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Charwe  

Ruramisai Charumbira

spirit medium of Nehanda and political leader against British colonialism in southern Rhodesia, was born around 1862 in the Mazowe valley of today’s Mashonaland Central Province, Zimbabwe, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) north of Harare. Charwe wokwa Hwata was a child of the Hwata dynasty (dzinza/rudzi) one of many such dynasties that formed in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries as older Shona kingdoms dissolved and smaller confederacies and dynasties emerged. Charwe belonged to the Hwata through blood ties to ruling men, and her people had migrated and settled in the Mazowe valley beginning in the late 1700s.

Charwe became the medium of Nehanda in the Mazowe District around 1881. The district already had a history of Nehandas buried at Shaverunzi and a village known as Nehanda Village (kwa Nehanda Charwe therefore is more popularly known by the nonhereditary politico religious title of ...

Article

Owen J. M. Kalinga

Malawi’s first African attorney and first minister of justice, was born on 30 June 1919, in Nkata Bay District, Nyasaland (now Malawi). A bright student, Chirwa attended school at Bandawe and Khondwe, two of the most important centers of the Livingstonia Mission of the Church of Scotland. After working for some time, he went to Adam’s College in Natal, South Africa, before entering Fort Hare University College, graduating in 1950 with a BA degree in philosophy. He became a tutor at Domasi Teachers College near Zomba, the capital of Nyasaland, and studied for part one of the English bar examinations, his plans being to pass them and proceed to London to complete the requirement for a barrister. He also became active in the Nyasaland African Congress (NAC), the early 1950s being critical to Africans of this British colony because of the imposition of the Federation of the Rhodesias ...

Article

Charles H. Martin

Communist organizer and political prisoner, was born in the tiny southern Ohio town of Wyoming, the son of Paul Herndon, a coal miner. His mother, Harriet, was of a mixed-race background and worked as a domestic. According to an early version of Herndon's autobiography, his name was recorded in the family Bible as Eugene Angelo Braxton Herndon. During Herndon's youth, the family experienced poverty, which grew worse after his father died. Fundamentalist Christianity helped family members endure such hard times, and at the age of nine Herndon underwent a deep religious experience and joined a local church. Shortly after he turned thirteen, Herndon and an older brother left home for Kentucky, where they worked in a coal mine for a while before heading farther south to Alabama.

Over the next several years Herndon found employment at various construction and mining sites in the Birmingham area though ...

Article

Hakim Adi

Early Nigerian nationalist, Pan‐Africanistwriter, and student politician born on 6 November 1884 in Lagos, Nigeria. He first arrived in Britain in 1905 and soon commenced his political activities, eventually giving up his studies at Edinburgh University. Omoniyi sent a series of letters to the British Prime Minister, Campbell‐Bannerman, and other British politicians, including the future Labour Party leader Ramsay MacDonald, demanding political representation for Africans in the colonies and opposing the military campaigns that were still being conducted in Africa.

In 1907 Omoniyi wrote a series of articles criticizing colonial rule in the Edinburgh Magazine and became the first African to write for the Independent Labour Party's Labour Leader. He also published several articles in the West African press. In 1908 his major work, A Defence of the Ethiopian Movement was published in Edinburgh and dedicated to The Right Hourable and Honourable Members of the ...

Article

Zarina Patel

Kenyan trade union activist, was born in Gharjak, a village now in Pakistan. His father, a carpenter of very modest means, migrated to Kenya in 1920 in search of better opportunities. Makhan Singh was a serious and brilliant student whose early childhood was influenced both by the Sikh religion and by the momentous social upheavals in India of that historical period. The Indian Mutiny of 1857, the brutal massacre of civilians in Jalianwalla Bagh in Amritsar, and Gandhi’s call for peaceful non-cooperation in the fight for freedom made deep impressions on him. His own family’s poor economic status drew him to Lenin’s October Revolution and the study of capital versus labor.

The fourteen-year-old Makhan Singh arrived in Kenya in 1927 and studied in a Nairobi school for the next three years Financial constraints denied him access to higher education and he started working in his father s printing ...

Article

Suryakanthie Chetty

prominent South African antiapartheid activist and wife of African National Congress (ANC) leader Walter Sisulu, rose to prominence on her own accord and was given the appellation MaSisulu, a mother of the nation.

She was born in rural Transkei in the Eastern Cape on 21 October 1918, the second of five children. She was the first in her family to attend school, beginning at a primary school in Tsomo district, followed by secondary school, and then Maria Zell, a Roman Catholic college. Her level of education set her apart from other young people in the impoverished area. Her older brother, for instance, was limited to herding livestock.

Her initial desire to be nun as a result of her early exposure to Roman Catholic doctrine at Maria Zell made way to a growing desire to be a teacher Her early ambitions however were dealt a severe blow by the ...

Article

Kate Tuttle

Walter Sisulu, known for his commitment to studying and teaching while imprisoned on Robben Island with Nelson Mandela, was called by one of his African National Congress (ANC) colleagues “the organization’s encyclopedia in prison.” A mentor to younger members, such as Mandela and Oliver Tambo, Sisulu joined the ANC in 1940, after his impoverished Johannesburg childhood and his work in the country’s gold mines had introduced him to the injustices that black South Africans faced.

In addition to helping Mandela and Tambo complete their law studies, Sisulu also joined the two in the newly formed ANC Youth League, planning strategy and serving as its treasurer. Elected ANC secretary general in 1949 Sisulu played a key role in coordinating activities with other antiapartheid groups including the Communist Party of South Africa later renamed the South African Communist Party or SACP and the South African Indian Congress This work he ...

Article

prominent African National Congress (ANC) leader in South Africa, was born 18 May 1912 in Qutubeni village, Ngcobo, Transkei, to Alice Sisulu, domestic worker and daughter of a peasant farmer, and Victor Dickenson, a white clerk. Sisulu was raised as an African, having a rural childhood influenced by his grandmother, mother, and guardian uncle and village headman Dyanti Hlakula. Formal schooling at Manzana and Qutubeni mission schools ceased at Standard 4, aged fifteen, after which he migrated to Johannesburg, South Africa. Here he delivered milk to the mines, suffering assaults by a white employer and police. He then worked as a domestic, a sweeper, and a mine worker, where he experienced a strike and saw resistance to pass laws led by black Communists.

After visits home in 1929 and 1930 (for initiation), in 1931 he sought work in depression rife East London enduring bouts of unemployment but finding domestic ...

Article

Jessica Falconi

Angolan writer and politician, was born Agostinho André Mendes de Carvalho on 29 August 1924, in the fortified village of Calomboloca, Bengo, in the current province of Bengo, to the east of the capital, Luanda. As he declared, his Kimbundu name was not his pseudonym, but the name by which he was known in his home; it signified “power is odious.”

In the rural areas of Ícolo and Bengo fifty miles eighty kilometers from Luanda he attended primary school to the fourth class at a Methodist missionary school before moving to Luanda There he continued his schooling with the Methodist missionaries who at that time were influential in training future Angolan nationalists such as Agostinho Neto with whom Uanhenga Xitu established a friendship when they boarded together at the mission In Luanda he also took a nursing course He first began to practice his profession as a nurse in ...