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African Legends

Nelson Mandela

NELSON MANDELA
Nelson Mandela, in full Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, byname Madiba, (born July 18, 1918, Mvezo, South Africa—died December 5, 2013, Johannesburg), black nationalist and the first black president of South Africa (1994–99). His negotiations in the early 1990s with South African Pres. F.W de Klerk helped end the country’s apartheid system of racial segregation and ushered in a peaceful transition to majority rule. Mandela and de Klerk were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1993 for their efforts.

Early Life And Work
Nelson Mandela was the son of Chief Henry Mandela of the Madiba clan of the Xhosa-speaking Tembu people. After his father’s death, young Nelson was raised by Jongintaba, the regent of the Tembu. Nelson renounced his claim to the chieftainship to become a lawyer. He attended South African Native College (later the University of Fort Hare) and studied law at the University of the Witwatersrand; he later passed the qualification exam to become a lawyer. In 1944 he joined the African National Congress (ANC), a black-liberation group, and became a leader of its Youth League. That same year he met and married Evelyn Ntoko Mase. Mandela subsequently held other ANC leadership positions, through which he helped revitalize the organization and oppose the apartheid policies of the ruling National party.

In 1952 in Johannesburg with fellow ANC leader Olivia Tambo, Mandela established South Africa’s first black law practice, specializing in cases resulting from the post-1948 apartheid legislation. Also that year, Mandela played an important role in launching a campaign of defiance against South Africa’s pass laws, which required nonwhites to carry documents (known as passes, pass books, or reference books) authorizing their presence in areas that the government deemed “restricted” (i.e., generally reserved for the white population). He traveled throughout the country as part of the campaign, trying to build support for nonviolent means of protest against the discriminatory laws. In 1955 he was involved in drafting the Freedon Chartered a document calling for nonracial social democracy in South Africa.
Mandela’s antiapartheid activism made him a frequent target of the authorities. Starting in 1952, he was intermittently banned (severely restricted in travel, association, and speech). In December 1956 he was arrested with more than 100 other people on charges of treason that were designed to harass antiapartheid activists. Mandela went on trial that same year and eventually was acquitted in 1961. During the extended court proceedings, he divorced his first wife and married Nomzamo Winifred Madikizela ( Winnie Madikizela-Mandela)
Underground Activity And The Rivonia Trial
After the massacre of unarmed black South Africans by police forces at Sharpeville in 1960 and the subsequent banning of the ANC, Mandela abandoned his nonviolent stance and began advocating acts of sabotage against the South African regime. He went underground (during which time he became known as the Black Pimpernel for his ability to evade capture) and was one of the founders of Umkhonto we Sizwe (“Spear of the Nation”), the military wing of the ANC. In 1962 he went to Algeria for training in guerilla warfareand sabotage, returning to South Africa later that year. On August 5, shortly after his return, Mandela was arrested at a road block in Natal; he was subsequently sentenced to five years in prison.
In October 1963 the imprisoned Mandela and several other men were tried for sabotage, treason, and violent conspiracy in the infamous Rivonia Trial, named after a fashionable suburb of Johannesburg where raiding police had discovered quantities of arms and equipment at the headquarters of the underground Umkhonto we Sizwe. Mandela’s speech from the dock, in which he admitted the truth of some of the charges made against him, was a classic defense of liberty and defiance of tyranny. (His speech garnered international attention and acclaim and was published later that year as I Am Prepared to Die.) On June 12, 1964, he was sentenced to life imprisonment, narrowly escaping the death penalty.

Incarceration
From 1964 to 1982 Mandela was incarcerated at Robben Island Prison, off Cape Town. He was subsequently kept at the maximum-security Pollsmoor Prison until 1988, when, after being treated for tuberculosis, he was transferred to Victor Verster Prison near Paarl. The South African government periodically made conditional offers of freedom to Mandela, most notably in 1976, on the condition that he recognize the newly independent—and highly controversial—status of the Transkei Bantustan and agree to reside there. An offer made in 1985 required that he renounce the use of violence. Mandela refused both offers, the second on the premise that only free men were able to engage in such negotiations and, as a prisoner, he was not a free man.
Throughout his incarceration, Mandela retained wide support among South Africa’s black population, and his imprisonment became a cause célèbre among the international community that condemned apartheid. As South Africa’s political situation deteriorated after 1983, and particularly after 1988, he was engaged by ministers of Pres. P.W Botha’s government in exploratory negotiations; he met with Botha’s successor, de Klerk, in December 1989.
On February 11, 1990, the South African government under President de Klerk released Mandela from prison. Shortly after his release, Mandela was chosen deputy president of the ANC; he became president of the party in July 1991. Mandela led the ANC in negotiations with de Klerk to end apartheid and bring about a peaceful transition to nonracial democracy in South Africa.

Presidency And Retirement
In April 1994 the Mandela-led ANC won South Africa’s first elections by universal suffrage, and on May 10 Mandela was sworn in as president of the country’s first multiethnic government. He established in 1995 the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), which investigated human rights violations under apartheid, and he introduced housing, education, and economic development initiatives designed to improve the living standards of the country’s black population. In 1996 he oversaw the enactment of a new democratic constitution. Mandela resigned his post with the ANC in December 1997, transferring leadership of the party to his designated successor, Thabo Mbeki. Mandela and Madikizela-Mandela had divorced in 1996, and in 1998 Mandela married Gracal Machel, the widow of Samora Machel, the former Mozambican president and leader of Frelimo.
DID YOU KNOW?
⦁ After returning home partway through university, Mandela fled to Johannesburg to avoid an arranged marriage.
⦁ Starting in 2002, Mandela encouraged AIDS awareness and treatment, despite the stigma surrounding the disease.
⦁ Mandela’s marriage to Evelyn Ntoko Mase ended in divorce in the mid-1950s after she told him to choose between his political work and her.
⦁ Mandela’s primary school was a local missionary school where he became known as Nelson.

Categories
African Legends

Julius Nyerere

WHO IS JULIUS NYERERE?

