It’s said history is a weapon, that’s why I feel obliged to share with you some history on heroic contributions of some iconic figures in liberation of humankind.
The word “che” is the familiar diminutive for “you” in Argentina, as in “hey, you!” It was an affectionate term that became his “official” name and the one which he used for a signature, always with a lower-case “c.” Ernesto Che Guevara is universally renowned for his critical involvement in the success of the Cuban revolution. Venerated for his cause, he is considered by many to be a legendary hero whose name is equivalent to rebellion, revolution, and socialism. Others, however, see him as a ruthless murder.
Born in Argentina on June 14 1928 (he was ten months younger than Fidel Castro), Guevara studied medicine at Buenos Aires University, where he also became involved in opposition to the Argentine leader Juan Peron. He later went to Guatemala, and in 1953 he joined the government of Jacabo Arbenz Guzman, who was overthrown by a CIA-sponsored coup.
Guevara went on to become the official doctor of the rebel army, and an important leader and strategist. Before leaving for Cuba on the Granma, he told his wife Hilda Gadea (whom he married on August 18, 1955 in Mexico City) that he joined the expedition “because it was part of the fight against Yankee imperialism and the first stage of the liberation of our continent.”
After taking on many important jobs in the Cuban government after the Revolution (he headed Cuba’s Ministry of Industry from 1961 to 1965) he led a force of 120 Cubans into the Congo, but the mission ended in failure.
In 1966 Guevara went to fight for revolution in Bolivia. He was captured by the Bolivian Army and executed on October 9 1967.
Mandela is best known for his fight against white oppression in South Africa. He first showed his dedication to the cause in the 1940’s when he became increasingly involved in the National African Congress Party (ANC) after graduating with a law degree. ANC was a party of varying races united with the aim of bringing about political change and racial equality in South Africa, operating a no-violence policy, despite being on the receiving end of threats and violence. After apartheid (forced racial separation) was implemented by the government in 1948, the ANC began to radicalise, as they gained a large following of all races. However, they still implemented a non-violence policy until 1960 when 69 anti-apartheid protesters were murdered. After this, Mandela, a senior member, left the country to receive military training and find funding for the party, such was his fierce determination to achieve equality in South Africa.
On Mandela’s return to the country in 1965 he was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment, which resulted in 27 years imprisonment, 18 of these in a tiny cell on Robben Island in solitary confinement, receiving little in the way of food and entertainment. Mandela was released in 1990, sparking the end of apartheid. Mandela had finally been successful. Racial equality was finally a legal requirement in South Africa. In 1994, four years after his release from prison and the end of his fight for equality, Mandela was fittingly elected Prime Minister of South Africa. It was a historical day for South Africa, with both races finally united with equality. He remained in the post for 5 years before stepping down in 1999.
Martin Luther King, Jr
Martin Luther King, Jr. was a well-known civil rights leader and activist who had a great deal of influence on American society in the 1950s and 1960s. His strong belief in non-violent protest helped set the tone of the movement. Boycotts, protests, and marches were eventually effective, and much legislation was passed against racial discrimination.
Assassinated in 1968, King’s brief life was filled with many great accomplishments, in which he worked to promote the equal treatment of all races; his non-violent approach to protesting, his legions of followers, and his true belief in the ability of mankind to live in peace went a long way toward advancement of civil rights during that tumultuous time in history.
Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was not just the first President of Ghana but a very extraordinary man whose life and works contributed significantly to changing the world. He grew from a little village boy in Nkroful in the Western Region of Ghana to a world leader fully devoted to the struggle to free all black people from all forms of racism.
He was also against everything which kept people irrespective of their colour in conditions of slavery. He opposed oppression and exploitation in all its forms.
Amongst the many things which make Nkrumah stand out as an extraordinary personality was his realization that Africans everywhere ought to unite in common effort to assert their dignity and use their resources for meeting their needs and realizing their aspirations. His ideas for the unity of all Africans has come to be known as Pan-Africanism and they have their roots in his experiences as a colonial subject, his sojourn in the United States of America and the racist experience he suffered there and his association with Pan-Africanist thinkers of the time including W. E. B. Dubious, Marcus Garvey, George Padmore and Makonnen.
Kenyatta visited England to present Kenyans demands for the return of African land lost to European settlers and for increased political and economic opportunity for Africans in Kenya, which had become a colony within British East Africa in 1920. Kenyatta remained in Europe for almost 15 years, during which he attended various schools and universities, traveled extensively, and published numerous articles and pamphlets on Kenya and the plight of Kenyans under colonial rule. While attending the London School of Economics, Kenyatta studied under noted British anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski and published his seminal work, Facing Mount Kenya (1938).
