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Marian Aguiar

Considered a hero of anticolonial resistance by many contemporary Algerians, Abd al-Qadir created an Arab-Berber alliance to oppose French expansion in North Africa in the 1830s and 1840s. He also organized an Islamic state that, at one point, controlled the western two-thirds of the inhabited land in Algeria. Abd al-Qadir owed his ability to unite Arabs and Berbers, who had been enemies for centuries, in part to the legacy of his father, head of the Hashim tribe in Mousakar (Mascara) and leader of a Sufi Muslim brotherhood. In 1826Abd al-Qadir and his father made a pilgrimage, or hajj, to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of the prophet Muhammad, founder of Islam. When he returned in 1828, Abd al-Qadir s own reputation as an Islamic religious and cultural leader grew and both Arabs and Berbers looked to him to lead the resistance against the French who ...


Like many slaves from Saint-Domingue (present-day Haiti) during the Haitian Revolution (1791–1804), Pablo Alí crossed the border to serve in the Spanish colonial army of Santo Domingo (present-day Dominican Republic) as a means of obtaining his freedom. In 1795Spain ceded Santo Domingo to France. Alí subsequently participated in the War of Reconquest, in which French troops were defeated and Santo Domingo was reunited with Spain (1809). In 1811 the Spanish throne named him first colonel and granted him a gold medal in recognition of his service to the Crown.

In 1820 Alí served as colonel of the Batallón de Morenos (Black Batallion) in Santo Domingo. After learning that his application for Spanish citizenship had been denied, in 1821 Alí pledged his loyalty to the insurrectionists, led by José de Núñez Cáceres and served as their chief military commander That same year ...


Lynda R. Day

Ejisuhemaa (female ruler) who led a formidable but ultimately unsuccessful armed resistance to British colonial rule of the Asante Kingdom (in present-day Ghana) from April 1900 until March 1901, was born at Besease, a small town south of Ejisu about 12 miles from Kumasi, capital of the Asante kindom. She and her brother Kwesi were the only children of Nana Atta Poo (mother) and Nana Kweku Ampoma (father). Through her mother in this matrilineal society, Yaa and her brother were members of the Asona royal clan of Ejisu. Based on the estimate that she was at least sixty years old at the time of the Asante-British War of 1900, she is believed to have been born about 1830, during the reign of Osei Yaw Akoto (1822–1833 She married Owusu Kwabena a son of the Asantehene Osei Bonsu and together they had one child a daughter ...


David P. Johnson

An indomitable aristocrat who led her people's last stand against incorporation into the British Empire in 1900, Yaa Asantewa is a much-loved figure in Asante history. In 1896 the British occupied the Asante capital, Kumasi, and sent King Prempeh I and several chiefs and elders to exile in the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean. Among them was Yaa Asantewa's grandson, Kwasi Afrane II, chief of Edweso, one of the states in the Asante Union. As queen mother of Edweso, Yaa Asantewa used her position to organize Asante leaders behind an attack on the British.

In April 1900 the British governor Sir Frederick Hodgson outraged the Asante by demanding the Golden Stool, the sacred symbol of Asante nationhood. Hodgson also announced that the exiled king would be assessed interest payments on his war indemnity and never be allowed to return. The Asante leaders, led by Yaa ...


was born to free black parents in Santiago de Cuba, in the province of Oriente. Quintín Bandera, as he was commonly known, enlisted as a private in the Cuban Rebel Army, in 1868, just as the anticolonial movement against Spain erupted into a full-scale insurgency, known as the Ten Years’ War (1868–1878). He eventually rose to the rank of general. In 1897, during the Cuban War of Independence (1895–1898), the general was court-martialed and stripped of his rank, an ominous precursor of the shortcomings of Cuba’s colorblind nationalist discourse. So frustrated were Bandera and other blacks with the island’s post-revolutionary political course that he led a group of veteran officers and soldiers in an uprising against then president Tomás Estrada Palma in what was known as the 1906 Constitutional Revolution Shortly after this Bandera was brutally killed by rural guardsmen Today Bandera is ...


Quintín Banderas's parents were free but poor. To help support his family, Banderas began to work in the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba as a bricklayer at the age of eleven. Dissatisfied with the profession, he left home when he was thirteen years old and enlisted as a sailor on a Spanish merchant ship. After he was in Spain for a few months, his mother filed a petition before the merchant for his return because he was a minor. Banderas was returned to Santiago and went back to working as a bricklayer.

During the Ten Years' War (1868–1878), Cuba's first major war of independence, Banderas joined the revolutionary army led by the black military leaders Máximo Gómez and Antonio Maceo and the white Creole Carlos Manuel Céspedes. Due to his bravery and military achievements, Banderas soon attained the military rank of lieutenant colonel. In 1879 ...


