|LEGENDARY AFRICAN PERSONALITIES
Martin Luther King Jr
Speaking on the condition of the African in America, (From Birmingham jail, 1963) Martin Luther King Jr said: "Before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth, we were here. Before the pen of Jefferson etched across the pages of history the majestic words of the Declaration of Independence, we were here. If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands."
Martin Luther King, Jr., was born in Atlanta on January 15, 1929. He is world's best known advocate of non-violent social change. King's effectiveness in achieving his objectives was limited not merely by divisions among blacks, however, but also by the increasing resistance he encountered from national political leaders. FBI director J. Edgar Hoover's already extensive efforts to undermine King's leadership were intensified during 1967 as urban racial violence escalated and King criticized American intervention in the Vietnam war. King had lost the support of many white liberals, and his relations with the Lyndon Johnson administration were at a low point when he was assassinated on April 4, 1968, while seeking to assist a garbage workers' strike in Memphis. After his death, King remains the leading symbol of the American civil rights struggle, and for human rights around the world, revered by many for his martyrdom on behalf of non-violence.
On 5 March, 1952, Nkrumah was made Prime Minister of the Gold Coast after spending time in detention on account of various legal mechanisms designed to crush Pan Africanism and Self-Rule in Africa. On 12 November, 1956, a new Constitution was approved along with the nation's renewed name, Ghana, after the ancient traditional Ghana Empire, the oldest known state of West Africa, which flourished from the third to the seventeenth century. On the appointed day, 6 March, 1957, the new nation was born. At midnight at Accra's Polo Grounds, Prime Minister Nkrumah announced that "the long battle is over and our beloved country Ghana is free forever". Always the Pan-Africanist, mindful of the rest of Africa, he said: "We again re-dedicate ourselves in the struggle to emancipate other countries in Africa, for our independence is meaningless unless it is linked up with the total liberation of the African continent."
Kwame Nkrumah was born on 21 September 1909 at Nkroful in Western Africa. He died in exile in 1972, several years after being deposed in a military coup on the 24th of February 1966. Despite this coup and the increasing body of evidence testifying to its necessity, Nkrumah continued to maintain a strong following amongst academics who valued his contributions to the eradication of the colonial occupation of Africa.
Professor Emeagwali has contributed to the field of microbiology, molecular biology and biochemistry. Her greatest scientific accomplishments include the discovery of isoenzymes of kynurenine formamidase. The knowledge of this particular enzyme could lead to a better understanding of what causes cancer found in the blood, like leukemia.
She received the USA National Technical Associations 1996 Scientist of the Year Award in the field of cancer research.
Dr. Emeagwali is in the listing of Who's Who in the World, the Who's Who of Women, Who's Who in American Education, International Who's Who in Medicine, American Men and Women of Science, Who's Who in Science and Engineering and Who's Who in Technology.
With the sentiment that science is boring which has particularly permeated the minds of young black children, Professor Emeagwali organises and conducts science workshops for 4th to 12th grade inner-city youths as her personal service.
Dr. Emeagwali, who says that black people are told, "You can't do maths, are taught inadvertently and sometimes directly that we couldn't do that." She is working to reverse the fallacy that science is reserved for geniuses, and says everyone has the ability to master the craft. All that is needed is a spark of interest.
Martin Thembesile "Chris" Hani was at the time of his assassination, the most popular leader in Africa, second only to Mandela. He was the leader of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the military arm of the African National Congress, as well as General Secretary of the SACP. He was instrumental in drawing up and implementing the "Crisis" strategy that led to the defeat of the Apartheid system in Africa.
In 1967 Hani worked with the Zipra forces in Zimbabwe as political commissar as they fought against the Ian Smith government. In 1974 he returned to South Africa and Lesotho to build the underground resistence.
Hani was born in a small rural town in the Transkei called Cofimvaba, 200 kilometres from East London. He was the fifth child in a family of six, three of whom died in their infancy. His father was a migrant worker in the mines in the Transvaal, but he subsequently became an unskilled worker in the building industry.
He was cut down by an assassin's bullets on 12 April 1993. The massive outpouring of grief and anger at his funeral was the pivotal event that finally forced the apartheid government from the scene. After Hani's death, Nelson Mandela and the ANC emerged as the new leaders of South Africa.
Ganga Zumba was the leader of one of the major revolts against captivity in South America. After the slave revolt of 1641, Africans set up self-governing communities in mountainous jungle strongholds. Ganga Zumba is the most famous of the leaders of the "Quilombos" or "Black Eldorados" which flourished for several generations.
Born outside Natchez, Mississippi in 1908, Wright overcame a childhood of poverty and oppression to become one of the world's most influential writers. According to critic Irving Howe, "The day Native Son appeared, American culture was changed forever." Native Son and Black Boy, Wright's runaway best sellers, are still mainstays of high school and college literature and composition classes across the USA and the Africa Union.
