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J. Ayo Langley

In his lifetime (1866–1945), Duse Mohamed Ali, actor, historian of Egypt, newspaper editor, Pan-Africanist, Pan-Islamist, and promoter of African American and African trade and investment, was known to African American leaders such as Booker T. Washington, the principal of Tuskegee Institute, and Washington’s successor, R. R. Moton. He was also known to Arthur W. Schomberg, Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the founding father of African American history, and W. T. Ferris, author of The African Abroad (1913). He was known to African nationalist leaders, public intellectuals, merchants, and lawyers, particularly to West Africans. His book In the Land of the Pharaohs (1911) and monthly journal The African Times and Orient Review, “a monthly journal devoted to the interests of the colored races of the world,” played an important role in increasing his public outside Britain.

According to his autobiography serialized ...


Abel Djassi Amado

anticolonial intellectual active in Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau, was born on 24 September 1924, in Portuguese Guinea (henceforth Guinea-Bissau) to Cape Verdean parents. A West African agronomist-turned-politician, military strategist, and revolutionary theorist, Cabral was an active anticolonial thinker and activist during the 1960s and the first half of the 1970s. Unlike most anticolonial political figures, Cabral cannot be tied to a single national identity as both his biography and his political activities linked him to both Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau, two former Portuguese colonies in Africa. Hence, with the coming of independence, the title of pai da nacionalidade (literally “the father of nationality”) was legally bestowed upon him in those two African states.

Cabral spent his early childhood in Guinea-Bissau and moved to Cape Verde in 1933 His primary education took place on Santiago Island and with his mother he relocated to São Vicente Island to ...


Herman Giliomee

the first academic propagandist of apartheid, was born in Barrydale in the Cape Province, the youngest of fourteen children. He married Marie Pretorius in 1939; the couple had three sons, and Marie predeceased him in 1962. Cronjé received his first degrees from the University of Stellenbosch and went on the University of Amsterdam, where he received a doctoral degree in 1933, writing on divorce and the breakup of families. He was the first South African to receive a doctoral degree in sociology. In 1937 he was appointed professor of sociology at the University of Pretoria. More interested in social work and criminology than in classical sociology, he played a major role in getting the state to register white social workers.

Cronjé was the first academic to publish book-length studies propagating apartheid, published on the eve of the apartheid era. The books were entitled as follows: ‘n ...


J. B. Danquah was one of the founders of the modern state of Ghana. He cofounded the country’s first nationalist party in 1947. Danquah led the opposition to Kwame Nkrumah after Nkrumah became the country’s leading nationalist figure. To silence Danquah, Nkrumah had him confined to prison, where Danquah died under miserable conditions.

By birth, Danquah belonged to the royal family of Akyem Abuakwa, a province of Asante. He attended Basel Mission Schools in Akyem Abuakwa. Subsequently, he studied in London, England, where he received a law degree and a Ph.D. in ethics in 1927. Danquah returned to the then British colony of the Gold Coast (now Ghana), where he practiced law privately. In 1931 he founded the Times of West Africa, which became a leading newspaper.

Danquah s editorial writing led him into politics in opposition to British colonial repression and exploitation During the ...


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 ...


Haggai Erlich

Egyptian politician and historian, succeeded Mustafa Kamil in 1908 as the leader of al-Hizb al-Watani, the Nationalist Party, Egypt’s more activist anti-British movement in the pre–World War I period. Though the party, established in late 1907, was quickly losing momentum, and though he remained overshadowed by the memory of Kamil’s charisma, Farid went down in history as a keeper of Kamil’s ideological legacy and as a leader in his own right.

Muhammad Farid was born on 20 January 1868 to a wealthy family of Ottoman-Turkish origin, which had settled in Egypt when it was annexed to the empire in the early sixteenth century. His father was an administrator in Muhammad ʿAli’s educational system and then, during the years of Khedive Ismaʿil, a director in the Khedival Railway Department. In 1877 following European intervention in Egypt s economy he was fired a humiliating experience young Farid never forgot Moreover ...


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 ...


Redie Bereketeab

leading Eritrean intellectual and politician in the 1940s, was born in the village of Tsenadegle (Akkele Guzai) in 1907. Gebre Meskel received his elementary education at a Catholic school in Keren. He continued his higher education in Sudan and Rome. After he completed his education, he worked as a civil servant in the Italian administration in Eritrea, occupying the most favorable position in the Italian Commissario in Asmara, until the Italians were driven out of Eritrea. When the British Military Administration (BMA) replaced the Italian colonial regime in 1941, he was one of the founders of an association that acted as a prelude to more formal political parties.

He became the first president of the Mahber Fikri Hager Ertra (MFHE; Association of Love of the Country of Eritrea) from its establishment in 1941 to 1946 when he was removed unceremoniously The MFHE was initially a nonpolitical body ...


