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Amo, Anton William  

Jacob Emmanuel Mabe

the first African and black professor and philosopher of the European Enlightenment, was born in the coastal Ghanaian town of Axim. The background of his travel to Europe can only be speculated about. It is only certain that Amo was given over to Herzog Anton Ulrich von Wolfenbuettel-Braunschweig in 1707 as a slave of the Dutch West Indies Company. At that time he could have been eight years old, because he was baptized on 29 July 1708 in Braunschweig. In addition to German, Amo could speak Hebrew, Greek, Latin, French, Dutch, and English.

In 1727, Amo entered the University of Halle, where he studied philosophy and law. On 28 November 1729, he presented his first disputation, De jure maurorum in Europa (On the Rights of Black Peoples in Europe which unfortunately remains lost In this work Amo acts as an advocate of the equality of all people ...


Baikie, William Balfour  

James McCarthy

Scottish explorer, naturalist, surgeon, and philologist who opened up the Niger region to European trade and influence, was born in Kirkwall, Scotland, the eldest son of a Royal Navy captain, John Baikie. He was educated for a time at Kirkwall Grammar School in Orkney, but mainly privately, in company with his cousins. He gained a medical degree from Edinburgh University, where he also developed his interest in natural history. In 1848, together with Robert Heddie, he wrote the first part of a published study of the natural history of Orkney, Historia naturalis Orcadensis. In the same year he joined the Royal Navy as an assistant surgeon, serving on no less than five different ships in the Mediterranean before being appointed in the same capacity to Haslar Hospital, Portsmouth, from 1851 to 1854. It was from here in 1854 that through the patronage of the influential Sir Roderick ...


Lane, Edward William  

Geoffrey Roper

British topographer, ethnographer, and philologist in Egypt, was born at Hereford, England, on 17 September 1801, the son of the Reverend Theophilus Lane and wife Sophia (née Gardiner). Having rejected higher education at Cambridge, Edward went instead to London in 1819, and learned the craft of engraving. There he developed an interest in Egypt, possibly stimulated by Belzoni’s spectacular exhibition of Egyptian antiquities in 1821. But he also seems to have shared in the excitement aroused about that time by the decipherment of the hieroglyphs by Jean François Champollion and Dr. Thomas Young.

Having already acquired some knowledge of Arabic, Lane embarked for Egypt in 1825. On arrival at Alexandria, he felt like “an Eastern bridegroom, about to lift up the veil of his bride, and to see, for the first time, the features which were to charm, or disappoint, or disgust him” (Lane, 2000 ...


Silva, Baltasar Lopes da  

Aurora Almada e Santos

Cape Verdean poet, writer, and philologist, was one of the leading figures in the modernization of Cape Verdean literature that took place in the early twentieth century. Silva was born on 23 April 1907 in São Nicolau, Cape Verde. He attended elementary and secondary school in Cape Verde and finished the high school in Portugal, where he moved in 1922. His academic training was completed at the Faculty of Law of the University of Lisbon between 1923 and 1928. He also studied philology at the same university from 1926 to 1930. His strong connection to Cape Verde led to his return to the archipelago in 1930, where his training allowed him to teach at the Gil Eanes High School in São Vicente. In 1938, he returned to Portugal for pedagogical training at Pedro Nunes High School and finished his additional studies in 1940 While ...


Tolkien, J. R. R.  

Eric J. Morgan

English philologist and writer, was born John Ronald Reuel Tolkien on 3 January 1892 in Bloemfontein, the capital of the Orange Free State, then an independent Boer republic in present-day South Africa. Tolkien’s mother and father, Mabel and Arthur, left their home in England after Arthur received a promotion to manage the office of his employer, Lloyd’s Bank, in Bloemfontein. After his birth in 1892, Tolkien lived in the frontier town of Bloemfontein with his family for three years. At one point during his brief childhood stay in South Africa, Tolkien was bitten by a spider in the family’s garden, an event that some critics, despite Tolkien’s claims that he had no memories of the incident, point to as a possible early inspiration for portions of his fictional work, particularly the giant spiders Ungoliant, Shelob, and their descendents in the forests of Mirkwood.

Tolkien left South Africa when he ...