African Hall of Fame

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African Hall of Fame

He attended Kings College, Lagos and the University of Ibadan in Nigeria and earned a Bachelor of Arts (B.A) degree from the University of London in 1962. He acquired his Masters from Columbia University, New York, USA in 1963 and also earned his Doctorate degree from the same university in 1966. He was a Woodrow Wilson scholar with the Smithsonian Institute and a fellow of the Brookings Institute.

He was married to Anita Ake and had two sons.

PROFESSIONAL CAREER

He served as Assistant Professor of Political Science at Columbia University from 1966 to 1969. From 1969 to 1972, he worked as Associate Professor of Political Science at Carleton University, Canada and also held various academic positions at other institutions including Yale University (United States), University of Nairobi (Kenya) and University of Dar es Salaam (Tanzania). He returned to Nigeria in the mid 1970s to serve as the Dean of Social Science in the then just founded University of Port Harcourt. Afterward, he held various posts, at the African Journal of Political Economy, and on the Social Sciences Council of Nigeria.

Claude also served in many international organizations. Claude specialized in political economy, political theory and development studies, and his overriding concern being Africa made him a prominent political scientist.

He presented papers in seminars and Conferences on campuses in the United States of America, Latin America and in Canada as the foremost authority of the Political Economy of Africa. He functioned closely with the World Bank, Ford Foundation, the International Institute of Labor Studies in Geneva, the African Capacity Building Foundation in Harare (Zimbabwe), The Clingendael Institute in the Netherlands, World Institute for Development Economics Research (Finland), the United Nations University in Tokyo (Japan) and many other countries. He had a brief stint with Politics. Ake also worked closely with Ken Saro-Wiwa, an internationallyknown environmental and social activist.

In a bid to protest the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa, Claude resigned from a commission appointed by the oil company to study the ecology of the oil-producing Niger Delta. This made him a strong critic of Shell and the oil industry.

In 1991, his career was optimized when he founded and directed an independent Research Institute known as the Center for Advanced Social Science (CASS), headquartered in Port Harcourt with the mission of nurturing development from within the social sciences on the African continent.

The center serves as a “think tank” for social and environmental research. It also played a practical role, functioning in the early 1990s as an honest agent concerning oil revenues and environmental issues between local officials and representatives of several minority groups in the oil-producing area in southeastern Nigeria.

Claude was known to be an enemy of corruption and authoritarian rule in Africa. The Director of the Institute of African Studies at Columbia University’s School of International Public Affairs, George Bond, said: “He was one of the pre-eminent scholars on African politics and a scholar-activist concerned with the development of Africa. His concern was primarily with the average African and how to improve the nature of his conditions.”

Claude was one of 142 people killed when the plane leaving from Port Harcourt to Lagos, operated by a local airline, Aviation Development Company, crashed, leaving no survivor in November 7, 1996. His death was widely believed to have been coordinated by the then military government of Gen. Sani Abacha of whom Claude was an adamant critic. This is in addition to the fact that he was a mentee to Ken Saro-Wiwa, a brave man and the brains behind the Ogoni agitations against exploitation, who was slain by the military government.

MEMBERSHIPS

Board of Directors of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Geneva Board of Directors of International Institute of Labor Studies, Geneva
Board of Directors of International Social Science Council, Paris
The World Bank’s Council of African Advisers
The UNESCO expert group on Social Development in Africa
The African Capacity Building Foundation.
Nigeria Political Association Council for Development of Economic and Social Research, Dakar, Senegal.

Prof. Claude was also in a team selected by the United States National Democratic Institute of International Affairs to oversee the Election in Chile in 1989, and for several years he presided over the Council for Development of Economic and Social Research in Africa (CODESRIA).

WORKS

YEAR WORKS
1967 A Theory of Political Integration.
1978  Revolutionary Pressures in Africa
1979 Social Sciences as Imperialism: A Theory of Political Development
1981 A Political Economy of Africa
1989 The Political Economy of Crisis and Underdevelopment in Africa: Selected Works of Claude Ake
1992 The New World Order: A View from the South
1994  Democratization of Disempowerment in Africa
1996 The Marginalization of Africa: Notes on a Productive Confusion
1996 Democracy and Development in Africa
2000 The Feasibility of Democracy in Africa (published after his death)

HONOUR

The Claude Ake Visiting Chair was set up in 2003, at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University, in collaboration with the Nordic Africa Institute, to honor Claude’s memory. The Chair is open to social scientists researching at African universities on issues related to war, peace, conflict resolution, human rights, democracy and development on the African continent.

In summary, Prof. Claude Ake was a fearless critic of the authoritarian government. He condemned political corruption and the country’s over-dependence on the oil industry, which is greatly affecting it now. He dedicated himself to fighting for the betterment of his continent. He vigorously supported social justice, economic development, and democracy.