Julius Nyerere, in full Julius Kambarage Nyerere, also called Mwalimu (Swahili: “Teacher”), (born March 1922, Butiama, Tanganyika [now in Tanzania]—died October 14, 1999, London, England), first prime minister of independent Tanganyika(1961), who later became the first president of the new state of Tanzania (1964). Nyerere was also the major force behind the Organization of African Unity(OAU; now the African Union). Nyerere was a son of the chief of the small Zanaki ethnic group. He was educated at Tabora Secondary School and Makerere College in Kampala, Uganda. A convert to Roman Catholicism, he taught in several Roman Catholic schools before going to Edinburgh University. He was the first Tanganyikan to study at a British university. He graduated with an M.A. in history and economics in 1952 and returned to Tanganyika to teach.

JULIUS NYERERE IN POLITICS
By the time Nyerere entered politics, the old League of nations mandate that Britain had exercised in Tanganyika had been converted into a United Nations trusteeship, with independence the ultimate goal. Seeking to hasten the process of emancipation, Nyerere joined the Tanganyika African Association, quickly becoming its president in 1953. In 1954 he converted the organization into the politically oriented Tanganyika Africa National Union (TANU). Under Nyerere’s leadership the organization espoused peaceful change, social equality, and racial harmony and rejected tribalism and all forms of racial and ethnic discrimination.
In 1955 and 1956 he journeyed to the United Nations in New York City as a petitioner to the Trusteeship Council and the Fourth Committee on trusts and non-self-governing territories. After a debate that ended in his being granted a hearing, he asked for a target date for the independence of Tanganyika. The British administration rejected the demand, but a dialogue was begun that established Nyerere as the preeminent nationalist spokesman for his country.

The British administration nominated him a member of the Tanganyikan Legislative Council, but he resigned in 1957 in protest against the slowness of progress toward independence. In elections held in 1958–59, Nyerere and TANU won a large number of seats on the Legislative Council. In a subsequent election in August 1960, his organization managed to win 70 of 71 seats in Tanganyika’s new Legislative Assembly. Progress toward independence owed much to the understanding and mutual trust that developed during the course of negotiations between Nyerere and the British governor, Sir Richard Turnbull. Tanganyika finally gained responsible self-government in September 1960, and Nyerere became chief minister at this time. Tanganyika became independent on December 9, 1961, with Nyerere as its first prime minister. The next month, however, he resigned from this position to devote his time to writing and synthesizing his views of government and of African unity. One of Nyerere’s more important works was a paper called “Ujamaa—The Basis for African Socialism,” which later served as the philosophical basis for the Arusha Declaration (1967). When Tanganyika became a republic in 1962, he was elected president, and in 1964 he became president of the United Republic of Tanzania (Tanganyika and Zanzibar).

Nyerere was reelected president of Tanzania in 1965 and was returned to serve three more successive five-year terms before he resigned as president in 1985 and handed over his office to his successor, Ali Hassan Mwinyi. From independence on Nyerere also headed Tanzania’s only political party Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM).
As outlined in his political program, the Arusha Declaration, Nyerere was committed to the creation of an egalitarian socialist society based on cooperative agriculture in Tanzania. He collectivized village farmlands, carried out mass literacy campaigns, and instituted free and universal education. He also emphasized Tanzania’s need to become economically self-sufficient rather than remain dependent on foreign aid and foreign investment. Nyerere termed his socialist experimentation ujamaa (Swahili: “familyhood”), a name that emphasized the blend of economic cooperation, racial and tribal harmony, and moralistic self-sacrifice that he sought to achieve. Tanzania became a one-party state, though certain democratic opportunities were permitted within that framework.
As a major force behind the modern Pan-African movement and one of the founders in 1963 of the OAU Nyerere was a key figure in African events in the 1970s. He was a strong advocate of economic and political measures in dealing with the apartheid policies of South Africa Nyerere was chairman of a group of five frontline African presidents who advocated the overthrow of white supremacy in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), South Africa, and South West Africa/Namibia (now Namibia).

Nyerere’s concerns on the domestic front were dominated by economic hardships and by difficulties between Nyerere and Idi Amin of Uganda In 1972 Nyerere denounced Amin when the latter announced the expulsion of all Asians from Uganda. When Ugandan troops occupied a small border area of Tanzania in 1978, Nyerere pledged to bring about the downfall of Amin, and in 1979 the Tanzanian army invaded Uganda in support of a local movement to overthrow him. Nyerere’s intervention helped to unseat Amin and brought about the return to power in Uganda of Milton Obote in 1980.
Though enthusiastically adopted by his countrymen and steadfastly supported by sympathetic western European nations, Nyerere’s socialist policies failed to spur economic development in Tanzania. At the time of his resignation in 1985, Tanzania was still one of the world’s poorest countries, with a per capita income of about U.S. $250. Agriculture remained at the subsistence level, and the country’s industrial and transportation infrastructure were chronically underdeveloped. One-third of the national budget was supplied by foreign aid. Tanzania had one of the highest literacy rates in Africa, however, and the society was both politically stable and notably free of economic inequalities. Nyerere himself remained committed to socialist policies throughout his political career.

Nyerere continued as chairman of the CCM until 1990. Thereafter he assumed the role of elder statesman and was regularly called upon to act as arbiter in international crises such as those in Rwanda and Burundi.
Soft-spoken, unpretentious, small of stature, and quick to laugh, Julius Nyerere was widely credited with impressive oratorical skills and unusual powers of political perception. His thoughts, essays, and speeches are collected in his books, Uhuru na Umoja (1967; Freedom and Unity), Uhuru na Ujamaa (1968; Freedom and Socialism), and Uhuru na Maendeleo (1973; Freedom and Development). He also translated two plays by William Shakespare, The Merchant of Venice and Julius Caesar, into Swahili.

 

Categories
African Legends

Malcolm X

Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little on May 19, 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska. His mother, Louise Norton Little, was a homemaker occupied with the family’s eight children. His father, Earl Little, was an outspoken Baptist minister and avid supporter of Black Nationalist leader Marcus Garvey. Earl’s civil rights activism prompted death threats from the white supremacist organization Black Legion, forcing the family to relocate twice before Malcolm’s fourth birthday.
Regardless of the Little’s efforts to elude the Legion, in 1929, their Lansing, Michigan home was burned to the ground. Two years later, Earl’s body was found lying across the town’s trolley tracks. Police ruled both incidents as accidents, but the Littles were certain that members of the Black Legion were responsible. Louise suffered emotional breakdown several years after the death of her husband and was committed to a mental institution, while her children were split up among various foster homes and orphanages.


