Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A00048 - Ali Mazrui, Controversial Scholar of Africa

Ali Al Amin Mazrui,  (b. February 24, 1933, Mombasa, Kenya - d. October 12/13, 2014, Binghamton, New York, United States), Kenyan American political scientist. After receiving a doctorate from the University of Oxford, he taught at Uganda’s Makerere University (1963–73) and later at the University of Michigan (1974–91). At SUNY–Binghamton (now Binghamton University) he founded and directed the Institute of Global Cultural Studies. He also taught at many other universities worldwide, was a consultant to numerous international organizations, and wrote more than 30 books on African politics and society as well as post-colonial patterns of development and underdevelopment, including The African Predicament and the American Experience: A Tale of Two Edens (2004). For television he wrote the nine-hour BBC-PBS co-production The Africans (1986) and was featured in the documentary film Motherland (2009). Mazrui received numerous honors and awards, including the Association of Muslim Social Scientists UK (AMSS UK) Academic Achievement Award (2000).

Thursday, October 9, 2014

A00047 - Ashraf Ghani, President of Pakistan

Ghani, Ashraf
Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai (Pashto: اشرف غني احمدزی‎, Persian: اشرف غنی احمدزی‎) (b. February 12, 1949) became the President of Afghanistan on September 21, 2014.  He was an economist and anthropologist. Usually referred to as Ashraf Ghani, he previously served as Finance Minister and as the chancellor of Kabul University. 

Before returning to Afghanistan in 2002, Ghani, worked with the World Bank.  As the Finance Minister of Afghanistan between July 2002 and December 2004, he led Afghanistan's attempted economic recovery after the collapse of the Taliban government.  

He is the co-founder of the Institute for State Effectiveness, an organization set up in 2005 to improve the ability of states to serve their citizens. In 2005 he gave a TED talk, in which he discussed how to rebuild a broken state such as Afghanistan. Ghani is a member of the Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor,  an independent initiative hosted by the United Nations Development Programme. In 2013, he was ranked second in an online poll to name the world's top 100 intellectuals conducted by Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines, ranking just behind Richard Dawkins. He previously was named in the same poll in 2010.

Ghani came in fourth in the 2009 presidential election, behind Hamid Karsai, Abdullah Abdullah, and Ramazan Bashardost.  In the first round of the 2014 presidential election,  Ghani won 31.5% of the vote, second to Abdullah who secured 45% of the votes cast. Both candidates went on to contest a run-off election, which was held on June 14, 2014.

Ghani is the brother of Hashmat Ghani Ahmadzai, Grand Council Chieftain of the Kuchis.

Ghani was born in 1949 in the Logar Province of Afghanistan. He is an ethnic Pashtun of the Ahmadzai tribe.  He completed his primary and secondary education in Habibia High School in Kabul. He attended the American University in Beirut, where he earned his bachelors degree in 1973. Ghani met his future wife, Rula Ghani while studying at the American University of Beirut. He returned to Afghanistan in 1977 to teach anthropology at Kabul University before receiving a government scholarship in 1977 to pursue his Master's degree in anthropology at Columbia University in the United States.

Ghani initially wanted to study Law at Columbia University but then changed his major to Cultural Anthropology.  He applied to teach at the University of California, Berkeley in 1983, and then at Johns Hopkins University from 1983 to 1991. During this period he became a frequent commentator on the BBC Farsi/Persian and Pashto services, broadcast in Afghanistan. He has also attended the Harvard-INSEAD and World Bank-Stanford Graduate School of Business' leadership training program.  He served on the faculty of Kabul University (1973–77), Aarhus University in Denmark (1977), University of California, Berkeley (1983), and Johns Hopkins University (1983–1991). His academic research was on state-building and social transformation. In 1985 he completed a year of fieldwork researching Pakistani madrasas as a Fulbright Scholar. 

Ashraf Ghani married Rula Saade, a citizen with dual Lebanese and American nationality. Rula Saade Ghani was born in a Lebanese Maronite Christian family. The couple married after they met during their studies at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon during the 1970s. There is no confirmation or otherwise for her conversion to Islam to marry Ashraf Ghani. Mrs. Ghani is reportedly fluent in English, French, Arabic, Persian and Pashto.

Ashraf and Rula Ghani have two children, a daughter, Miriam Ghani, and a son, Tariq. Both were born in the United States and carry United States citizenship and passports. In an unusual move for a politician in a traditional Islamic country, Mr. Ghani at his presidential inauguration in 2014 publicly thanked his wife, acknowledging her with an Afghan name, Bibi Gul. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

A00046 - Abdallahi ibn Muhammad, Khalifa of Sudan

‘Abdallahi ibn Muhammad, also known as "The Khalifa" (b. 1846 -  d. November 24/25, 1899, Kordofan) was a Sudanese Ansar General and ruler.  Born in central Sudan (Darfur) in 1846, 'Abdallahi was the son of a Baqqara religious leader.  He was trained and educated as a preacher and holy man.  

'Abdallahi ibn Muhammad was a political and religious leader who succeeded Muhammad Ahmad (al-Mahdi) as head of a religious movement and state within the Sudan.

