Thursday, 29 January 2015

61st birthday of Oprah Winfrey

(Born 29 January 1954, Kosciusko, Miss, US)
Actress, presenter, The Oprah Winfrey Show popular television interviewing series, 1986-2011, entrepreneur, philanthropist 

Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Monday, 26 January 2015

80th birthday of Ivan Van Sertima

(Born 26 January 1935, Karina, Guyana)
Poet, linguist, journalist, historian, academic and author of the seminal They Came Before Columbus (1976) which explores thousands of years of African relationship with the peoples of the Americas, prior to the European invasion of these west continents beginning in the 15th century

Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Sunday, 25 January 2015

86th birthday of Benny Golson

(Born 25 January 1929, Philadelphia, US)
Award-winning tenor saxophonist and bandleader and versatile composer including jazz standards “I remember Clifford”, “Blues march”, “Whisper not”, “Stablemates”, “Are you real?” and “Along came Betty” and scores for films on television (including Mission: Impossible, Ironside, M*A*S*H)

(Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers, “Whisper not” [personnel: Blakey, drums; Lee Morgan, trumpet; Golson, tenor saxophone; Bobby Timmons, piano; Jymie Merritt, bass; recorded: live, L’Olympia, Paris, France, 22 November 1958 & 17 December 1958])
Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Saturday, 24 January 2015

141st birthday of Arthur Schomburg

(Born 24 January 1874, Santurce, Puerto Rico)
Historian, writer, activist archivist on sources and resources on African history in the Americas and Europe, 1900-1938, and seminal contributor to the Harlem Renaissance, beginning in 1919, with New York public library’s Schomburg Center for research in African American culture named in his honour

Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Friday, 23 January 2015

100th birthday of Arthur Lewis

(Born 23 January 2015, Castries, St Lucia)
Erudite and widely published economist, academic, economic advisor to Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah government (1957-1959), awarded the Nobel Prize for economics in 1979, university administrator, Caribbean regional bank president

Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Thursday, 22 January 2015

FWD – Call for papers: Genocide Studies International

Genocide Studies International is inviting prospective authors to submit manuscripts to be reviewed for a special issue on the political economy of genocide.  Among the many issues/problems is the fact that it has barely been touched in the literature.  Another is the wide range of definitions of political economy – all the way from rational choice theorists to Marxist critiques of capitalism.  Among the many issues we wish to address are:
1. How do you define political economy?  Do you use a narrow, political science conceptualization or do you branch out to critical theory?
2. What issues do you address to illustrate the topic and what parts of the world do you examine?
3. How do you treat the influence of multinational corporations?   There is a dark history here that goes back to the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust.  For example, as documented in  Charles Higham, Trading with the enemy: The Nazi-American money plot 1933-1949 (1983), US corporations, National City Bank, Chase, Exxon, Ford, GM, ITT, etc.,  supported the Nazi in various ways even through the war.
4. Do you ever examine the relationship between external debt and the destruction if indigenous people which was hypothesized or the impact of land use and moving indigenous people from the land as in the Amazon?
5. What about global climate change and scarcity?
In short, we hope to receive analysis of a broad range of issues relating to the political economy of genocide.  Three scholars will review all manuscripts and decisions on publication will be made as quickly as possible.  We would like manuscripts and inquiries to be submitted to:
Herb Hirsch (

Deadline for receipt of manuscripts:  October 2015
Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

90th birthday of JJ Johnson

(Born 22 January 1924, Indianapolis, US)
Arguably the most influential trombonist of the bebop revolution of the 1940s/50s, composer, including scores for films, and arranger
(JJ Johnson Sextet, “Mohawk” [personnel: Johnson, trombone; Freddie Hubbard, trumpet; Clifford Jordan, tenor saxophone; Cedar Walton, piano; Arthur Harper, bass; Albert Heath, drums; recorded: Columbia Records, New York, US, 1 & 3 August 1960])
 Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

