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Nigerian writer, also known as Catherine Obianuju Acholonu-Olumba, was born on 26 October 1951 in Orlu of Igbo parentage. The daughter of Chief Lazarus Emejuru Olumba and Josephine Olumba of Umuokwara Village in the town of Orlu in Imo State, southeastern Nigeria, she obtained her early education at local primary and secondary schools in Orlu. At age seventeen, in an arranged marriage, she became the wife of Douglas Acholonu, a surgeon then living in Germany, by whom she had four children: Ifunanya, Nneka, Chidozie, and Kelechi. In 1974 she registered as a student of English and American language and literature and Germanic linguistics at the University of Dusseldorf and earned a master’s degree in her chosen field in 1977.

Upon returning to Nigeria in 1980, she accepted a teaching appointment at Alvan Ikoku College of Education in Owerri. While teaching, Acholonu was also writing her PhD dissertation. In 1982 ...

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Adeyemi Bukola Oyeniyi

pioneering historian of Africa, was born on 26 May 1929 in Ikole-Ekiti, southwestern Nigeria. He had his early education at Saint Paul’s School, Ikole-Ekiti and Ekiti Central School, where he later taught as a pupil teacher. He proceeded to Igbobi College, Lagos, and later to University College, Ibadan (now the University of Ibadan), as a foundation student in 1948. In 1951 Ade Ajayi obtained his BA Honors degree in general history, Latin, and English. In 1952 he took another BA Honors degree in history at Leicester University, in England, which he completed in 1955 with first class honors. In 1958 Ade Ajayi completed his doctorate degree at the University of London where he was one of the first African doctoral students of the eminent historian of Africa Roland Oliver He then returned to Nigeria to join the history department at the University of Ibadan as a lecturer grade ...

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Adeyemi Bukola Oyeniyi

Nigerian scholar, professor of African history at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, was born on 22 November 1937 in Ihube, Okigwe, in present-day Imo State, southeastern Nigeria. He had his early education at Methodist Central School, Ihube, Okigwe, between 1944 and 1950 and won the Okigwe Native Administration scholarship, which enabled him to attend St. Augustine’s Grammar School, Nkwerre Orlu, in Imo State between 1951 and 1956 With a scholarship from the government of Eastern Nigeria he proceeded to the University College Ibadan now University of Ibadan Ibadan to study history Afigbo graduated at the top of his class and therefore won the University of Ibadan postgraduate scholarships which enabled him to study and complete his doctorate degree also a first among his colleagues among whom were Obaro Ikime and Philip Igbafe Afigbo thus became the first person to receive a doctoral degree in history from a Nigerian university ...

Article

Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán was born and received his primary and secondary schooling in Veracruz, where there was a strong African influence, before studying medicine in Mexico City. In the 1920s and 1930s intellectuals such as José Vasconcelos undertook pioneering studies of Indians in Mexico, whose culture and history had largely been viewed with disdain until then. The studies resurrected a degree of interest in and dignity for Indian heritage. Although Vasconcelos argued that much of indigenous culture should be subsumed in a larger Mexican culture, Aguirre Beltrán believed that indigenous cultures were worthy of study for their own sake. After graduating from the University of Mexico with a medical degree, Aguirre Beltrán returned to Veracruz, where he held a post in public health that further sparked his interest in Indian ethnicity and history. In 1940 he published two studies on the ethnohistory of colonial and precolonial Indians in ...

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Jeremy Rich

Beninese political leader and historian, was born sometime in the late nineteenth century into a powerful Wegbaja family. His family claimed descent from Glele, the powerful ruler of the Dahomey Kingdom in the late nineteenth century.

Despite his important role in colonial politics and anthropological research in Benin from the 1930s until the 1950s, little published work sheds light on his early background. Aho served in the French military as a young man and spoke and wrote fluently in French. He probably received his primary and secondary education in Benin. Aho’s entrance into politics came during the turbulent 1920s and early 1930s. Benin, known under French rule as the colony of Dahomey, became home to a small but very vocal movement of Western-educated African urban elites who called for improved legal and political rights for coastal Beninese elites. From the turn of the twentieth century to 1945 ...