Following World War II (1939-1945), Kenyatta became an outspoken nationalist, demanding Kenyan self-government and independence from Great Britain. With other African nationalists such as Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Kenyatta helped organize the fifth Pan-African Congress in Great Britain in 1945. The congress, modeled after the four congresses organized by black American intellectual W. E. B. Du Bois & Booker T Washington between 1919 and 1927 and attended by black leaders and intellectuals from around the world, affirmed the goals of African nationalism and unity.
Malcolm X, also known as Malcolm Little, Malik Shabazz, or El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz has made many contributions to changing the world with his beliefs on civil rights and the religion of Islam. His belief that black people were no different than white people and that they shouldn’t treat white people like they are higher, pushed African Americans to fight for their rights. Malcolm X also influenced the Nation Of Islam, converting many African Americans to be part of the Nation Of Islam and later forming the Muslim Mosque Inc. Malcolm X’s want for equality and purity where not confined to America, He traveled the world giving speeches and spreading his beliefs of the world. , Malcolm X was one of the most significant civil rights activists in America, his cause was of such great magnitude and his words, so powerful, that his ideas and beliefs spread across America and into Africa, England, and the Middle East.
The last emperor of Ethiopia was detained in his palace by Mengistu’s soldiers. He died a year later, many believe murdered by his captors. His remains were found in 1992, buried under a toilet in the Imperial Palace.
Many years since his death, his legacy still lives on. Haile Selassie was one of the founding fathers of the OAU and is viewed by many as the figurehead of African independence, for his defiance against the Italian colonial invasion in the 1930s ensuring what Emperor Menelik II achieved was never taken away & that’s Ethiopia freedom.
He is also revered by the million-strong Rastafarian community, who believe that the Ethiopian emperor either remains alive and well, or ascended bodily into heaven. When Haile Selassie was enthroned in 1930, he became not only emperor of Ethiopia, but also god to the fledgling Rastafarian movement in Jamaica. To date rastafarians believe that Haile Selassie is “King of Kings, Lord of Lords, and the conquering lion of the Tribe of Judah. He is everything to us Rastafarians and we will never accept that he is dead.”
Haile Selassie ruled Ethiopia for 45 years before he was overthrown by the Marxist dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1974.
Born in Jamaica, Marcus Garvey (1887-1940) became a leader in the black nationalist movement by applying the economic ideas of Pan-Africanists to the immense resources available in urban centers. After arriving in New York in 1916, he founded the Negro World newspaper with which he knitted black communities on three continents, an international shipping company called Black Star Line and the Negro Factories Corporation. During the 1920s, his Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) was the largest secular organization in African-American history. He sought to end imperialist rule and create modern societies in Africa, not, as his critics charged, to transport blacks ‘back to Africa.’ Indicted for mail fraud by the U.S. Justice Department in 1923, he spent two years in prison before being deported to Jamaica, and later died in London.
He brought the world the brink of nuclear war when he allowed the Soviet Union to build sites for nuclear missiles on Cuban soil in 1962. It is widely considered the closest the Cold War came to escalating into a full scale nuclear conflict. Despite that the revolutionary made vital contributions in liberation of Cuba an action that saw him being awarded China’s version of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, the Confucius Peace Prize.
While in office, Castro didn’t resort to violence or force to settle disputes in international relations, especially with the United States. He made education, hospitals free for everyone in Cuba and also did a lot of international aid to other countries, such as sending doctors and nurses to care for ill people in really rural areas in el salvador, Argentina, Guatemala. He also sent troops to countries in pain such as helping Angola.
Through the 1970s and 1980s Castro emerged as one of the leaders of the non-aligned nations, despite his obvious ties to the Soviet Union.
W. E. B. DuBois
DuBois attended Fisk University and later became the first African American to receive a Ph. D. from Harvard. He secured a teaching job at Atlanta University, where he believed he learned a great deal about the African American experience in the South.
DuBois was a staunch proponent of a classical education and condemned Washington’s suggestion that blacks focus only on vocational skills. Without an educated class of leadership, whatever gains were made by blacks could be stripped away by legal loopholes. He believed that every class of people in history had a “talented tenth.” The downtrodden masses would rely on their guidance to improve their status in society.
As time passed, DuBois began to lose hope that African Americans would ever see full equality in the United States. In 1961, he moved to Ghana. He died at the age of 96 just before Martin Luther King Jr. led the historical civil rights march on Washington.
One of the greatest men in the history of India is unarguably Mahatma Gandhi. The way he gave shape and character to India’s freedom struggle is worthy of a standing ovation. He sacrificed his own life for the sake of his country. The respect that he earned for himself despite leading a simple lifestyle is much appreciable. Mahatma Gandhi played a pivotal role in the freedom struggle of India. His non violent ways and peaceful methods were the foundation for gaining independence from the British.
Born on October 2, 1869, in Porbandar, India, Mahatma Gandhi studied law and came to advocate for the rights of Indians, both at home and in South Africa. Gandhi became a leader of India’s independence movement, organizing boycotts against British institutions in peaceful forms of civil disobedience. He was killed by a fanatic in 1948.