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Mary Hughes Brookhart

Born in Columbus, Ohio, Samuel Allen (also known as Paul Vesey) studied creative writing under James Weldon Johnson at Fisk where he graduated magna cum laude in 1938. He received his JD from Harvard in 1941. Until 1968 when he formally left law for literature, he was active in both fields.

He was drafted into the U.S. Armed Services in 1942 and served as an officer, though under the constraints of the segregated system, until 1946. From 1946 to 1947 he was deputy assistant district attorney in New York City. The following year he studied humanities at the New School for Social Research. In 1948 he went to Paris on the GI Bill, and after studying French, studied at the Sorbonne. He was employed variously with the U.S. Armed Forces from 1951 to 1955 as historian claims officer and civilian attorney in Wiesbaden Germany and in ...


Kelly Boyer Sagert

Born in Hamburg, Germany, Ottilie Assing was the eldest daughter of David and Rosa Maria (Varnhagen) Assing. Her mother was an energetic teacher with a flair for singing and storytelling; her father was a well-known doctor who penned poetry and was prone to depression. David, born with the surname of Assur, was raised as an Orthodox Jew but associated with Christians. He and Rosa, who was not Jewish, raised Ottilie and her younger sister, Ludmilla, as "freethinking atheists, as true daughters of the Enlightenment, who saw themselves as members of a universal human race of thought and reason." They saw education as a "secular form of individual salvation."

Assing's life was not always easy; she witnessed savage anti-Jewish riots, and by the age of twenty-three she had lost both parents. In 1842 she and her sister moved from their hometown to live with an uncle Ludmilla adapted ...


Rasheed Olaniyi

Ulli Beier, author, curator, and publisher, is preeminently associated with Yoruba art and culture, through which he distinguished himself as a quintessential poet, photographer, curator, author, translator, and publisher. Despite the cultural differences, Beier effectively integrated into Yoruba cultural norms and values. He joined the Yoruba society in 1950, and literally never departed. Beier interpreted his childhood through Yoruba cultural norms and worldview. He was a twin (ibeji), abiku child (a child “born to die”), and a dada child (one distinct in birth). As he noted, if he had been born Yoruba, he would have been a Sango devotee. He referred to himself sarcastically as Obotunde Ijimere, Sangodare Akanji, and Omidiji Aragbabalu. His colleagues and admirers refer to him as “Blackman in white skin” and “German-born Yoruba man.” He was known as the “white African” who defended African cultural heritage.

Beier was born in Glowitz Germany ...


Daryle Williams

alias Paula Brito, pardo writer, translator, and publishing entrepreneur, often called the father of the Brazilian black press. Born on 2 December 1809 to Jacinto Antunes Duarte, a carpenter, and Maria Joaquina da Conceição Brito, Paula Brito took the surname of his maternal grandfather, Martinho Pereira de Brito (c. 1730–1830), commander of a pardo (colored) militia regiment and a disciple of famed mulato sculptor Mestre Valentim. He spent his early childhood in Rio de Janeiro, a bustling Atlantic port-city undergoing tremendous changes following the arrival of the Portuguese Court in 1808, before settling in Suruhy, near the upper reaches of Guanabara Bay. The young boy learned to read and write in the household of his older sister.

Returning to the capital in 1824 Paula Brito entered the burgeoning world of print culture first as an apprentice in the national printing office and then as an editor for ...


Emilio Jorge Rodríguez

was born Nidia Maria Enrica Ecury on 2 February 1926 in the fishing village of Rancho in the western region of Oranjestad, Aruba. She was the daughter of Nicasio Segundo “Shon Dundun” Ecury, a first-generation freeborn Aruban businessman and honorary consul of Haiti in Aruba, and Ana Paulina Wilhelmina Ernst, of German descent and a native of Curaçao who was a famous pastry chef. Nydia was the younger sister of the Aruban war hero Boy Ecury (1922–1944), a member of the Dutch Resistance during World War II, who was captured and executed by the German forces occupying the Netherlands. The family mansion where Nydia was born is a fine example of colonial architecture and is now the home of the National Archeological Museum of Aruba.

Ecury completed her studies in English literature and journalism in Canada and established herself in Curaçao in 1957 where she worked as ...


