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Kofi Awoonor's works in English focus on life in Ghana following independence from Great Britain in 1957, but they also draw heavily from the traditional literature of the Ewe culture in which he grew up. He published his first work under the name George Awoonor-Williams but has used his birth name since the late 1960s.

Awoonor was born in the coastal town of Wheta. In 1960 he received a B.A. degree in English from the University of Ghana at Legon, near Accra. He then served as managing editor of the Ghana Film Corporation. In 1968 Awoonor went to the United States, where he earned a Ph.D. degree in comparative literature from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1972. He later taught there and at the University of Texas at Austin. Awoonor returned to Ghana in 1975 to teach in the English department ...


David Killingray

Pan‐AfricanMarxist and scholar. Blackman was born in Barbados and won a scholarship to the University of Durham, where he studied theology. He was ordained in the Anglican Church and went to the Gambia as a missionary priest, where he clashed with his bishop over differences of pay for white and black clergy. Having resigned from the Church, Blackman returned to Barbados, but then, in 1938, he settled in London. He joined the leftist Negro Welfare Association, of which he became chairman, and also the League Against Imperialism, being a major speaker on both their platforms. He also became a member of the Executive Committee of the more liberally inclined League of Coloured Peoples, and in 1938–9 editor of its then occasional journal The Keys, writing critically on colonial policy; he also gave evidence to the Royal Commission on the West Indies. In November 1938 ...


Quito Swan

was born in Pembroke (Middletown), Bermuda, to Joel and Henrietta Browne on 28 November 1932. His major political activities included coordinating the First International Black Power Conference (Bermuda, 1969), and a key role in organizing the Congress of African Peoples (Atlanta, 1970) and Sixth Pan-African Congress (Tanzania, 1974). He was also intensely involved in Bermuda’s suffrage movement, the push for Bermuda’s decolonization through the United Nations, and the island’s black power movement, and served as a parliamentarian for Bermuda’s Progressive Labour Party (PLP). During that time, he changed his name to Pauulu Kamarakafego.

An engineer by trade he fused his political worldviews with his technical work across the Americas Africa Europe Asia and Australasia He obtained a Ph D in ecological engineering from the California Institute of Technology Pioneering the modern sustainable development movement he became an internationally renowned ecological engineer UNESCO consultant on rural development ...


John Henrik Clarke was a central figure in late-twentieth-century vernacular American black nationalism. As a teacher, writer, and popular public speaker, he emphasized black pride, the African heritage—especially communalism—and black solidarity. From the rural South he rode a freight train to the North, where he actively participated in the literary and political life of Harlem, New York in the 1930s. Arthur Alfonso Schomburg, the black bibliophile, was a major intellectual influence. Largely self-educated, Clarke became professor of Africana and Puerto Rican Studies at New York's Hunter College and president of Sankofa University, an on-line Internet school.

Born to sharecropping parents, Clarke grew up in Columbus, Georgia, and aspired to be a writer. He produced poetry, short stories (notably “The Boy Who Painted Christ Black”), and books on African history (The Lives of Great African Chiefs) and on Africans in the diaspora (Harlem U.S.A An original member ...


Rochell Isaac

educator, nationalist, Pan-Africanist, writer, historian, and poet. Born John Henry Clark to Willie Ella Mays and John Clark, a sharecropper, Clarke changed his name, legalizing Henry to Henrik and adding an “e” to Clark, thereby cementing his admiration of the Scandinavian playwright Henrik Ibsen. The Clark family moved from Union Springs, Alabama, to Columbus, Georgia, when Clarke was four years old. Clarke's mother, a laundrywoman, died of pellagra, a diet deficiency, when Clarke was still very young. With his mother's illness and subsequent death, the Clark family began to feel the effects of poverty.

Though he clearly demonstrated academic ability along with a strong desire to learn and excel Clarke s academic goals encountered much resistance As a teenager Clarke held a number of menial jobs he was a part time student and a part time farmer and worker As a result he ...


Richard Pankhurst

Emperor of Ethiopia, 1930–74, and exile in Britain, 1936–40. Born in Harar province, eastern Ethiopia, in 1892, he was the son of Ras Makonnen, Emperor Menelik's governor of the region, and until his accession to the imperial throne was called Tafari Makonnen. Educated by French Catholic missionaries, and at Ethiopia's first modern school, the Menelik, he succeeded his father as Harar's governor in 1910.