African World History Month season and Rethinking Africa

In another couple of weeks or so, Africans, in varying regions of the African World outside continental Africa particularly those in the Americas and later on in Europe and Australasia, embark on the annual African World History Month of teaching, discussion, debating, exhibition and the multifaceted stream of cultural activity to celebrate 6000 years of African history: from Kemet (“ancient Egypt”) to Biafra, from ancient Ghana (contemporary Sénégal, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, part of west Mali) to Gĩkũyũland and Ethiopia of east Africa, from the Atlas Mountains of the north to South Africa, from Canada and the United States to Uruguay and Brazil, from Panama/Jamaica/Haiti/Cuba  across the Caribbean to Trinidad/St Lucia/St Kitts & Nevis/Barbados, from Colombia/Venezuela to Guyana/Surinam, from Britain/Europe to Australasia… 

Subject, agency, history

Organisers, teachers and students of the programme are warmly reminded of Rethinking Africa, the rigorously studious reference and dependable companion as ever. In Rethinking Africa, African World history is live, continuous, daily, now – not just seasonal, as Carter G Woodson, himself, would approve. Visit Rethinking Africa daily, all year round, and explore its vast archive which includes commentaries, essays, reports/reviews of publications, conferences, seminars, debates, lectures, concerts, festivals...  and snap biographical sketches on persons and anniversaries of occurrences across the African World that are at once succinct profiles and earmarked opportunities for further reading, analysis, and research: 

1. Here, the African, Africans   wherever they are in the world (African continent, African American, African British, African Caribbean, African Mexican, African Venezuelan, African French, African Brazilian, African Spanish, African Canadian, African Indian, African Portuguese, etc., etc), are subject and agency in history. 

2. Find out, for instance, why the survival of the Igbo people (southwestcentral Africa) from the genocide of 29 May 1966-12 January 1970, the foundational genocide of post-(European)conquest Africa, executed by Nigeria and its principal ally Britain (, is one of the most extraordinarily emancipatory developments of recent history. Indeed to understand the politics of the Igbo genocide and the politics of the “post”-Igbo genocide is to have an invaluable insight into the salient features and constitutive indices of politics across Africa in the past 50 years.  

3. Why are Nelson Mandela and Chinua Achebe the dual-colossi of 20th century/21st century African renaissance? 

4. As film director Steve McQueen and actor Chiwetel Ejiofor remind the world of the perspicuity of African resistance in the enslaved emplacements of the United States in 12 Years (2014), what does CLR James’s classic, Black Jacobins (1938), tell us about that historic African uprising in the west Caribbean of the late 18th century/early 19th century? Does San Domingo teach the world anything presently? What? What is the title of another classic on African enslavement in the Americas published in 1944 by the African Trinidadian historian, Eric Williams? What does Williams establish in this study?

5. What are James Baldwin’s and Toni Morrison’s contributions to African American letters and history? 

6. Why is Kenneth Onwuka Dike’s reconstructionary scholarship on African history so seminal? 

7. What does “civil war” really mean? ( and why is “sub-Sahara Africa” such a repugnant racist epithet? Who employs “sub-Sahara Africa”? Why?  (

8. What epistemology does Flora Nwapa  inaugurate in 1966 when she publishes the novel, Efuru? Who are marching along her illustrious path presently? 

9. What identical every day-used, important personal product does 20th century/21st century philosopher Cornel West share with men and women of Kemet – 5000 years ago? 

10. Why is the role of Cheikh Anta Diop’s near-40 years of scholarship on Kemet of such vital importance? 

11. How has agriculture played a crucial role in the development of African civilisations across the continent’s regions and epochs? 

12. What is the extent of the research and inventions of George Washington Carver to contemporary society, worldwide? 

13. What business does 20th continental African entrepreneur Louis-Philip Ojukwu share with 19th century African American entrepreneur Paul Cufee? 

14. What is the “Berlin-state” in Africa? Who are its beneficiaries? Why does the “Berlin-state” have no future for African peoples? What are the alternatives to this state? 