Trevor Hall

including the Voyages of Marco Polo, who lived in Lisbon, Portugal from 1494 until his death around 1519. There are no data about his parents, siblings, or wife. He is said to have lived in Seville, prior to settling in Lisbon. His reason for renown is his printing and publication of fifteenth- and early sixteenth-century manuscripts about West Africa, the early Atlantic slave trade, and the first Portuguese maritime expeditions and interactions with black Africans. Although there is no information about Fernandes interacting with the thousands of free and enslaved Africans who lived in Lisbon, he could easily have spoken to Africans if he were so inclined.

At the beginning of the sixteenth century, Fernandes printed and published his compendium O Manuscrito Valentim Fernandes, containing The Chronicle of the Discovery and Conquest of Guinea by the Portuguese royal chronicler Gomes Eanes de Zurara who described the ...


Ghirmai Negash

Eritrean Tigrinya-language writer, historian, translator, linguist, and professor of African languages, was born and grew up in Yeha, an ancient historical village in Tigray, the northernmost Ethiopian province bordering Eritrea. Yeha is remarkable for its unique and early archaeological sites, as well as for its proximity to and historical connections with the well-known city of Axum, which formed the center of the Axumite kingdom during the reign of the Queen of Sheba, and still remains Ethiopia’s oldest cultural center. Giyorgis is considered one of Ethiopia’s and Eritrea’s most important intellectuals; he lived and wrote during the Italian colonial era in Eritrea. He is considered by many the true founder of secular, modern African literature in Tigrinya.

The consciousness of precolonial history evident in Yeha had a lasting influence on Giyorgis s imagination affecting everything he wrote from literature to history Another important influence on Giyorgis s formation as a native ...


Kizito Muchemwa

Zimbabwean essayist, novelist, poet, editor, translator, writer-in-residence, visiting lecturer, and cultural critic, was born to Ruvaro Muza Hove, a farmer, and Jessie Hove, his wife, in rural Mazvihwa, Zvishavane, a linguistic and ethnic buffer zone in the Midlands Province of Zimbabwe. Hove’s father, a local chief, was a polygamist who brought the family into contact with colonial modernity. The family migrated in the 1960s to Copper Queen Gokwe a district that took in the colonially displaced from different parts of the country following the enactment of many laws dispossessing Africans of their land Hove s time in Mazvihwa and Gokwe explain the writer s ability to speak more than one local language a significant achievement in a racially and ethnically polarized country The aspects that have shaped the writer s sensibility are colonialism missionary education orature war and Zimbabwe s postindependence experience He escaped political persecution at home following ...


Joy Elizondo

Born in Havana, Cuba, Nancy Morejón grew up in a working-class district of the city known as Los Sitios. As a young child Morejón was discouraged by her parents from observing the Santería religion (a traditional Yoruban-based Cuban faith). Nevertheless she absorbed Santería's musical rites, including performances of neighborhood Rumba bands, through members of her extended family. (Rumba is an Afro-Cuban song and dance form that synthesizes Bantu-derived rituals and rhythms. It was later modified into a ballroom dance.) She is particularly interested in Afro-Cuban religious forms as modes of cultural expression. In her article “Las poéticas de Nancy Morejón,” she explains that she incorporates Santería themes and motifs in her literary work. References to Yoruba deities such as Eleguá and Oshún are abundant in her poetry (Orishas).

Morejón s parents though not formally educated emphasized her education from an early age and instilled in her a ...


Grant Lilford

Zimbabwean writer, translator, and editor, was born on 2 December 1947 at Manyene, near Chivhu in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia). His father had worked in South Africa and was able to purchase land in an area then identified as a Native Purchase Area. The eldest of eight, Mungoshi herded cattle, read avidly, and listened to his mother and grandmother telling stories. He identifies his grandmother as the inspiration for “Mandisa” in his novel Waiting for the Rain (1975 Mungoshi attended All Saints School Daramombe School and St Augustine s Secondary School He published three short stories while he was still attending St Augustine s with the encouragement of his English teacher Father Daniel Pierce Pierce sent some of the stories to the South African writer and editor Richard Rive who commented favorably on them At St Augustine s Mungoshi focused his attention on English particularly creative writing and drama ...


Katharine Rodier

poet and translator, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the daughter of Melvin M. Nelson, a Tuskegee Airman and serviceman in the U.S. Air Force, and Johnnie Mitchell, a teacher. Moving frequently because of her father's career, she attended school in several states and began composing poetry while still in grade school. After earning a BA in English in 1968 from the University of California, Davis, she earned an MA in English from the University of Pennsylvania in 1970, serving as a lay associate at Cornell University's Lutheran Campus Ministry between 1969 and 1970. Also in 1970 Nelson married Erdmann F. Waniek and subsequently began teaching English in Oregon at Lane Community College and at Reed College. The next year she taught at Nørre Nissum Seminarium in Denmark, and in 1973 she became an assistant professor of English at St. Olaf College in Minnesota. In 1978 ...