Félix Ojeda Reyes

was born in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico, on 8 April 1827 to Felipe Betances Ponce, of Dominican origin, and María del Carmen Alacán, of Puerto Rican origin, the well-off owners of a sugar plantation called Hacienda Carmen. On 21 April he was baptized and registered by church officials in the Book of Mulattoes. Shortly after his mother’s death on 10 February 1837, Betances’s father sent him to Grisolles, near Toulouse, in the southwest of France. Under the care of the Prévost-Cavallieri family, Betances, always an excellent student, studied at the Collége Royal in Toulouse. In 1848 the year of the revolutions that toppled absolutist supremacy in Europe he entered the College of Medicine at the University of Paris At that historic moment Betances commenced a lifetime of political engagement and activity by participating in the antimonarchist revolution of 24 February which established the Second French Republic Although his ...


Carlos Dalmau

Although he was officially considered white, Ramón Emeterio Betances proudly affirmed that he was of African descent. Born to a well-to-do family in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico, Betances was sent to study in Toulouse, France at the age of ten. He later moved to Paris and in 1855 graduated from medical school.

In 1856 Betances returned to Puerto Rico. At that time an epidemic of cholera hit the island and killed more than 30,000 people from all social levels of the population. The plague lasted more than a year and Betances was exceptionally compassionate in looking after poor patients, including slaves. His medical service to the underprivileged and oppressed during the plague caused him to become known as “doctor of the poor.”

The colony s political and social problems concerned Betances as much as the health of his patients Convinced that slavery was the cruelest institution of the colonial ...


Alonford James Robinson

Paul Bogle is a beloved figure in Jamaica. Although his legal status at the time of his birth is unclear, most scholars believe that he was born free in Stony Gut, Jamaica, in 1822. He operated a small independent farm there and became a lay preacher in the Native Baptist Church. His affiliation with this antislavery branch of the Baptist Church brought him into contact with British and Jamaican abolitionists, including activist George Gordon. Methodist and Baptist leaders, as well as leaders of other religious denominations, were active participants in the antislavery struggle. As a result, members of local black congregations like Bogle's were often exposed to antislavery debates, pamphlets, and sermons.

When slavery was abolished in 1834 blacks in Jamaica were promised freedom at the end of what turned out to be a four year period known as apprenticeship The apprenticeship policy forced slaves ...


Daniel Acosta Elkan

activist for Cuban independence, resided primarily in New York from the latter part of the nineteenth century and remained politically active through the early twentieth century. The basic biographical details of Bonilla’s life (including more notable life events) remain elusive, but it is known that he was a cigar maker by trade, a common profession among this cohort of Cuban independence activists in the United States. Bonilla is among the most interesting of the Cuban pro-independence activists, a pantheon that includes more radical black figures such as Rafael Serra (y Montalvo), who espoused racial democracy in an independent Cuba and advocated specifically for the empowerment and right of people of color to mobilize. Bonilla was also a contemporary, and indeed a devotee, of José Martí, who, rather than focusing on black consciousness, espoused a generally “raceless” post-independent Cuban nation.

Despite these shades of philosophical difference Martí was a collaborator with ...


Jonathon Glassman

a leader of the resistance movement against German conquest of what is today coastal Tanzania, was probably born in Zanzibar; his name is sometimes given as Abushiri bin Salim. His father was most likely a member of the al-Harthi clan. The al-Harthi were among the earliest Omani Arabs to establish a presence in East Africa, settling well before the arrival of the al-Busaid dynasts who founded the Zanzibar sultanate at around the time of Bushiri’s birth, and were known for aggressively defending their prerogatives against the sultans’ expanding power. A major figure in the clan, and perhaps Bushiri’s father, was Salim bin Bushiri al-Harthi, an important courtier who fell out of favor with the second sultan, Majid bin Said (reigned 1856–1870 Bushiri s mother was an African perhaps a slave Descent was traced patrilineally however and as an adult Bushiri prized his status as an Arab but like other ...


Teresa Prados-Torreira

was born in San Luís, Cuba, on 22 July 1847 to free small landowners of African descent, Ramón Cabrales and Antonia Fernández (also known as Antonia Isac). In 1866 she married Antonio Maceo, the famous anticolonial patriot and later general of the Cuban Liberation Army. Unlike most black Cuban women of her time, Cabrales was literate, though it is unclear whether she learned to read and write in her home or had attended one of the few schools available for children of color.

Maria Cabrales is a name all Cubans know, and not just because her husband was Antonio Maceo, one of the most revered national heroes in the island’s history. They know her because of her own role in the long struggle for Cuba’s independence. After Cabrales and Maceo married in 1866 the couple ran a small farm in the San Luis area their proximity to Santiago regularly ...


Lowell W. Gudmundson

who held effective dictatorial power in that country from 1839 until his death in 1865, was born in 1814. Carrera’s father was a mule driver, and his mother a domestic servant and later a market stall vendor in Guatemala City. Rafael participated in the early independence–era conflicts as a 12-year-old drummer boy and saw armed conflict soon thereafter. At the time of his revolt he lived in east Guatemala, having married Petrona García Morales, the daughter of a local ranching family. The revolt he came to lead began in response to a cholera epidemic in 1837, spreading from this mixed-race peasantry of the east to the indigenous-dominated highlands of the west. Carrera’s initial armed movement was based in this Afro-descendant (pardo or mulato ranching population By overthrowing the local authorities in Guatemala he brought to an end their Liberal project for a Central American Confederation ...