15. What compelling lessons on the African-in-the-world-today do we learn from the January 2015 Boko Haram islamist insurgent attack on Baga, northeast Nigeria, in which the group murdered 2000 townspeople? (

Intellectuals: Freedom

In a word, what is it about the African that is the central preoccupation in the lives and work of the following intellectuals? Olaudah Equiano, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Chinua Achebe, Ida B Wells, CLR James, Christopher Okigbo, Toni Morrison, Malcolm X, Léopold Sédar Senghor, James Baldwin, Louis Mbanefo, Alain Locke, Kenneth Onwuka Dike, Arthur Schomburg, WEB Du Bois, Duke Ellington, Sojourner Truth, Ignatius Sancho, Charlotte Gardens, Claude McKay, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, Frederick Douglass, Mary Seacole, Daniel Hale Williams, Carter G Woodson, Patrice Lumumba, Edward Kamau Brathwaite, Eubie Blake, Maulana Karenga, Cheikh Anta Diop, Akanu Ibiam, Louis Armstrong, Flora Nwapa, Thelonious Monk, Théophile Obenga, Paul Robeson, Ann Petry, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Edward Wilmot Blyden, Amilcar Cabral, Langston Hughes, Tchicaya U Tam’si, Palmer Hayden, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Mordecai Wyatt Johnson, Horace Pipping, Nicolás Guillén, Aimé Césaire, Kwame Nkrumah, Margaret Danner, Ladipo Solanke, Frantz Fanon, Martin Delaney, Chike Obi, Dean Dixon, Ossie Davis, Julius Nyerere, Noble Lee Sissle, Felix Oragwu, Agostinho Neto, Charlie Parker, Bessie Head, Pius Okigbo, Ruby Dee, Maurice Bishop, Nikki Giovanni, Emmanuel Obiechina, Kofi Awoonor, Chancellor Williams, Léon-Gontran Damas, Gwendolyn Brooks, Percy Lavon Julian, Eric Williams, Mbonu Ojike, Mahaila Jackson, Charles Drew, Okot p’Bitek, Billie Holiday, George Lamming, Sterling Brown, Adiele Afigbo, George Russell, Arna Bontemps, Sydney Poitier, Margaret Walker, John Coltrane, Steve Biko, Era Bell Thomson, E Franklin Frazier, Alexander Animalu, Charles Mingus, Alioune Diop, George Bridgetower, Michael Echeruo, Ornette Coleman, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Don Cherry,  Constance Baker Motley, Stevie Wonder, Benedict Obumselu, Grace Ogot, Molefi Kete Asante, Ivan Van Sertima, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, Countee Cullen, James Brown, Paul Revere Williams, Ifeanyi Menkiti, Harriet Tubman, Ray Charles, Sonia Sanchez, Théophile Obenga, George Washington Carver, Walter Rodney, JJ Johnson, Mariama Bâ, Paul Chambers, Cornel West, Miles Davis, George James, Max Roach, John Henrik Clarke, Elvin Jones, Amiri Baraka, Ama Ata Aidoo, JC Moses,  McCoy Tyner, Peter Tosh,  Sonny Simmons, Andrew Hill, Ousmane Sembéne, Paule Marshall, Wynton Kelly, Adu Boahen, Eric Dolphy, John Tchicai, Clifford Jordan, Jewel Plummer Cobb, Jaki Byard, Prince Lasha, Mal Waldron, Abbey Lincoln, Danny Glover, Bob Marley, Horace Silver, Oscar Peterson, Mariamba Ani, Dannie Richmond, Uzo Egonu, Eddie Khan, Gani Fawehinmi, Johnny Coles, Ayi Kwei Armah, Archie Shepp, Ifeanyi Menkiti, Richard Williams, Faye Harrison, Ihechukwu Madubuike, Ray Brown, Archie Mafeje, Ishmael Reed, Dudu Pukwana, Obiora Udechukwu, Mĩcere Gĩthae Mũgo, Valentine Mudimbe, Wangari Maathai, Bob Marley, Simon Gikandi, Herbie Hancock, Jimmy Garrison, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Ed Thigpen, Carole Boyce Davies, Spike Lee, Zeal Onyia, Denzel Washington, Hilary Beckles, David Murray,  Esiaba Irobi, Thomas Sankara, Rita Dove, Tony Medina: Freedom