According to Apter, Claude Ake had “crackling intelligence and an outspokenly severe view of African politics and nevertheless, underneath that, a quality of understanding which was remarkably subtle and complex. But he was able to communicate the complexity in a straightforward manner. He was not only, in my view, the top African political scientist, but an extraordinarily courageous person. The Nigerian Government was often at odds with him, and nevertheless they recognized his importance.”

Gamal Abdel-Nasser was born to Fahima and Abdel Nasser Hussein, on 15th January 1918, in Bacchus, a sub-urban district in Alexandria. He started his elementary education at the School for the Children of Railway Employees and later left in 1924 for Nahhasin Elementary School in Cairo and later Attarin Elementary School. In 1929, he left for a private school in Helwan, after which he moved to Alexandria with his father and enrolled himself at the Ras el-Tin Secondary School.

It was during this time that he became increasingly involved in political activities. He organized and took part in various anti-British street rallies including voicing his opinion against the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty of 1936, which found support with Egypt’s political forces.

MILITARY CAREER

He enrolled at the Royal Military Academy in late 1937, after the completion of his education, where he met Anwar Sadat and Abdel Hakim Amer. He graduated to become Second Lieutenant in the infantry in July 1938 and his first posting was in the town of Mankabad. He became an instructor in the RMA in May 1943 and was also accepted into the General Staff College in the same year.

In the years to follow, he rendered service to the Egyptian army, both as an officer and teacher. His first battlefield experience was during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War in Palestine. In May 1948, following the British withdrawal, King Farouk sent the Egyptian army into Palestine, with Nasser serving in the 6th Infantry Battalion.

He expanded his revolutionary activities and along with the help of three fellow officers, Zakariyya Muyi al-Din, Abd al-Hakam and Anwar el-Sadat, he formed the Association of Free Officers; its main agenda was to overthrow the British and Egyptian royal family from the country. With fourteen members from various other politically and socially active organizations including representation from Young Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian Communist Party, and the aristocracy, he formed Free Officers’ founding committee and was elected its chairman.

In May, Nasser planned a bloodless coup d’état against King Farouk and overthrew the monarch. The Republic of Egypt was declared and monarchy was abolished on June 18, 1953. Major General Muhammad Naguib served as the President and the Free Officers governed as the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) with Naguib as chairman and Nasser as vice-chairman. The then Prime Minister resigned and this brought about an additional role of Prime Minister to Naguib and to Nasser, that of the Deputy Prime Minister.

PRESIDENTIAL CAREER

In January 1953, Nasser deposed Naguib and banned all political parties. He created a one-party system, while he emerged as the Prime Minister and the RCC Chairman.

In response to the attempt on his life by a Muslim Brotherhood member, Mohammed Abdel Latif, Nasser ordered one of the largest political crackdown in the modern history of Egypt. He arrested thousands of members of the Brotherhood, and dismissed 140 officers loyal to Naguib. He sentenced eight Brotherhood leaders to death and placed Naguib under house arrest. This move made Nasser the unquestionable leader of Egypt.

With his position significantly strengthened, Nasser was able to secure supremacy over his RCC colleagues and was unchallenged in decision-making authority especially over foreign policy. In January 1956, he drafted a new Constitution of Egypt in which Egypt became a socialist Arab state with a one-party political system under the National Union (NU) and in order to solidify popular backing for his government, he declared islam as the official religion of the country.

In the subsequent elections, he gained the support of all Egyptians, for whom he was the only candidate for the post of the President and coinciding with the new constitution, the RCC dissolved itself along with its members resigning their military commissions as part of the transition to civilian rule.

With him as the authentic head, the country’s economy became prosperous. He gained monetary support from Britain and US for building Aswan Dam, which he stated, would enhance the industrialization process. But both countries withdrew their financial assistance for the dam when Nasser started increasing cordial relations with the Soviet Union. Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal and promised to pay British and French shareholders their share.

This move brought about the October 29, 1956 war. The British had formed a secret alliance with France and Israel and the three countries jointly invaded Egypt, killing more than a thousand Egyptian soldiers and held about 5,000 Egyptian soldiers captive. Displeased by the invasion, the US and Soviet Union demanded a cease-fire and an evacuation of the British, French and Israeli forces. By March 1957, all the forces retreated and the prisoners of war were released.

During his reign, the middle class took important political and economic positions and women were offered more freedom and rights. Nasser introduced the National Charter and a New Constitution in 1962, with an aim to adopt socialism. The charter highlighted on universal health care, affordable housing, vocational schools, greater women’s rights, a family planning program, as well as the widening of the Suez Canal. This led to an increase in the percentage of government ownership of Egyptian business.