Menelik's young grandson and successor Lij Iyasu adopted a pro‐Muslim attitude, and favoured the Germans and Turks in the First World War. This alienated the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, the nobility, and the local representatives of the Allied Powers, Britain, France, and Italy. Iyasu was overthrown by a coup d'état in 1916, whereupon Menelik's daughter Zawditu was appointed Empress, while Tafari became heir to the throne and regent. He was responsible for foreign affairs, while Zawditu presided over court cermonial.

Tafari emerged ...


Robert Fay

Haile Selassie was born Lij Tafari Makonnen in Ejarsa Goro, Ethiopia. His father was Ras (Prince) Makonnen—the governor of Harer Province and a cousin, close friend, and adviser to Emperor Menelik II—and his mother was Yishimabet Ali. Young Tafari received a traditional religious education from Ethiopian Orthodox priests, who also taught him French.

Tafari proved his ability and responsibility in 1905 at the age of thirteen when his father appointed him governor of one of the regions of Harer Province. Upon his father's death the following year, Tafari was summoned to the court of Emperor Menelik, who appointed him the governor of a small province. Tafari set out to modernize the government by instituting a paid civil service, lowering taxes, and creating a court system that recognized the rights of peasants. Menelik rewarded Tafari's success by giving him a larger province to govern in 1908.

Upon Menelik s death ...


Christopher Clapham

emperor of Ethiopia, was born Tafari Makonnen; his father was Ras Makonnen, first cousin of Emperor Menilek II and governor of Harar in southeast Ethiopia. Educated by Jesuit missionaries and at secondary school in Addis Ababa, he was appointed governor of Harar at the age of 17. In September 1916 Menilek’s grandson and successor Yasu was ousted in a palace coup, and his daughter Zawditu installed as empress, with Tafari (whose role in the coup has remained obscure) as regent and heir to the throne with the title of ras, thus gaining the name by which he was to be known to the Rastarafians.

Over the next fourteen years, Tafari gradually built up his power through a capacity for skillful political maneuver that he never lost, steadily reducing the power of formerly quasi-independent regional governors. He was instrumental in securing Ethiopia’s admission to the League of Nations in 1923 ...


Amon Saba Sakaana

Adopted name of George T. N. Griffith, Pan‐Africanist born (c.1900–1983 in Buxton British Guiana now Guyana His background provides an insight into his later political development His paternal grandfather was reported to be been born in Tigre Ethiopia and taken by a Scottish miner to British Guiana In the village of Buxton many of the African descendants owned their own plot of land and the tradition of cooperative work existed which enabled families to plant and harvest together His maternal grandmother was one of the founders of a village possibly Buxton itself and wielded tremendous power in its social and cultural organization She shared a husband with two or three other women Makonnen commented that nobody cared much about this sort of thing and that their marriage had survived slavery intact His father was a gold and diamond miner It was perhaps from his father that ...


Lily Mabura

Kenyan transnational and Pan-Africanist scholar and writer, has research interests in African and African Diasporic literatures and orature with an emphasis in poetry, drama, and theater; women’s and gender studies; cultural and film studies; and education.

For personal reasons she has lived in the United States since December 1991 and is a full professor of African American Studies at Syracuse University, where she was a recipient of the 2004–2007 Meredith Professorship for Teaching Excellence. Mugo’s previous appointments include a Rockefeller Visiting Writer Fellowship at Cornell University (1992–1993); associate professorship in the Department of Curriculum and Arts Education at the University of Zimbabwe (1984–1991); and associate professorship at the University of Nairobi, which she joined in 1973 as a lecturer and where she later became the first woman dean of the Faculty of Arts (1980–1982).

Mugo and her then young daughters Mumbi Mugo and Njeri Mugo left Kenya as political exiles ...