Eventually, Malcolm and his long-time friend, Malcolm “Shorty” Jarvis, moved back to Boston. In 1946, they were arrested and convicted on burglary charges, and Malcolm was sentenced to 10 years in prison, although he was granted parole after serving seven years.
Recalling his days in school, he used the time to further his education. It was during this period of self-enlightenment that Malcolm’s brother Reginald would visit and discuss his recent conversion to the Muslim religion. Reginald belonged to the religious organization the Nation of Islam (NOI).
Intrigued, Malcolm began to study the teachings of NOI leader Elijah Muhammad. Muhammad taught that white society actively worked to keep African-Americans from empowering themselves and achieving political, economic, and social success. Among other goals, the NOI fought for a state of their own, separate from one inhabited by white people. By the time he was paroled in 1952, Malcolm was a devoted follower with the new surname “X” (He considered “Little” a slave name and chose the “X” to signify his lost tribal name.).
Intelligent and articulate, Malcolm was appointed as a minister and national spokesman for the Nation of Islam. Elijah Muhammad also charged him with establishing new mosques in cities such as Detroit, Michigan, and Harlem. Malcolm utilized newspaper columns, as well as radio and television, to communicate the NOI’s message across the United States. His charisma, drive, and conviction attracted an astounding number of new members. Malcolm was largely credited with increasing membership in the NOI from 500 in 1952 to 30,000 in 1963.
The crowds and controversy surrounding Malcolm made him a media magnet. He was featured in a weeklong television special with Mike Wallace in 1959, called The Hate That Hate Produced. The program explored the fundamentals of the NOI, and tracked Malcolm’s emergence as one of its most important leaders. After the special, Malcolm was faced with the uncomfortable reality that his fame had eclipsed that of his mentor Elijah Muhammad. In addition to the media, Malcolm’s vivid personality had captured the government’s attention. As membership in the NOI continued to grow, FBI agents infiltrated the organization (one even acted as Malcolm’s bodyguard) and secretly placed bugs, wiretaps, cameras, and other surveillance equipment to monitor the group’s activities.
Malcolm’s faith was dealt a crushing blow at the height of the civil rights movement in 1963. He learned that his mentor and leader, Elijah Muhammad, was secretly having relations with as many as six women within the Nation of Islam organization. As if that were not enough, Malcolm found out that some of these relationships had resulted in children.
Since joining the NOI, Malcolm had strictly adhered to the teachings of Muhammad, which included remaining celibate until his marriage to Betty Shabazz in 1958. Malcolm refused Muhammad’s request to help cover up the affairs and subsequent children. He was deeply hurt by Muhammad’s actions, because he had previously considered him a living prophet. Malcolm also felt guilty about the masses he had led to join the NOI, which he now felt was a fraudulent organization built on too many lies to ignore.
Shortly after his shocking discovery, Malcolm received criticism for a comment he made regarding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. “[Kennedy] never foresaw that the chickens would come home to roost so soon,” said Malcolm. After the statement, Elijah Muhammad “silenced” Malcolm for 90 days. Malcolm, however, suspected he was silenced for another reason. In March 1964, Malcolm terminated his relationship with the NOI. Unable to look past Muhammad’s deception, Malcolm decided to found his own religious organization, the Muslim Mosque, Inc.
That same year, Malcolm went on a pilgrimage to Mecca, which proved to be life altering for him. For the first time, Malcolm shared his thoughts and beliefs with different cultures and found the response to be overwhelmingly positive. When he returned, Malcolm said he had met “blonde-haired, blued-eyed men I could call my brothers.” He returned to the United States with a new outlook on integration and a new hope for the future. This time when Malcolm spoke, instead of just preaching to African-Americans, he had a message for all races.
After Malcolm resigned his position in the Nation of Islam and renounced Elijah Muhammad, relations between the two had become increasingly volatile. FBI informants working undercover in the NOI warned officials that Malcolm had been marked for assassination–one undercover officer had even been ordered to help plant a bomb in Malcolm’s car.
After repeated attempts on his life, Malcolm rarely traveled anywhere without bodyguards. On February 14, 1965 the home where Malcolm, Betty, and their four daughters lived in East Elmhurst, New York was firebombed. Luckily, the family escaped physical injury.
One week later, however, Malcolm’s enemies were successful in their ruthless attempt. At a speaking engagement in the Manhattan’s Audubon Ballroom on February 21, 1965, three gunmen rushed Malcolm onstage. They shot him 15 times at close range. The 39-year-old was pronounced dead on arrival at New York’s Columbia Presbyterian Hospital.
Fifteen hundred people attended Malcolm’s funeral in Harlem on February 27, 1965 at the Faith Temple Church of God in Christ (now Child’s Memorial Temple Church of God in Christ). After the ceremony, friends took the shovels away from the waiting gravediggers and buried Malcolm themselves.
Later that year, Betty gave birth to their twin daughters.
Malcolm’s assassins, Talmadge Hayer, Norman 3X Butler, and Thomas 15X Johnson, were convicted of first-degree murder in March 1966. The three men were all members of the Nation of Islam. Malcolm X’s legacy has moved through generations as the subject of numerous documentaries, books, and movies. A tremendous resurgence of interest occurred in 1992 when director Spike Lee released the acclaimed movie, Malcolm X. The film received Oscar nominations for Best Actor (Denzel Washington) and Best Costume Design.
Malcolm X is buried at the Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York.