Richard Wright died in 1960 while living in exile in Paris, France. Credible sources blame his death on the Central Intelligence Agency, the intelligence agency of the US government.
Zumbi Dos Palmeres
A hero of the African resistance in Brazil. 300 years ago Zumbi suceeded Ganga Zumba as leader of the Quilombo dos Palmares, a large independent African republic in what is now Brazil. Zumbi belonged to the community of the Jagas de Angola, and he lived in Alagoas.
Haile Selasie was instrumental in the creation of the Organization of African Unity. He believed passionately in African unification and to this end bequeathed the the Abyssinian city of Addis Ababa as the capital of the unified Africa. Moreover, he renamed Abyssinia, giving it the name Ethiopia that referred to the whole of Africa.
Selasie, was co-regent to empress Zauditu between 1917 and 1930. In 1923 he made Ethiopia a member of the League of Nations. He sent students to foreign Universities and abolished slavery in Abyssinia.
In 1930 the husband of the Empress died in a civil battle and two days later she herself expired of heartbreak. Ras Tafari Mekonen was crowned the new Emperor Haile Selasie.
Philip Emeagwali is one of the most accomplished computer scientists in the world. He teaches at the University of Michigan in the USA. He won the Gordon Bell Prize, America's most prestigious prize for computing, for writing the formula that would enable a computer to make 3,1 billion calculations a second. The formula enabled the American oil industry to tap into huge reserves of underground oil, and contributed billions of dollars to the government's oil-exploration programmes.
In addition he has amassed university degrees in five different fields and his personal wealth is estimated at USD $200 million. Philip grew up in the commercial city of Onitsha in south-eastern Nigeria. He has been voted Africa's Best Scientist.
Amon Bazira (1944-1993)
He believed that Statecraft, Diplomacy and Intelligence could be used properly to maintain and advance Pan Africanism. He organized and run intelligence networks that were instrumental in the conduct of the struggle to remove Idi Amin from power, mitigate Obote’s excesses, avert massive loss of life during the overthrow of Tito Okello, and nearly succeed in overthrowing the regime of Yoweri Museveni. Bazira trained for intelligence in several countries including Israel. He studied Law, History, Political Science and Philosophy at Makerere University.
After the fall of Amin, he served as Director of Ugandan Intelligence, and as Chair of the Parliamentary Committee for Security. In these capacities and as a member of the cabinet he tried to end the human rights violations by state security organs in the Great Lakes Region. In 1982 he led a futile attempt to prevent the expulsion of Tutsis from Uganda. Predicting that left unresolved, the Tutsi displacement would result in genocide and the massive collapse of political order in the region, Bazira advocated for Uganda to accord full citizenship to all refugees from other African states as a means of forestalling regional conflict.
Bazira represented Uganda in international negotiations and in Pan African efforts (including talks with Kwame Nkrumah while he was a leader of the Pan African student movement), and served as Chair of the African-Arab Friendship Society. His major success was the 1982 negotiated end to the violent 20 year Rwenzururu war in Uganda. After Yoweri Museveni abolished constitutionally guaranteed rights and began to imprison potential opponents, and to destabilize regional institutions, Bazira started a national campaign to oust Museveni and to form a new regionally responsible government in Uganda. He founded a coalition of political organizations called the National Movement for the Liberation of Uganda [NMLU], whose military wing [NALU] disbanded and expelled Laurent Kabila’s forces in the Rwenzori, and he tried to harmonize the political agendas of the dissident forces in the Great Lakes Region.
He resisted against the neocolonial interests and plans of the US State Department, of presidents Daniel arap Moi, Juvenal Habyalimana, Yoweri Museveni, and a British weapons & minerals magnate called Tiny Rowland. He was assassinated on the orders of Ugandan president Museveni and complicity of Kenyan president Moi in August 1993, during a scheduled meeting with Daniel arap Moi at the Nakuru State House.
Malcolm X (1925-1965)
His militant views that Western nations were inherently racist and that black people must join together to build their own society and value system had an important influence on black nationalist and black separatist movements of the 1950s and 1960s.
Malcolm's father was Earl Little. Little was an outspoken promoter of social and economic independence for blacks and a supporter of the "Back to Africa" movement of black nationalist leader Marcus Garvey.
Constantly attacking mainstream civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X declared that nonviolence was the "philosophy of the fool." In response to King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech, Malcolm X quipped, "While King was having a dream, the rest of us Negroes are having a nightmare." Malcolm X believed that black people must develop their own society and ethical values, including the self-help, community-based enterprises that the Black Muslims supported. He also thought that African Americans should reject integration or cooperation with whites. He founded the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU).
Shaka Zulu 1785-1828
Shaka sought to unify hundreds of communities in southern Africa. He created the Zulu state out of a small community, and his military actions precipitated the destruction and creation of other states.
Shaka's father, Senzagakona, was a member of the eLangeni clan, part of the Zulu community. His mother's name was Nandi.