Monday, July 7, 2014


By Ishmael Mzwandile Soqaga

Apparently swathes of blacks worldwide are now content with the euphoria of liberty that they peacefully enjoy.  It is really important to understand how that liberty was achieved.  Absolutely, the world has changed now.  What used to be oppression on black people is the pinnacle of freedom and human rights which they enjoy with great ecstasy.  

Not long ago the world witnessed the iconic phenomenal  American black African writer in 1993, Angelou recited her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton, becoming the first poet to make an inaugural recitation since Robert Frost at President John F. Kennedy's inauguration in 1961.  Moreover, after so many years of bitter tussle of racial segregation in USA, today there is black president (Barack Obama).

Significantly, it took so many decades for black people to be completely recognized as full human beings by the previous white oppressive administration.  The commencing of Atlantic slave trade cultivated the different type of new man in black situation.  Slavery was subsequently resisted and rejected whole by African slave themselves, from intellectual Fredrick Douglas, Booker T Washington etc.

In fact, it must be taken into cognizance that Africans both in Africa and in Diaspora resisted oppression with intellect and diligent.   This is not a hush-hush or a myth, but is the tangible evidence that blacks themselves should feel proud.

For instance, Lorraine Hansberry played a very impressive and pivotal role for the liberty of black people all over the world.  Firstly, she was born in Chicago (USA).  The vigor and the enthusiasm that she had against racial oppression were very dramatic.  Factually, she was one of the charismatic people that man can rely on for inspiration, she epitomised the symbol of liberty and intellectual resistance.  Her immense effort in expressing antipathy towards discombobulating racial oppression was essentially outstanding.

Importantly, she is the first black female in the USA to write a major play.  Her first known work, the play “A Raisin in the Sun” highlighted the lives of Black Americans living under racial segregation.  After she moved to New York City, Hansberry worked at the Pan-Africanist newspaper “Freedom” and she dealt with intellectuals such as Paul Robeson and W.E.B.  Du Bois.  Much of her work during this time concerned the African struggle for liberation and their impact on the world.

Hansberry was a remarkable young woman who invested all her entire energy for the freedom of the black people.  Her vision of black freedom was not narrowly concentrated on black American only but was globally oriented

It is not far-fetched to suggest that Lorraine Hansberry's literary achievements must have influenced many excellent African writers over the decades; including early great African writers who visited or studied in America. I have in mind African writers like Ama Ata Aidoo, Ayi Kwei Armah (both from Ghana), Zulu Sofola, Obi Egbuna, Ola Rotimi (Nigerians), Richard Rive, Mongane Wally Serote, Sindiwe Magona (South Africans). Or even Zimbabwe's Tsitsi Dangarembga, who as a young woman also wrote plays.

On many occasions Hansberry was passionate about Africa.  She wrote in support of the Mau Mau Uprising in Kenya, criticizing the mainstream media for its biased coverage.  She was particularly interested in the situation of Egypt, “the traditional Islamic ‘cradle of civilization,’ where women had led one of the most important fights anywhere for the equality of their sex.”

Incredibly, as young as she was, she successfully spawned extraordinary literary works that are tremendously gripping.  The thrilling enthusiasm of her effort is sacrosanct.  This is the type of the character the world needs to emulate.  Although, she died young at the age of 34 in 1965 she had witness the dream of Free Africa when Ghana become independent in the late 50s.  In response to the independence of Ghana, led by Kwame Nkrumah, Hansberry wrote:  “The promise of the future of Ghana is that of all the colored people of the world; it is the promise of freedom.”

It is fundamentally important to remember Hansberry as an inspiration for the survival to the black people.  Invariably I am completely convinced that Africans have to celebrate the achievements of Black literature at home and abroad.  Black Africans have Nobel prize winners in literature in Africa (Wole Soyinka) and abroad (Toni Morrison).  It is further necessary to acknowledge how black literature keeps on proliferating.  Credit must significantly be given to the sublime Lorraine Hansberry, not because of her remarkable political activism but albeit also as a superlative, prodigious and transcendent iconic writer.  

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