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Aidid, Mohammed Farah  

Kathleen Sheldon

Somali politicomilitary leader who played a central role in the collapse of the state and the large-scale violence against civilians that accompanied it, was born in the Mudug region of Somalia, into the Habr Gidir clan. His name is also spelled Maxamed Faarax Caydiid. Little is known about his early life, other than that he served with the Italian colonial police force and in the 1950s received some training in Italy and in the Soviet Union. He served under Somalian president Mohamed Siyad Barre, rising to the rank of general. He was involved in the Ogaden War of 1977–1978, in which Somalia tried and failed to take over what is now Ethiopia’s Region Five and is largely populated by Somalis.

In the 1980s Aidid began to turn against Siyad Barre and when the president suspected him of plotting against him he imprisoned Aidid for six years As ...

Article

Albasini, João dos Santos  

Rosemary Elizabeth Galli

nationalist, journalist and indigenous rights advocate, was born in Magul, Mozambique, on 2 November 1876. His father, Francisco Albasini, married the granddaughter of the head of Maxacuene clan in the Portuguese colony’s capital; her name is not recorded. João dos Santos was also known by his Ronga nickname, Wadzinguele. His grandfather João Albasini, a Portuguese trader, later established himself and a second family in the republic of the Transvaal where he became the vice-consul of Portugal. João dos Santos Albasini received a limited education at the Catholic Mission of Saint José Lhenguene; secondary education was not available in Mozambique. However, he was a keen reader especially of political tracts and gained great facility in writing both Portuguese and Ronga. Sometime around 1897 Albasini married Bertha Carolina Heitor Mwatilo but the marriage was unhappy and they divorced in 1917. They had two children.

As Albasini reached adulthood Portugal defeated ...

Article

Angula, Nahas  

Dag Henrichsen

Namibian politician, senior cabinet minister and prime minister, was born on 22 August 1943 in the village of Onyaanya in the Oshikoto region (northern Namibia). He married Tangeni Katrina Namalenga, a pharmacist, with whom he had several children, and since 1999 she has been the executive officer of the Namibia Institute of Pathology. Nahas Gideon Angula grew up in northern Namibia during the country’s occupation by South Africa. He is counted among the first generation of exiled Namibians who fled to Zambia via Botswana in 1965. By then he was already a member of the Youth League of the dominant Namibian liberation movement, the South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) of Namibia. While in Zambia, he graduated from the University of Zambia with a teaching degree; he then founded a SWAPO-sponsored educational center for Namibian refugees near Lusaka. From 1976 he worked as a civil servant for the ...

Article

Arafat, Yasser  

Matti Steinberg

Palestinian leader, was born in Cairo, Egypt, on 24 August 1929 to ʿAbd al-Raʾuf, his father, and Zahawa Abu-Saud, his mother, who had emigrated from Palestine in 1927 Arafat himself was mysterious about his birthplace sometimes he would say I was not born before I became Abu ʿAmmar and sometimes he insisted on being born in Old Jerusalem next to the al Haram al Sharif the Islamic sacred site this version was adopted by official publications and Web sites of Fatah Behind this obscurity probably lay the uneasiness of Arafat as the leader of the Palestinian national movement to acknowledge that he had not been born in Palestine and that his Palestinian parents had emigrated voluntarily out of personal and not national reasons from Palestine seeking a better living His full name is Muhammad ʿAbd al Rahman ʿAbd al Raʾuf Arafat al Qudwa al Husayni During the early 1950s ...

Article

Aubame, Jean-Hilaire  

Jeremy Rich

Gabonese politican, was born on 10 November 1912 to a Fang family living near the colonial capital of Libreville. Orphaned by the age of eleven, Jean-Hilaire was educated at Catholic school, in a similar fashion to his political rival Léon Mba. He did not have fond memories of his education, as demonstrated by his complaints about eating a monotonous diet of salted fish during the famines of the 1920s. Nevertheless, he remained a faithful Catholic throughout his life.

After working as a customs clerk in the 1930s, he took advantage of the limited political opportunities created for Gabonese people by World War II. He supported the Free French cause in 1940 when the colonial administration backed Vichy and he became a close associate of Governor General of French Equatorial Africa Félix Éboué After the war the new French Fourth Republic allowed for a small number of deputies to represent ...

