The year marks the rd anniversary of the birth of Edward Wilmot Blyden. The term Pan-Africanism was not coined before Blyden's death in , but a review of his life's work reveals that he had the greatest influence on the creation of the ideas which we now associate with historical Pan Africanism. The work of men like Booker T. Washington and W. Burghart Du Bois is exclusive and provincial in a sense. The work of Edward Wilmot Blyden is universal, covering the entire race and the entire race problem.
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He distinguished himself as an educator and contributor to post-colonial discourse on African self-government, and Third World non-alignment. He was the grandson of Edward Wilmot Blyden. As an infant, he suffered the effects of rickets brought on by malnutrition in the wake of the —19 Spanish flu pandemic. While this affected his ability to walk in early childhood it was not a lasting disability. Edward and his sister Amina were raised by their mother, Isa Cleopatra Blyden and their Liberian grandmother, Anna Espadon Erskine ,  who were both headmistresses of primary schools in the Muslim communities of Foulah Town and Fourah Bay even though the family were active members of the Zion Methodist Church, Wilberforce Street.
He attended the Ebenezer Amalgamated Primary School. He worked as a teacher and briefly for the Sierra Leone Railway during the early s. His earliest published essays  on African education and colonialism date back to these years. After the Second World War , Blyden, was invited to continue his education at Lincoln University Pennsylvania in the United States where his grandfather had received an honorary doctorate.
He graduated from Lincoln in with an A. The subject of his doctoral thesis  was the pattern of constitutional change and emergence of African political thought in the twentieth century.
During this period, he met with Edith Holden granddaughter of John Pray Knox with whom Blyden's family had longstanding historical connections and with whom he later worked on the definitive biography of his grandfather Edward Wilmot Blyden. Blyden interrupted his graduate studies in to return to Sierra Leone where he took up a position as head of Extra Mural Studies at Fourah Bay College.
He became increasingly active in the politics of independence and after a sensational series of Town-Hall lectures, he formed the Sierra Leone Independence Movement in Promoting the view that a newly independent Sierra Leone would not be well served by the fractious nature of party politics, he galvanised his followers with the Movement's signature call and response: "What's the Word?
In the pre-elections of , SLIM won no seats which disappointed Blyden and his supporters within and without the country.
If the news that all Sierra Leone parties have formed a National front to greet Independence means what if seems to, prospects are better than ever they were A man to whom the country owes an apology if this moment of concord holds is E. Blyden, III. He argued with considerable vigour and wit that the country was not ripe for party politics and it was in this faith that he created the officially 'non-party' Sierra Leone Independence Movement.
He lately took his doctorate at Harvard after retiring discomfited from active politics. It is improbable, however that this interminable monologuist, whom the Vanguard saluted ironically on his departure for trying to teach a country politics by the book will receive any acclaim from the hard-bitten realists who have now joined together. I told you so makes few friends. Blyden was able to expose the student body to a wide spectrum of international scholars, including William Leo Hansberry , Arnold Toynbee , Basil Davidson , Leopold Senghor and others.
First and foremost, Blyden considered himself a teacher, and strove to imbue a generation of bright young men and women with the knowledge, principles and self-confidence needed to guide Africa in a Post-Colonial world. The careers of notable Africans such as Peter Onu , James Jonah and others he taught or mentored are testament to his success. Blyden was a first-hand observer and participant at many key events that would shape the geopolitics in the second half-of the 20th Century.
He toured Asian and Far Eastern Universities as a visiting lecturer, coming in contact with intellectuals involved in Asian independence struggles. Thus by the mids, Blyden's African perspective on post-colonial nationhood and self-determination was widely known and respected among Africans and Asians seeking to define the roles of post-colonial nations on the world stage. Of all current political and ideological concepts, few have stirred more controversy than that of non-alignment-- the doctrine devised by those Afro-Asian leaders who are seeking a 'third way' in the East-West struggle.
Their unwillingness to align themselves with either of the two great power blocks now confronting each other cannot fail to have enormous and far-reaching effects — now and in the future — upon the shape of the world. To explore the impact of non-alignment on a divided world, sixty scholars from twenty-two countries of Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America recently assembled in Athens, Greece, for the Fourth International Conference on World Politics.
From the papers submitted at the conference, Kurt London, Director of the Institute for Sino-Soviet Studies at the George Washington University and one of the chief organizers of the conference, selected twenty of the most provocative contributions for this volume. In Part I, questions of colonialism and Communism predominate — for example, the Communist attitudes toward colonialism, neo-colonialism, and neutrality discussed from the points of view of both Westerners and Afro-Asians.
