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David Dabydeen

Africanjournalist and nationalist born in Egypt of Egyptian and Sudanese parentage. At the age of 9 or 10 Ali was sent to England to be educated. He never returned to Egypt and spent most of his time between 1883 and 1921 living in Britain. During this period, he was poverty‐stricken, attempting to earn a living through his pen and tour acting. Ali published Land of the Pharaohs in 1911, an anti‐imperialist book that became a significant contribution to the decolonization efforts in the United States and West Africa.

In 1912Ali and John Eldred Taylor, a journalist from Sierra Leone, inaugurated the African Times and Orient Review (1912–20), a magazine that sought to deal with anti‐colonial issues that not merely embraced Pan‐African matters, but incorporated Pan‐Oriental topics as well. The journal was inspired by the Universal Races Congress in London in 1911 which advocated ...


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 ...


Julia A. Clancy-Smith

Tunisian nationalist, writer, women’s rights activist, and artist, was born in the provincial city of Sfax, where her father worked in the Arabic publishing business and was an amateur actor, which helps explain her lifelong involvement in the arts. Her mother, Cherifa, was educated and quite unconventional; after her husband’s death, she taught primary school in Nabeul from 1943 on, riding a bike to school while still wearing a black veil, which scandalized the conservative local community. Since there were no educational institutions for Tunisian girls in the town, Dorra Bouzid studied in the local French secular school from the age of four on, with students from a range of religious and ethnic backgrounds. After her father’s death—his family had been opposed to Cherifa teaching school—Bouzid’s mother received a post in Tunis just prior to World War II and married again, to Mahmoud Messaâdi (1911–2004 an important figure ...


Livia Apa

Mozambican writer and nationalist who is considered to be the national poet of independent Mozambique, was born on 28 May 1922, in Lourenço Marques (present-day Maputo). His father moved there in 1908 from Algarve, southern Portugal, where he left a son born outside his marriage. Craveirinha’s mother, an ethnic Rongan, lived with the family until his father decided to marry a Portuguese obstetrician, who moved to Mozambique and raised his sons as her own. Craveirinha’s stepmother did not impede the relationship between Craveirinha and his mother, unlike what would normally happen in Mozambique at that time. However, Craveirinha’s father, natural mother, and stepmother all died when he was still very young. As a result, both he and his brother moved to their uncle’s house.

For financial reasons Craveirinha could not pursue his studies so he focused his research entirely on his father s library which contained all the main ...


Akwasi Osei

Joseph Boakye Danquah (1895–1965)—also known as Kwame Kyeretwie—was an author/philosopher, lawyer, and politician/activist, and a key part of the anticolonial struggle that eventually transformed the then-British-colonized Gold Coast to politically independent Ghana in 1957. Popularly known as J. B. Danquah, he enjoyed a visible career as a chronicler of his people’s culture, a philosopher, a well-known lawyer, and a frontline politician. For almost forty years, from 1927 until his death in 1965, he was at the forefront of the nationalist agitation, spending the last ten years as both an ally and a rival of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.

J. B. Danquah was born of the Ofori Panin royal house of Akyem Abuakwa a connection which early on fueled his love of indigenous traditions and philosophy He had his early primary education in Basel Presbyterian mission schools in the Gold Coast and this exposed him to ...


Ghirmai Negash

Eritrean-born Ethiopian linguist, Africanist scholar, and political activist, was born in Asmara, Eritrea. He was fluent in several European and African languages including Italian, French, Latin, Hebrew, Arabic, Amharic, and Tigrinya, his mother tongue. His main area of expertise was linguistics, with particular focus on the Semitic languages of Eritrea and Ethiopia, but his intellectual interest covered a broad spectrum, including history, policy studies, and culture.

Demoz graduated from Haile Selassie University, Addis Ababa, with a bachelor’s degree in 1956. He received a master’s degree in education from Harvard University in 1957 and later studied linguistics at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he received master’s and PhD degrees in Semitic languages in 1959 and 1964, respectively. Demoz started his professional career at Haile Selassie University, where he taught and served as dean of the Faculty of Arts from 1964 to 1967 He was also a ...


