East Africa's Global Lives

Welcome to East Africa's Global Lives, a continually-growing, co-produced, Open Access resource for teachers and students of African history.

Each biography showcases the primary source research of its author, whose name is displayed on the biography page. The first eleven biographies came out of of our archival workshop in Nairobi in October 2019; they have served as the nucleus of a collection which will grow to represent the multifarious ways in which East Africans engaged with the wider world throughout the twentieth century.

The biographies are listed alphabetically by first name and are fully searchable. You can also choose a tag and click 'search' to display the biographies which relate to a given topic.

The biographies are accompanied by background texts with questions for comprehension and further reflection, available on this website and as a downloadable pdf to use as an aid to lesson design. 

East Africa's Global Lives is affiliated to the Global Biography Working Group, an online platform and forum for the presentation, discussion and dissemination of all things concerning global biographies, which aims to facilitate the development of global biography as a lively and connected academic field with a distinct set of approaches.

If you would like to contribute a biography, please get in touch! You can keep up to date with new biographies by following us on Twitter.


Abdou Bakari Boina
Abdou Bakari Boina (1937-2018)

Secretary-General of the Mouvement de Libération Nationale des Comores

Anthony Okech (copyright Okech, source: Academia.edu)
Anthony Okech (1943-)

Serving Adult Learners in a long career at Makerere

Argwings Kodhek (Kenya National Archives)
Argwings Kodhek (1923-69)

The 'Mau Mau lawyer' and Luo politician with a debated reputation for the defence of human rights.

Arthur Aggrey Ochwada (Nation)
Arthur Aggrey Ochwada (1926-2013)

Pioneering trade unionist, founder of the Trade Union Congress of Kenya, and frequent rival of Tom Mboya

Barbara Kimenye (Daily Monitor)
Barbara Kimenye (1929-2012)

One of East Africa's most prolific children's writers

Binyavanga Wainaina (CC BY 2.0)
Binyavanga Wainaina (1971-2019)

Writer, journalist, publisher, literary activist and gay rights activist

Machyo (right) in London (courtesy of Peter Obanda Wanyama)
Boloki Chango Machyo W’Obanda (1927-2013)

A Ugandan public intellectual, between East African pan-Africanism and local politics

Daniel Owino Misiani
Daniel Owino Misiani (1940-2006)

The father of Benga music, taking multilingual lyrics to a global audience

Hilary Ng'weno
Hilary Boniface Ng'weno (1938-2021)

The first Kenyan editor-in-chief of the Nation newspaper group

Seroney (Nation Media)
Jean-Marie Seroney (1927-82)

An outspoken laywer, trade unionist, and prisoner of conscience

John Babiiha (Creative Commons)
John Kabwimukya Babiiha (1913-82)

A national leader and veterinary scientist from Tooro

Bikobbo c. 1969
Joseph Robert ‘Sepp Meier’ Bikobbo Mugayo (c.1942-76)

Ugandan intellectual and political advisor

Julia Auma Ojiambo (Standard Media)
Julia Auma Ojiambo (1936-)

Former parliamentarian and crusader for Affirmative Action

Margaret Kenyatta as Mayor of Nairobi
Margaret Kenyatta (1928-2017)

Nairobi City Mayor and KANU women's wing leader

Nuruddin Farah
Nuruddin Farah (1945-)

Somali novelist writing - often from exile - on dictatorship, feminism and the fragmented individual

Pio Gama Pinto
Pio Gama Pinto (1927-65)

'Global patriot' and founder of Pan African Press Ltd

Neogy on the cover of Transition no. 69
Rajat Neogy (1938-95)

Founder of Transition, the most daring and important literary and political journal of Africa’s 1960s.

Rose Kirumira (Start Journal SJ)
Rose Nimubiru Kirumira (1962-)

Contemporary Ugandan sculptor, marrying together local and foreign sources of inspiration

Maathai in 2001
Wangari Maathai (1940-2011)

Global fame, national battles, and an ambivalent legacy