WORDS THAT CHANGED AFRICA - Part 1 Nnamdi Azikiwe And I. T. A. Wallace-Johnson
The Awareness is launching a new 10 part series documenting great speeches and articles delivered or written by African leaders in an effort to help mold and define a new modern Africa.
While some were given by the good and some by the eventually not so good with skeletons in their closets, one thing they all have common is the clear and unified voice of a continent no longer willing to accept the yoke of enslavement regardless of what form it came in.
These words spoken or written all lit a fire within the souls of Africans and spawned a sense of both pride and hunger for equal rights and justice.
They are presented in no particular order.
First, we will revisit the controversial poem by Nnamdi Azikiwe and Wallace Johnson entitled "Does the African have a God? ".
The seminal piece was published on May 15th, 1936 in Ghana in the African Morning Post, where Azikiwe was the Editor, and in many ways marked the beginning of the end of colonialism in Africa. The issues raised in the poem were dealing with the nature of the colonial system, the Italian invasion into Abyssinia (now Eritrea and Ethiopia) and the role of western religion in the process of colonizing the African continent.
At that time it was so ahead of its time and controversial, that Azikiwe and his fellow Pan-Africanist Wallace Johnson from Sierra Leone, were tried for sedition by the colonial authorities. The Africans attempted to bring their case before the West African Court of Appeals but were dismissed and therefore both were deported from Ghana
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While this predictably resulted in the African Post being shut down, it also gave birth to the famous West African Pilot Magazine out of Lagos where Azikiwe continued his protest and mentoring of others including Kwame Nkrumah himself.
So in their haste to curtail the insurrection in Ghana, England and the Crown actually did exactly the opposite and unwittingly spread the voice of discontent throughout Africa.
Does the African have a God?
Personally, I believe the European has a god in whom he believes and whom he is representing in his churches all over Africa. He believes in the god whose name is spelt Deceit. He believes in the god whose law is 'ye strong, must weaken the weak.' Ye 'civilised' Europeans you must 'civilise' the 'barbarous' Africans with machine guns. Ye Christian Europeans, you must 'Christianize' the pagan Africans with bombs, poison gases, etc.
In the colonies the Europeans believe in the god that command ye Administrators, make Sedition Bill to keep the African ragged, make Deportation Ordinances to send the Africans to exile whenever they dare to question your authority.
Make an Ordinance to grab his money so that he cannot stand economically. Make a levy bill to force him to pay taxes for the importation of unemployed Europeans to serve as Stool Treasurers. Send detectives to stay around the house of any African who is nationally conscious and who is agitating for national independence and if possible, round him up in 'criminal frame-ups' so that he could be kept behind bars.
Nnamdi Azikiwe - 1904 - 1996
I. T. A. Wallace-Johnson - 1894 - 1965