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Senegal

Wheatley, Phillis (1754-1784)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Enslaved in Senegal [in a region that is now in Gambia] at age eight and brought to America on a schooner called the Phillis (for which she was apparently named), was purchased by Susannah and John Wheatley, who soon recognized her intellect and facility with language.  Susannah Wheatley taught Phillis to read not only English but some Latin.  While yet in her teens, Phillis Wheatley became the first African American woman to publish a book of poetry, and the third woman in the American colonies to do so.  That book, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, became controversial twice.
Sources: 
Henry Louis Gates, Jr., The Trials of Phillis Wheatley: America’s First Black Poet and Her Encounters with the Founding Fathers (New York: Basic Civitas Books, 2003); http://www.jmu.edu/madison/center/main_pages/madison_archives/era/african/free/wheatley/bio.htm.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Brigham Young University

Aldridge, Ira (1807-1867)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Ira Frederick Aldridge was the first African American actor to achieve success on the international stage. He also pushed social boundaries by playing opposite white actresses in England and becoming known as the preeminent Shakespearean actor and tragedian of the 19th Century.
Sources: 
Bernth Lindfors, Ira Aldridge, the African Roscius (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2007); Bernth Lindfors, Ira Aldridge: The Early Years, 1807-1833 (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2011); Bernth Lindfors, Ira Aldridge: The Vagabond Years, 1833-1852 (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2011); Herbert Marshall, Ira Aldridge: Negro Tragedian (Washington, D.C.: Howard University Press, 1993); Anthony D. Hill, An Historical Dictionary of African American Theater (Prevessin, France: Scarecrow Press, 2007.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Dunham, Katherine (1909-2006)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Jerome Robbins Dance Division,
The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts,
Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations.
Katherine Dunham was born on June 22, 1909 in Chicago, Illinois to parents Albert and Fanny Dunham.  She was of mixed heritage with African, Madagascan, Canadian-French and American Indian ancestry.  Dunham was raised in Joliet, Illinois and didn’t begin formal dance training until her late teens.  

In 1931, at the age of 22, Katherine Dunham opened her first dance school, with the help of her teacher Madame Ludmila Speranzeva.  The school, located in Chicago, soon became famous for its dancers who performed the modern dance ballet, “Negro Rhapsody.”  Dunham graduated from the University of Chicago in 1936 with a bachelor’s degree in social anthropology.  She later earned a master’s degree from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. from Northwestern University.  While an undergraduate, Dunham opened another school, the Negro Dance Group where in four years she trained 150 black youth.
Sources: 
Jessie Carney Smith, Epic Lives: One Hundred Black Women Who Made a Difference (Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 1993); http://www.pbs.org/wnet/freetodance/biographies/dunham.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Condé, Maryse (1937- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History

 

Sources: 
Leah Hewitt, Autobiographical Tightropes (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990); Françoise Pfaff, Conversations with Maryse Condé (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1996).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Armstrong Atlantic State University

Coltrane, John William (1926-1968)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
John William Coltrane emerged as one of the most innovative and influential jazz musicians of the 20th century. Born in Hamlet, North Carolina on September 23, 1926, the son of John Robert and Alice Blair Coltrane, he grew up in High Point, North Carolina where his grandfather, Rev. William W. Blair, an African Methodist Episcopal (AME) minister, was one of the community leaders.  John Coltrane's childhood attendance at his family's black church shaped the spiritual dimensions of his musical orientation.  Following his father's death and the family’s sudden impoverishment, he and his mother moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1943 to ensure he would have a proper education.  Coltrane’s mother Alice worked as a domestic servant while nurturing her son's musical interest and encouraged him to enroll at the Ornstein School of Music.  
Sources: 
Lewis Porter, John Coltrane: His Life and Music (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1998); C.O. Simpkins, Coltrane: A Biography (Baltimore, Maryland: Black Classic Press, 1975).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Seattle University

Diop, Cheikh Anta (1923-1986)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Distinguished historian and Pan-Africanist political leader, Cheikh Anta Diop was born in Diourbel, Senegal on December 23, 1933 to a Muslim Wolof family. Part of the peasant class, his family belonged to the African Mouride Islamic sect. Diop grew up in both Koranic and French colonial schools. Upon completing his bachelor’s degree in Senegal, Diop moved to Paris, where he began his graduate studies at the Sorbonne in 1946 in physics.

Sources: 
John Middleton and Joseph C. Miller, eds., New Encyclopedia of Africa (Detroit: Thomson/Gale, c2008); Kevin Shillington, ed., Encyclopedia of African History (New York: Fitzroy Dearborn 2005).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Evergreen State College

Senghor, Léopold Sédar (1906-2001)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Scholar, African traditionalist poet, and Senegal’s first president, Léopold Sédar Senghor was born on October 9, 1906 in Joal, Senegal. His father, Basie Diogoye Senghor, was a Malinké landowner. His mother, Gnilane Bakhoum, came from a Christian Fulani family. They gave Senghor a European name to reflect both the noble Serer culture they identified with, as well as their Catholic faith. Senghor grew up with his father’s four wives and his twenty-four siblings.