In 1965, during the presidential referendum in Egypt, he was re-elected for a second term as the UAR President, and took his oath of office on 25 March 1965. While his political opponents were forbidden by law, his party members were considered mere followers.

Subsequently, the Egyptian economy went from lethargy to the point of collapse as the nation became less free and Nasser’s appeal diminished considerably.

Egypt went to war with Israel on the 5th of June 1967 and this cost them their Air fleet including almost costing Nasser his Presidency because he resigned from office because of the losses they incured. However, calls from his country men made him rescind that decision.

He re-engaged Israel in January 1968, in what was called the ‘War of Attrition’ to reclaim the territory captured by Israel, by ordering attacks against Israeli positions, east of the then-blockaded Suez Canal. In June 1970, the Israeli forces finally retreated.

He died of heart attack on September 28, 1970 and he was buried at the Nasser Mosque, which is today named after him. Nasser wrote four books and was the honorary recipient of the Order of the Crown of the Realm of Malysia in 1965.

Barrister Christopher Sapara Williams who was a descent of Ijeshaland, Osun State Nigeria was born on the January 14, 1855 in Sierra Leone to Alexander Charles Williams, a liberated slave and Nancy Johnson from Egbaland. He was the first indigenous Nigerian lawyer to be called to the British Bar on 17 November, 1879.

He attended CMS Grammar School and later, the Wesley College, Sheffield, United Kingdom in 1871. He thereafter studied law at the Inner Temple, London and came back to Nigeria on January 13,1888 to set up his own Law chamber in the then Lagos Colony.
As an advocate, he had an unrivalled reputation and had a very good knowledge of the unwritten customary Law.

He became a member of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) on 30th January 1888, and was made chairman of the NBA from 1900 to 1915. On the 30th of August 1888, he enrolled at the Supreme Court in Lagos as the first Nigerian Barrister.

Though Sapara was a pioneer in the law field, there were other lawyers who practiced law at the time. In 1913, due to the shortage of qualified practicing lawywer, it was common for non-lawyer with basic education and some knowledge of English Law to be appointed to practice as attorneys. Williams was the elder brother of Oguntola Sapara who became a well known physician.

POLITICAL STRUGGLE
In addition to his law practice, he was a staunch politician during the colonial era. Williams was a member of the Legislative Council chamber from October 1901 until his death in March 1915.

In 1904, Williams proposed during the legislative meeting that “the present boundary between the Colony and Protectorate of Southern Nigeria and the Protectorate of Northern Nigeria be readjusted by bringing the southern portion into Southern Nigeria, so that the entire tribes of the Yoruba-speaking people should be under one and the same administration. ” Sir Frederick Lugard opposed the move on the grounds of administration convenience.

On his visit to England in 1905, he made several proposals to the Colonial Office for changes to imperial policy. These included the establishment of a teachers training college in Lagos, and having more continuity of policy by the governors of the colony. He challenged the Seditious Offence Ordinaces of 1909, which restrained the press from criticising the government. He pointed out that “ freedom of the press is the great palladium of British liberty…Sedition is a thing incompatible with the character of the Yoruba people, and has no place in their constitution..Hypersensitve official may come tomorrow who will see sedition in every crticism and crime in every mass meeting.” Despite his plea, the British still made the bill a Law.

He thereafter allied with Herbert Macauly to convene an inaugural meeting of the Antisalvery and Aborigines Protection Society in Lagos on 30 August 1910. This platform produced popular opposition to the colonial rule and gave Macaulay a stronghold in attacking the British imperialists.

Williams was also well involved in the decolonization of Nigeria. When Northern and Southern Nigeria were amalgamated in 1914, the new legislative council was headed by the Governor, and consisted of seven British officials, two British non-officials and two Nigerians, one of whom was Williams. Williams was honored with the tiltle of Lodifi of Ilesha by the Owa (King) of Ilesha. As an advocate, legislator and politician, he made use of the law for positive change.

Williams died on March 15, 1915 and was buried at the Ajele Stadium (which was then used as a burial ground for notable people like Bishop Ajayi Crowther).

Nkrumah was born Francis Nwia-Kofi Ngonloma on September 21, 1909, in Nkroful, a town in Gold Coast (present day Ghana) to Kofi Ngonloma and Elizabeth Nyaniba. He had his elementary education at the Catholic Missionary Schools at Half Assini, where because of his intellectual prowess, he progressed through the ten-year elementary program in eight years.

He became a student-teacher in Government Training College (later Achimota School) in the Gold Coast’s capital, Accra, where he was exposed to the ideas of Marcus Garvey and W. E. B. Du Bois. He also worked as a teacher at the Catholic primary school in Elmina and headmaster of the school’s extension in Axim, where he started to get involved in politics and founded the Nzima Literary Society.