Categories
African Legends

Kwame Nkrumah

KWAME NKRUMAH

Date of birth : 1909-09-21
Date of death : 1972-04-27
Birthplace : Nkroful, Gold Coast
Nationality : Ghanaian
Category : Politics
Last modified : 2011-10-12
Credited as : president of Ghana, Nzima tribe, Ghana’s independence

Early life and education
Gold Coast
Kwame Nkrumah was born in about 1909 in Nkroful, Gold Coast (later known as Ghana [2]) to a poor and illiterate family.[3] Nkroful was a small village in the Nzema area,[4] in the far southwest of the Gold Coast, close to the frontier with the French colony of the Ivory Coast. His father did not live with the family, but worked in Half Assini where he pursued his goldsmith business until his death. Kwame Nkrumah was raised by his mother and his extended family, who lived together in traditional fashion, with more distant relatives often visiting. He lived a carefree childhood, spent in the village, in the bush, and on the nearby sea.[5] By the naming customs of the Akan people, he was given the name Kwame, the name given to males born on a Saturday(depending on the tribe i.e. Ashanti or Fante). During his years as a student in the United States, though, he was known as Francis Nwia Kofi Nkrumah – Kofi is the name given to males born on Friday. He later changed his name to Kwame Nkrumah in 1945 in the UK, preferring the name “Kwame”.[6] According to Ebenezer Obiri Addo in his study of the future president, the name “Nkrumah”, a name traditionally given to a ninth child, indicates that Kwame likely held that place in the house of his father, who had several wives. The name of his father is not known exactly; with most accounts only indicating that he was a goldsmith. But according to a Times newspaper interview, his father was Opanyin Kofi Nwiana Ngolomah, who hailed from Nkroful and belongs to Akan tribe of the Asona clan but stayed at Tarkwa-Nsuaem where he practiced his goldsmith business.[7] Opanyin Ngolomah was respected for his wise counsel by those who sought his advice on traditional issues and domestic affairs; he died in 1927.[8][3]
Kwame was the only child of his mother.[b]–[9]
Nkrumah’s mother sent him to the elementary school run by a Catholic mission at Half Assini, where he proved an adept student.–[10] A German Roman Catholic priest by the name of George Fischer was said to have profoundly influenced his elementary school education. Although his mother, whose name was Elizabeth Nyanibah (1876/77–1979),[6][11] later stated his year of birth was 1912, Nkrumah wrote that he was born on 18 September 1909, a Saturday. Nyanibah, who hailed from Nsuaem and belongs to the Agona family, was a fishmonger and petty trader when she married his father. After eight days of his birth, his father named him as Francis Nwia-Kofi after a relative[3] but later his parents named him as Francis Kwame Ngolomah.[7] He progressed through the ten-year elementary programme in eight years. By about 1925 he was a student-teacher in the school, and had been baptised into the Catholic faith. While at the school, he was noticed by the Reverend Alec Garden Fraser, principal of the Government Training College (soon to become Achimota School) in the Gold Coast’s capital, Accra. Fraser arranged for Nkrumah to train as a teacher at his school.–[10][12] Here, Columbia-educated deputy headmaster Kwegyir Aggrey exposed him to the ideas of Marcus Garvey and W. E. B. Du Bois. Aggrey, Fraser, and others at Achimota taught that there should be close co-operation between the races in governing the Gold Coast, but Nkrumah, echoing Garvey, soon came to believe that only when the black race governed itself could there be harmony between the races.[13]–[14]
After obtaining his Teacher’s Certificate from the Prince of Wales’ College at Achimota in 1930,[6] Nkrumah was given a teaching post at the Roman Catholic primary school in Elmina in 1931,[6] and after a year there, was made headmaster of the school at Axim. In Axim, he started to get involved in politics and founded the Nzima Literary Society. In 1933, he was appointed a teacher at the Catholic seminary at Amissano. Although the life there was strict, he liked it, and considered becoming a Jesuit. Nkrumah had heard journalist and future Nigerian president Nnamdi Azikiwe speak while a student at Achimota; the two men met and Azikiwe’s influence increased Nkrumah’s interest in black nationalism. The young teacher decided to further his education. Azikiwe had attended Lincoln College, a historically black college in Chester County, Pennsylvania, west of Philadelphia, and he advised Nkrumah to enroll there. Nkrumah, who had failed the entrance examination for London University, gained funds for the trip and his education from relatives. He traveled by way of Britain, where he learned, to his outrage, of Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia, one of the few independent African nations. He arrived in the United States, in October 1935.–[15]


