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Sierra Leonean public intellectual, was born in the southwest Nigerian city of Abeokuta in 1848. His father was from the Krio community in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Many people from Freetown were former slaves originally of Yoruba descent, and still others traded in southern Nigeria by the 1840s. His father may have been a Muslim notable in Freetown, but his Christian missionary uncle took him under his wing. His parents agreed to send him to the Church Missionary Society (Anglican) mission school in Freetown. Though he did not stay long in school, Abayomi-Cole proved to be a formidable intellect. He mastered Arabic, Latin, Hebrew, and Greek. In the 1870s and early 1880s, Abayomi-Cole made a living as a teacher. His lively intelligence attracted the interest of the Evangelical United Brethren Church, which appointed him a catechist in the Sierra Leonean town of Shenge in the Shebro district in 1885 ...

Article

Israel Gershoni

the third and last khedive of Egypt, ruled the country from 1892 to 1914. ʿAbbas was the seventh ruler in Mehmet ʿAli’s dynasty, which was established in the early nineteenth century. ʿAbbas came to the throne at the very young age of eighteen in January 1892 after his father, Khedive Tawfiq (r. 1879–1892), died unexpectedly. Born in Cairo ʿAbbas was educated by tutors at the Thudicum in Geneva and later in the Theresianum Military Academy in Vienna.

Unlike his father, a weak ruler who was considered a puppet of the British colonial rule, the young ʿAbbas strove to restore the original khedival status as sovereign ruler, patterned after the model established by his grandfather Ismaʿil (r. 1863–1879 and to assert Egypt s unique status as a semiautonomous province within the Ottoman Empire ʿAbbas s aspirations clashed with British rule particularly with the authority of the powerful agent ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Algerian politician and public intellectual, was born on 24 October 1899 in the village of Chahna, located six miles south of the Algerian town of Taher. His parents belonged to a peasant family, and his father, Said Ahmed ben Abbas, was a local chief and cattle trader. Abbas had eleven siblings. His father was the state-appointed leader of Chahna from 1889 to 1928.

As a boy Abbas attended primary schools at Jijel and then entered secondary school at the lycée at Skikda in 1909. After Abbas passed his baccalaureate examinations, he entered the French army medical service for three years. Afterward, Abbas enrolled in the pharmacy school of the University of Algiers. In 1931 he set up his own pharmacy in Sétif after having graduated from university Abbas strongly supported the ideal of equal rights for Arab and Berber Muslims and European Christians in Algeria under French ...

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Jeremy Rich

political leader and legendary founder of the Chadian kingdom of Wadai, was born in the late sixteenth century. Since the early nineteenth century, a number of competing narratives have emerged about his origins. Several Wadai notables told the North African traveler Muhammad al-Tunsi during his stay in the kingdom in 1810 and 1811 that Saleh ʿAbd al-Karim came to their land from Mecca via Egypt. Thus he was an Arab whose family may have fled the Ottoman occupation of the Hejaz in 1517. In the mid-nineteenth century the German travelers Heinrich Barth and Gustav Nachtigal both recorded stories about ʿAbd al-Karim’s origins, which stated that the founder of Wadai was a member of a Sudanese Arab clan or a member of a Guimir community located on the modern Chadian-Sudanese frontier. However, a number of elderly Wadai men interviewed by historians in the 1960s and 1970s claimed that he ...

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A. K. Bennison

Moroccan ruler, was one of the sons of Muhammad al-Shaykh of the Saʿdi or Saadian dynasty, which ruled a region roughly coterminous with modern Morocco from 1525 until c. 1610. He was born Abu Marwan Abd al-Malik to a woman called Sahaba al-Rahmaniyya who accompanied her son on his later travels through the Mediterranean. The Saʿdi dynasty came to power at an important historical juncture. During the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, Portugal had constructed numerous trading enclaves (feitorias along Morocco s Atlantic seaboard and imposed its control on much of the Gharb plain In the last decades of the fifteenth century Spain had finally conquered Muslim Granada and established a series of footholds on the Mediterranean coast of Africa At the same time both countries had established vast overseas empires At the other end of the Mediterranean the Ottomans acted as a Muslim counterbalance conquering the ...