Christopher Wise

poet, translator, lawyer, and prominent cultural figure in Burkina Faso, was born not far from Ouagagdougou in the village of Manega, Burkina Faso (then the Upper Volta). Founder of the Bendrology Museum in Manega, he is the author of some seventy separate books, centering on traditional Mossi culture. The village of Manega, a word that means “the land of tranquillity,” is situated in Oubritenga province in the heart of the Moogho, or “land of the Mossi people.” The Mossi empire was founded in the ninth century CE and includes the Gnougnoossi people (or “Tingin-Bissi,” literally “the sons of the earth”), who inhabited the area at an even earlier date. In fact, the Mossi have continually dwelled in their traditional homeland from time immemorial. Throughout the history of the continent, the Mossi have been famous for their success in repelling foreign incursions. As noted in the Tarikh es soudan and ...


Moradewun Adejunmobi

poet, novelist, playwright, and translator, was born 4 March 1901 in Tananarive (now Antananarivo), Madagascar. His baptismal name was Joseph-Casimir Rabe, which, by his own account, he later changed to Jean-Joseph. His mother, Rabozivelo, who was unmarried at the time of Rabéarivelo’s birth, belonged to the Merina ethnic group and was of royal extraction. However, like many other Merina families of royal descent following the onset of French colonial rule in Madagascar, the family lived in poverty. Though Rabéarivelo attended missionary schools till he was expelled in his early teen years, he was largely self-taught and owed his extensive knowledge of world literature to a lifelong cultivation of reading. He met Marguerite (“Mary”) Rabako, his future wife, in 1923 when he began offering private lessons in French to interested students. They married in 1926 and had five children a son Solofo and four daughters Voahangy who died when she ...


Emad Abdul-Latif

Egyptiansongwriter, poet, and translator, was born on 8 August 1892 in Cairo's Nasiriyya district. His father, Mohammed Hasan Otman Rami, was a military physician in the Egyptian army, and his mother, Fatima al-Ghazouly, was a housewife. Because of his family's continuous travels, Rami lived an uneasy childhood. His father left him for years under the custody of his aunt and grandfather. At the age of thirty, he suffered a smallpox infection that left traces on him both physically and spiritually. After graduating from the Higher Teachers College (Cairo) in 1914, he worked as a high school teacher until 1920 when he was appointed a librarian at the Higher Teachers library for two years Then he took a scholarship to study librarianship in France for two years When he returned he was appointed to a position at Dar al Kutub the Egyptian National Library and ...


Muniz Sodré was born Muniz Sodré de Araújo Cabral in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. Sodré's grandmother was a member of the Tupinambá indigenous tribe that lived in the recôncavo region of the state of Bahia. His grandfather was a Nagô (or Yoruba) African who came from what the Portuguese called the Mina Coast (at that time the Kingdom of Dahomey, now Benin) in West Africa. Sodré graduated from the city of Salvador's Universidade Federal da Bahia in 1964. While studying law there, he also worked as a journalist for the Jornal da Bahia newspaper.

Sodré moved to Rio De Janeiro to develop his career as a journalist but in 1964 a military dictatorship was established in Brazil, so he left for France. At Sorbonne University in Paris, he studied sociology of information until 1968 Returning to Brazil Sodré wrote for several newspapers and magazines ...


Matteo Salvadore

Ethiopian cleric, known in Europe as Zaga Zabo or Tsega Zabo, traveled to Lisbon and Bologna in 1527 as representative of Emperor Dawit II (1508–1540) to King João III (1521–1557). While in Lisbon he drafted a confession of faith that Portuguese humanist Damião de Góis (1502–1574) printed in 1540 as Fides religio moresque Aethiopum sub imperio Preciosi Ioannis degentium. The facts of Tsega Ze’ab’s upbringing remain unknown: when the 1520s Portuguese mission to Ethiopia led by Don Rodrigo de Lima (1500–?) reached Emperor Dawit II’s court, Tsega was already a distinguished cleric helping in the writing and translating of the emperor’s letters to João III, and he was later selected to represent Ethiopia at his court. To this purpose he joined the Portuguese party on its way back to Lisbon, which he reached in 1527 Traveling in the company of the mission s chaplain Francisco Álvares 1465 c ...