As a youth, 'Abdallahi followed his family’s vocation for religion. Around 1880, he became a disciple of Muhammad Ahmad, who announced that he had a divine mission, became known as al-Mahdi, and appointed ʿAbdallahi a caliph (khalifah). When al-Mahdi died in 1885, ʿAbdallahi became leader of the Mahdist movement. His first concern was to establish his authority on a firm basis. Al-Mahdi had clearly designated him as successor, but the Ashraf, a portion of al-Mahdi’s supporters, tried to reverse this decision. By promptly securing control of the vital administrative positions in the movement and obtaining the support of the most religiously sincere group of al-Mahdi’s followers, ʿAbdallahi neutralized this opposition. ʿAbdallahi could not claim the same religious inspiration as had al-Mahdi, but, by announcing that he received divine instruction through al-Mahdi, he tried to assume as much of the aura as was possible.

ʿAbdallahi believed he could best control the disparate elements that supported him by maintaining the expansionist momentum begun by al-Mahdi. He launched attacks against the Ethiopians and began an invasion of Egypt. But ʿAbd Allāh had greatly overestimated the support his forces would receive from the Egyptian peasantry and underestimated the potency of the Anglo-Egyptian military forces, and in 1889 his troops suffered a crushing defeat in Egypt.

A feared Anglo-Egyptian advance up the Nile did not materialize. Instead ʿAbdallāhi suffered famine and military defeats in the eastern Sudan. The most serious challenge to his authority came from a revolt of the Ashraf in November 1891, but he kept this from reaching extensive proportions and reduced his opponents to political impotence.

During the next four years, ʿAbdallahi ruled securely and was able to consolidate his authority. The famine and the expense of large-scale military campaigns came to an end. ʿAbdallahi modified his administrative policies, making them more acceptable to the people. Taxation became less burdensome. ʿAbdallahi created a new military corps, the mulazimiyah, of whose loyalty he felt confident.

In 1896 Anglo-Egyptian forces began their reconquest of the Sudan. Although ʿAbdallahi resisted for almost two years, he could not prevail against British machine guns. In September 1898, he was forced to flee his capital, Omdurman, but he remained at large with a considerable army. Many Egyptians and Sudanese resented the Condominium Agreement of January 1899, by which the Sudan became almost a British protectorate, and ʿAbdallahi hoped to rally support. However, on November 24, 1899, a British force engaged the Mahdist remnants, and ʿAbdallahi died in the fighting. 

'Abdallahi was born into the Ta'asha Baqqara tribe in Darfur around 1846 and was trained and educated as a preacher and holy man. He became a follower of Mohammed Ahmed (Muhammad Ahmad) "the Mahdi" in the 1870s and was named Khalifa by the Mahdi in 1881, becoming one of his chief lieutenants. The other Khalifas were Ali wad Hilu and Muhammad Sharif.  'Abdallahi was given command of a large part of the Mahdist army, and during the next four years led them in a series of victories over the Anglo-Egyptians. He fought at the Battle of El Obeid, where William Hicks' Anglo-Egyptian army was destroyed (November 5, 1883), and was one of the principal commanders at the siege of Khartoum, (February 1884 - January 26, 1885).

After the unexpected death of the Mahdi, 'Abdallahi succeeded as leader of the Mahdists on the death of the Mahdi in June 1885, declaring himself "Khalifat al-Mahdi", or successor of the Mahdi.  'Abdallahi had to suppress several revolts in 1885-1886, 1888-1889, and 1891 before emerging as sole leader. At first, the Mahdiyah was run on military lines as a jihad state, with the courts enforcing Sharia law and the precepts of the Mahdi, which had equal force. Later, as the Khalifa, 'Abdallahi established a more traditional administration.

The Khalifa invaded Ethiopia with 60,000 Ansar troops and sacked Gondar in 1887. He later refused to make peace.  'Abdallahi successfully repulsed the Ethiopians at the Battle of Metemma on March 9, 1889, where the Ethiopian emperor Yohannes IV was killed.

'Abdallahi created workshops to maintain steam boats on the Nile and to manufacture ammunition. In the 1890s, his state became strained economically, and suffered from crop failures. The Sudan became threatened by Italian, French and British imperial forces which surrounded it. In 1896, an Anglo-Egyptian army under General Herbert Kitchener began the reconquest of the Sudan.

Following the loss of Dongola in September 1896, then Berber and Abu Hamed to Kitchener's army in 1897, the Khalifa sent an army that was defeated at the Battle of Atbara River on April 8, 1898, afterwards falling back to his new capital of Omdurman.

At the Battle of Omdurman on September 2, 1898, the Khalifa's army of 52,000 men was destroyed. The Khalifa then fled south and went into hiding with a few followers but was finally caught and killed by Reginald Wingate's Egyptian column at Umm Diwaikarat in Kordofan on November 25, 1899.

Devout, intelligent, and an able general and administrator, the Khalifa was unable to overcome tribal dissension to unify Sudan, and was forced to employ Egyptians to provide the trained administrators and technicians he needed to maintain his self-proclaimed Islamist military dictatorship.