(Max Roach Quintet, “All Africa”, featuring Abbey Lincoln [personnel: Roach, drums; Lincoln, vocals; Clifford Jordan, tenor saxophone; Coleridge Perkinson, piano; Eddie Khan, bass; recorded: Belgian television, {?}January 1964])
Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

188th birthday of Hiram Rhodes Revels

(Born 20 January 1827, Fayetteville, NC, US)
Theologian, educator, Republican party politician, elected first African American senator in the US senate, February 1870, representing Mississippi 

Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Monday, 19 January 2015

97th birthday of John Harold Johnson

(Born 19 January 1918, Arkansas City, US)
Publisher (including the influential title, Ebony) and versatile entrepreneur

Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Sunday, 18 January 2015

159th birthday of Daniel Hale Williams

(Born 18 January 1856, Holidaysbury, Penn, US)
Influential surgeon, one of the pioneers of open-heart surgery, founder of Chicago’s Provident Hospital in 1891 that plays a crucial role in African American health provision and care in the region during the epoch

Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Saturday, 17 January 2015

84th birthday of Douglas Wilder

(Born 17 January 1931, Richmond, Virg, US)
Lawyer, Democratic party politician, becomes first African American governor in the US when he wins the governor’s election contest in the state of Virginia, 8 November 1989 

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84th birthday of James Earl Jones

(Born 17 January 1931, Arkabutla, Miss, US)
Actor extraordinaire, “one of the greatest actors in [US] history” in a career spanning over 60 years

 Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

91st birthday of Jewel Plummer Cobb

(Born 17 January 1924, Chicago, US)
Renowned biologist specialising in cancer research, academic, and president (vice-chancellor) of California State UniversityFullerton, 1981-1990
Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

256th birthday of Paul Cufee

(Born 17 January 1759, Cuttyhunk Is, Mass, US)
Asante-descent leading abolitionist of African enslavement, sailor, successful and expansive businessperson, owner of a shipping conglomerate, founder of schools and promoter of educational opportunities for African Americans as well as others, actively involved in the early 19th century’s African American and African British return-to-Sierra Leone projects 

Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Friday, 16 January 2015

Baga & Paris – two massacres, contrasting responses and consequences

Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe

AS THE WORLD witnessed last week, rarely have there been two dreadful massacres carried out almost simultaneously in two separate continents by two organisations surely operating autonomously but belonging to the same overarching religiopolitical agency. 

Boko Haram, the islamist jihadist group based in north Nigeria, massacred 2000 people in Baga (The Guardian, London, 10 January 2015) during the course of two days. In Paris, France, over a 2-day stretch, during the same week, a French–based cell affiliated to some islamist caliphate brigade in the Mid East massacred 17 people including cartoonists of the satirical journal, Charlie Hebdo, and staff and shoppers at a Jewish supermarket. Boko Haram is ideologically allied to the global islamist causes and projects of the Mid East amalgam including al-Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula and the Islamic State (controls vast swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria), as well as the Taleban in Afghanistan and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in west/northwest Africa and al-Shabaab in Somalia. Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau never tires to extend solidarity messages to these fellow organisations in his regular video releases that update the strategic objectives and expectations of the ongoing transnational insurgency.

THE responses of Nigeria and France to these tragedies couldn’t be so trenchantly different though. Right from the outset, the French state robustly came out in defence of its population. It mobilised the entire range of its security forces to hunt down the murderous cell, stepped up security for its citizens whilst continually reassuring them, attended to the dead, the dying and the wounded, and organised a solidarity march in honour of the 17 and their families and for the reaffirmation of the crucial tenets and ethos that underpin the existence of the French republic. 3.5 million French people turned out in Paris on Sunday 11th January for this historic gathering. The heads of state or government of most countries of the European World and beyond attended the march in support of France. The global media covered this story of a week comprehensively.