Elsie A. Okobi

Nigerian journalist and anticolonial activist, was born in Onewa in Uromi Edo State, Nigeria, in 1923. His father was Okotako Enahoro and his mother, Inibokun Okoje. The British killed his great-grandfather, and his father spent over twenty years in exile, developments that go a long way to explaining Enahoro’s hatred for Nigeria’s colonial rulers (Sklar 1963).

Enahoro was educated at Government School Uromi, Government School Owo, and King’s College Lagos, where he became involved in student activism as well as antiwar and anticolonialist activities and became chair of the Nigerian Union of Students. Two leaders of the newly formed Nigerian Youth Movement, H. O. Davis and Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, inspired Enahoro. In 1942 Enahoro joined the West African Pilot as a reporter and enrolled at the Extra-Mural Department, University of Ibadan, taking courses in English and economics. In 1944 at the age of twenty one he became the ...


Douglas Wheeler

Angolan writer, journalist, lawyer, civil servant, and nationalist, a mestico, was born in Luanda, Angola, in 1823, the offspring of a marriage between a Portuguese father and an African mother. Like many generations of the assimilated Afro-Portuguese elite in the Portuguese colony’s capital, he was raised and educated a Catholic; self-taught in the law, he acquired a license to practice law and served as a government law clerk. His principal legacies came in decades of combative, reformist journalism and in his advocacy of Angolan nationalism.

His generation witnessed an increased pace of economic and social change, political upheaval, and new international pressures on Portugal’s sometimes tenuous rule over Angola. By 1866, when Fontes Pereira was forty-three, he had witnessed the long-delayed process of the abolition of Angola’s slave trade (1842–1850 efforts to replace the slave trade with legitimate trade agriculture and manufacturing the struggle including a ...


Jeffrey D. Needell

was born on 15 March 1900 in Recife, capital of Pernambuco, Brazil, the younger son of Alfredo Freyre and Francisca de Mello Freyre, both of traditional pernambucano planter families. His father was a noted positivist, law professor, and educator. Freyre was sent to a Baptist mission school in Recife and then on to Baylor University in Texas, where he studied American literature and earned his B.A. (1920).

Freyre, successful at the mission school and at Baylor, was encouraged to become a scholar of American literature by his Baylor mentor, Andrew J. Armstrong (1873–1954 Instead alienated by racism in Jim Crow era Texas and put on the defensive as a Latin American however white by Recife standards he pursued an interest in Brazilian identity as a graduate student at Columbia University Although the issues of race and miscegenation intrigued him his first major step was his M ...


Godfrey Muriuki

Kenyan political activist and government minister, was born in March 1914 in Thogoto Village, in the Dagoretti Location of the Kiambu District of Kenya. He was the first child of Samuel Gitau and Mariam Nyaguthii. At that time, his father worked at the Church of Scotland Mission (CSM), in Kikuyu, as an overseer. Both of his parents were among the first Kenyan Africans to embrace Christianity. Consequently, Gichuru was baptized on 12 April 1914, and he remained a staunch Christian throughout his life.

He started his education at the CSM Kikuyu Primary School at the age of eight years, having already attended a kindergarten for two years. He was academically gifted and qualified for admission to the prestigious Alliance High School in 1929. He remained there until 1931. From 1932 to 1934 he studied at Makerere University then the only institution of higher learning in the ...


Ahmed Jdey

Tunisian union leader, journalist, writer, poet, militant nationalist, reformer, and social thinker, was a contemporary of Mohamed Ali al-Hammi, Aboulkacem Chebbi, Habib Bourguiba, ʿAbd al-ʿAziz Thaʿalbi, and other figures of the colonial period in Tunisia. He was born in Tunis. His father, Ali   Belhaj   Belgacem Ben Farhat El Hammi al-Fatnassi, was a native of Fatnassa, a quarter of the city of Gabès, in the south of Tunisia, and worked in a small family-owned business in Tunis. Little is known of Haddad’s mother. From 1905 to 1911 Haddad attended a qurʾanic school, where he memorized the Qurʾan and studied Arabic. He continued his studies at Zitouna University, where in 1920 he received the Attatwi diploma, having been trained in Muslim jurisprudence, language, literature, grammar, and theology. One of his professors was the Algerian shaykh ʿAbd al-Hamid ben Badis.

