Denis Sassou-Nguesso was born in 1943 in the town of Edou in the Republic of the Congo's northern district of Owando. After graduating from the local primary schools, he attended secondary school in the city of Loubomo. Sassou-Nguesso obtained a degree from a teacher's college and taught school briefly, during which time he became involved with a radical youth movement that played a critical part in the nation's independence and subsequent politics. He left teaching to join the army and trained as an officer in Algeria and France. Sassou-Nguesso was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1962 and was appointed commander of the autonomous military zone of Brazzaville. In the army, the young officer excelled and, over time, received increasingly important assignments and promotions. By the early 1970s, he had attained the rank of colonel. Sassou-Nguesso is married to Marie-Antoinette, the daughter of Omar Bongo, president of Gabon. The couple has a number of children.