Morbid silence

In Nigeria, in contrast, the country’s regime-leadership and its expanded establishment exercised a morbid silence over the outrage in Baga – not a word on Baga from the current head-of-regime nor from any of the seven ex-heads of regime. None of the eight was moved to act in defence of Baga from its ruthless assailants, not even in the wake of that haunting, graphic account of the tragedy of his town rendered soon after by Baga district head survivor Baba Abba Hassan: “…most victims are children, women and elderly people who could not run fast enough when insurgents drove in … firing rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles on town residents”. 

Silence, punishing silence, utter silence… Such was the staggering indifference displayed by the Nigeria state to this massacre, within its frontier, that an observer would be forgiven if they thought that the slaughter that occurred in Baga never happened or that Baga were somewhere else on the planet or, perhaps, that Baga didn’t really exist… In effect, this state no longer pretends that it exists to serve its peoples (for an expansive discourse on this feature, see Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe, Readings from Reading: Essays on African Politics, Genocide, Literature, 2011). If anyone is still unsure of this crucial characteristic, a reminder of the final segment of Nigeria’s response to these massacres of a week might be of help: despite the silence on Baga, the state’s head of regime found the time and purpose to send a message of condolence to the French head of state on the murder in Paris; equally silent on Baga, another senior regime official found the time and purpose to tweet a message of condolence to the people of France on the murder in Paris. It shouldn’t be found surprising to add that no one marched in Nigeria on behalf of the 2000 murdered in Baga nor for their families nor indeed for any exhortative values of a doubtful state. As for the world’s media, the lenses of their camera, during the week, were of course focussed 2600 miles away from Baga – Paris.

IT IS to this focus of the world media and some of its wider consequences that led Simon Allison of the Daily Maverick to observe: “It may be the 21st century, but African lives are still deemed less newsworthy – and, by implication, less valuable – than western lives” (Simon AllisonI am Charlie, but I am Baga too, Daily Maverick, Johannesburg, 12 January 2015). Allison is undoubtedly alluding to the catastrophic diminution of the African humanity by the pan-European World during 400 years of the latter’s enslavement of African peoples and its conquest and occupation of Africa. But as we now show, this perceived “less valuable” status of African life in the contemporary epoch has not just been a teleological transposition from a somewhat distant past. On the contrary, it is a thoroughly, consciously mapped-out package and practice designed and formally launched much more recently, in the mid-1960s, by a not-too-unfamiliar global power central in this visceral African subjugated history/international politics.


Finally, let us return to Nigeria’s deafening silence on Baga. Given Nigeria’s past and recurring history, does one realistically expect this state to defend Baga from Boko Haram, comment or mourn the murder of the 2000 from Baga – almost 49 years to the day after it embarked on the murder of 3.1 million of its Igbo population in a studiously-organised genocide that is still ongoing? Each of the seven of Nigeria’s ex-heads of regime, referred to earlier, is a structural participant in this foundational genocide of post-(European)conquest Africa. They all constitute a génocidaire septet. This genocide at once shapes the architecture of the present Nigeria establishment as the world knows it. Therefore, no one from any spheres or levers of this state assemblage could have had anything intelligible or/and credible to say on Baga. Part of the reason of Nigeria’s silence on Baga is that given the country’s Igbo genocide antecedent, few would have believed any word declared on this massacre by any officials of its state.

Britain, the ex-conqueror/occupying state in Nigeria supported the Igbo genocide from conceptualisation to execution. In supporting the genocide, Britain sought to “punish” the Igbo for being in the vanguard, since the 1930s, to terminate the British occupation of Nigeria – one of the very prized lands of the British conquest of Africa. During the course of the 1968/1969 gruesomely devastating apogee of the genocide, Harold Wilson, the British prime minister, informed C. Clyde Ferguson, the US state department special coordinator for relief to Biafra, that he, Harold Wilson, “would accept a half million dead Biafrans if that was what it took” Nigeria to destroy the Igbo resistance to the genocide (Roger Morris, Uncertain Greatness: Henry Kissinger and American Foreign Policy, 1977: 122). For the record, Wilson’s “a half a million dead Biafrans”-sentence represented 4.2 per cent of the Igbo population then; by the time that that phase of the genocide came to an end, 6-9 months after Wilson’s wish-declaration, 25 per cent of this nation’s population or 3.1 million Igbo people had been murdered by the genocidists.