The son of slaves, Juan Gualberto Gómez was born in Santa Ana, Cuba. His parents bought his freedom, a practice allowed through manumission laws in Cuba. He was educated under the tutelage of mulatto (of African and European descent) poet Antonio Medina y Céspedes at a local religious school that was known to be a refuge for black children. Sensing that his racial background would limit his opportunities in Cuba, Gómez left the island in 1869 for Paris, France, where he studied the art of cabinetmaking and, later, engineering. Poverty soon forced him to leave his studies and pursue a career in journalism, a profession that would provide him with an outlet for expressing his political and social views.

Gómez's stay in Paris was a formative experience in his life. He became acquainted with various eminent members of Cuba's expatriate community, including separatists such as Vicente Aguilera ...


Along with Antonio Maceo y Grajales, Máximo Gómez was the most important military leader of the Liberation Army, which Gómez led after Maceo y Grajales died during a Spanish ambush.

See also Spanish-American War, African Americans in the; Ten Years' War.


Sam Hitchmough

During a period of political turbulence in Europe, Lajos (Louis) Kossuth became president of the newly formed and ultimately short-lived independent republic of Hungary following the 1848 revolution. When the 1849 intervention of Russian troops in support of Austrian armies against the fledgling republic proved decisive, Kossuth fled to the Ottoman Empire before spending the last forty-five years of his life in exile in England and Italy. He toured the United States in 1851 and 1852 to the great interest of enthusiastic audiences.

Born in Monok, Hungary (then part of Austria), Kossuth was educated in Budapest and trained as a lawyer before entering politics in 1825 As a young member of the Hungarian Diet parliament he acted as the deputy to Count Hunyadi at a time when there was growing sentiment against Austrian rule and a move to reassert Hungarian national identity To avoid censorship of published reports of ...


Aaron Myers

Gregorio Luperón grew up in the rural area of Jamao, Dominican Republic, where as an adolescent he worked as a woodcutter. His early intellectual development was fostered by a man named Don Pedro Eduardo Dubocq, who tutored him and gave him access to his small library. At the age of eighteen, he began working as an auxiliary commander at the military base Puesto Cantonal de Rincón. In 1861Spain annexed the Dominican Republic and in protest Luperón moved to the United States. He soon returned to the Dominican Republic and enlisted in the War of Restoration. After serving as a general of one of the provincial regiments, Luperón accepted a position as vice president of the Central Government (1864–1865).

After the restoration of the Republic in 1865, Luperón continued to serve as both soldier and statesman. In 1876 he accepted a post as a ...


Antonio Maceo y Grajales was born in Majaguabo, San Luis, Oriente province, Cuba. His father was Venezuelan but had lived many years in Cuba. His mother, Mariana Grajales, a Cuban, has become a legend, since eight of her sons and her husband died in the struggle for Cuban independence. At an early age, Maceo took interest in the political affairs of the country, and he became a mason at nineteen.

When landowner Carlos Manuel de Céspedes's call to overthrow the Spaniards, the Grito de Yara of 1868, sparked the beginning of the Ten Years' War, Maceo was among the insurrectionists. By mid-January 1869, three months later, his military exploits had earned him the rank of commander; soon after he became a lieutenant colonel. Careful, thoughtful, and quick thinking, Maceo became a true genius of guerrilla warfare, which he learned from Máximo Gómez ...


Eric Young

Samuel Maharero, born Uereani Maharero, was the first son of Chief Maharero, who between 1860 and 1889 led the Herero in a series of wars with the Nama. Vehemently opposed to settlement by Europeans, particularly Afrikaners and Germans, in what is today Namibia, the elder Maharero repeatedly and unsuccessfully requested British “protection” during his reign. He finally gave in to German occupation in 1885.

Samuel and his brothers were educated at the Rhenish mission school in Otjimbingwe in the early 1860s. Samuel’s brother, Wilhelm, the chief’s second son and intended heir, was killed in battle with the Nama. Thus when his father died in 1890, Samuel Maherero assumed the chieftainship—a succession that divided the Herero, as some believed one of his cousins should have become chief.

For the next two years Maharero continued in his father s footsteps leading his people in wars against the Nama To gain ...


Born in Menkwaneng the son of a Sotho leader Moshoeshoe began to gather together refugees from the upheaval in southeastern Africa known as the Mfecane in the early 1820s Retiring to an impregnable mountaintop known as Thaba Bosiu Sotho for Mountain of the Night he fought off several attacks but more often used his formidable diplomatic skills to defend his growing number of Basotho people In the early 1830s French missionaries arrived in the region While continuing to support the traditional customs and religion of the Sotho Moshoeshoe welcomed the missionaries and sought their advice in dealing with the British and the Afrikaner groups or Boers who were seeking to colonize southern Africa Fearing Afrikaner settlement on his lands he asked for British protection but an alliance with the government of the Cape Colony was not enough to prevent armed incursions by settlers into Basotho territory Fighting between the Basotho ...