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philosopher, pioneer of Islamic reformist thought, pan-Islamic nationalist as well as a staunch opponent of British penetration in the East, also known as al-Asadaabadi and al-Husayni, Afghani, was born in October/November 1839 in the Iranian village of Asadaabad. However, he endeavored to hide his origins so as to conceal his Shiite identity. It was with this in mind that he assumed the surname al-Afghani (of Afghan origin).

His father, Sayyid Safdar, is said to have been a modest farmer, but a learned Muslim. From the age of five to ten, Afghani was apparently educated at home, focusing on Arabic and the Qurʾan. Thereafter, he was sent to school in Qazvin and later Tehran, where he received the standard Shiite education.

After several years of study in the holy city of Najaf, Afghani moved to India in approximately 1855 where he first encountered British colonialism By the time he reached ...


Christine D. Baker

fifth Fatimid caliph of Egypt, was the first of the Fatimid caliphs to begin his rule in the newly founded Fatimid capital in Cairo. Born in Mahdiyya in North Africa, he traveled to Cairo in 974 with the Fatimid court when his father, the fourth Fatimid Caliph al-Muʿizz, moved the Fatimid capital from the Maghrib to Egypt. His full name was Al-ʿAziz billah, Nizar Abu Mansur.

Al-ʿAziz became the Fatimid caliph in 975 but, as the third son of al-Muʿizz, his succession was far from assumed. Al-Muʿizz’s oldest son, Tamim, had been passed over for the succession because he was suspected of intriguing against his father with dissident members of the Fatimid court. Al-Muʿizz’s second son, ʿAbdullah, was the favored heir. But ʿAbdullah died unexpectedly in 975 and al-Muʿizz formally recognized al-ʿAziz as his successor. Al-ʿAziz came to power in December 975 when he gave the khutba Friday sermon ...


Robert Rotberg

colonial Malawi’s first leader of an anticolonial rebel movement, was born in the late 1860s or early 1870s to a Yao father and a Cewa (or possibly Mang’anja) mother. His rising in 1915 was more symbolic than effective, but it frightened whites and British colonial rulers in a manner that was equaled only much later by the Mau Mau movement in Kenya.

A few years after his birth, the family moved from Sanganu, in the Chiradzulu district of southern Malawi, to Blantyre, the only city in what was then the emerging British Protectorate of Nyasaland. Scottish Presbyterian missionaries had arrived in the vicinity of Blantyre in 1876 white farmers had followed and colonial rule quickly became implanted By moving to Blantyre for employment or other reasons Chilembwe was able to become an early student of the Blantyre Mission of the Church of Scotland He was able as ...


Tim Stapleton

John Chilembwe (c. 1871–1915) was a member of the early Westernized Christian elite in the British colony of Nyasaland (now Malawi). In the early 1890s, during the period of colonial conquest, Chilembwe received his initial education from Scottish Presbyterian missionaries, who were predominant in that area. However, within a few years he became a member of the Baptist Church under the mentorship of the nonconformist British missionary Joseph Booth. Much to the alarm of the colonial authorities, Booth preached against the colonial system and its inherent racial discrimination, and was later expelled from Nyasaland, in 1905.

In 1897 Chilembwe traveled to the United States with Booth and attended a small African American theological college in Lynchburg, Virginia. It was here that he became fascinated with the history of John Brown, a radical white American abolitionist who had been executed in 1859 for attempting to start a ...


Ari Nave

Nkologo (John) Chilembwe was born in Sangano, Chiradzulu district, in what is now Malawi. He received primary schooling at a Presbyterian mission school in Blantyre, then in 1892 went to work as a house servant for the British Baptist missionary Joseph Booth, an advocate for African self-rule. In 1897 Chilembwe traveled with Booth to the United States and attended the Virginia Theological College, a black Baptist seminary, where he became familiar with aspects of the African American experience, such as segregation and racism, and was influenced by such writers as W. E. B. Du Bois.

