At the editorial meeting to discuss the 2010 Education Issue, publisher Honore Gbedze asked staff members to name one especially significant Afric champion of education. Those choices are briefly described below. What was interesting to see is that they were all closely involved in the craft and art of writing as their livelihood and their means activism.
W.E.B. Du Bois
Born William Edward Burghardt DuBois, the impassioned scholar was an intellectual fighter for true citizenship for African Americans. In 1895, W.E.B. Du Bois, after being educated at Fisk University and Harvard, became the first African-American to receive a doctorate from the school.
In his career he wrote histories, sociological studies and intimate sketches of African-American life. In addition to his writing, he was an editor, teacher and organizer. Du Bois organized the First International Congress of Colored People and was a founder of the NAACP.
Often at the centre of controversy and growing discouraged with his struggles in the United States, Du Bois chose to immigrate to Ghana in 1961. He went at the invitation of president, Kwame Nkrumah and ultimately became a citizen of the land. He began work on an Encyclopaedia Africana, in which Du Bois had taken an almost lifelong interest. The Autobiography of W.E.B. DuBois was published shortly after his death in 1968.William Edward Burghardt DuBois
LANGSTON HUGHES (1902-1967) Of the major twentieth-century writers, Langston Hughes was certainly one of the most prolific. He wrote not only poetry but also short stories, novels, children’s books and plays. Not limiting himself to these formats, he also wrote a newspaper column, songs and librettos.
He shone at Lincoln University, after he won the Witter Bynner Prize for undergraduate poetry and thus came to be first truly noticed. In 1930, he received the Harmon Award and in 1935, he traveled to Russia and Spain on a Guggenheim Fellowship.
Hughes approached racial issues with wit, wisdom and gentle humor. His best known works include the novel Not Without laughter (1930): the play Mulatto (1935): the short story collections Laughing to Keep from Crying and The Ways of White Folks (1930); and the poetry collections Shakespeare in Harlem (1942), One-Way Ticket (1949) and selected Poems (1959). Hughes touched the hearts of many and left his own thoughts in his two autobiographical works, The Big Sea (1940) and I Wonder as I Wander (1956).
Léopold Sédar Senghor
For the better part of a century, Léopold Sédar Senghor (9 October 1906 – 20 December 2001) influenced…..He was a Senegalese poet, politician, and cultural theorist. He served as the first president of Senegal (1960–1980) and was the first African to sit as a member of the Académie Française after his election in June 1983. The entrance ceremony in his honour took place on 29 March 1984, in presence of then-French President François Mitterrand. This was considered as a further step towards greater openness in the Académie, after the previous election of a woman, Marguerite Yourcenar.
In Senegal he was also the founder of the political party, Senegalese Democratic Bloc. Regarded by many as one of the most important African intellectuals of the 20th century, Senghor created, alongside Aimé Césaire and Léon Damas, the concept of Négritude. This important intellectual movement sought to assert and to valorize what they believed to be distinctive African characteristics, values, and aesthetics. He supported the creation of la Francophonie and was elected vice-president of the High Council of the Francophonie.
All along his development work and political successes, he continued to write. In 1993, the last and fifth book of his Liberté series was published: Liberté 5: le dialogue des cultures. His official retirement came in 1996. He spent the last years of his life with his wife in Verson, near the city of Caen Normandy, where he died on 20 December 2001. His funeral was held on 29th of December in Dakar.
Aimé Fernand David Césaire
Another founder of the Négritude Movement in Francophone literature was Aimé Fernand David Césaire (26 June 1913 – 17 April 2008). He was an African-Martinican Francophone poet, author and politician.
Born in Basse-Pointe, Martinique in 1913 and traveled to Paris to attend the Lycée Louis-le-Grand on an educational scholarship. On passing the entrance exams in Paris (1935) for the École Normale Supérieure, he created, along with Léopold Sédar Senghor and Léon Damas, the literary review L’Étudiant Noir (The Black Student). By 1936, Césaire began work on his book-length poem Cahier d’un retour au pays natal (Notebook of a Return to My Native Land, 1939). It was a vivid and powerful account of the ambiguities of Caribbean life and culture in the New World.
By 1937, Césaire married fellow Martinican student Suzanne Roussi and together, they moved back to Martinique in 1939 with their young son. There he taught at the Lycée Schoelcher in Fort-de-France, and taught Frantz Fanon and certainly inspired Édouard Glissant. He would become a heavy influence for Fanon as both a mentor and a contemporary throughout Fanon’s short life.
In 2006, he boldly refused to meet the leader of the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), Nicolas Sarkozy, despite his being a strong contender for the 2007 presidential election, because the UMP had voted for the February 23, 2005 law asking teachers and textbooks to “acknowledge and recognize in particular the positive role of the French presence abroad, especially in North Africa”. To many, the law represented a eulogy to colonialism and French actions during the Algerian War. President Jacques Chirac ultimately, had the controversial law repealed.
On April 9 2008, he had serious heart troubles and was admitted to Pierre Zobda Quitman hospital in Fort-de-France. He died on April 17 2008 and was given the honour of a state funeral, held at the Stade de Dillon in Fort-de-France.