Article

leader of the Mahdist movement in Sudan, was the posthumous son of Muhammad Ahmad ibn ʿAbdallah, the Mahdi, and of Maqbula bint Nurayn Muhammad al-Fadl, a princess of the Fur royal house. He spent much of his childhood at Omdurman, where he and his relatives were subordinated to the Khalifa Abdallahi. During the Anglo-Egyptian pacification of the country after the battle of Omdurman (1898), he was wounded in an affray that left two of his brothers dead.

Until World War I the family of the Mahdi suffered from the colonial regime’s policy of suppressing the Mahdist cult and guarding against religious heterodoxy in general. Alarmed, however, at the possible effects in Sudan of the Ottoman sultan’s alliance with the Central Powers in 1914 the Anglo Egyptian regime conciliated the major Sufi leaders and ʿAbd al Rahman the generally accepted successor to leadership of the Mahdist movement Proving ...

Article

Aomar Boum

second sultan of the Saʿdian dynasty, reigned between 1557 and 1574. He was also known Abdallah al-Ghalib Billah. In 1549 Muhammad al-Shaykh occupied Fez, but the Wattasids sought the Ottomans’ help and regained control of Fez in 1554. Muhammad al-Shaykh was able to control Fez and named his son Abdallah al-Ghalib as its governor. Under the authority of al-Ghalib, Fez regained the political stability and economic prosperity that it had lost under the Wattasids. However, it also remained a center of opposition to the emerging Saʿdian dynasty that had already controlled southern Morocco and captured Marrakech from the Wattasids. In 1557 Turkish officers assassinated Muhammad al-Shaykh, and Abdallah al-Ghalib became the new Saʿdian sultan after intense family infighting over the legitimate successor.

Abdallah al-Ghalib faced major internal and external challenges. He moved from Fez to Marrakech in 1558 and made it his new capital The Ottoman Turks were ...

Article

Ahmed T. el-Geili

patriarch of the ʿAbdallab group and cofounder of the first Muslim state in Sudan, the Blue Sultanate, in the sixteenth century, was born ʿAbdallah bin Mohammed al-Baqir.

Shaykh ʿAbdallah Jammaʿ’s father, Mohammed al-Baqir, was a member of the elite Meccan Qawasma tribe, whose members claim to have descended from Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. Mohammed al-Baqir is reported to have migrated from Mecca to Sawakin on the Red Sea, where he married Hosna, daughter of Abdallah al-Qareen of the Rufaʿa tribe and where their son ʿAbdallah was born. When the young ʿAbdallah turned seven, his father took him back to Mecca, where he studied the Qurʾan and other religious sciences until the age of twenty-three, when Shaykh ʿAbdallah returned to Sawakin in Sudan.

In Sawakin he married the daughter of the sharif of Sawakin Shaykh Abu Dhanana and began his efforts to unite the dispersed Arab tribes His ...

Article

the Khalifa Abdallahi of the Sudan, was born at Turda in Darfur, the son of Muhammad Adam, a holy man of the Taʾaisha Baqqara whose grandfather had migrated from farther west. Living among the Rizayqat as a soothsayer, Abdallahi was taken prisoner in 1873 by the forces of al-Zubayr Rahma Mansur, the Jaʾali Arab merchant prince, who was on the verge of conquering Darfur. Later, in a famous episode, Abdallahi professed belief that al-Zubayr might be the Mahdi, the deliverer prophesied in certain Islamic traditions. At some point after his release Abdallahi, with his father and brothers, set out on the pilgrimage to Mecca, but he settled in southern Kordofan.

From the time of their earliest acquaintance, at al-Masallamiyya, Abdallahi appears to have been convinced that Muhammad Ahmad ibn ʿAbdallah was the Mahdi. What role he played in the Mahdi’s manifestation in 1881 and in some critical events immediately ...

Article

Mohamed Adhikari

South African medical doctor and politician, the most significant political leader of the South African Coloured community during the first half of the twentieth century, was born in Wellington near Cape Town on 12 December 1872. He was the eldest son of nine children born to Abdul Rachman, a greengrocer, and his wife Kadija Dollie. Descended from grandparents who were manumitted slaves, his graduation as a medical doctor from the University of Glasgow in 1893 was a signal achievement. After two years of postgraduate study in London, he returned to Cape Town in 1895.