Undoubtedly, the Nigerians, led by Fulani islamist jihadists and their Yoruba, Urhobo, Hausa, Edo, Jukun, Tiv, Kanuri, Nupe, Jawara and Gwari principal pan-African allies, had handsomely obliged  their “massa” Harold Wilson’s wish. Those punching words of historian Chancellor Williams’s were at once vindicated, most dramatically: “… The Europeans had also been busily building up and training strong African armies.  Africans trained to hate, kill and conquer Africans…” (Chancellor Williams, The Destruction of Black Civilization, 1987: 218). 

IN THE CONSTRUCTION of the template of international relations that would embody the post-1939-1945 war era, the British-Nigerian genocidist diarchy had elevated the dispensability of African life in national and international politics to the highest calibrated level possible.
(John Coltrane Quartet, “Dusk-Dawn” [personnel: Coltrane, tenor saxophone; McCoy Tyner, piano; Jimmy Garrison, bass; Elvin Jones, drums; recorded: Van Gelder Studio, Englewoods Cliff, NJ, US, 16 June 1965])
Allison, Simon“I am Charlie, but I am Baga too”.  Daily Maverick, Johannesburg, 12 January 2015.

Ekwe-Ekwe, Herbert. Readings from Reading: Essays on African Politics, Genocide, LiteratureDakar and Reading: African Renaissance, 2011.

John Coltrane Quartet. “Dusk-Dawn”. Van Gelder Studio, Englewood, Cliff, NJ, US, 16 June 1965.

Morris, Roger. Uncertain Greatness: Henry Kissinger and American Foreign Policy. London & New York: Quartet Books, 1977.

Williams, Chancellor. The Destruction of Black Civilization. Chicago: Third World, 1987.

Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Thursday, 15 January 2015

86th birthday of Martin Luther King

(Born 15 January 1929, Atlanta, US)
One of the most outstanding leaders of the freedom movement in history

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Tuesday, 13 January 2015

45th anniversary of Nigeria’s launch of phase-IV of the Igbo genocide

What is Nigeria? This state in southwestcentral Africa inaugurated Africa’s current age of pestilence – starting from that dreadful mid-morning of Sunday 29 May 1966 when it embarked on the studiously-organised mass murder of its Igbo population domiciled in north Nigeria and later elsewhere in the country and subsequently expanded to the south Igbo country of Biafra. In this foundational genocide of post-(European)conquest Africa, Nigeria murdered 3.1 million Igbo people or one-quarter of this nation’s population during the course of 44 months, ending 12 January 1970. Africa had not witnessed the unspeakable barbarity and range of such slaughtering of a people for 60 years; definitely, not since the German-organised genocide against the Herero, Nama and Berg Damara peoples of Namibia in the early 1900s. Nigeria was supported in the execution of the Igbo genocide by a range of foreign powers which provided it with the critical military, financial, political and diplomatic resources:  principally Britain, the Soviet Union, Egypt, Syria, the Sudan, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Chad, Niger, Guinea-Conakry. Since this genocide, 12 million additional Africans have been murdered in further genocides and other wars in Africa carried out by similarly ruthless African regimes and their foreign allies.

On 13 January 1970, evidently not content with the appalling magnitude and consequences of its death campaign, Nigeria launched phase-IV of the genocide which now focused on degrading/dismantling the surviving frames of the (pre-genocide robust) Igboland economy, pulverised during phases-I-III of the previous 44 months, a programme intertwined gruesomely by spates and stretches of pogroms that have continued, unabated, to this day as catalogued in the following link, especially from sub-title phase-IV

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84th birthday of Flora Nwapa

(Born 13 January 1931, Ugwuta, Igboland)
First African (continental) woman published novelist (Efuru, 1966, and, soon after, Idu, which she begins to work on at the onset of the Igbo genocide and later publishes in 1970) whose landmark works as well as those of sociologist Kamene Okonjo’s open up the expanse of possibilities in Igbo Women/African World Studies within which the scholarship, artistry and writings of subsequent generations of intellectuals, working worldwide, have richly flourished

Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Monday, 12 January 2015

125th birthday of Mordecai Wyatt Johnson

(Born 12 January 1890, Paris, Tennessee, US)
Economist and theologian, first African American president (vice-chancellor) of Howard University (1926-1960) during which the university attracted a range of luminaries to teaching positions including the philosopher Alain Locke, poet Sterling Brown, surgeon Charles Drew, political scientist Ralph Bunche and chemist Percy Lavon Julian

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Chukwuemeka Ike’s profound contemplation…

“No sign of the Biafra Sun. Not even at noon. Hibernating, like the migratory bird? Gone with the soul of Biafra? Or just Disappeared…” – Chukwuemeka Ike, Sunset at Dawn (London: Fontana, 1976), p. 16.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Father of African Literature on “The story”

It is only the story ... that saves our progeny from blundering like blind beggars into the spikes of the cactus fence. The story is our escort; without it, we are blind. Does the blind man own his escort? No, neither do we the story; rather, it is the story that owns usChinua AchebeAnthills of the Savannah, New York: Anchor Books, 1997, p. 114.

Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

91st birthday of Max Roach

(Born 10 January 1924, Newland, North Carolina, US)
Drummer, one of the influential innovators of the be-bop jazz revolution of the 1940s-1950s with fellow-drummer Kenny Clarke and lead proponents Charlie Parker (alto saxophone), Dizzy Gillespie (trumpet), Thelonious Monk (piano) and Bud Powell (piano) and later Charles Mingus (bass) and Miles Davis (trumpet), influential band leader, composer, academic

(Max Roach Quartet, “Speak, Brother, Speak!” [personnel: Roach, drums; Clifford Jordan, tenor saxophone; Mal Waldron, piano; Eddie Khan, bass; recorded live, The Jazz Workshop, San Francisco, US, 27 October 1962])

Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

100th birthday of Dean Dixon

(Born 10 January 1915, Harlem, New York, US)
Versatile conductor in a career stretching for 45 years, beginning in 1931, he occupies both principal and guest orchestral conducting positions at home and abroad – SwedenGermanyAustriaBritainIsraelAustraliaMexico

Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

125th anniversary of the patenting of William B Purvis’s fountain pen

William Purvis (Philadelphia, US) patents his fountain pen invention, 7 January 1890, and reflects, quite perceptibly: “[T]he object of my invention is to provide a simple, durable and inexpensive construction of the fountain pen adapted to general use and which may be carried in the pocket”

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Monday, 5 January 2015

77th birthday of Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o

(Born 5 January 1938, Kamĩrĩĩthũ, Kenya)
Novelist, playwright, essayist, conscience and treasured dissident voice in these turbulent times in the African World, indefatigable promoter of publishing in African languages as he, himself, has done consistently in the Gĩkũyũ beginning in the late 1970s when he publishes Caitaani Mũtharabainĩ which he later translates into English as Devil on the Cross (1980)

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Devil on the Cross (London: Heinemann African Writers, 1987, 256pp, £9.41/US$12.20, pbk)

For a succinct insight into the expansive contributions of  Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o to the heritage of African World Letters and associated development, see Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe, Readings from Reading: Essays on African Politics, Genocide, Literature (Dakar & Reading: African Renaissance, 20111), pp. 45-50. 

Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

151st birthday of George Washington Carver

(B [?]Jan 1864, Diamond, Mo, US; d 5 Jan 1943, Tuskegee, US)
Botanist/multidisciplinary scientist, multifaceted inventor, educator
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72nd birthday of Chuks Ihekaibeya

(Born 5 January 1942, Umuahia, Igboland)
Erudite scholar, “intellectual aristocrat of urbane and liberal temperament”, as friend, colleague and perceptive poet Niyi Osundare states, diplomat, member of the crucial communication directorate of the Biafran resistance government during the Igbo genocide, carried out by Nigeria, 29 May 1966-12 January 1970

Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Sunday, 4 January 2015

114th birthday of CLR James

(Born 4 January 1901, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago)
Revolutionary marxist theorist and philosopher, author of the classic, The Black Jacobins (1938), on the enslaved African historic uprising in Frances conquered and occupied San Domingo, the Caribbean, in the 1790s, in which the Africans defeat the French and its pan-European naval and land forces’ allies and proclaim the Republic of Haiti, 1804, a victory whose profound consequences are etched indelibly in the psyche of the French Establishment as it relates to Africans and the African World

Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Saturday, 3 January 2015

1st anniversary of Rotimi Amaechi’s revelatory proclamation!