In 1900 Chilembwe returned to his homeland By then an ordained Baptist minister he purchased some forty hectares ninety nine acres of land with the help of African American backers and built the Providence Industrial Mission PIM with the goal of educating and encouraging self confidence among his people A number of African ...


Hassoum Ceesay

religious leader, diplomat, cabinet minister, educationist, and ardent nationalist, also known as J. C. or Reverend Faye, was born in Bathurst (present-day Banjul, Gambia) to Wolof and Serer parents. His father was a shipwright and his mother a housewife. Faye attended St. Mary’s Elementary School and the Methodist Boys High School in Banjul, where he completed his studies in 1926. He got his teachers’ certificate in 1927. From 1927 to 1942, he taught at various mission schools in Bathurst, the capital and main administrative center of the British colony of Gambia.

In 1942 Faye helped start the famous Kristikunda School in Kantora in the Upper River Division of Gambia opening the gates of education to the people living in the Gambian interior which the British ruled as a protectorate The school whose name in the local Fula language means Christ s home was a bold experiment in ...


Brandon R. Byrd

was born to James Overton and Jane Holly on 3 October 1829 in Washington, D.C. His father introduced him to the shoemaking trade at an early age, while his mother made sure that Holly and his siblings attended Catholic services. Holly also received an education at a school run by a prominent black Washingtonian, and he continued his studies under the private guidance of Catholic priests. Despite these opportunities, Holly felt the sting of racial prejudice. His family moved on several occasions, each time venturing farther north to escape the disfranchisement, job discrimination, and racial violence that increasingly affected free blacks. As slavery expanded and defenses of the institution became more resolute, Holly came to agree with those African Americans in the United States who saw no prospects for freedom in their homeland.

In 1851 after working with the white abolitionist Lewis Tappan Holly married Charlotte Ann Gordon and ...


Michael West

South African religious figure embodied the connection between Ethiopianism and African nationalism in Zimbabwe previously called Rhodesia and before then Southern Rhodesia Ethiopianism was African Christian independence a descriptor for colonized Africans who left religious bodies dominated by European or Euro American missionaries and formed independent churches The term Ethiopianism was inspired by Psalms 68 31 which predicted Princes shall come out of Egypt Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God In the areas of colonial Africa where western notably Protestant missionaries were most active and where consequently Ethiopianism was most common African religious and political independence were often closely linked The emergence of an African national consciousness which everywhere preceded the emergence of an anticolonial African nationalist movement paralleled the rise of Ethiopianism Princes were coming out of Egypt and Ethiopia to the Ethiopianists a metaphor for Africa as a whole was stretching out her hands unto ...


Zahia Smail Salhi

Algerian anticolonial leader, was born on 10 July 1830, the year that marked the beginning of the French occupation of Algeria, in the village of Werja, which is situated near Ain El-Hammam in Kabylie. Nsoumer is known in Algeria as “Lalla Fatma” and “Lalla Fadhma Nsoumer” (“Fadhma” is the Kabyle equivalent of the Arabic name “Fatima”). She was also nicknamed “Joan of Arc of Kabylie,” a soubriquet that she disliked. Nsoumer was the daughter of Sidi Ahmad Muhammad, a notable marabout who headed the zawiya (religious school) of Sidi Ahmad ou Mezyan in the nearby village of Soumer. This zawiya was a branch of the Rahmaniya religious order of Sidi Muhammad Ibn ʿAbd al-Rahman Abu Qabrayn, which is followed across the Kabylie region.

From early childhood Nsoumer was attracted to the study of the Qurʾan which she memorized and taught to other children Notably after the death of her ...


Ellis Goldberg

Egyptian author, literary critic, and activist who helped shape contemporary political Islam, was born in the Upper Egyptian village of Musha in Asyut province on 9 October 1906. His father, Qutb Ibrahim, was a farmer and member of the nationalist Watani party led by Mustafa Kamil. Qutb attended a state-run primary school, but had also memorized the Qurʾan in its entirety by 1916. Qutb experienced the massive 1919 revolt against British rule as a teenage activist. He left the village in 1921 and lived in the Cairo suburb of Zaytun with his mother’s brother for four years, while attending a high school associated with the modernist educational institution Dar al-ʿUlum (founded 1871). In 1929 he entered Dar al-ʿUlum itself and graduated in 1933.