Article

Barends, Barend  

Robert Ross

Griqua leader and hunter in the region that is present-day South Africa, was born around 1770. During the second half of the eighteenth century, his family was one of several families of mixed Khoekhoe and Dutch descent who came to prominence in the dry lands of Namaqualand and along the Gariep River, on the northern frontier of the Cape Colony. Among them were two brothers, known variously as Claas and Piet Bastard or Claas and Piet Barends (sometimes spelled Berends). They first appear in the archival record in the 1760s accompanying Dutch and French expeditions to the Gariep and as overseers on the farms of the Van Reenen family who were then the Cape s most important butchers In time the family grew in wealth prominence and size primarily on the basis of hunting stock farming and trading to the Cape so that it was able to acquire ...

Article

Bathoen, II Seepapitso Gaseitsiwe  

Maitseo Bolaane

Botswana leader, was born in Kanye to Seepapitso II, paramount chief of the Bangwaketse, and Mogatsakgari, daughter of Ratshosa, Khama III’s son-in-law. Bathoen’s grandmother, Gagoangwe, was the daughter of Kgosi Sechele of the Bakwena. Bathoen was thus of royal descent on both sides. In 1916, when Bathoen was eight, his father was murdered by his own brother, Moeapitso, in a palace intrigue. Moeapitso was jailed, and Kgosimotse Gaseitsiwe was appointed acting chief of the Bangwaketse until Bathoen reached adulthood. Bathoen spent much of his childhood in Serowe among his mother’s people, the Bangwato.

Bathoen studied at Kanye Hill School, now Rachele Primary School, beginning in 1918; subsequently, in South Africa at Tiger Kloof (1919–1922) and Lovedale (1923–1927 During this time two strong women served as regents the queen mother Gagoangwe and after 1924 Gagoangwe s eldest daughter Ntebogang After completion of his junior certificate ...

Article

Bizimana, Augustin  

Sterling Recker

Rwandan Hutu politician and military leader, was born in Byumba Prefecture, Gizungu Commune, Rwanda. He is considered by many to be one of the key actors in the planning and implementation of the Rwandan genocide in 1994, and is one of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda’s (ICTR) most wanted perpetrators of the genocide. He has been accused of genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, complicity in genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, crimes against humanity including murder, extermination, rape, persecution, and “serious violations of Common Article 3 and Additional Protocol II (killing, outrages upon personal dignity)” (The Hague).

Between 1990 and 1994 Bizimana was allegedly involved in the planning of the genocide, including the preparation of lists which contained the names of Tutsi and moderate Hutu. Bizimana initiated his plans for Rwanda when he was appointed Defense Minister in July 1993 As Defense Minister Bizimana had ...

Article

Boganda, Barthélemy  

Richard A. Bradshaw

leader of Ubangi-Shari’s independence movement and “Father of the Central African Republic,” was born on 4 April 1910 at Bobangui, Lobaye. His father Swalakpé and mother Siribé both belonged to the Mbaka (Ngbaka) ethnic group. Swalakpé, a local leader with five wives, died before Boganda’s birth during an attack by colonial troops on his village. Siribé, the third of Swalakpé’s wives, was beaten to death by a soldier shortly after her husband’s death. An orphan, Boganda was taken into custody by the head of the French post at M’Baïki, Lieutenant Mayer, who entrusted him to the care of Father Gabriel Herriau of the Catholic mission at Bétou. In 1920 the Bétou mission was closed and Boganda was taken to the St. Paul mission in Bangui, where he attended primary school until 1924 While at St Paul s he was baptized adopted the name Barthélemy 24 December 1922 and was ...

Article

Félicien, Endame Ndonge  

Jeremy Rich

Gabonese political leader, was born around 1890 in the Gabonese village of Mafou in the Estuary Province to a Fang family. His early life is obscure, but he may have served in the colonial army during World War I. He became a prominent figure only after 1920, when the French colonial administration chose to create a new system of state-appointed chiefs. These auxiliaries were to collect taxes, settle local disputes, and act as the auxiliaries for colonial administrators. Prior to 1920, Fang communities had organized themselves into clans rather than by territory. The social dislocation caused by forced recruitment, economic recession, famines, and Spanish influenza during World War I greatly weakened the armed resistance led by Fang clans against the French that had so characterized Fang communities from the 1880s to 1914 It is unclear why Endame Ndong was selected as the African district chief of ...