Thursday 2 January 2014 – Rotimi Amaechi, speaking on AIT television, insists: “… Jonathan has developed Abia, and Imo but he refused to develop Rivers. Are we Biafrans?” ([accessed 2 January 2015]).  

In a swoop, albeit unwittingly, Rotimi Amaechi, head of regime of the Rivers administrative region, alludes to a critical plank of phase-IV of the Igbo genocide by Nigeria, beginning on 13 January 1970, which focuses on the non-development/dismantling of the economy of Igboland – Africa’s most resourceful and enterprising, prio to the genocide. 

Extraordinary! To underscore the historic significance of Amaechi’s declaration, readers are invited to click on the follow-up link and note, particularly, material under subtitle “Phase-IV..” (accessed 3 January 2015)

Whoever says history isn’t so incorrigibly fascinating?!

(Charles Mingus Sextet, “Conversation” [Mingus, bass; Clarence Shaw, trumpet; Jimmy Kneeper, trombone; Shafi Hadi, alto and tenor saxophones; Bill Evans, piano; Dannie Richmond, drums; recorded: Bethlehem Records, Cincinnati, US, 16 August 1957])
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Friday, 2 January 2015

FWD New Book – The Critical Imagination in African Literature: Essays in Honor of Michael J C Echeruo

(Maik Nwosu and Obiwu, eds., The Critical Imagination in African Literature: Essays in Honor of Michael J C Echeruo [New York: Syracuse University, 2015, 304pp, US$34.95/£21.31, pbk])


In African studies, the “Echeruoan ideal” is understood as an intervention or intellectual engagement characterized by a broadness of vision as well as a depth of analysis. The essays gathered in this volume celebrate that ideal and honor Echeruo’s contribution to the African intellectual tradition.

Editors Nwosu and Obiwu explore the driving forces in the literature of Africa and the African diaspora. Contributors examine such themes as migration and exile, trauma and repression, violence and rebellion, and gender and human rights. Showcasing a rich diversity of cultural and academic backgrounds, this volume inaugurates a new paradigm for further examination of African literature as world literature and for analysis of African literature through the lens of psychoanalytic semiotics. While varied in modes of inquiry, the essays are unified in their ambition to explore new theoretical directions, reinvigorating the conversation around how African literature is read and studied.


Maik Nwosu is associate professor of English at the University of Denver. He is the author of Markets of Memories: Between the Postcolonial and the Transnational.

Obiwu is assistant professor of English at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio. He is the author of several poetry volumes including Tigress at Full Moon.

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Thursday, 1 January 2015

91st birthday of Milt Jackson

(Born 1 January 1923, Detroit, US)
Arguably the most distinguished vibraphonist of the bebop revolution of the 1940s-1950s and co-founder of the Modern Jazz Quartet (full personnel: Jackson, vibraphone; John Lewis, piano; Percy Heath, bass; Connie Kay, drums), 1952-1992

(Milt Jackson & John Coltrane, “Bags and Trane” [personnel: Jackson, vibraphone; Coltrane, tenor saxophone; Hank Jones, piano; Paul Chambers, bass; Connie Kay, drums; recorded: Atlantic Records, New York, 15 January 1959])
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85th birthday of Victor Uchendu

(Born 1 January 1930, Nsirimo, Igboland)
Sociologist and one of the leading scholars on Igbo civilisation

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92nd birthday of Ousmane Sembéne

(Born 1 January 1923, Ziguinchor, Sénégal)
Father of African Cinema
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