Abdurahman entered public life in 1904 when he became the first black person to be elected to the Cape Town City Council. Except for 1913–1915 he represented Wards 6 and 7 District 6 for the rest of his life Abdurahman exerted substantial influence on local government because of the exceptional support he enjoyed ...

Article

Cajetan N. Iheka

Nigerian entrepreneur, philanthropist, politician, and publisher, was born on 24 August 1937 in the southwestern town of Egba, Abeokuta, in the present-day Ogun State, to Alhaji Salawu Adelekan Akanni Abiola and Zeliat Wuraola Ayinke Abiola (née Kassim). Although Abiola was the twenty-third child of his parents, he was their first surviving child as his older siblings had died at infancy or were stillborn. Because of several deaths that had plagued the family, Abiola was named “Kashimawo,” meaning “Let us wait and see.” It was not until his fifteenth birthday that his parents gave him a regular name, Moshood, having been convinced that the young Abiola had come to stay.

Although he was born and raised in a poor family the young Abiola exhibited some entrepreneurial tendencies when he started gathering and selling firewood at the tender age of nine With the proceeds from his business he was able to support ...

Article

On June 12 1993, the popular businessman Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola won a long-awaited presidential election in Nigeria, only to have the country's military leader, Ibrahim Babangida, annul the election results. When Abiola declared himself the country's legitimate leader a year later, Babangida's successor, General Sani Abacha, jailed him for treason. As a political prisoner, Abiola became the rallying symbol for Nigerians’ democratic aspirations.

Abiola was born into a poor, polygamous household of Yoruba-speaking Muslims in the ancient town of Abeokuta None of his parents first twenty two children had survived past infancy so Abiola the twenty third was given the middle name Kashimawo meaning Let s see if he will survive He began his education at the Islamic Nawar Ud Deen School and then transferred to the Christian run African Central School As an indigent student at the Baptist Boys High School Abiola ...

Article

Walter Clarke

pasha of Zeila (1857–?), an Afar Hassoba, was born at Ambado on the north coast of the Gulf of Tadjoura (present-day Djibouti). During the first half of the nineteenth century, the most lucrative trade in the area was traffic in slaves, although political disorders in the Abyssinian highlands later led to a vigorous trade in arms. Aboubaker also provided guides and supplies for various European expeditions from the coast up into Abyssinia.

Aboubaker and his eleven sons became wealthy, but their trading activities brought them into direct and frequently bitter competition with Ali Chermarke Saleh, the pasha of Zeyla. Chermarke, a Somali Issa (born c. 1775), held a contract with the Turks to collect taxes on goods passing through the ancient port of Zeyla. Britain was the first European power to establish a naval facility in the region, at Aden in 1842 and Ali Chermarke maintained their trust and confidence ...

Article

Mussie Tesfagiorgis

Eritrean intellectual, businessman, and politician, was born in the village of Ma’ereba, southeast of Asmara. Abreha Tesemma is the son of one of the famous Eritrean chiefs and statesmen, Raesi Tesemma Asmerom Untura. As a young man, Abreha Tesemma attended both local church and Western school, which enabled him to become one of the most accomplished Eritrean scholars and politicians of his time, as well as a renowned agriculturalist and artist. He mastered a number of languages including Italian, Geez, and Amharic; his paintings fused Eritrean and Western themes and styles. For the greatest part of his life, he was engaged in agricultural activities, business, politics, and painting.

Abreha Tesemma s father Raesi Tesemma Asmerom served as principal chief of at least two districts in the province of Akkele Guzay Hadegti and Egella Hames Based on oral sources Raesi Tesemma was highly respected for his strategies of local conflict resolution ...

Article

Richard A. Bradshaw and Juan Fandos-Rius

politician in the Central African Republic (CAR), was born 3 December 1928 in Zémio in the southeastern part of the French colony of Ubangi-Shari to Ngbaka Manza parents from Damara in central Ubangi-Shari. He attended the École des cadres supérieurs (school for upper-level cadres) in Brazzaville, then the École normale d’instituteurs (teacher training college) at Mouyondzi in the Middle Congo. These were schools that provided training for promising students from all over French Equatorial Africa (FEA), and so young Adama-Tamboux came to know many future leaders of the independent states which would later emerge in this region during the process of decolonization.

In 1950 Adama Tamboux attended a professional training course for one year at the École normale de Saint Cloud Saint Cloud teacher training school in Paris He then returned to Ubangi Shari where he was appointed head of the school district in Ouham province a primarily Gbaya ...