He left Gold Coast for the United States in October 1935, to further his education at the Lincoln University to study Economics and Sociology. In 1939, after he had completed a Bachelor’s degree, he was appointed an assistant lecturer of Philosophy in Lincoln. In Lincoln University, he obtained a

Bachelor of Theology degree and a Master of Arts degree in Philosophy. He also got a Master of Science in Education from the Ivy League University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Nkrumah was an innovative student, as well as an activist, who believed so much in Black Nationalism.

He organized a group of expatriate African students in Pennsylvania and built it into the African Students Association of America and Canada. Nkrumah played a major role in the Pan-African conference held in New York in 1944, which urged the United States at the end of the Second World War, to help ensure Africa became developed and free.

He went to London in May 1945, where he met the Trinidad-born George Padmore and they were among the major organizers of the Fifth Pan-African Congress held in Manchester in 1945, which sought to establish ongoing African activism in Britain in conjunction with the West African National Secretariat (WANS), to work towards the de-colonization of Africa.

After this, Nkrumah became the secretary of WANS and established the Coloured Workers Association to empower the West African citizens who were stranded in London. Nkrumah and Padmore later established a group called The Circle, which was aimed at creating a Union of African Socialist Republics, to lead the way to West African independence and unity.

POLITICAL CAREER

In 1946, Gold Coast constitution gave Africans a mainstream on the Legislative Council for the first time, which was a major step towards self-government. This new arrangement prompted the colony’s first true political party, the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC), founded in August 1947 and Nkrumah was elected to run the party.

He became the honorary Treasurer of the party and he also founded the Committee on Youth Organization (CYO) as the youth wing for the UGCC. Due to pressure on him by the people to form a group away from the UGCC, Nkrumah announced on 12 June 1949, the formation of the Convention People’s Party (CPP).

He revolted against the British governance which led to his arrest on 22 January 1950. He was sentenced to three years of imprisonment and while in prison, Nkrumah was directly-elected to represent Accra in the Legislative Assembly, when the British prepared for an election for the Gold Coast under their new constitution. After Nkrumah’s release on 12 February 1951, he set up the Accelerated Development Plan for Education (ADPE).

In the following year, Nkrumah won the election for the position of Prime Minister and the first thing that he requested as Prime Minister of Gold Coast was independence within the British Commonwealth and this request was approved.

On the 3rd August, the assembly voted for independence under the name ‘Ghana’, which Nkrumah had proposed in April. On 6 March, Ghana was declared free by their Prime Minister, Nkrumah, as it became a Commonwealth realm. With years of hard work and political maneuvering, he declared his plans to make Ghana a republic.

The flag of Ghana, coat of arms, and new national anthem, were designed during his administration and Nkrumah opened Black Star Square near Osu Castle in the coastal district of Osu, Accra. This square is a national symbol.

In April 1960, a presidential election and plebiscite were held and the subsequent change of the constitution, led to Nkrumah’s election as the President of Ghana. As soon as Nkrumah became the President of Ghana, he founded the Kwame Nkrumah Ideological Institute to train Ghanaian civil servants and endorse Pan-Africanism.

He also sought to eradicate tribalism, designated special positions in the parliament to be held by women and succeeded in reducing the political importance of the local chieftaincy.

Under his leadership, agriculture improved tremendously, a welfare system was created, various community programs and more schools were established, modest deposits of bauxite and gold were exploited more efficiently.

Socialist policies and practices were adopted and Nkrumah negotiated the creation of a Union of African States, a political alliance between Ghana, Guinea, and Mali. In 1964, Nkrumah brought forth the Seven Year Development Plan for National Re-construction and Development, which identified education as a key component to development and called for the expansion of secondary technical schools.

His government was overthrown while he was on a visit to North Vietnam and China in February 1966, by a military coup led by Emmanuel Kwasi Kotoka and the National Liberation Council.

He never returned back to Ghana and lived in exile in Conakry, Guinea, as the guest of President Ahmed Sékou Touré (who made him honorary co-President of the country). He died of prostate cancer in April 1972.

HONOURS AND TRIBUTES

He was awarded Honorary Doctorate degrees by Lincoln University, Moscow State University, Cairo University in Cairo, Egypt; Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland; Humboldt University in East Berlin and many other universities.

He was voted Africa’s Man of The Millennium by listeners to the BBC World Service. He was described by the BBC as a Hero of Independence, an International symbol of freedom and as the leader of the first black African country to shake off the chains of colonial rule.

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.

Dr. Kwame Nkrumah authored over 20 books and publications. He is a leading authority on Political theory and Practical Pan-Africanism.


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