Personal life
Nkrumah married Fathia Ritzk, an Egyptian Coptic bank worker and former teacher, on the evening of her arrival in Ghana: New Year’s Eve, 1957–1958.[129] Fathia’s mother refused to bless their marriage, due to reluctance to see another one of her children leave with a foreign husband.
As a married couple, the Nkrumah family had three children: Gamal (born 1959), Samia (born 1960), and Sekou (born 1963). Gamal is a newspaper journalist, while Samia and Sekou are politicians. Nkrumah also has another son, Francis, a paediatrician (born 1962).[130] There appears to be another son, Onsy Anwar Nathan Kwame Nkrumah, born to an Egyptian mother[131][132] and an additional daughter, Elizabeth.[132] Onsy’s claim to be Nkrumah’s son is disputed by Nkrumah’s other children.[133][134]
Cultural depictions[edit]
Nkrumah is played by Danny Sapani in the Netflix television series The Crown (season 2, episode 8 “Dear Mrs Kennedy”). The portrayal of the historical significance of the queen’s dance with Nkrumah in the show has been refuted as over exaggerated.[135]
Political philosophy[edit]
Nkrumah called himself “a scientific socialist and a Marxist” and is considered relatively orthodox in his Marxism–Leninism.[125] He generally took a non-aligned Marxist perspective on economics, and believed capitalism had malignant effects that were going to stay with Africa for a long time. Although he was clear on distancing himself from the African socialism of many of his contemporaries, Nkrumah argued that socialism was the system that would best accommodate the changes that capitalism had brought, while still respecting African values. He specifically addresses these issues and his politics in a 1967 essay entitled “African Socialism Revisited”:
We know that the traditional African society was founded on principles of egalitarianism. In its actual workings, however, it had various shortcomings. Its humanist impulse, nevertheless, is something that continues to urge us towards our all-African socialist reconstruction. We postulate each man to be an end in himself, not merely a means; and we accept the necessity of guaranteeing each man equal opportunities for his development. The implications of this for socio-political practice have to be worked out scientifically, and the necessary social and economic policies pursued with resolution. Any meaningful humanism must begin from egalitarianism and must lead to objectively chosen policies for safeguarding and sustaining egalitarianism. Hence, socialism. Hence, also, scientific socialism.[126]
Nkrumah was also best-known politically for his strong commitment to and promotion of pan-Africanism. He was inspired by the writings of black intellectuals such as Marcus Garvey, W. E. B. Du Bois, and George Padmore, and his relationships with them. Much of his understanding and relationship to these men was created during his years in America as a student. Some would argue that his greatest inspiration was Marcus Garvey, although he also had a meaningful relationship with C. L. R. James. Nkrumah looked to these men in order to craft a general solution to the ills of Africa. To follow in these intellectual footsteps Nkrumah had intended to continue his education in London, but found himself involved in direct activism. Then, motivated by advice from Du Bois, Nkrumah decided to focus on creating peace in Africa. He became a passionate advocate of the “African Personality” embodied in the slogan “Africa for the Africans” earlier popularised by Edward Wilmont Blyden and he viewed political independence as a prerequisite for economic independence.[32] Nkrumah’s dedications to pan-Africanism in action attracted these intellectuals to his Ghanaian projects. Many Americans, such as Du Bois and Kwame Ture, moved to Ghana to join him in his efforts. These men are buried there today.[127] His press officer for six years was the Grenadian anticolonialist Sam Morris. Nkrumah’s biggest success in this area was his significant influence in the founding of the Organisation of African Unity.
Nkrumah also became a symbol for black liberation in the United States. When in 1958 the Harlem Lawyers Association had an event in Nkrumah’s honour, diplomat Ralph Bunche told him:
We salute you, Kwame Nkrumah, not only because you are Prime Minister of Ghana, although this is cause enough. We salute you because you are a true and living representation of our hopes and ideals, of the determination we have to be accepted fully as equal beings, of the pride we have held and nurtured in our African origin, of the freedom of which we know we are capable, of the freedom in which we believe, of the dignity imperative to our stature as men.[103]
In 1961 Nkrumah delivered a speech called “I Speak Of Freedom”. During this speech he talked about how “Africa could become one of the greatest forces for good in the world”.[128] He mentions how Africa is a land of “vast riches” with mineral resources from that “range from gold and diamonds to uranium and petroleum”.[128] Nkrumah says that the reason Africa isn’t thriving right now is because the European powers have been taking all the wealth for themselves. If Africa could be independent of European rule then it could truly flourish and contribute positively to the world. In the ending words of this speech Nkrumah calls his people to action by saying “This is our chance. We must act now. Tomorrow may be too late and the opportunity will have passed, and with it the hope of free Africa’s survival”.[128] This rallied the nation in a nationalistic movement
Culture
Nkrumah promoted pan-African culture, calling for international libraries and cooperative efforts to study history and culture. He decried the norms of white supremacy and Eurocentrism imposed by British textbooks and cultural institutions. He wore a traditional northern robe, fugu, but donned Kente cloth, from the south, for ceremonies, in order to symbolise his identity as a representative of the whole country. He oversaw the opening of the Ghana Museum on 5 March 1957; the Arts Council of Ghana, a wing of the Ministry of Education and Culture, in 1958; the Research Library on African Affairs in June, 1961; and the Ghana Film Corporation in 1964.[85] In 1962, Nkrumah opened the Institute of African Studies.[91]
A campaign against nudity in the northern part of the country received special attention from Nkrumah, who reportedly deployed Propaganda Secretary Hannah Cudjoe to respond. Cudjoe also formed the Ghana Women’s League, which advanced the Party’s agenda on nutrition, raising children, and wearing clothing. The League also led a demonstration against the detonation of French nuclear weapons in the Sahara.[94][95] Cudjoe was eventually demoted with the consolidation of national women’s groups, and marginalised within the Party structure.[95]
Laws passed in 1959 and 1960 designated special positions in parliament to be held by women. Some women were promoted to the CPP Central Committee. Women attended more universities, took up more professions including medicine and law, and went on professional trips to Israel, the Soviet Union, and the Eastern Bloc. Women also entered the army and air force. Most women remained in agriculture and trade; some received assistance from the Co-operative Movement.[27][94]
Nkrumah’s image was widely disseminated, for example, on postage stamps and on money, in the style of monarchs – providing fodder for accusations of a Nkrumahist personality cult.[96]
Media[edit]
In 1957, Nkrumah created a well-funded Ghana News Agency to generate domestic news and disseminate it abroad. In ten years time the GNA had 8045 km of domestic telegraph line, and maintained stations in Lagos, Nairobi, London, and New York City.[97]
To the true African journalist, his newspaper is a collective organiser, a collective instrument of mobilisation and a collective educator—a weapon, first and foremost, to overthrow colonialism and imperialism and to assist total African independence and unity.
— Kwame Nkrumah at the Second Conference of African Journalists; Accra, November 11, 1963[97][98]
Nkrumah consolidated state control over newspapers, establishing the Ghanaian Times in 1958 and then in 1962 obtaining its competitor, the Daily Graphic, from the Mirror Group of London. As he wrote in Africa Must Unite: “It is part of our revolutionary credo that within the competitive system of capitalism, the press cannot function in accordance with a strict regard for the sacredness of facts, and that the press, therefore, should not remain in private hands.” Starting in 1960, he invoked the right of pre-publication censorship of all news.[97]
The Gold Coast Broadcasting Service was established in 1954 and revamped as the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC). Many television broadcasts featured Nkrumah, commenting for example on the problematic “insolence and laziness of boys and girls”. Before celebrations of May Day, 1963, Nkrumah went on television to announce the expansion of Ghana’s Young Pioneers, the introduction of a National Pledge, the beginning of a National Flag salute in schools, and the creation of a National Training program to inculcate virtue and the spirit of service among Ghanaian youth. Quoth Nkrumah (to Parliament, on 15 October 1963), “Ghana’s television will not cater for cheap entertainment or commercialism; its paramount objective will be education in its broadest and purest sense.”[91]
As per the 1965 Instrument of Incorporation of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, the Minister of Information and Broadcasting had “powers of direction” over the media, and the President had the power “at any time, if he is satisfied that it is in the national interest to do so, take over the control and management of the affairs or any part of the functions of the Corporation,” hiring, firing, reorganising, and making other commands at will.[97]
Radio programs, designed in part to reach non-reading members of the public, were a major focus of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation. In 1961, the GBC formed an external service broadcasting in English, French, Arabic, Swahili, Portuguese, and Hausa. Using four 100-kilowatt transmitters and two 250-kilowatt transmitters, the GBC External Service broadcast 110 hours of Pan-Africanist programming to Africa and Europe each week.[97]
He refused advertising in all media, beginning with the Evening News of 1948.[97]
Exile, death, tributes and legacy
Kwame Nkrumah’s grave inside the Kwame Nkrumah memorial in Accra
Nkrumah never returned to Ghana, but he continued to push for his vision of African unity. He lived in exile in Conakry, Guinea, as the guest of President Ahmed Sékou Touré, who made him honorary co-president of the country. Nkrumah read, wrote, corresponded, gardened, and entertained guests. Despite retirement from public office, he felt that he was still threatened by Western intelligence agencies. When his cook died mysteriously, he feared that someone would poison him, and began hoarding food in his room. He suspected that foreign agents were going through his mail, and lived in constant fear of abduction and assassination. In failing health, he flew to Bucharest, Romania, for medical treatment in August 1971. He died of prostate cancer in April 1972 at the age of 62.
Nkrumah was buried in a tomb in the village of his birth, Nkroful, Ghana. While the tomb remains in Nkroful, his remains were transferred to a large national memorial tomb and park in Accra.
Over his lifetime, Nkrumah was awarded honorary doctorates by many universities including Lincoln University (Pennsylvania), Moscow State University (USSR), Cairo University (Egypt), Jagiellonian University (Poland) and Humboldt University (East Germany).[121]
In 2000, he was voted African Man of the Millennium by listeners to the BBC World Service, being described by the BBC as a “Hero of Independence”, and an “International symbol of freedom as the leader of the first black African country to shake off the chains of colonial rule.”[122]
According to intelligence documents released by the U.S. Department of State’s Office of the Historian, “Nkrumah was doing more to undermine [U.S. government] interests than any other black African.”[123]
In September 2009, President John Atta Mills declared 21 September (the 100th anniversary of Kwame Nkrumah’s birth) to be Founder’s Day, a statutory holiday in Ghana to celebrate the legacy of Kwame Nkrumah.[124]