At the age of seven, Senghor was sent to a Catholic mission school, where he first learned French. At 13, he decided to enter the Catholic priesthood. He attended Libermann seminary in Dakar but in 1926, dissuaded by the seminary, switched to the secondary school Lycée Van Vollenhoven. He graduated from high school with honors and his classical languages teacher persuaded the colonial administration to grant Senghor a scholarship to pursue literary studies in France.

Sources: 
Melvin Dixon, Léopold Sédar Senghor: The Collected Poetry, Trans. by Melvin Dixon (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1991); Kevin Shillington, ed., Encyclopedia of African History (New York: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2005).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Evergreen State College

Houphouet-Boigny, Félix (1905-1993)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Félix Houphouet-Boigny was born in Yamoussoukro, the southern part of the Ivory Coast, on October 18, 1905. His father was a Boulé tribal chief and a wealthy cocoa farmer. At five years old Houphouet-Boigny inherited his father’s chief status and his cocoa plantation. He studied at primary and secondary school in his village and graduated as a medical assistant in Dakar, Senegal. From 1925 to 1940, Houphouet-Boigny worked in medicine throughout the Ivory Coast. By 1944, his family’s plantation was prosperous and he rose into political prominence by organizing the Syndicat Agricole Africain (SAA), a union that defended farm workers and planters’ interests. In 1945, he was elected as the Ivory Coast’s deputy to the French Constituent Assembly.

Sources: 
Kevin Shillington, ed., Encyclopedia of African History (New York: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2005); Thomas Patrick Melady, Profiles of African Leaders (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1961). 
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Evergreen State College

Mali Empire (ca. 1200- )

Entry Type: 
Places
History Type: 
Global African History
Map of the Mali Empire
Image Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Mali Empire was the second of three West African empires to emerge in the vast savanna grasslands located between the Sahara Desert to the north and the coastal rain forest in the south.  Beginning as a series of small successor trading states, Ancient Ghana, the empire grew to encompass the territory between the Atlantic Ocean and Lake Chad, a distance of nearly 1,800 miles.  At its height in 1300, Mali was one of the largest empires in the world.  

The Mali Empire was strategically located between the West African gold mines and the agriculturally rich Niger River floodplain.  Mali’s rise begins when the political leaders of Ghana could not reestablish that empire’s former glory following its conquest and occupation by the Almoravids in 1076.  Consequently a number of small states vied to control the salt and gold trade that accounted for Ghana’s wealth and power.  

Sources: 
Nehemia Levtzion, Ancient Ghana and Mali (New York: Africana Publishing Company, 1980); Kevin Shillington, History of Africa (New York: Palgrave, 2005); Kent Glenzer, Dorothea E. Schultz and Stephen Wooten, “Mali” in the New Encyclopedia of Africa, John Middleton, and Joseph C. Miller, eds., (New York: Scribner’s, 2008); Ari Nave and Elizabeth Heath, “The Mali Empire” in Africana, The Encyclopedia of the African & African American Experience, Kwame Anthony Appiah, and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., (New York: Oxford: University Press, 2005).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Vieira, Patrick (1976- )

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Patrick Vieira, one of Europe’s leading soccer players, was born in the Cape Verdean community of Dakar, Senegal, on June 23, 1976.  He left Senegal at the age of eight when his family moved to Europe and settled in Dreux, in northwest France.  Soon after their arrival the family became citizens of France.  

Vieira began his professional soccer career playing for several local youth clubs in France.  Then in 1993, at age 17, he joined AC Cannes Soccer Club.  The French club provided an atmosphere for the young 6-foot-4 center midfielder to advance.  After three seasons with AC Cannes, Vieira signed with AC Milan, one of the leading clubs in Italy.  Although he hoped to break through to the first team in the 1995-96 season, Vieira spent much of his time on the reserve squad.

Sources: 

Trevor Huggins, “Vieira out of crunch Italy clash,” Four Four Two Magazine, June 16, 2008; Patrick Vieira, “Vieira,” The Orion Publishing Group, November 2006.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Diagne, Blaise (1872-1934)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Galaye M’baye Diagne, the first African elected at the French National Assembly and to obtain a post in the French government, was born on October 13, 1872, on Gorée Island, Senegal. His father, Niokhor Diagne, was a cook, and his mother, Gnagna Anthony Preira, a servant. While still very young, Diagne was placed in various Métis (mixed race) families, and finally adopted by a wealthy Christian Métis, Adolphe Crespin, who renamed him Blaise. Crespin sent him to the Brother of Ploemel School for his primary education. A brilliant pupil, Diagne pursued his secondary education in Aix-en-Provence, France. He passed the French Customs Service entrance examination in Senegal in 1891.

