Muqtada Al-Sadr is an Iraqi religious and political leader. He is also a militia commander and is head of the Mahdi Army. He is strongly opposed to America’s presence in his country but has stuck to a 2005 truce, which has seen levels of violence decrease. Sadr is currently studying to be an ayatollah and is still very popular with millions of Iraqis.
Sadr is the fourth son of the late Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Sadeq Al-Sadr, a famous Shi‘a cleric. As a child, Muqtada attended a religious seminary but did not finish his education. After his father's assassination, he took over the charity and social work his father had controlled. He immediately became very popular with his Shi’a followers.
Mother Teresa was born in Albania in 1910, and died in 1997. Her real name is Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu. She became famous the world over for starting the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, India. She began this work in 1950 and for over forty years, she looked after the poor, sick, orphaned, and dying. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 for her humanitarian work.
Agnes developed an interest in helping the less fortunate at a very young age. She was fascinated by stories of people who dedicated their life to help others. She decided to become a nun when she was 12. She joined the Sisters of Loreto as a missionary when she was 18. She initially went to Ireland, to learn English.
Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott was born in Virginia in 1971. She is an award-winning rap artist and probably the greatest ever female rapper. As well as having a string of hit singles and albums, Elliott has also written songs for other top artists, including Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey and Janet Jackson. Elliott’s success in the rap industry is nothing short of phenomenal.
Elliott grew up experiencing and witnessing sexual and physical abuse. She lived in fear that her father would beat her mother to death. She found an escape in music. From the age of four she dreamed about stardom. She wrote letters to her hero Michael Jackson every day, asking him to rescue her. She also spent her youth writing song lyrics.
Michelle Bachelet was born in 1951. She is the first woman to become President of Chile. She won the 2006 election in a runoff, campaigning to help reduce the country’s huge gap between rich and poor. In 2008, ‘Time’ magazine ranked her fifteenth on its list of the world's 100 most influential people. She is a qualified surgeon and speaks five languages fluently.
Bachelet was born in Santiago, Chile. Her mother was an archaeologist and her father was an air force officer. She spent most of her childhood traveling around Chile, living on different military bases. She attended a prestigious girls-only public school and excelled in her studies. She started studying medicine in 1970. She said: "It was a concrete way of helping people cope with pain."
Michael Moore is an award-winning American director, author, and political commentator. He has spent over a decade making controversial movie documentaries about the problems in American society. He is especially critical of the presidency of President George W. Bush. He has also criticized globalization and large corporations, gun ownership and the American health care system.
Moore is the director and producer of three of the top five money-making documentaries of all time. ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ examined the political climate after the 2001 attacks; ‘Sicko’ highlighted the ills of American healthcare; and ‘Bowling for Columbine’ probed America’s widespread gun culture and its relation to violence. He uses a mixture of hard-hitting fact and humour in all of his work.
Maya Angelou is part of the fabric of modern America. She has told her story of being a key part of the civil rights movement through poetry, novels and film. She is best known for her six autobiographies, most notably ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’. In 1993, President Bill Clinton asked her to recite one of her poems at his inauguration.
Angelou was born in Missouri in 1928 into a deeply segregated society. Her parent’s divorce meant she was sent back and forth between her mother and grandmother. Her mother’s boyfriend raped her when she was eight. His later murder left Angelou mute for five years. She studied drama and literature at school, and three weeks after graduating, gave birth to her son.
Peace Prize winner and former Finnish President. He also won the 2008 UNESCO Peace Prize. Ahtisaari has spent much of his career in the world’s danger zones trying to bring peace to people at war. Ahtisaari started his career as a school teacher, which he says was good training for his diplomatic career.
Ahtisaari was born in 1937 in Finland. When he was a child, his home region was taken over by the Soviet Union. He and his family had to move many times. He said this experience gave him sympathy for displaced people. He became a teacher in 1959 and a year later started his travels. He took up a position in Pakistan to start a physical education school.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was the most important leader of the American civil rights movement. He helped unite a nation with his powerful speeches and use of non-violent protests. His 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech is one of the greatest in human history. King’s efforts to end racial discrimination earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.
King was born in 1929 in Atlanta. His father was a reverend and so King had a religious upbringing. He graduated from college with a degree and a Ph.D. in religious studies. King went to India to visit Gandhi’s family. He was inspired by Mohandas Gandhi's success with non-violent resistance and saw it as a “potent weapon” in America’s struggle for civil rights.
Maria Montessori lived between 1870 and 1952. She was an Italian educator who has left her mark on education today. Her Montessori method of education is widely used all round the world. Many educationalists say it is the best system for child education. Montessori was also a doctor, philosopher and philanthropist. She was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times for her work.
Montessori was the first woman to graduate from the University of Rome’s Medical School. She trained as a psychiatrist and was interested in educating the "mentally retarded" and others with learning difficulties. She had great success when her class of “problematic” 8-year-olds had above-average scores in state reading and writing tests. This was described as "the first Montessori miracle."