After graduation Qutb first appeared on the Egyptian intellectual scene as a poet and literary critic He was then thought of as a ...


Moses Chikowero

Zimbabwean educator, evangelist, and early nationalist, was born Mushore Samkange in 1893 in the Zvimba communal area of colonial Zimbabwe (then called Southern Rhodesia). He was a son of Mawodzewa, a renowned hunter of the Gushungo royal clan. Samkange wed Grace Mano at Zvimba’s Madzima Church in 1919 and raised a family of five boys (Stanlake, Sketchley, Don, Edgar, and Ernest) and two girls (Evelyn and Norah).

Samkange moved to the town of Gatooma (now Kadoma) as a migrant laborer in his teenage years, there to encounter the fascination of both the Christian faith and western education. He nurtured these interests upon his return to Zvimba in his early twenties, getting baptized as Thompson and enrolling, in 1915 in Nenguwo Institution later called Waddilove Mission to train as a teacher evangelist under the tutelage of the liberal white missionary John White He completed Standard Six a then envied qualification ...


Gabrielle Lynch

Kenyan spiritual and military leader (orkoiyot), was born around 1860 in Nandi. Koitalel was the youngest son of Kimnyole arap Turukat, an orkoiyot who could trace his lineage to the first unifying leader of the Nandi. Little is known of Koitalel’s maternal lineage or childhood, except that his father had over forty wives and that his family was relatively wealthy. As an adult, Koitalel also had around forty wives and lived at Kamng’etuny near Nandi Hills, where he led a prolonged resistance against British colonialism.

The position of orkoiik (pl.) refers to men with powers of divination, omen interpretation, prophecy, and medicine. These powers are inherited along clan lines, but are dependent on reputation. Prior to the mid-nineteenth century the orkoiik’s influence was limited to relatively small areas. However, in the mid-nineteenth century, a family of laibons (Maasai spiritual leaders) were welcomed and absorbed as orkoiik ...


Rosemary Elizabeth Galli

prominent nationalist leader in the struggle for Mozambican independence, was born on 15 March 1926 in Sofala, Mozambique. Although born in Ndau territory, Simango’s mother was a Tivane and his grandparents were Rongas from the south. He met his wife-to-be, Celina Muhlanga, when both were students at the Mount Selinda Mission in Rhodesia close to the Mozambique border. There they were exposed to nationalist ideas. Simango studied to become a pastor of the United Church of Christ. They had three children: Lutero, Daviz, and Maúca.

While in Rhodesia, Simango led the Mozambique East African Association and later joined the nationalist group União Democrática Nacional de Moçambique (Mozambican National Democratic Union, UDENAMO). UDENAMO moved its base to Tanzania and with the Mozambique African National Union (MANU) announced the formation of a common front, the Mozambican Liberation Front (FRELIMO) in May of 1962 In June Eduardo Mondlane rallied the Mozambican exiles ...


founder of the African Orthodox Church of Uganda, was born around 1898 in Buganda of Anglican parents. While a schoolboy, he lived in the household of Archdeacon Edward Daniel, the principal of the newly founded Bishop Tucker College in Mukono. Admiring the Greek passion for athletics and sport, he adopted the name “Sparta” while still at school, later changing it to “Spartas” when informed by Greek contacts that this was the correct masculine form. He won a scholarship to the prestigious Anglican school, King’s College, Budo. But on the outbreak of war he interrupted his schooling and joined the African Native Medical Corps, returning to Budo to complete his secondary education after the war.

Spartas thought of becoming an Anglican priest but his reading of church history while staying with the Daniels during vacations led him to the discovery of the Orthodox tradition which he increasingly felt was a more ...