Sources: 

“Diagne, Blaise (1872?-1934),” in Kwame Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis
Gates, Jr., eds.,  Africana: the Encyclopedia of the African &
African American Experience
  (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005);
Amady Aldy Dieng, Blaise Diagne: député noir de l’Afrique (Paris:
Editions Chaka, 1990); “Diagne, Gueye, and Politics of Senegal, 1920s
and 1930s,” in Kevin Shillington, ed., Encyclopedia of African History
(New York: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2005).

Affiliation: 
University of Nantes, France

Cheikh Anta Diop University (1957--)

Entry Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
Global African History
Class at Cheikh Anta Diop University
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Cheikh Anta Diop University or Université Cheikh Anta Diop (UCAD), located in Dakar, Senegal, is among the largest universities in French-speaking West Africa.

The UCAD has a relatively long history as it has evolved from the Ecole de Médecine de Dakar, a Medical School that was founded in 1918 by the French Colonial administration. A January 1918 decree led to the formation of the school mainly due to the need to train medical assistants to help colonial doctors. In 1936, the Institut Francais d’Afrique Noire (IFAN), a research center for African studies, was also created in Dakar.

Sources: 

http://www.ucad.sn/; Félix-Marie Affa’a and Thérèse Des Lierres, L’Afrique: Face à sa laborieuse appropriation de l’Université (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2002).

Affiliation: 
University of Nantes, France

Four Communes of Senegal (1887-1960)

Entry Type: 
Places
History Type: 
Global African History
Originaire in St. Louis, Senegal, ca. 1860
Image Ownership: Public Domain

The Four Communes of Senegal in French West Africa, Gorée, Dakar, Rufisque, and Saint-Louis, were the only places during the African Colonial period, where African inhabitants were granted the same rights as French Citizens.

As early as 1840, the importance of Gorée Island and Saint-Louis (located on an island of the Senegal River) as key French trading post settlements led to the establishment of a General Council in each colony. In 1848, the Second French Republic awarded to its Senegalese colonies the right to send an elected representative to the French National Assembly. Later in 1872, a decree granted to Gorée and Saint Louis the same advantages as French Communes.

Sources: 

“Senegal: Colonial Period: Four Communes: Dakar, Saint-Louis, Gorée and Rufisque,” in Encyclopedia of African History, Kevin Shillington, Ed., (New York: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2005); “Senegal: French Colony,” in Africana: the Encyclopedia of the African & African American Experience, Kwame Anthony Appiah, and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Eds., (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005); Mamadou Diouf, “The French Colonial Policy of Assimilation and the Civility of the Originaires of the Four Communes (Senegal): A Nineteenth Century Globalization Project,” Development and Change 29:4 (December 2002)

Affiliation: 
University of Nantes, France

Gorée Island, Senegal

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Map of Gorée Island, Senegal
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Gorée Island, located two miles from the Senegalese capital, Dakar, was a critical trading port for Europeans and played a major role as an entrepot for slaves taken from West Africa.  Long before being conquered by the Europeans, the island was called Bezeriche Island or Ber and, according to some accounts, was settled by a population of Wolof (West African ethnic group) fishermen.

Sources: 

Jean Delcourt, L’île de Gorée (Dakar: Editions Clairafrique, 1975);
“Gorée Island, Senegal,” in Africana: the Encyclopedia of the African
& African American Experience
, Kwame Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis
Gates, Jr., eds. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005); “Gorée
Island (Senegal),” in International Dictionary of Historic Places,
Trudy Ring, Robert M. Salkin, and Sharon La Boda, eds. (Chicago :
Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 1994-1996).

Affiliation: 
University of Nantes, France

Tirailleurs Sénégalais in the Indochina War (1947-1954)

Entry Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
Global African History
Battle of Dien Bien Phu, 1954
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The Indochina War (1947-1954) pitted the French Colonial government against the Vietminh, the Communist Vietnamese devoted to the liberation of their country from French colonial rule.  During that conflict the French used thousands of Tirailleurs Sénégalais, soldiers recruited throughout the French African colonies, for service against the Vietminh.   