Article

was born on 28 July 1942 to Charles Albert and Rosa Batista on a batey (sugarcane worker community) in Guaymate, La Romana Province, Dominican Republic. Albert’s father was from St. Kitts and Nevis, while her mother was a Dominican from Santiago de los Caballeros who later moved to La Romana, where they met and married. Charles Albert was a member of the so-called cocolo community, a somewhat pejorative term for blacks from the English-speaking Caribbean who settled in the Dominican Republic.

Born, raised, and educated on a batey, where living conditions were often deplorable and educational opportunities were limited and often difficult to obtain, Albert overcame many challenges and completed her primary and secondary education. Upon the death of her father in 1958 she the eldest child had to work to help support her family while attending school Her first professional job was as an elementary school teacher ...

Article

Desha Osborne

was born on 10 February 1932 in Lagon Mahoe, Mayaro, in southeastern Trinidad to Nathaniel and Eva Anthony. In 1936 Anthony’s family moved to Post Office Hill, also in Mayaro. In 1942 Nathaniel died from heart disease, and a year later Anthony was sent to live and attend school in San Fernando, where he lived for one year. In 1944 he returned to San Fernando to study at the Junior Technical School. These early experiences with the declining health and eventual death of his father, and a year spent in San Fernando, would serve as the inspiration for various plot elements found in his first three novels. In 1946 he apprenticed at Trinidad Leaseholds Ltd., which later became part of Texaco Inc., where he trained as a molder, subsequently finding employment in an iron foundry at the Pointe-à-Pierre oil refinery. Starting in 1952 Anthony began submitting poetry to the ...

Article

Charles Orson Cook

one of the most prolific white scholars of African American history in the twentieth century. Herbert Aptheker was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1915 and was educated at Columbia University in the 1930s, where he took an undergraduate degree in geology and an MA and a PhD in history. His first important publication, American Negro Slave Revolts (1943), was based on his doctoral dissertation and challenged the prevailing wisdom that slaves were largely passive victims of white masters. In part an outgrowth of Aptheker's master's thesis on Nat Turner, American Negro Slave Revolts immediately became a controversial work and has remained so since. He was befriended by the influential African American historian Carter G. Woodson and the legendary black intellectual W. E. B. Du Bois, both of whom encouraged his interest in Negro history. Aptheker's other writings include a seven-volume Documentary History of the Negro People ...

Article

Robert J. Cottrol

was born in Salvador, Bahia, on 22 December 1948. His scholarship chronicled Afro-Brazilian life, especially the experiences of people of African descent in his native Bahia, a state in northeastern Brazil with a strong Afro-Brazilian presence. Araújo’s political activism began with acts of resistance against Brazil’s military rulers in the late 1960s and early 1970s, while he was a university student, and would continue into the twenty-first century with his advocacy for measures such as affirmative action and reparations designed to eliminate the often striking racial inequalities in the South American nation.

Araújo’s curiosity about slavery and race developed early in his childhood, due in part to the presence of his great aunt Zefinha, who had been born a slave. In her eighties in the 1950s when Araújo was a child, Zefinha was in her teens when Brazil abolished slavery in 1888 The great aunt fascinated the future ...

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Adeyemi Bukola Oyeniyi

Nigerian historian and educational administrator, was born to Samuel Akindeji Fajembola, an Ibadan man, and Mosebolatan Fajembola, an Ijesa woman, on 28 January 1933 in Ilesa, Osun State, Nigeria. Samuel Akindeji Fajembola was a manager with John Holt & Co., a merchant company, based in Liverpool, England; Mosebolatan Fajembola was one of the first female professional teachers to be trained in southwestern Nigeria. Awe had her early education at Holy Trinity School, Omofe, Ilesa; Saint James’s School, Oke-Bola, Ibadan; C.M.S Girls’ School, Lagos; and Saint Anne’s School, Ibadan, between 1941 and 1951. Between 1952 and 1954, she attended the Perse School for Girls in Cambridge, England, and received an MA from the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, in 1958. Between 1958 and 1960 she did postgraduate work for a doctoral degree at Somerville College the oldest of the University of Oxford s female colleges She was ...

