Paul Bogle was a Jamaican church Deacon in the Native Baptist Church in Jamaica established by George William Gordon. Gordon and Bogle, like many members of the church, were critical of the Jamaican governor, Edward Eyre. When a protest over the conviction of a black man under suspicious circumstances was brutally put down by government forces, what would later be known as the Morant Bay rebellion ensued.
439 Jamaicans were killed in the fighting, and another 354 were arrested and executed afterwards, including Bogle. Gordon was arrested separately but tried and executed in the same round of trials. Bogle and Gordon became martyrs to the cause of independence, and heroes to the nation of Jamaica. Today, Bogle’s face appears on the Jamaican ten cent and five dollar coins.
George William Gordon was a Jamaican businessman who established the Native Baptist Church in Jamaica, of which Paul Bogle became a deacon. Gordon and Bogle, like many members of the church, were critical of the Jamaican governor, Edward Eyre. When a protest over the conviction of a black man under suspicious circumstances was brutally put down by government forces, what would later be known as the Morant Bay rebellion ensued.
439 Jamaicans were killed in the fighting, and another 354 were arrested and executed afterwards, including Bogle. Gordon was arrested separately but tried and executed in the same round of trials. Bogle and Gordon became martyrs to the cause of independence, and heroes to the nation of Jamaica. Today, Gordon’s face appears on the Jamaican ten dollar note, and the parliament of Jamaica meets in Gordon House, named for him.
A Congolese freedom fighter, Patrice Lumumba was one of the leaders of the independence movement that overthrew Belgian colonial rule in 1960, a struggle in which he faced physical and legal dangers constantly, and was arrested repeatedly by colonial authorities. The struggle was eventually successful, however, and shortly after victory was achieved, Lumumba became the first legally elected leader of a free and independent Congo republic.
His time as head of state was cut short by a Belgian-sponsored counter-coup, which saw Lumumba and other members of his government imprisoned and later executed a mere twelve weeks into their rule.
The son of farmers, Samora Machel was born in the village of Madragoa (now Chilembene), in Portuguese East Africa (now Mozambique). Machel’s father was well-to-do (by the standards of indigenous farmers under Portuguese rule), and young Samora would study nursing, eventually becoming a medical aide in a hospital. But like many, he chafed under Portuguese rule, and eventually left the hospital to join the revolutionary movement in Dar Es Salaam.
Through the course of the long guerrilla war that was the Sixties in Mozambique, Samora Machel rose through the ranks of the Marxist-Leninist Mozambique Liberation Front or FRELIMO, also known as the Mozambique Liberation Front. By 1969, he was their leader, and led them to a negotiated independence from Portugal as the new state of Mozambique in 1975. He then served as his country’s first President until his death in 1986.
A great war leader of the Ogala Lakota people, Crazy Horse fought the US Cavalry for more than a decade, in many successful battles in the 1860s and 1870s, most notably at the Battle of Little Big Horn in 1876. Crazy Hprse was acclaimed a great and brave warrior among his own people and other Indian tribes who fought against or alongside him.
But the battles, successful though they were, took a heavy toll. The Indians had greater knowledge of the territory in most of them, and were often tactically superior to their foes – but the white man had apparently endless numbers and superior technology (especially in terms of killing from range). Crazy Horse surrendered on May 5, 1877 at the Red Cloud Agency, located near Fort Robinson, Nebraska. He lived near there until his death exactly four months later.
One of the greatest political figures of the Twentieth Century, Nelson Mandela was born in the village of Mvezo, in the Umtata district of South Africa. He was descended from a cadet branch of the ruling clan of Umtata, the Thembu dynasty, and his father served for a time as village cheif in Mvezo.
From these not exactly humble beginnings, Mandela would go on to become a prominent anti-aparthied activist who engaged in acts of violent sabotage against the ruling white regime in South Africa; to serve 27 years in prison as a result of this; and finally, to become the first Prime Minister of a racially equal South Africa when apartheid was finally dismantled. For his long life of work, and his influence in promoting peaceful change (at least, after his imprisonment he did), he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, which he shared with Frederik Willem de Klerk, the white leader with whom Mandela had successfully ended apartheid.
Born Tafari Makonnen, Haile Selassie I could trace his descent through the royal house of Ethiopia back the 13th century CE, and beyond that, to legendary claims of being the descendant of King Solomon of Israel and the Queen of Sheba. He ruled Ethiopia from 1916 until 1972 (as Regent until 1930, and as Emperor thereafter) and was one of the most respected statesman in the world – and also venerated as the Messiah by Rastafarians.
He was a staunch opponent of the Axis powers in World War Two, and was famously the first leader to return to his liberated nation after the invaders were repulsed. He led Ethiopia into the League of Nations and later the United Nations, and was a strong proponent of multilateralism and of the prosecution of war crimes.
Not many people in the world would be crazy enough or determined enough to invade the Italian peninsula by traveling over the Alps from what is now France. They certainly wouldn’t do it with an army traveling variously on foot, on horseback or on elephant-back. But the Carthaginian general Hannibal was that crazy, that determined – and that brilliant. Known as “the father of strategy”, Hannibal wasn’t just one of the greatest military tacticians of his age, he was one of the greatest of all time.
No one in Rome thought he’d be able to muster much of a force, having traveled overland fighting the Roman rearguard all the way from Spain. Hannibal led a force of 38,000 infantry, 8,000 cavalry, and 37 war elephants to the foot of the Alps, and crossed them with a massive loss of life, including almost all of the elephants. But the losses were not as high as his enemies had assumed they’d be. 20,000 infantry and 4000 cavalry survived, and the subsequent invasion of Italy was a bloodbath for the Romans.
Nat Turner’s first vision was a striking one: the Spirit appeared to him and told him to take up Christ’s cross and suffer in his place, metaphorically. Turner interpreted this as a call to arms, and began laying plans for a rebellion (which would eventually bear fruit in August of 1831).
For the meantime, Turner continued to work in slavery, building his forces and biding his time, and growing ever stronger in his faith. How much he suffered we can only guess at, but based on the events of the slave rebellion he led, it must have been a great amount.
Chapter Seventeen of the First Book of Samuel describes Goliath thusly:
And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goli’ath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span.
And he had a helmet of brass upon his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of brass.
And he had greaves of brass upon his legs, and a target of brass between his shoulders.
And the staff of his spear was like a weaver’s beam; and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron: and one bearing a shield went before him.
6 Cubits and a span is 2.97 metres (or 9 foot 9 inches, if you prefer). Fortunately for the Israelites, it turns out that this Schwarzenegger of the ancient world has a glass jaw, or rather, a glass forehead. (And a suspiciously convenient gap in his helmet of brass.)
David, our Israelite hero, is able to slay the Phillistine man-mountain with a single well-cast stone, that cracks open his mighty head and kills him stone dead. David goes on to become King of all Israel; Goliath doesn’t go on at all.