Pan-African History: Political Figures from Africa and the Diaspora since 1787

Pan-African History: Political Figures from Africa and the Diaspora since 1787

Pan-African History: Political Figures from Africa and the Diaspora since 1787

Pan-African History: Political Figures from Africa and the Diaspora since 1787


Pan-African History brings together Pan-Africanist thinkers and activists from the Anglophone and Francophone worlds of the past two-hundred years. Included are well-known figures such as Malcolm X, W.E.B. Du Bois, Kwame Nkrumah, and Martin Delany, and the authors' original research on lesser-known figures such as Constance Cummings-John and Dus¿¿ Mohammed Ali reveals exciting new aspects of Pan-African activism.



An itinerant, well-travelled actor in the first half of his life, Dusé Mohamed Ali spent the second half writing and working against what he called the 'rising tide of aggression, segregation and oppression which threatens to engulf us. Combines [combinations of large European companies] in African raw commodities … threaten to undermine the very fabric of African agriculture and Native endeavour'. He was thus the first modern Pan-Africanist to understand the absolute necessity for an economic approach to the liberation of Africa and Africans.

Mohamed Ali, by his own account, was the son of an Egyptian army officer and his Sudanese wife. At an early age he was sent to England to be educated and as apparently he could return home only infrequently, he lost his native language/s. In 1882 his father and brother were killed in the bombardment of Alexandria which led to the British occupation of Egypt. His mother and sisters, whom he never saw again, fled to the Sudan. It seems that he acquired the name Dusé from a French captain by that (or a similar) name who thought 'Mohamed Ali' made him indistinguishable from all the others bearing that name.

Bereft of family financial and other support, the sixteen-year-old had to leave school. He worked as an actor in Britain and the USA, and wrote some plays, which, though performed, were unsuccessful. He apparently worked his way around the world, visiting India, North, South and Central America, and the Caribbean. In the USA he worked for a while as a 'penny-a-liner' journalist. Returning to Britain, he reverted to the stage and began writing for the British press. From 1909 he was a regular contributor to the liberal weekly New Age, criticising various aspects of contemporary society, advocating Egyptian nationalism and castigating the oppression of Black peoples. His writings demonstrated that Ali was a well-read man.

In London from a recent trip to Egypt Theodore Roosevelt, in a public speech, and to considerable applause, urged on Britain the necessity of using 'violence and injustice' in dealing with the 'uncivilized' and 'fanatical' Egyptians, whose attempt at self-government was a 'noxious farce'. Ali was incensed, and immediately took up the New Age editor's advice to write not an article but a book refuting Roosevelt. In the Land of the Pharaohs was published in 1911 in both London and New York, and won instant acclaim for having been written by a 'real Egyptian' with 'inside knowledge'. That the latter was not true, and that much of the book had been copied from previous publications, did not detract from Ali's new fame, even when the plagiarism was made public. Ali duly apologised. However, his excoriation of British racism and

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