Haddad began working in 1921 as an administrative secretary Soon he left ...


Said M. Mohamed

Somali author and nationalist leader, was born in Sacmadeeqo, Somalia, sometime between 1856 and 1864 His name in Somali is given as Sayid Maxamad Cabdulle Xasan His father originally from the Ogaden region that is currently part of Ethiopia was a religious teacher in the Nogal area and Hasan received his early Islamic education from him Hasan later attended different Islamic seminaries in the Horn of Africa and during the early 1890s traveled to Mecca to perform the Hajj obligation with other Somali religious leaders There he met Shaykh Muhammad Salah the founder of the reformist Salihiya Islamic Tariqah of which the sayyid became a follower Upon his return from the pilgrimage Hasan landed at Berbera the main administrative seat of British Somaliland When he reportedly encountered Somali children being Christianized by missionaries he started preaching against British colonization and Christianization However he met with opposition not only from ...



Christopher Wise

poet and Tuareg nationalist, was born in the northern Sahara region of modern-day Niger. He is an Amazigh (Imazighen, pl.) or “Tuareg” poet from the Aïr Mountains, or one of the kel Aïr, or “people of Aïr,” a phrase that also means “caravan moving northward”; that is, Hawad hails from one of the five traditional homelands of the Tuareg people. “Tuareg” is an Arabic word that literally means “savage,” but Tuaregs are sometimes referred to as Berbers from the Latin barbarus, or barbarian. However, Tuaregs differ from the Berbers of the northern Arab countries of the Maghreb because of their nonsedentary lifestyle. Hawad is one of the “blue men” (tel tagalmust who were historically entrusted with the care of the camel In contrast the Fulani cared for the Sahara s cattle the Mossi attended to the region s horses etc From time immemorial Tuaregs have lived a nomadic ...


Elsie A. Okobi

Nigerian journalist, newspaper founder, and nationalist politician, was born in Twon-Brass to Obidiah Joshua Ikoli from Ogbia and Rhoda Bogofanyo Egebesi from Twon-Brass, in present-day Bayelsa State. Ernest Sisei Ikoli’s elementary education was at Bonny Government School in Bonny, Rivers State, Nigeria, and his secondary education was at the capital, Lagos, where he was a member of the first group of students admitted to Kings College in 1910. An excellent student, Ikoli’s outstanding performance in his Cambridge Senior Local examination in 1912 led to his appointment as the first African teacher of mathematics and science at Kings College, a position he held from 1913 to 1919. During that period he taught Sylvanus Epiphanio Olympio, who later became the president of the Republic of Togo.

In 1919 Ikoli left his teaching position for journalism It was in this capacity that he was most successful earning the accolade of ...


Gambian nationalist politician, journalist, and editor popularly called M. B. Jones, was born in 1918, in Bathurst (now Banjul) in Gambia, to Aku parents. Like his mentor E. F. Small, he combined crusading journalism with militant politics and trade unionism to challenge British colonial rule. As a cub reporter under E. F. Small at the Gambia Outlook, he wrote astoundingly courageous denunciations of the infamous Newspapers Ordinances of 1944, via which the British Colonial Office sought to stifle the voice of the few independent newspapers in Bathurst. Jones inherited the Gambia Outlook from Small in 1958 and edited it for many decades until the mid-1980s, when poor health made it difficult for him to continue.

Jones was uncompromising in his stand against colonial rule and wayward colonial officials He never hesitated to expose and condemn white colonial officials and settlers who abused their powers or were racist ...