Article

Marika Sherwood

politician, was born in the Akyem Abuakwa in the eastern section of the British colony of the Gold Coast. His father was a farmer and trader. He attended the Presbyterian Primary School in the village and then the Presbyterian senior school in Labadie, Accra, where he passed the Cambridge University Entrance Examination. In 1936 he was employed as a clerk in the Colonial Secretary's office, but left in 1939 for the US in pursuit of higher education at Lincoln University.

There were eight Nigerian students there then, as well as two other Gold Coasters: Kwame Nkrumah and K.A.B. Jones-Quartey. Most were politically active and on their return home joined struggles for independence. Adjei graduated in 1942 and then enrolled at Columbia University to study journalism.

In 1942 he became one of the founders of the African Students Association of America and Canada ASA and served as its director ...

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Jeremy Rich

Congolese politician, was born on 13 September 1921 in Kinshasa, then part of the Belgian Congo and subsequently the capital city of the Democratic Republic of Congo. His father was a dockworker from the Bangala ethnic community from the northwestern Équateur Province. Adoula attended a Catholic missionary primary school and then graduated from the Saint Joseph Institute in Kinshasa. He then worked from 1941 to 1952 as a clerk in a series of different commercial firms. The Central Bank of Congo hired Adoula to a senior position in 1952, which marked the first time any African had held an important post with this firm. He joined the Conseil pour le Travail et la Prévoyance in 1948, a group of well-educated Congolese calling for limited social services from the government.

In 1954 Adoula joined the Belgian socialist party He then joined the Fédération Générale de Travailleurs Belge FGTB ...

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Kathleen Sheldon

Asante ruler in present-day Ghana, was an asantehemaa (queen mother) who advised the Asante royal council to avoid war with the British in the late nineteenth century; she was particularly active from about 1834 to 1884. She was born into Asante aristocracy as the daughter of Asantehene (King) Owusu Afriyie and Asantehemaa Afua Sapon and became the ninth asantehemaa in that dynasty. She married Kofi Nti, a member of the ruling asantehene’s council. Between about 1835 and 1850 they had five children, including two who became asantehenes and one who was later asantehemaa. When Kofi Nti died, most likely in the late 1860s, she married Boakye Tenten, also a council member; but they had no further children. Her descendants continued to hold key positions in the twentieth century, when her great-great-grandson, Barima Kwaku Adusi, was elected to the Asante throne, known as the Golden Stool.

Initially ...

Article

David P. Johnson

As a leader of the largest rebel force in Eritrea's independence struggle, Isaias Afwerki strove to unify peoples of diverse cultures and religious beliefs. Since assuming office, he has been widely praised for his pragmatism and modesty and for maintaining a regime free of corruption. Like Rwanda's Paul Kagame, Uganda's Yoweri Museveni, and Ethiopia's Meles Zenawi, Afwerki belongs to what has been called Africa's “new generation” of leaders, all of whom are known for their military backgrounds and for their tactical rather than ideological approach to leadership.

Isaias Afwerki was born in Asmara, Eritrea, at a time when the fate of the former Italian colony was in limbo. By the time he graduated from the elite Prince Makonnen Secondary School in Asmara in 1965, Ethiopia had annexed Eritrea, and Eritrean opponents to the despotic rule of Emperor Haile Selassie were preparing for all out warfare ...

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Jeremy Rich

human rights activist and politician, was born in the southern Togolese town of Kouvé on 31 December 1943. His father, Soklou Agboyibo, and his mother, Doafio, were both Catholics from the Mina ethnic community. After completing his primary and secondary studies in Togo, Agboyibo traveled abroad for his graduate education. He received degrees from institutions of higher learning in France, the Ivory Coast, and Senegal. He was a lawyer by training and chose to remain in Togo under the brutal dictatorship of Étienne Gnassingbé Eyadéma in the 1980s. Eyadéma’s regime nevertheless allowed Agboyibo to run for a seat in the Togolese parliament in 1985 as an independent, even though Togo was a one-party state at the time. Two years later, Agboyibo formed the Commission Nationale des Droits de l’Homme (CNDH), a human rights organization that condemned many of the human rights violations of the Eyadéma regime.

Agboyibo received international ...