to the northern legislature and became vice president of the Northern People’s Congress (NPC). The government appointed him minister of works in 1952 and minister of transport in 1954. In September 1957 Balewa became the prime minister of Nigeria under British control, a position he held until 1959 He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II of ...


Owen J. M. Kalinga

physician and president of Malawi from 1964 to 1994, was born in about 1896 at Mphonongo, approximately 18 miles (29 kilometers) east of the headquarters of the present-day Kasungu district. Given the name, Kamunkhwala, denoting the medicine that his mother took to enable conception, Banda attended two local junior elementary schools of the Livingstonia Mission of the Church of Scotland. In 1908, he went to the more established school at Chilanga Mission where, in that year, Dr. George Prentice baptized him as Akim Kamunkhwala Mtunthama Banda. He was to drop all three names and replace them with Hastings Walter (after a Scottish missionary, John Hastings), before finally settling on Hastings Kamuzu Banda, substituting kamuzu (root) for Kamunkhwala.

In 1914 Banda passed three standard exams a mandatory step to continue to the full primary school level the satisfactory completion of which was the highest qualification one could attain ...


Known as the “Lion of Malawi,” Ngwazi Hastings Kamuzu Banda was also known as the dictator who showed so little appreciation for his country’s people and culture that he was sometimes suspected of being an American impostor. Kamuzu Banda was born to Chewa peasants in a village near Kasunugu, Nyasaland (present-day Malawi). No birth records were kept at the time; while his official year of birth is 1906, other sources cite 1898. As a child Banda left the household of his maternal grandmother and entered a newly established school built by Church of Scotland missionaries. Influenced by his uncle, Hanock Phiri, Banda converted to Christianity and adopted the surname of missionary John Hastings.

Shortly after completing primary school, Banda traveled with his uncle to South Africa (supposedly walking the 1667 km [1000 mi]), where they initially worked in a coal mine in Dundee, Natal. Upon reaching Johannesburg ...


Pedro L V Welch

was born to the Reverend Reginald Grant Barrow and his wife, Ruth Alberta Barrow (née O’Neal), in St. Lucy Parish, Barbados, on 21 January 1920. His family lineage provided some of the strong influences that would eventually lead him to local and Caribbean prominence. His father was certainly not averse to using the pulpit to challenge the prevailing racist social and economic order. Indeed, in 1922 he was deported from St. Croix for his radical comments in a local newspaper. He eventually migrated to the United States, leaving his children behind. There can be little doubt that Reverend Barrow’s radical stance played an important role in the later development of Errol Barrow’s political philosophy.

Errol Barrow s uncle Charles Duncan O Neal was another pivotal influence in the young Barrow s life O Neal a medical doctor who was trained at Edinburgh University in Scotland returned to the Caribbean ...


Vere Cornwall Bird began his political career in 1939 as a member of the newly created Antigua Trade and Labor Union. Within this labor organization, he founded the Antigua Labor Party (ALP). Bird was first elected to the Legislative Council, the governing body of the island, in 1945 He ...


Bill Nasson

farmer, general, and first prime minister of the Union of South Africa, was born on 27 September 1862 near Greytown in the British colony of Natal. His paternal grandfather, Philip Rudolph Boot (or Both), was of German settler descent and had participated in the 1830s Boer Great Trek into the interior. The son of migrant trekkers Louis Botha and Salomina van Rooyen, Louis was the ninth of thirteen children. In 1869, the Botha family left Natal and settled on a farm near Vrede in the Orange Free State, where Louis lived until the age of twenty-two. Earlier, he had been schooled at a local German mission where he received only a very basic education.

Botha’s minimal formal learning proved to be no handicap to the development of his exceptional aptitude for fieldcraft and understanding of the working of the highveld terrain. In 1886 he settled on his ...


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 ...


was born on 16 September 1916 in St. Paul’s Village, St. Kitts, to domestic worker Mary Jane Francis, and blacksmith and laborer William Bradshaw. His interaction with trade unions began at an early age. His grandmother often sent him to pay her union dues to her union representative, one Gabriel Douglas, on his way to school. Like many boys in his community, Bradshaw worked on the neighboring sugar estate after completing his education. At the age of 16, he was apprenticed to the foreman in the machine shop at the St. Kitts-Bassetere Sugar Company. He joined the St. Kitts Workers League on the recommendation of his boss in the machine shop. In 1935 another boy pushed Bradshaw and his right hand went through a glass window during the altercation severing all the tendons After he recovered Bradshaw was promoted to the office of the machine shop This accident changed ...