Valerie Orlando

Martinican artist and Négritude activist, was born in Martinique. She was one of seven daughters in the accomplished Nardal family, prominent members of the bourgeois class of Martinique. Her father, Paul Nardal, was the first black Martinican to receive a scholarship to study in Paris. He later became an engineer and worked as a manager in the Department of Highways and Bridges in Martinique. Her mother, Louise Achille, was an accomplished pianist. Of the seven sisters, Paulette, Jane, and Andrée are best known for their literary contributions and intellectual devotion to arts and letters in Paris during the interwar period (1920–1939).

In the 1920s Jane and her older sister Paulette left home to study in Paris They were the first Martinican women to study at the Sorbonne Both Jane and Paulette contributed to the intellectual activity and discourse cultivated in their salon in Clamart sur Seine just outside Paris The ...


Valerie Orlando

Martinican artist and Négritude organizer, was born on 12 October 1896 in St Pierre Martinique She was one of seven daughters of the accomplished Nardal family prominent members of the bourgeois class of Martinique Her father Paul Nardal was the first black Martinican to receive a scholarship to study in Paris He later became an engineer and worked as manager of the Department of Highways and Bridges in Martinique Her mother Louise Achille was an accomplished pianist In the 1920s Paulette and her sister Jane left home to study in Paris Of the seven sisters Paulette Jane and Andrée are best known for their literary contributions and the founding of a salon dedicated to cultivating sociopolitical and literary discourse in Paris during the interwar period 1920 1939 Paulette and Jane were the first Martinican women to study at the Sorbonne Paulette obtained a degree in English and later worked ...


Joseph Goakai

leader of Sierra Leonean rebel group the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), was born Foday Saybana Sankoh in Masumbiri, Kholifa Rowala Chiefdom, Tonkolili District in the northern province of Sierra Leone on 17 October 1937. His father, Morlai Sankoh, was an ethnic Temne from Masang, Tonkolili District, who for a long time moved between farming and dealing in gold. His mother, Mbalu Serry, was also a Temne from Robis, in the Kholifa Rowala Chiefdom, Tonkolili District.

Sankoh descended from a fierce local warrior family on his father s side and a prominent local ruling family on his mother s side His paternal grandfather Pa Fosekie Fosiki Sankoh was a local warrior from a town called Yunkro Yonkro in the Kafu Bollom Chiefdom Port Loko District and was a chartered mercenary in the Temnedom According to the family oral history Pa Fosekie was hired from Yonkro during the tribal wars of ...


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 ...


Said M. Mohamed

Somali poet, born Abdullahi Sultan Muhammad, is one of the most respected Somali poets. Timacadde gained this honor using his poetic talent neither to gain world material nor to espouse his clan cause, but to try to steer the Somali public away from the danger of clan politics.

Timacadde was born in 1920 in a farming settlement called Gallooley in Northern Somalia. After completing his early Islamic religious education, he moved to French Somaliland (Djibouti), where he began composing some of his early poems. When the anticolonial movement started in British Somaliland, Timacadde returned to British Somaliland.

Timacadde joined the Somali National League party during liberation movement and then became its main poet urging Somalis to rise up against colonial powers and stand up for their rights by supporting Somalia National League s quest for an independent Somaliland that would reunite with United Nations administered Italian Somaliland When in the ...


Elizabeth Schmidt

president of Guinea, trade union leader, and champion of Pan-African unity, was born on 9 January 1922 in Faranah, Guinea. He attended qurʾanic school, lower-primary school, and vocational school, before continuing his studies by correspondence. Although revered as a pioneer of African nationalism, Touré tarnished his record with a postindependence regime that was notorious for its human rights violations.

In 1945, Touré helped to establish a trade union for African postal, telegraph, and telephone workers, holding the position of secretary-general. The following year, he organized the Union des Syndicats Confédérés de Guinée (USCG; Union of the Confederated Trade Unions of Guinea), which brought together all the Guinean affiliates of the French Communist Party’s Confédération Générale du Travail (CGT; General Confederation of Labor). Touré’s greatest success as a trade union leader came in 1953 when workers across the colonized regions of French West Africa went on strike to force ...


Lisa Clayton Robinson

Lorenzo Dow Turner received a bachelor's degree from Howard University in 1914, a master's degree from Harvard University in 1917, and a doctoral degree from the University of Chicago in 1926 He taught English at several black colleges and initially became interested in linguistics after hearing the ...