Written by Simeon.
All views are Simeon’s.
Black History across the world has been quite a roller coaster ride for a long time. So much so that one would have thought that their spirits would be broken. On the contrary, their spirits remained strong.
Many Africans were brought to the Caribbean colonies and forced to work in plantations. The rise of the tobacco trade and sugar merchants was as a direct result of the rise in slavery & plantation owners. This was often met with rebellion: Tacky’s rebellion in the 1760s in Jamaica, the Haitian Revolution (1789), Fedon’s 1790s revolution in Grenada, the 1816 Barbados slave revolt led by Bussa, and the major 1831 slave revolt in Jamaica led by Sam Sharpe.
The refusal to break is not only shown in their rebellions against slavery, but also the use of their minds despite and in spite of it. Many know of Thomas Edison; however, there was Lewis Howard Latimer who was one of the team of researchers who worked for Thomas Edison. He was born a slave in 1848, to his Father George Latimer who ran with his wife to Boston from his slave master In 1842. James Gray came to collect his slave but was met with resistance – by a fellow White man– William Lloyd Garrison, who was already way back then fighting against racism and colonialism back then.
Lewis Howard Latimer would go on to invent the light bulb with Carbon Filament (1881), more advanced and improved than Thomas Edison’s paper filament which burned up too quickly. He patented his invention and had to sell his patent the same year to the Hiram Maxim (a rival of Thomas Edison). Latimer wrote the first book on electric lighting, known as Incandescent Electric Lighting (1890). Latimer oversaw the instalment of public lights throughout London, New York and Montreal. A black inventor who despite the odds, had proven himself indispensable.
Thomas Isidore Noël Sankara was the President of Burkina Faso from 1983 to 1987. During this period, he increased literacy from 13% in 1983 to 73% in 1987, appointed women in governmental positions and motivated them to work and even join the military; he granted pregnancy leave for women who were in school. Thomas Sankara was already in this time a Champion against deforestation, planting 10 million trees to prevent desertification. He was in support of a greener planet. He ensured that sex workers were employed and went out of his way to ensure that they were given clothes, feminine hygienic products & even shelter.
Thomas Sankara, however, had many enemies. The tribal chiefs who had long-standing traditions of forced labour and tribute payments and their former colonial masters, the French Government. He was assassinated on the 15th of October 1987, by a former colleague Blaise Compaore. He claimed Sankara had “jeopardised foreign relations with former colonial power France and neighbouring Ivory Coast.”
The list of Black trail Blazers does not end there. Lonnie Johnson who invented the super soaker (aka water gun), we all know Serena Williams, Raheem Sterling, the First Black President Barack Obama and Somali-British Member of European Parliament for Yorkshire and the Humber and former Lord Mayor of Sheffield, Magid Magid, who is an alumnus of this University.
As Black History Month ends, it is my hope that that Resilient Spirit that drives Black people across the planet to keep pushing despite the hardships they have faced, and still indeed do face, is caught by everyone else as well, so we can push and strive together to make the world – our world – a much better place than we found it.
Lu nen dedoo!!