Alonford James Robinson

Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham was born in 1923 to James Ethelbert Burnham and Rachel Abigail Sampson. James Burnham was headmaster of the Methodist Primary School in Kitty, a suburb of the capital city Georgetown. He instilled in his five children an appreciation for education, and Linden, the youngest male of the family, ambitiously pursued academic excellence.

After graduating from Central High School, Burnham attended the prestigious, all-male Queen's College. While there he won a British Guyana scholarship to study at the University of London in England. However, World War II forced Burnham to remain in British Guyana, where he earned his bachelor's degree in correspondence and accepted an administrative position at Queen's College.

After the war, Burnham traveled to England to complete his law degree, which he received in 1947 from the University of London While in London Burnham became the first Guyanese student to be ...


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 ...


Patrick E. Bryan

was born William Alexander Clarke to Robert Constantine Clarke and his wife, Mary (née Wilson), at Blenheim in the parish of Hanover in Jamaica on 24 February 1884. He was the second of his parents’ five children and the elder of two sons. William Clarke through his grandmother was a cousin of both Norman Manley, his main political rival, and the latter’s wife, Edna Manley (née Swithenbank), the famous Jamaican sculptor. Bustamante’s mother was of mixed race, and his father was probably Caucasian. An elementary school education was all that Alexander received, partly because the limited family fortune had declined with the death of his father. The fair-skinned Clarke, with his imposing 6 foot, 6 inch frame, was brash, outspoken, physically courageous, flamboyant, witty, and sartorially elegant.

For a time Clarke served as junior overseer at Belmont in St Catherine and impressed people with his fine horsemanship Clarke left ...


Born William Alexander Clarke, of an Irish immigrant father and a Jamaican mother of indigenous and African descent, Bustamante grew up in Blenheim, Jamaica, but ventured out into the world at the age of twenty-one. As a young man he served in the Spanish army, then worked in various capacities in Cuba, Panama, and New York City. He returned to Jamaica in 1932 as a wealthy entrepreneur. Although shrewd investments had made him rich, Bustamante's concern for Jamaican Sugar plantation workers led him to participate in protest marches, organize strikes, and become the treasurer of the Jamaican Workers and Tradesmen's Union (JWTU), which he helped found in 1937. His political activism continued alongside the social upheaval occurring in the 1930s throughout the West Indies. After he was jailed and released in May 1938 he became a symbolic leader of the workers movement ...


Adrian Fraser

was born on 3 June 1915 in Georgetown, St. Vincent, the third child of Robert Augustus Milton Cato, a teacher and Harriet Cato (née McHutcherson), a seamstress. He won a scholarship to the Boys Grammar School in 1928, and on graduating, Milton, as he was commonly known, worked briefly in the public service and was later articled as a clerk in the law chambers of one of the country’s leading attorneys.

With the outbreak of World War II he joined some of his countrymen and entered the Canadian Army as a volunteer serving with distinction in Europe At the end of the war he went to England where he studied law at one of the Inns of Court the Middle Temple He was a member of the West Indian Students Union serving at one time as president Forbes Burnham of Guyana being then a distinguished member of the executive ...


Hamid Ghany

was born on 4 October 1928 in Port of Spain, Trinidad, to George and Ruby (née Noel). According to Therese Mills, then editor of the Sunday Guardian (a newspaper published in Trinidad and Tobago) in an article “A Giant Leap for the Quiet Man” printed on Sunday 5 April 1981: “He attended Nelson Street Boys’ R.C. School and Burke’s College. After a period at Osmond High School his formal education stopped, but he continued his own self-education and development.” Before entering active politics, Chambers worked as a law clerk at the prestigious law firm of Hamel-Smith and Company in Port of Spain. He also worked as a legal assistant in the law department of the Dominion Oil Company, a North American oil company that maintained operations in Trinidad in the 1950s and 1960s.

Chambers joined the People s National Movement PNM led by Dr Eric Williams in its founding ...


Lennox Honychurch

was born on 15 May 1919 in the village of Pointe Michel on the southwest coast of Dominica. Her parents influenced her attitude toward life. Her mother was a practical, firm, but loving guide who imbued her with a down-to-earth and no-nonsense approach. Charles’s father, John Baptiste Charles, widely known as J. B., was a self-made man. A stonemason and small farmer in his youth, he became one of the leading estate owners on the island. He also founded his own bank, the Dominica Co-operative Bank, and served as mayor of Roseau. In national politics he was an elected member for various constituencies and was appointed as one of Dominica’s two senators in the Upper House of the Federal Parliament of the West Indies (1958–1962).

Young Eugenia was educated at the Convent High School Roseau capital of Dominica and St Joseph s Convent Grenada She studied law at ...