Categories
African Legends

Fela Anikulapo Kuti

Fela Anikulapo Kuti (15 October 1938 – 2 August 1997), also professionally known as Fela Kuti, or simply Fela, was a Nigerian multi-instrumentalist, musician, composer, pioneer of the Afrobeat music genre and human rights activist. He has been called “superstar, singer, musician, Panafricanist, polygamist, mystic, legend.”[1] At the height of his popularity, he was referred to as one of Africa’s most “challenging and charismatic music performers.”[2]

Biography
Early life
Fela was born Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti[3] on 15 October 1938 in Abeokuta, the modern-day capital of Ogun State[4] in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, then a city in the British Colony of Nigeria[5] into an upper-middle-class family. His mother, Chief Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, was a feminist activist in the anti-colonial movement; his father, Reverend Israel Oludotun Ransome-Kuti, an Anglican minister and school principal, was the first president of the Nigeria Union of Teachers.[6] His brothers, Beko Ransome-Kuti and Olikoye Ransome-Kuti, both medical doctors, are well known in Nigeria.[7] Fela is a first cousin to the Nigerian writer and Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka, the first African to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.[8] Fela attended Abeokuta Grammar School. Later he was sent to London in 1958 to study medicine but decided to study music instead at the Trinity College of Music, the trumpet being his preferred instrument.[7] While there, he formed the band Koola Lobitos, playing a fusion of jazz and highlife.[9] In 1960, Fela married his first wife, Remilekun (Remi) Taylor, with whom he would have three children (Femi, Yeni, and Sola). He eventually married all 15 of his back up singers in one large marriage.[10] In 1963, Fela moved back to the newly independent Federation of Nigeria, re-formed Koola Lobitos and trained as a radio producer for the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation. He played for some time with Victor Olaiya and his All Stars.[11]

In 1967, he went to Ghana to think up a new musical direction.[6] That was when Kuti first called his music Afrobeat.[6] In 1969, Fela took the band to the United States where they spent 10 months in Los Angeles. While there, Fela discovered the Black Power movement through Sandra Smith (now Sandra Izsadore), a partisan of the Black Panther Party. The experience would heavily influence his music and political views.[12] He renamed the band Nigeria ’70. Soon afterwards, the Immigration and Naturalization Service was tipped off by a promoter that Fela and his band were in the US without work permits. The band performed a quick recording session in Los Angeles that would later be released as The ’69 Los Angeles Sessions.
After Fela and his band returned to Nigeria, the group was renamed The Afrika ’70, as lyrical themes changed from love to social issues.[9] He formed the Kalakuta Republic, a commune, a recording studio, and a home for the many people connected to the band that he later declared independent from the Nigerian state. According to Lindsay Barrett, the name “Kalakuta” derived from the infamous Black Hole of Calcutta dungeon in India.[7] Fela set up a nightclub in the Empire Hotel, first named the Afro-Spot and later the Afrika Shrine, where he both performed regularly and officiated at personalized Yoruba traditional ceremonies in honour of his nation’s ancestral faith. He also changed his name to Anikulapo (meaning “He who carries death in his pouch”, with the interpretation: “I will be the master of my own destiny and will decide when it is time for death to take me”).[7][13] He stopped using the hyphenated surname “Ransome” because it was a slave name.