Article

Christopher Wise

Malian diplomat, ethnographer, devout Muslim, and defender of traditional African culture, was born in 1901 in Bandiagara, Mali, capital of the Toucouleur Empire of the Macina Fulani, which was founded by the Tidjaniya jihadist al-Hajj ʿUmar Tal. At the time of Bâ’s birth, the French had been in control of Bandiagara for nearly a decade. His father, Hampâté, a Fulani militant from Fakala, died two years after Bâ was born. His mother, Kadidja Pâté, was the daughter of Pâté Poullou, a close personal companion of al-Hajj ʿUmar Tal. After her husband’s death, Kadidja remarried Tidjani Amadou Ali Thiam, a Toucouleur Fulani and Louta chief, who became Bâ’s adoptive father. At an early age, Bâ became intimate with Tierno Bokar Tall, the renowned “sage of Bandiagara,” who was his lifelong teacher, spiritual guide, and personal mentor. In 1912 Bâ was enrolled in the French colonialist School of the Hostages remaining ...

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Richard Watts

Amadou Hampaté Bâ was born in the town of Bandiagara, approximately 500 km (300 mi) northeast of Bamako, Mali, and belonged to an important family of Marabouts (Muslim religious leaders). Bâ’s father died when he was two years old, and he was adopted and raised by a chief in the region. Educated at French schools in Bandiagara and Djenné, about 200 km (124 mi) from Bandiagara, Bâ nonetheless managed to continue his traditional Islamic education with famed Islamic teacher Tierno Bokar, a man whose wisdom Bâ later immortalized in Vie et enseignement de Tierno Bokar (The Life and Teachings of Tierno Bokar, 1980 It was also at this time that Bâ encountered Kullel a storyteller and traditional educator who gave Bâ his first lessons in the African oral tradition Bâ later earned the nickname Amkullel Little Kullel and he honored his teacher by titling the first volume ...

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Meghan Elisabeth Healy

liberal historian and politician active in South Africa, was born Violet Margaret Livingstone Hodgson on 11 January 1894 in Glasgow, Scotland. Her father, John Hodgson, emigrated to the Orange Free State, South Africa, shortly after Margaret’s birth, working as a merchant while Margaret’s mother, Lillias, raised their three young children in Scotland. After fighting against the British with the Irish Brigade in the Anglo-Boer War, John Hodgson went to the Atlantic island of Saint Helena as a prisoner of war. When war ended in 1902, officials repatriated him, but he was ostracized in his community. Six months after his return, he illegally boarded a ship bound for Port Elizabeth, where he worked as a bookkeeper. In 1904, John Hodgson’s family joined him in the Cape. He harbored liberal political beliefs, supporting legal equality and the extension of a nonracial franchise in southern Africa.

After attending the Holy Rosary ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

politician, business leader, and historian, was born in the late nineteenth century in Burundi. He belonged to the Batare royal family that had controlled Burundi prior to the entrance of German military officers in the 1890s. He originally came from southern Burundi as his father was a chief in the Vyanda region not far from the town of Bururi. He received a primary education at a German school at Gitega. After the Belgian government took over Burundi following World War I, Baranyanka became one of the most fervent supporters of the new administration in the entire colony. He was a firm supporter of Catholic missions and the development of cash-crop production. Baranyanka converted to Catholicism after undertaking instruction for four years. He established an extremely large coffee business that consisted of thirty-five thousand coffee bushes by 1935. A young Belgian tourist in 1949 expressed the views of most ...

Article

Carmen Rosario

was born on 4 July 1897 in Bayamón, Puerto Rico, one of twelve children of José Celso Barbosa, among the most prominent Puerto Rican politicians of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and Belen Sanchez. Pilar received her primary and secondary education in her hometown, where early on she was immersed in politics. Her father, a black man who graduated first in his class at the University of Michigan, was a leader of the autonomist movement that demanded autonomy for Puerto Rico from the Spanish government at the end of the nineteenth century as well as the founder of the Partido Republicano (Republican Party) in 1899, which advocated statehood for Puerto Rico following the American invasion of the island the prior year. After graduating from high school, Pilar attended the University of Puerto Rico. While still an undergraduate, in 1921 she became the first woman and certainly ...

