Saturday 13 April 2024


Du Bois Road near River Road Nairobi was named after this Harvard educated African  American sociologist, socialist, historian,  Pan-Africanist and civil rights activist.

He played a great role in organising the 1945, 5th Manchester Pan-Africanist  Congress, which added fresh impetus to African nationalist movements that swept across the continent after WWll. Other organisers were Nkrumah and Jomo Kenyatta.

The American government would later confiscate his US passport accusing him of supporting communism. Du Bois had all along argued that Capitalism was responsible for all the problems Black were  undergoing.

Even though he accepted the Soviet Union's shortcomings, he thought Communism was a better solution to problems Black people were undergoing at that time.

In 1957, Kwame Nkrumah invited him as a special guest to the country's independence  celebrations, but he couldn't attend because the US government was still retaining his passport.

In 1959, he wrote a sympathetic letter to Jomo Kenyatta who was serving his prison term at Lokitaung. In his response in a letter dated Feb 6, 1959, Kenyatta wrote:

"Thank you very much for your inspiring  and consoling letter. I was indeed pleased to receive  your timely letter of sympathy  which has touched me deeply to the heart. Your remarks about the 5th Manchester  Congress brought back good memories  of you sitting in the chair as the grandfather  of the Congress."

In conclusion Kenyatta wrote: "By the way, l shall be grateful if you kindly let me know  whether it is possible for you to make some arrangements for two of my children to study in America."

In 1960, with his passport returned to him, Du Bois travelled to Ghana to attend the country's Republican celebrations, and the same  year travelled to Nigeria to attend the inauguration of Nnamdi Azikiwe.

By that time he had come up with an idea of  the creation of an African Encyclopedia  called Encyclopedia Africana and was looking for funds. In 1961, he wrote to Jomo Kenyatta through Tom Mboya, informing  him about the project and what intended to achieve.

"I have been following your career since our meeting  in 1945 as well as has been possible through the distorted  news service which we have in America....... l am enclosing for your information a plan which l am trying  to promote for an Encyclopedia Africana. I should be glad to have your reaction to it and any advice and coverage which you can give."

Fortunately for Du, Bois, Nkrumah decided to fund the whole project and invited him to Ghana. Consequently In October 1961, at the age of 93, Du Bois and his wife moved to  Ghana where they started working on the project.

Two years later in 1963, he decided to take up Ghanaian citizenship after the American  government refused to renew his US passport. He died that same year at the age of 95, and was accorded a state funeral by President Kwame Nkrumah who also made sure that he was buried close to Osu Castle, the then seat of government.

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