The French began recruiting Senegalese soldiers in 1947 as the war began and they found they urgently needed military forces in Indochina.  Considering French manpower shortages because of the recently ended Second World War, military budget restrictions, and the great number of African soldiers demobilized in 1945-6 at the end of the European conflict, the French government turned to the Tirailleurs Sénégalais: African soldiers who, since the 19th century, were often used due to their relatively low cost.
Sources: 
Eugène-Jean Duval, L’épopée des Tirailleurs Sénégalais (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2005); Martin Windrow, The last valley: Dien Bien Phu and the French Defeat in Vietnam (Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 2004).
Affiliation: 
University of Nantes, France

Mouride Sufi Brotherhood

Entry Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
Global African History
Ahmadu Bamba,
Founder of Mouride Sufi Brotherhood
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The Mouride Sufi Brotherhood is a sect of Islam that boasts over four million followers today, mostly concentrated in Senegal and The Gambia.

The Mouride Sufi Order was founded by Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba in 1883 in the Senegambia region of West Africa.  At this period there was a great deal of social dislocation and economic hardship in this region because of the impact of colonialism.  Bamba thought that people needed to be more directly connected with Allah through hard work and prayer.  He also taught his pupils that they should be responsible for their behaviors, have a useful occupation, and should be self-reliant.  Originally the followers of the Mourides were youth, former slaves, and soldiers of the colonial administration or those from the Wolof ethnic group.   

The Mouride Brotherhood promotes pious adherence to the teachings and laws of the Quran.  Though education is encouraged, one is also able to connect with Allah through hard work.  If a follower is productive enough he is forgiven for not praying five times a day because his dedication to work is seen as a form of prayer.  The Mouride order is unique among Muslim Brotherhoods because its leaders inherited their positions as Sheikhs through bloodlines; through this women are allowed to become Sheikhs.  

Sources: 
Eric Ross, Sufi City: Urban Design and Archetypes in Touba  (Rochester, NY:  University of Rochester Press, 2006); Allen F. Roberts and Mary Nooter Roberts,  A Saint in the City: Sufi Arts of Urban Senegal  (Los Angeles:  UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History, 2003); Donal B. Cruise O’Brien and Christian Coulon, Charisma and Brotherhood in African Islam  (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1988); Martin A. Klein, Slavery and Colonial Rule in French West Africa  (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1998).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

African Union (2002- )

Entry Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
Global African History
African Union Troops
on Patrol in Mogadishu, 2007
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The African Union (AU) is an alliance of 53 African states that aim to advance and integrate Africa as a continent. The Union was created on September  9, 1999 when the Sirte Declaration was put forward by the Organization of African Unity (OAU), which proposed to form a new organization to take its place. On July 9, 2002 the AU was formed, with its headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The AU’s aims are similar to those of the old OAU: protecting individual African states sovereignty; improving the standard of life for Africans; advancing African research in technology and science; and dispelling the vestiges of colonialism in the African continent through empowering both African economies and cultures. The AU, however, has a stronger emphasis on economic and political integration of African states than the OAU, and takes a more active role in settling internal disputes between its member states.
Sources: 
Molefi Kete Asante, The History of Africa: The Quest for Eternal Harmony, (Routledge: New York & London, 2007); Official website: http://au.int/en/; BBC website: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/country_profiles/3870303.stm.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Sussex, England

Ali, Ayaan Hirsi (1969- )

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Infidel (New York: Free Press, 2007); Ida Lichter, Muslim Women Reformers: Inspiring Voices Against Oppression (Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 2009); R. D. Grillo, The Family in Question: Immigrant and Ethnic Minorities in Multicultural Europe (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2008).
Contributor: 

Ba, Mariama (1929-1981)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Writer and political activist Mariama Ba was born in 1929 in Dakar, Senegal to a well-to-do family.  Her father worked in the French colonial administration and in 1956 became the Minister of Health of Senegal.  Her mother died when she was young.  Ba was raised by her maternal grandparents who emphasized conservative Muslim values.  She attended a religious school, but was also educated in the French tradition.  Due to the intervention of her father, she was enrolled in 1943 in the Ecole Normale (Teacher Training School) at Rufisque, a town some 25 miles away from Dakar where she received her diploma in 1947.  Ba worked as a teacher from 1947 to 1959, before becoming an academic inspector.  During this period, Ba had nine children with her husband, Obeye Diop.  The couple separated and Ba was forced to raise her children as a single parent. 

Sources: 
Laura Charlotte Kempen, Mariama Ba?, Rigoberta Menchu?, and Postcolonial Feminism. Currents in comparative Romance languages and literatures, vol. 97 (New York: P. Lang, 2001); Ada Uzoamaka Azodo, Emerging Perspectives on Mariama Ba?: Postcolonialism, Feminism, and Postmodernism (Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2003); Ire?ne Assiba d' Almeida, Francophone African Women Writers: Destroying the Emptiness of Silence (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1994).
Contributor: 

Dakar, Senegal (1857- )

Entry Type: 
Places
History Type: 
Global African History

"The Ablest Midwife That Wee Knowe in the Land": Mistress Alice Tilly and the Women of Boston and Dorchester, 1649-1650