Article

Pedro L V Welch

was born on 11 August 1955 in the rural working class district of Rock Hall, St. Thomas, Barbados, to Aidan and Carmentha Beckles. His father was a tailor whose antecedents were decidedly working class, as was the case with the majority of Afro-Barbadians whose ancestors had been enslaved on the plantations of Barbados. Rock Hall was the first free village in Barbados. Most of the formerly enslaved were forced to remain in plantation employment after emancipation, and hence on the plantation tenantries. In the free villages, by contrast, the residents held the land in freehold and were not bound to the plantation labor force or to residence on the plantation tenantries.

Beckles attended the Black Bess Primary School, in the rural parish of St. Peter, between 1959 and 1965 Subsequently he attended the Coleridge and Parry Secondary School also located in St Peter It was here that he was ...

Article

Patrick Bellegarde-Smith

was born Louis-Marie Dantès Bellegarde in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on 18 May 1877. His parents were Marie Boisson, a seamstress, and Jean-Louis Bellegarde, the director of the botanical gardens of the School of Medicine. He married Cecile Savain in 1902 and had seven children (Auguste, Argentine, Jeanne, Marie, Simone, Fernande, and Jean). Two of his five daughters, Marie and Fernande, were founding members of Haiti’s first women’s movement in the early 1930s. These daughters followed in the footsteps of Bellegarde’s aunt, Argentine Bellegarde, a well-known feminist educator and a major influence on the life of young Dantès.

Bellegarde took it as an omen that he was born on the day of the creation of the Haitian flag in 1803 He lived all his life in the neighborhood of Lalue then a middle class area near the National Palace His family on both sides had become poor though they had ...

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Patrick Bellegarde-Smith

Dantès Bellegarde was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti in 1877. His family had long been at the center of Haitian politics. Bellegarde's mother was Marie Boisson and his father Jean-Louis Bellegarde. His maternal great-grandfather, Jacques Ignace Fresnel, was named judge by Jean-Jacques Dessalines, a leader of the Haitian Revolution, who became the first leader of the independent state in 1804 and soon proclaimed himself Emperor Jean-Jacques I. This same great-grandfather was later minister of justice under President Jean-Pierre Boyer, who ruled all of Haiti from 1820 to 1843. Bellegarde's paternal grandfather, Jean-Louis de Bellegarde, was a duke and marshal in Haiti's second empire during the rule of Faustin Soulouque, who declared himself emperor and ruled from 1847 to 1859. Bellegarde's aunt, Argentine Bellegarde (1842–1901), was a noted educator and an early feminist. Bellegarde married Cécile Savain (1875–1965 ...

Article

Evan Mwangi

Caribbean poet, historian, dramatist, and cultural theorist, was born Lawson Edward Brathwaite to Hilton Brathwaite, a warehouse clerk, and Beryl Gill on 11 May 1930 in Bridgetown, the capital of Barbados. He was later given the name “Kamau,” a common name in central Kenya, by the writer Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s mother, when Brathwaite visited Kenya as a guest of the University of Nairobi in the 1970s. For his early education, Braithwaite attended the Harrison College, an elite school in Barbados, beginning in 1945. He started writing poetry at an early age, publishing some of it in the school magazine, The Harrisonian, which he cofounded, and later in the audacious magazine Bim, edited by Frank Collymore, an eminent man of letters in the British Caribbean. Some of this early poetry was later collected in Brathwaite’s Other Exiles (1975).

In 1949 Brathwaite won the Barbados Scholarship to attend ...

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Balthazar Becker

was born Lawson Edward Brathwaite in Bridgetown, Barbados, to Beryl Brathwaite (née Gill) and Hilton Edward Brathwaite, a warehouse clerk, on 11 May 1930. He was born the same year as the St. Lucian poet Derek Walcott, to whom he has consistently been compared. Growing up in a middle-class environment, Brathwaite published his first poems in a school journal he cofounded while he studied, from 1945 to 1949, at the renowned Harrison College in Bridgetown.

An excellent student, Brathwaite earned himself the competitive Barbados Island Scholarship to enroll at Cambridge University’s Pembroke College in 1950, where he studied English and history, receiving a B.A. in history in 1953 and a diploma in education in 1954. During this time, Brathwaite began publishing poetry, short stories, and criticism in Bim a West Indian literary journal edited by Frank Collymore and based in Barbados to which he continued ...