Career

Fela’s music was popular among the Nigerian public and Africans in general.[14] In fact, he made the decision to sing in Pidgin English so that his music could be enjoyed by individuals all over Africa, where the local languages spoken are very diverse and numerous. As popular as Fela’s music had become in Nigeria and elsewhere, it was also very unpopular with the ruling government, and raids on the Kalakuta Republic were frequent. During 1972, Ginger Baker recorded Stratavarious with Fela appearing alongside Bobby Tench.[15] Around this time, Kuti became even more involved in the Yoruba religion.[16]
In 1977, Fela and the Afrika ’70 released the album Zombie, a scathing attack on Nigerian soldiers using the zombie metaphor to describe the methods of the Nigerian military. The album was a smash hit and infuriated the government, setting off a vicious attack against the Kalakuta Republic, during which one thousand soldiers attacked the commune. Fela was severely beaten, and his elderly mother (whose house was located opposite the commune)[7] was thrown from a window, causing fatal injuries. The Kalakuta Republic was burned, and Fela’s studio, instruments, and master tapes were destroyed. Fela claimed that he would have been killed had it not been for the intervention of a commanding officer as he was being beaten. Fela’s response to the attack was to deliver his mother’s coffin to the Dodan Barracks in Lagos, General Olusegun Obasanjo’s residence, and to write two songs, “Coffin for Head of State” and “Unknown Soldier”, referencing the official inquiry that claimed the commune had been destroyed by an unknown soldier.[17]

1970s

Fela and his band took residence in Crossroads Hotel, as the Shrine had been destroyed along with his commune. In 1978, Fela married 27 women, many of whom were his dancers, composers, and singers. The marriage served not only to mark the anniversary of the attack on the Kalakuta Republic but also to protect Fela, and his wives, from false claims from authorities that Fela was kidnapping the women. Later, he was to adopt a rotation system of keeping 12 simultaneous wives.[18] The year was also marked by two notorious concerts, the first in Accra in which riots broke out during the song “Zombie”, which led to Fela being banned from entering Ghana. The second was at the Berlin Jazz Festival after which most of Fela’s musicians deserted him, due to rumours that Fela was planning to use the entire proceeds to fund his presidential campaign.

Despite the massive setbacks, Fela was determined to come back. He formed his own political party, which he called Movement of the People (MOP), in order to “clean up society like a mop”.[7] Apart from being a mass political party, MOP preached “Nkrumahism” and “Africanism.”[19][20] In 1979, he put himself forward for President in Nigeria’s first elections for more than a decade, but his candidature was refused. At this time, Fela created a new band called Egypt ’80 reflecting the fact that Egyptian civilization, knowledge, philosophy, mathematics, and religious systems are African and must be claimed as such. As Fela states in an interview, “Stressing the point that I have to make Africans aware of the fact that Egyptian civilization belongs to the African. So that was the reason why I changed the name of my band to Egypt 80.”[21] Fela continued to record albums and tour the country. He further infuriated the political establishment by dropping the names of ITT Corporation vice-president Moshood Abiola and then General Olusegun Obasanjo at the end of a hot-selling 25-minute political screed entitled “I.T.T. (International Thief-Thief)”.

1980s and beyond
In 1984, Muhammadu Buhari’s government, of which Kuti was a vocal opponent, jailed him on a charge of currency smuggling which Amnesty International and others denounced as politically motivated. Amnesty designated him a prisoner of conscience, and his case was also taken up by other human rights groups. After 20 months, he was released from prison by General Ibrahim Babangida. On his release he divorced his 12 remaining wives, saying that “marriage brings jealousy and selfishness”.
Once again, Fela continued to release albums with Egypt ’80, made a number of successful tours of the United States and Europe and also continued to be politically active. In 1986, Fela performed in Giants Stadium in New Jersey as part of the Amnesty International A Conspiracy Of Hope concert, sharing the bill with Bono, Carlos Santana, and The Neville Brothers. In 1989, Fela and Egypt ’80 released the anti-apartheid Beasts of No Nation that depicts on its cover U.S. President Ronald Reagan, UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and South African State President Pieter Willem Botha, that title of the composition, as Barrett notes, having evolved out of a statement by Botha: “This uprising [against the apartheid system] will bring out the beast in us.”
Fela’s album output slowed in the 1990s, and eventually he stopped releasing albums altogether. In 1993, he and four members of the Afrika ’70 organization were arrested for murder. The battle against military corruption in Nigeria was taking its toll, especially during the rise of Sani Abacha. Rumours were also spreading that he was suffering from an illness for which he was refusing treatment.


The Arrival Of Afrobeat
The musical style of Fela is called Afrobeat, a style he largely created, which is a complex fusion of jazz, funk, Ghanaian/Nigerian highlife, psychedelic rock and traditional West African chants and rhythms. Afrobeat also borrows heavily from the native “tinker pan”. The importance of the input of Tony Allen (Fela’s drummer of twenty years) in the creation of Afrobeat cannot be overstated. Fela once famously stated that “without Tony Allen, there would be no Afrobeat”.
Afrobeat is characterized by a fairly large band with many instruments, vocals and a musical structure featuring jazzy, funky horn sections. A riff-based “endless groove” is used, in which a base rhythm of drums, shekere, muted West African-style guitar and melodic bass guitar riffs are repeated throughout the song. Commonly, interlocking melodic riffs and rhythms are introduced one by one, building the groove bit-by-bit and layer-by-layer. The horn section then becomes prominent, introducing other riffs and main melodic themes.
Fela’s band was notable for featuring two baritone saxophones, whereas most groups were using only one of this instrument. This is a common technique in African and African-influenced musical styles and can be seen in funk and hip hop. Fela’s bands at times even performed with two bassists at the same time both playing interlocking melodies and rhythms. There were always two or more guitarists. The electric West African style guitar in Afrobeat bands are paramount, but are used to give basic structure, playing a repeating chordal/melodic statement, riff or groove.
Some elements often present in Fela’s music are the call-and-response within the chorus and figurative but simple lyrics. Fela’s songs were also very long, at least 10–15 minutes in length, and many reached 20 or even 30 minutes, while some unreleased tracks would last up to 45 minutes when performed live. This was one of many reasons that his music never reached a substantial degree of popularity outside Africa. His LP records frequently had one 30-minute track per side. Typically there is an “Instrumental Introduction” jam part of the song, perhaps 10–15 minutes long, before Fela starts singing the “main” part of the song, featuring his lyrics and singing, in which the song continues for another 10–15 minutes. Therefore, on some recordings one may see his songs divided into two parts, Part 1 (instrumental) followed by the rest, Part 2.
His songs were mostly sung in Nigerian pidgin English, although he also performed a few songs in the Yoruba language. Fela’s main instruments were the saxophone and the keyboard, but he also played the trumpet, electric guitar, and took the occasional drum solo. Fela refused to perform songs again after he had already recorded them, which also hindered his popularity outside Africa.