Article

Gahutu, Rémy  

Jeremy Rich

Burundian politician, was born sometime in the middle of the twentieth century in Bu. Despite his tremendous popularity among many Hutu people as a martyr following his death in 1990, little firm information is available on his early life.

Gahutu attended primary and secondary schools in Burundi. He then received the opportunity to study in Belgium, and he received an undergraduate degree in agriculture from the Catholic University in Louvain. Gahutu was deeply affected by the Burundian genocide of April 1972 in which tens of thousands of people were killed by the Tutsi dominated military on the grounds that they supported the establishment of a new Hutu dominated regime Gahutu joined a political party that formed in the wake of these massacres Tabara He then moved to Rwanda where he became a prodigious activist in the numerous refugee camps set up for Hutu exiles from Burundi He helped ...

Article

Gitera, Joseph  

Sterling Recker

Rwandan politician and prime minister is a Hutu who came of age under Belgian colonial rule Gitera was educated in a Catholic seminary which had been established by the Belgian colonial powers The institutions of colonialism and the Catholic Church had both favored Tutsi supremacy for most of Gitera s life which contributed to his ideological development and his determined focus on revolution and reform by the late 1950s Gitera was a businessman who went on to create a political party which was ostensibly based on class interests as opposed to the principles of ethnicity but nevertheless attracted only Hutu members He challenged the privileges that Tutsi held and demanded independence for Rwanda during the 1950s Gitera was attempting to appeal to all Rwandans regardless of ethnicity by using nationalist ideology to create a movement against the colonial powers and church influence both of which were supportive of the Tutsi ...

Article

Gobana Dacchi  

Mohammed Hassen Ali

Oromo political and military figure in Ethiopia, was born in 1821 into a noble Christian Oromo family. Menilek of Shawa’s escape from the prison of Emperor Tewodros II and his return to his kingdom in 1865 catapulted Gobana onto a wider historical stage. Gobana submitted to Menilek and put his immense wealth, experience, and legendary military talent at the disposal of the young king. In return, Menilek appointed Gobana as abagaz (chief of the palace guard), which marked the beginning of his spectacular rise to power.

Gobana Dacchi was given the task of conquering the surrounding Oromo and other ethnic groups in Shawa. Gobana accomplished this with speed, through threat of force and promise of local autonomy. He allowed Oromo leaders to keep their lands in return for payment of tribute to Menilek. Gobana Dacchi brought significant changes to the territories newly added to Menilek’s kingdom. He established katamas ...

Article

Habyarimana, Agathe  

Sterling Recker

Rwandan Hutu politician and first lady of Rwanda, was born Agathe Kanzinga in northern Rwanda, in the region of Bushiru. She was born into a politically influential Hutu family whose political ideologies included a dislike for both Tutsi, who were the dominant actors in Rwandan society and politics due to Belgian colonial rule, and southern Hutu. By the time Agathe was born in 1942, Tutsi dominance had been institutionalized with the support of the Belgian colonial power. This dominance contributed to the marginalization and oppression of the Hutu and was maintained by both the indigenous Tutsi as well as the foreign colonizers. In addition to the institutionalization of ethnicity, which created animosity among the Hutu and the Tutsi, there were regional differences that led to conflict between the northern and southern Hutu. Habyarimana’s family lineage had been a part of the abakonde the wealthy landowning class of Hutu ...

Article

Kabarebe, James  

Jeremy Rich

military leader, was born in Rwanda in 1959. Little is available about his youth and early years, but he belonged to a family in the Tutsi ethnic minority. He eventually married Esperance Mudenge and had three children with her. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, opponents of president Joseph Kabila would later claim that Kabila was the nephew of Kabarebe, although this story may well have been invented simply to deny that Kabila was of Congolese nationality. Like so many other Tutsi following Rwanda's independence from Belgium in 1962 Kabarebe s family fled to Uganda During his time in Uganda Kabarebe attended Makerere University in the capital city of Kampala There he received an undergraduate degree in economics and political science Like his future military commander Paul Kagame Kabarebe served in the National Resistance Army in Uganda headed by Yoweri Museveni After the NRA seized power ...

