Literature: “50 African pioneers”, a book in tribute to the historical actors of the emancipation of Africa.

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Written by the Beninese Tèju Baba, this 136-page book revisits, with supporting illustrations, the emblematic figures who have worked to enhance the image of the continent. Whether in the field of Arts and Entertainment, Sport, Literature, Science and Technology, entrepreneurship, education or health and medicine, the author takes us on a deep odyssey of an Africa that moves the lines.

Published by My African Clichés and illustrated by Hélène Berly, the book “50 African pioneers” is part of the long list of works exalting the exploits of African characters. But its particularity is that it sorts through the 54 countries that make up the continent, 50 personalities who have paved the way in their respective fields. Unlike the other works, Tèju Baba dwelt on lesser known personalities and sometimes not rewarded for their works. If the final masterpiece looks like a school textbook in French and English, the process of collecting data and information was very rigorous. The author had to bypass internet search engines.

The data collection period spanned two years. The author has traveled the continent to meet academics and researchers. The latter provided him with a very solid database on African pioneers over a recent period. Especially from the end of the 19th century to the present day. The author explains that the search engines on the Internet have not been of any help to him: “I realized that by using the search engines, the algorithms did not bring up any information on the African pioneers, I had to type in “indigenous” to get results. »

In the book we find personalities little known to the general public. This is the case of William Anderson Soga. The latter is the first black doctor to graduate in South Africa in 1894. We also note the presence of Pelagia Majoni. She is the first African to give her name to an asteroid. Originally from Zimbabwe, Pelagia distinguished herself at only 23 years old by shining in a complex field such as mathematics. She brought electricity to her native village by developing a potato waste recovery system that generates electrical energy. Alongside these we find the presence of well-known legends such as Wangari Maathai, the first woman from East and Central Africa to obtain a doctorate in 1971 and the first African woman to have received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004, Nii Quaynor this Ghanaian scientist and engineer who played an important role in the introduction and development of the Internet throughout Africa. Or Lupita Nyong’o, the first black African woman to receive an Oscar in 2014, and Wole Soyinka, the first black African Nobel Prize for literature. However, the book raises questions about the absence of important figures such as Yambo Ouologuem and Nelson Mandela. On the absence of Mandela, the author defends himself in these terms: “I am often asked why Nelson Mandela does not appear in the book. However, without Albert Luthuli, his fight would not have existed. And that goes for many of the pioneers featured in this book. »

The author of this book, Tèju baba is an economist by training and a doctor from Benin. He lives in Kenya. The book is available online and in many physical libraries in Africa and elsewhere. You can get it for €37.95 or $41.16.

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