Margot Fonteyn was born as Margaret Hookham in England in 1919. Many consider her to be the greatest English ballerina of all time. She received the title of Dame when she was 35 from Britain’s Queen. Fonteyn had a sparkling career and encouraged artists of all kinds to share their ideas to find deeper meaning in their work.
The young Margaret signed up for ballet classes when she was very young. She joined Britain’s Royal Ballet while still a teenager. Her exceptional talent was clear to see and by 1939, she was the star of her ballet company. She wowed TV audiences with her role as Aurora in Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty. Her breathtaking grace helped bring ballet to new audiences.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is the sixth president of Iran. He was elected to power in 2005. Prior to becoming president, he served as mayor of Teheran for two years and fought in the Iran-Iraq War. Ahmadinejad is rarely out of the news. He has locked horns with the West on numerous occasions over his domestic and foreign policy.
Ahmadinejad was born in 1956 and grew up in Iran's capital Teheran. He studied civil engineering at university and went on to do his PhD. He became a lecturer at the Iran University of Science and Technology. This was cut short by the Iran-Iraq War, in which he served in the intelligence unit of the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution.
Mahmoud Abbas was elected as President of the Palestinian National Authority in 2005. He is a leading politician in the Fatah movement. He was also the first Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority. Abbas has spent much of his career negotiating with Israel to secure a Palestinian homeland. He is viewed by the West as a moderate who can help bring peace to the region.
Abbas was born in 1935 in Palestine. His family became refugees during the 1948 war with Israel and settled in Syria. He graduated from the University of Damascus and then went to study law in Egypt. He then moved to Moscow to do his Ph.D. In his thesis, he described the Nazi Holocaust as being nothing but a “fantastic lie”.
Luisa Diogo was born in 1958 in western Mozambique. She was 17 and in high school when civil war broke out. She studied economics at university and began working in the finance ministry. She quickly worked her way up to be her nation’s first ever female leader. She has brought about considerable change in her once war-torn country.
When Diogo joined the government in 1980, Mozambique was in its fifth year of civil war and the economy was in ruins. Diogo’s skill in financial affairs and willingness to take risks saw her become department head in 1986 and national budget director three years later. In 1994 she won another promotion to deputy finance minister.
Lucy Liu is an American actress and artist. She was a Charlie’s Angel and was the voice of Viper in ‘Kung Fu Panda’. She has held several exhibitions of her painting and photography. She regularly donates the profits of her shows to UNICEF, for whom she is an ambassador. Liu is probably the most well-known Asian-American in the world.
Liu was born in 1968 and raised in Queens, New York by Taiwanese immigrant parents. She did not learn English until she was five years old. Her parents pushed her hard to study and she managed to get into a prestigious New York high school. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor’s degree in Asian Languages and Cultures.
February 17, 2022
Lorena Ochoa was born in Mexico, in 1981. She plays on the LPGA Tour in the USA and is probably the best Mexican golfer of all time. She is Mexico’s only golfer to be ranked number one in the world. She is also one of Mexico’s highest earners and the perfect role model for Mexican girls hoping to make it big in sports.
It seems as though Ochoa was born to be a golfer. She grew up next door to the Guadalajara Country Club. She won her first national tournament when she was just seven. She won an impressive 44 national junior events. She showed the world she meant business by winning five Junior World Championships in a row.
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Kobe Bryant is an American All-Star basketball player who plays for the Los Angeles Lakers. Bryant became famous in 1996 as the first shooting guard in basketball history to be drafted out of high school. He has helped the Lakers win three back-to-back championships and has twice been the NBA’s leading scorer. He was the season's MVP in 2007-08.
Bryant was born in 1978 in Philadelphia. He was named after the beef famous in Kobe, Japan. His father was a Philadelphia 76ers player. When Bryant was six, his family moved to Italy. He learned to play soccer and once considered becoming a professional soccer player. Back in the USA, he excelled in high school basketball and joined the NBA, aged 17.
The multi-talented Kitano Takeshi, a.k.a. Beat Takeshi, is a Japanese comedian, actor, TV presenter, author, poet, painter, video game designer, award-winning film director and academic. He is one of the few Japanese entertainers to be famous around the world. His highly unique style and creative genius have kept him at the forefront of film and television for decades.
Kitano’s career is so varied it’s difficult to know where to begin. In his native Japan, he is best known as a TV host and comedian. Switch on Japanese TV and you’re likely to see Takeshi in one of his many zany roles. He started in comedy in the 1970s as half of the manzai comic duo Two Beats. Their TV debut made them both household names.
King Mswati III of Swaziland became leader of his country in 1986. His real name is Makhosetive, which means King of Nations. As a young prince, he developed a keen interest in the Royal Guard, the soldiers that protect his kingdom. He became the first Swazi royal to join the Swaziland Defence Force.
His father died of pneumonia in 1982. The royal family chose 14-year-old prince Makhosetive to be the next king. He spent four years training for his new position, while attending an elite school in England. He was crowned King of Swaziland on April 25, 1986, aged 18 years and 6 days. At that time, he was the youngest reigning monarch in the world.