Lisa Clayton Robinson

Roger Mais is one of the pioneers of the contemporary West Indian literary tradition. He was born into a middle-class, mixed-race Kingston family but spent most of his childhood in Jamaica's Blue Mountains before returning to Kingston, where he graduated from Calabar High School in 1922. For the next fifteen years he worked intermittently as a civil servant, an insurance salesman, and even an overseer on a Banana plantation. He kept returning to jobs in journalism, however, and through his writing became involved in the Jamaican nationalist movement.

Mais was an early supporter of the People's National Party (PNP) and its leader, Norman Manley. By the early 1940s he was publishing short stories, poetry, plays, and essays in the PNP's journal, and in 1944 Mais was jailed for four months after writing the essay Now We Know which criticized British colonialism While in prison Mais began ...


Efraim Barak

writer, poet, journalist, and a pioneer of Egyptian nationalism, was born in Alexandria to a lower-class family. His father, Mis.bah. ʾIbrahim, was a carpenter. He began his formal education in a traditional kuttab, and proceeded, at the age of nine, to study religion at the ʾIbrahim Pasha mosque. Nadim terminated his studies after five years due to his lack of interest. He subsisted by taking various jobs: as a telegraph operator in Banha; as a shopkeeper in Cairo; as a clerk and a teacher at a pasha’s house in the Daqahliyya district, and as an itinerant entertainer and professional satirist. His occupation of entertainer earned him the epithet of Al-nadim (instead of Nadim), which means “the entertainer.”

In Cairo, Nadim joined the circle of Jamal Al-Din Al-Afghani, who lived in Egypt from 1871 to 1879 Afghani a pioneer of modern Islamic thought had encircled himself with the intelligentsia ...


Jeremy Rich

also known as Macías Nguema Biyogho Negue Ndong, Equatorial Guinean politician, was born on 1 January 1924 in the northern Gabonese village of Nfenga near the border of Equatorial Guinea and Gabon So many stories have emerged about Nguema s early life that it is hard to verify many of the details of his childhood His father has long been portrayed as a ritual specialist of indigenous spiritual traditions held by many Fang speaking people Nguema and his father both belonged to the Esengui Fang speaking clan Nguema accompanied his father in a move across the border from Gabon to the town of Mengomo in Equatorial Guinea in the 1920s which was part of the Río Muni province of Spanish Guinea at the time He there attended an elementary school staffed by Catholic missionaries Nguema showed little interest in church or school but he learned how to speak and ...


Nate Plageman

Ghanaian musician and pioneer of guitar band highlife music and concert party theater, was born in Dunkwa in the Gold Coast’s Central Region. His first musical experience came at the age of eighteen when he joined one of Dunkwa’s konkoma groups, the “See There Band.” Konkoma, a percussion-driven style of brass-band highlife, first emerged in southern Gold Coast towns during the early 1930s, when it became popular among young men and migrant laborers. Despite his enthusiasm for the group, Okai’s family frowned upon his musical activities. Ultimately, his elder brother removed him from the group by sending him to Accra, where Okai studied tailoring under the care of a family friend.

In the end the forced sojourn fostered not squashed Okai s musical interests His tailoring tutor Appiah Adjekum was also a musician who had recently formed his own palmwine guitar band a highlife ensemble that combined imported elements ...


Angolan poet, historian, research scholar and teacher, nationalist, editor, and foundation officer, was born in Maquela do Zombo, Angola, on 5 April 1934. His parents were Jorge de Oliveira, an African born in Ambriz, and Maria da Conceicao Fernandes de Oliveira. At a young age Oliveira moved to Angola’s capital, Luanda, where his father was a postal employee. His father was African, and his mother was either a white Portuguese or a mestica. Thus, he was a member of the mulatto or mestico community, which, as late as 1950 was a significant minority in the colony s capital In primary and secondary schools in Luanda young Mário António achieved academic distinction and soon began to publish poetry Raised and educated as a Catholic he was by age 17 a militant social Catholic In the following year he had a radical political awakening rejected Catholicism and embraced Marxism ...