Fela was known for his showmanship, and his concerts were often quite outlandish and wild. He referred to his stage act as the “Underground” Spiritual Game. Fela attempted making a movie but lost all the materials to the fire that was set to his house by the military government in power. Kuti thought that art, and thus his own music, should have political meaning.
As Fela’s musical career developed, so too did his political influence throughout the world. In turn, the religious aspect of his musical approach grew. Fela was a part of an Afro-Centric consciousness movement that was founded on and delivered through his music. In an interview found in Hank Bordowitz’s Noise of the World, Fela states: “Music is supposed to have an effect. If you’re playing music and people don’t feel something, you’re not doing shit. That’s what African music is about. When you hear something, you must move. I want to move people to dance, but also to think. Music wants to dictate a better life, against a bad life. When you’re listening to something that depicts having a better life, and you’re not having a better life, it must have an effect on you.”

Fela’s music and strong sense of sharing humanist and activist ideas grew from the environment he was in. In interview footage found in Faces of Africa on CGTN Africa, Fela talks about a comparison between English love songs and his own music. Fela States: “Yes, if you are in England the music can be an instrument of enjoyment. You can sing about love, you can sing about whom you are going to bed with next. But in my own environment, my society is underdeveloped because of an alien system on our people. So there is no music enjoyment. There is nothing like love. There is something like struggle for people’s existence.”


Political views and activism
Activism
Fela Kuti was a political giant in Africa from the 70s until his death. Kuti criticized the corruption of Nigerian government officials and the mistreatment of Nigerian citizens. He spoke of colonialism as the root of the socio-economic and political problems that plagued the African people. Corruption was one of the worst, if not the worst, political problem facing Africa in the 70s and Nigeria was among the most corrupt countries of the time. The Nigerian government was responsible for election rigging and coups that ultimately worsened poverty, economic inequality, unemployment, and political instability, which further promoted corruption and thuggery. Fela’s protest songs covered themes inspired by the realities of corruption and socio-economic inequality in Africa. Fela Kuti’s political statements could be heard throughout Africa.
Kuti’s open vocalization of the violent and oppressive regime controlling Nigeria did not come without consequence. He was arrested on over 200 different occasions, including his longest stint of 20 months after his arrest in 1984. On top of the jail time, the corrupt government would send soldiers to beat Kuti, his family and friends, and destroy wherever he lived and whatever instruments or recordings he had.
In the 1970s, Kuti began to run outspoken political columns in the advertising space of daily and weekly newspapers such as The Daily Times and The Punch, bypassing editorial censorship in Nigeria’s predominantly state controlled media. Published throughout the 1970s and early 1980s under the title “Chief Priest Say”, these columns were extensions of Kuti’s famous Yabi Sessions—consciousness-raising word-sound rituals, with himself as chief priest, conducted at his Lagos nightclub. Organized around a militantly Afrocentric rendering of history and the essence of black beauty, “Chief Priest Say” focused on the role of cultural hegenomy in the continuing subjugation of Africans. Kuti addressed a number of topics, from explosive denunciations of the Nigerian Government’s criminal behaviour; Islam and Christianity’s exploitative nature, and evil multinational corporations; to deconstructions of Western medicine, black muslim, sex, pollution, and poverty. “Chief Priest Say” was cancelled, first by Daily Times then by Punch. The reason given was non-payment, but many commentators have speculated that the papers’ editors were increasingly pressured to stop publication, including by violence.

Political views
Kuti was outspoken; his songs spoke his inner thoughts. His rise in popularity throughout the 1970s signaled a change in the relation between music as an art form and Nigerian socio-political discourse. In 1984 Anikulapo harshly criticized and insulted the then authoritarian president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari. One of his popular songs, “Beast Of No Nation”, refers to Buhari as an animal in a madman’s body; in Nigerian Pidgin: “No be outside Buhari dey ee, na krase man be dat, animal in krase man skin ii”. Kuti strongly believed in Africa and always preached peace among Africans. He thought the most important way for Africans to fight European cultural imperialism was to support traditional African religions and lifestyles. The American Black Power movement also influenced Fela’s political views; he supported Pan-Africanism and socialism, and called for a united, democratic African republic.
Some of the famous African leaders he supported during his lifetime include Kwame Nkrumah and Thomas Sankara of Burkina Faso. Kuti was a candid supporter of human rights, and many of his songs are direct attacks against dictatorships, specifically the militaristic governments of Nigeria in the 1970s and 1980s. He was also a social commentator, and he criticized his fellow Africans (especially the upper class) for betraying traditional African culture.
The African culture he believed in also included men having many wives (polygamy). The Kalakuta Republic was formed in part as a polygamist colony. In defense of polygyny he said: “A man goes for many women in the first place. Like in Europe, when a man is married, when the wife is sleeping, he goes out and fucks around. He should bring the women in the house, man, to live with him, and stop running around the streets!” Some characterize his views towards women as misogynist, and typically cite as evidence songs like “Mattress”.In a more complex example, he mocks the aspiration of African women to European standards of ladyhood while extolling the values of the market woman in his song “Lady”. In accordance with his beliefs, Fela Kuti married multiple women at the same time in 1978.
Fela Kuti was also an outspoken critic of the United States. At a meeting during his 1981 Amsterdam tour, he “complained about the psychological warfare that American organizations like ITT and the CIA waged against developing nations in terms of language”. He did not see why the terms ‘Third World, “undeveloped” or even worse, “Non-aligned countries” should be used, as they all implied inferiority.”

Death
On 3 August 1997, Olikoye Ransome-Kuti, already a prominent AIDS activist and former Minister Of Health, announced his younger brother’s death a day earlier from complications related to AIDS. However, there has been no definitive proof that Kuti died from complications related to HIV/AIDS, and much skepticism surrounds this alleged cause of death and the sources that have popularized this claim. For example, it is widely claimed that Fela suffered and may have possibly died from Kaposi Sarcoma, which is a symptom of HIV/AIDS infection. However, there are no known photos of Kuti with telltale lesions; moreover, Kuti was honored with a lying-in-state in which his remains were encased in a five-sided glass coffin for full public viewing. More than one million people attended Fela’s funeral at the site of the old Shrine compound. The NEW AFRIKA SHRINE has opened since Fela’s death in a different section of Lagos under the supervision of his son FEMI.