In Part II, which concerns itself with the new nations in transition, specific problems are taken up — among them, the role of the intelligentsia in the new countries and the idea of African neutralism and non-alignment. In his contribution, Blyden reviewed the history and origin of African ideas on neutralism and non-alignment from James Aggrey and J.
Blyden summarised the primacy of Africanism in the policy-making of newly independent nations:. A point that may be obvious but can hardly be overstated in any assessment of African Policies of non-alignment is that African political leaderships do not conceive of their policies as Eastern or Western, but as African.
Africanism is the touchstone of the policy-maker in the new African states. It is noteworthy in this regard that serious writers on Africa have been struck by the pervasiveness of the pan-African impulse in contemporary African politics.
Leading students like Padmore, Shepperson, Fyfe, Hargreaves, and Dike have been unanimous in pointing to an intimate interconnection between the ideas of pan-Africanism and African neutralism and non-alignment. In , Blyden was again given the chance to put the ideas on which he had built his academic and political careers into practice. During his first visit to the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs to schedule a date for official presentation of his credentials, Blyden met Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko and reminded him of their first meeting in at the signing of the Treaty of San Francisco.
What followed was an extended conversation which also broke the protocol of conversations through translators: Blyden returned to his embassy to find an official invitation to present his credentials the following morning. Another surprise for Blyden was his meeting with former Harvard classmate, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, during President Richard Nixon 's historic visit to Moscow; both of them now on the world stage.
Blyden negotiated important agreements between Sierra Leone and Warsaw Pact Countries for trade and development projects in Sierra Leone. Secretary General. He gave the keynote speech at the th Anniversary of the University of Liberia formally Liberia College , an institution at which his grandfather Edward Wilmot Blyden had been a founding Professor.
Though much of his career was spent outside of Sierra Leone, Blyden remained deeply attached to the cultural life of his native Freetown. He was a Freemason and former Grand Master. He was an honorary member of the Akamori Hunting Society. Blyden's character and its lasting impression has been succinctly summarised by the anthropologist Joe Opala :. He was a man of strong opinions, and he was never shy to voice them.
And because he combined a vast amount of knowledge with his strong convictions, you couldn't forget a conversation with him. Edward Blyden was married to Dr. London ed. Blyden, Edward W. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. MacKenzie eds , Oxford: Clarendon Press, Hidden categories: All articles with dead external links Articles with dead external links from August Articles with permanently dead external links EngvarB from August Use dmy dates from August Pages using infobox officeholder with ambassador from or minister from Pages using infobox officeholder with unknown parameters.
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Blyden, Edward Wilmot
Born in the West Indies , he joined the free black immigrants from the United States who migrated to the region. His writings on pan-Africanism were influential in both colonies. These were founded during the slavery years for the resettlement of free blacks from Great Britain and the United States. Blyden's writings attracted attention in the sponsoring countries as well. He believed that Zionism was a model for what he called Ethiopianism , and that African Americans could return to Africa and redeem it. He believed political independence to be a prerequisite for economic independence, and argued that Africans must counter the neo-colonial policies of former colonial powers. Blyden was recognised in his youth for his talents and drive; he was educated and mentored by John Knox, an American Protestant minister in St Thomas , Danish West Indies , who encouraged him to continue his education in the United States.
Edward Wilmot Blyden III
Whereas Marcus Mosiah Garvey is generally regarded to be the face of Pan-Africanism, Edward Wilmot Blyden is one of the forgotten figures whose shoulders he stood on. Although Garvey often made reference to Blyden as being one of his integral inspirations to globally organize Africans, his name is hardly mentioned when homage is paid to pioneering Pan-Africans. Blyden was born Aug. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, spending his formative years there. He migrated to the U. The following year he relocated to Alkebulan Africa , settling in Liberia.
He distinguished himself as an educator and contributor to post-colonial discourse on African self-government, and Third World non-alignment. He was the grandson of Edward Wilmot Blyden. As an infant, he suffered the effects of rickets brought on by malnutrition in the wake of the —19 Spanish flu pandemic. While this affected his ability to walk in early childhood it was not a lasting disability. Edward and his sister Amina were raised by their mother, Isa Cleopatra Blyden and their Liberian grandmother, Anna Espadon Erskine ,  who were both headmistresses of primary schools in the Muslim communities of Foulah Town and Fourah Bay even though the family were active members of the Zion Methodist Church, Wilberforce Street. He attended the Ebenezer Amalgamated Primary School. He worked as a teacher and briefly for the Sierra Leone Railway during the early s.
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