Article

Kalonji Ditunga, Albert  

Jeremy Rich

politician and self-proclaimed monarch of the Luba people in the present-day Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire), was born in Hemptinne, a town in the South Kasai province of the Belgian Congo. Details on his early life are obscure, including the exact date of birth. He attended Catholic schools in Lusambo run by the Scheut Fathers and then attended an agricultural school for five years in the Congolese town of Kisantu established by Louvain University (Belgium).

Kalonji s family history is difficult to construct from the scattered sources available on his life but he claimed in a speech that his grandfather was a chief of a Luba speaking community who had converted to Christianity He told others that he wished to take classes in Belgium at Louvain University but supposedly Congolese nationalist politician Patrice Emery Lumumba convinced him to stay in Congo Instead of relocating to Europe he found ...

Article

Khayr al-Din al-Tunisi  

Geoffrey Roper

Tunisian statesman and reformer of Circassian origin, was born in the Caucasus, the son of Hasan Lash, an Abaza chieftain. Khayr al-Din lost contact with his parents at an early age and was taken to Istanbul as a mamluk (slave or apprentice). After a period under the tutelage of Tahsin Bey, an Ottoman dignitary, he was transferred in 1839 to Tunisia, then a largely autonomous province of the Ottoman Empire.

There, he entered the service of Ahmad Bey (r. 1837–1855), the tenth ruler of the Husaynid dynasty, who was a modernist and reformer. Having attracted the favorable attention of both the bey himself and his chief minister Mustafa Khaznadar (1817–1878), he entered the army and before long became a cavalry commander. In this capacity he spent part of his time in the military school (Maktab Harbi) that had been established by the bey in the Bardo palace in 1840 ...

Article

Kulubali, Mamari Biton  

David C. Conrad

credited in oral tradition with founding of the West African Bamana Segou kingdom, was known as “Mamari” in his youth and as “Biton” when he ruled Segou. In oral tradition the names are used interchangeably. According to legend, Biton was a descendant of Kalajan Kulubali (c. 1652–1672), father of Nya Ngolo and Barama Ngolo of Sonsanna on the Bani River. Nya, through his son Sonsan and grandson Massa, engendered the “Massasi” Kulubali line that established the Kingdom of Kaarta, and Barama founded Biton’s line of the Kulubali that settled in Segou.

Mamari Biton established his power by reorganizing an independent, nonexclusive men’s association called a tòn that functioned as a kind of cooperative with members from all levels of society who profited from their own hunting and farming productivity According to oral tradition Biton s mother contributed to the founding of a system of taxation that was adopted and ...

Article

M’Ba, Léon  

Jeremy Rich

Gabonese politician, was born on 9 February 1902 in Libreville to a Fang-speaking clerk and Louise Bendome. He belonged to a fairly well-off Fang-speaking family from the coastal Estuary province. M’ba was educated by Catholic missionaries. While coastal Omyènè communities such as the Mpongwe of Libreville often considered Fang speakers to be barbaric, M’ba befriended Mpongwe people in school. His relationships with Catholic missionaries, however, were less cordial. M’ba ultimately practiced polygynous marriage, became initiated into the bwiti indigenous religious tradition, and criticized missionaries for supposedly destabilizing masculine command over Fang women.

After he finished his education, he briefly became a customs agent and an accountant who worked on the southern Gabonese coast. He soon became a protégé of colonial officials who had created a new class of state-appointed chiefs in 1920 to aid efforts to collect taxes, recruit men for forced labor details, and monitor Gabonese communities. In 1926 ...

Article

Mmanthatisi  

Kathleen Sheldon

was a leader of the Tlokwa group of Sotho in South Africa and Lesotho during the mass migration in the early nineteenth century known as Difaqane. She was born in present-day Orange Free State, South Africa, daughter of a chief named Mothaha, around 1784; her name at birth was “Monyalue.” She married the Tlokwa chief Mokotjo, who was a cousin. She was given the name “Mmanthatisi,” indicating that she was the mother of a daughter named Nthatisi, after the birth of her first child, c. 1800. The couple had a son in 1804 named Sekonyela and a second son named Mota. When her husband died in 1813 (some sources say 1819 she held the position of regent for Sekonyela who later became chief She also had a daughter with her brother in law after Mokotjo s death as a consequence of the common practice of levirate ...