Michael Mwenda Kithinji

Kenyan scholar and politician, was the first-born son of Senior Chief Koinange of Kiambu. Mbiyu was named after his grandfather Mbiyu wa Gachetha, one of the earliest colonial chiefs in Kenya. His chiefly background provided him with an opportunity to pursue elementary education at an early age, joining the pioneer class of the Alliance High School in 1926. In 1927, he transferred to the Hampton Institute in Virginia. While at Hampton, Mbiyu noticed the absence of authentic African artifacts at the Hampton Museum and requested that his father address the problem. Koinange responded to his son’s request by shipping a container load of various African artifacts, which the museum used to establish the Koinange collection.

In 1930, Mbiyu joined Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio, where he studied for a degree in political science. He graduated in 1934 the first Kenyan African to obtain a bachelor s ...


Elena Vezzadini

Egyptian educationalist nationalist and feminist was born in al Zaqaziq on the Nile Delta Her father was an officer of the Egyptian Army killed before her birth during an expedition to Sudan most probably to quell the Mahdist upheaval 1881 1885 Her mother was a housewife illiterate whose name and origins are unknown and who reared her and her only brother alone From al Zaqaziq the family moved to Cairo so that Nabawiyya s brother could attend primary and secondary schools and later be admitted to the Cairo Military College This gave Nabawiyya the chance to attend the Girls Section of the Abbas Primary School After that Nabawiyya decided to enter the al Saniyya School for Teacher Training against her mother and brother s will Among middle class families like hers work for women was frowned upon and teaching was seen as particularly deplorable because it entailed regular breaches of ...


Giacomo Macola

Zambian teacher and politician, was born in Maala, in the Southern Province of British Northern Rhodesia (colonial Zambia), around 1917. A product of the renowned Kafue “Native Training Institute,” Nkumbula taught in a number of Methodist schools in his home province between 1934 and 1940, the year in which he was transferred to the Copperbelt, the colony’s industrial heartland, to take charge of an African primary school manned by the United Missions to the Copperbelt. His stay in the mining towns of Mufulira and Kitwe marked the beginning of his political career. Directed mainly against settler nationalism and the prospect of amalgamation with self-governing Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Nkumbula’s initiatives in the early 1940s included the launch of the African Teachers’ Association of the Copperbelt and the Kitwe African Society. Between 1942 and 1943 Nkumbula also sat on such consultative bodies as the Mufulira Urban Advisory Council ...


Mickie Hudson-Koster

Kenyan economist, nationalist, and father of Barack Obama Jr., 44th president of the United States, was born in Kanyadhiang village near Lake Victoria on 4 April 1936 to Hussein Onyango Obama, medicine man, farmer, and colonial cook, and Habiba Akumu Nyanjango. Raised by his father’s third wife, Sarah Ogwel, Obama grew up in Nyangʿoma Kogelo village in the Siaya District of Nyanza Province. A serious student, Obama was one of eighty-one African students selected to study abroad under a program organized by Kenyan politician Tom Mboya to send leading students to the United States to prepare for impending independence. Another Kenyan student who participated in Mboya’s program was Africa’s first female Nobel Peace Prize winner, the environmentalist Wangari Muta Maathai. In 1959 Obama enrolled as an economics student at the University of Hawaii, becoming the first African student to study there.

Obama had several wives during his life Before he ...


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 ...


Liliana Obregón

José Antonio Saco received what was a typical education for Catholic boys in early-nineteenth-century Cuba. He first studied in a small schoolhouse next to his home and later transferred to a Catholic school in Santiago de Cuba. Saco continued higher-level education in modern philosophy at the San Carlos seminar in Havana. Under the tutelage of Father Félix Varela y Morales, one of the most influential professors and prominent intellectuals of his time, Saco studied with a group of young men who were to become representatives of the urban bourgeoisie that promoted the independence of Cuba from Spain. In his autobiography Saco claims that these early years with Varela, who provided guidance and friendship and whom Saco considered the “most virtuous man” he ever met, were definitive in the formation of his thinking and ideology.

In 1821 Varela asked Saco to take over his seminar in ...


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 ...


Haggai Erlich

Egyptian writer, was born in January 1872 to a landowning family in Lower Egypt. He attended a local traditional Islamic school (kuttab) and chose to go to the khedivial secondary school rather than to al-Azhar. Having read translated scholarly works, notably Darwin’s Origin of Species, he was admitted in 1889 to the Khedivial Law School, the alma mater of many of Egypt’s modern politicians and leaders. As a young student, he founded Egypt’s first law review, Majallat al-Tashriʿ (Legislative Review). He graduated in 1894, entered government service, and in 1897 began collaborating with the nationalist leader Mustafa Kamil, who had the support of Khedive ʿAbbas II. They advised him to go to Switzerland and acquire Swiss citizenship so that he would enjoy immunity as a journalist and would be able to criticize the British occupiers freely. However, in Geneva in 1897 he came under ...