Monday, July 30, 2012


There are certain history that should never ever be forgotten by black people living every where as it shows the strength of certain individuals who stood against all forms of racial discrimination and prejudices to pave way for the current generation of black people. Whiles big-shots like Rev Dr Martin Luther King, Marcus Garvey,W E Du Bois, Thurgwood Marshall,Malcom X,Rosa Parks et al are celebrated for their staunch opposition against Jim crow laws and racial discrimination, people should also remember others who suffered as victims and triumph over them.
The great African-American women who also made it in their own small way to contribute to the struggle and must never be forgotten are Elizabeth Eckford and Dorothy Counts. The racial discrimination against these two women actually caused a lot of international spectacle against America`s trumpeted accolade as the most democratic and free society in the world.
In an article written by Jefferson Thomas in 07 Sept 2010 and the other one in 9 Oct 2011 by David Margolick under the heading "Elizabeth Eckford and Hazel Bryan: the story behind the photograph that shamed America" in the Telegraph newspaper of UK, the two writers gave a graphic impression of how our black sister Elizabeth was doing all her best to get into her new black Little Rock central high school and the stiff opposition she faced from all white students there,especially from one vociferous female white student named Hazel Bryan.

Elizabeth and Hazel, September 4, 1957
Image 1 of Bryan taunted and hooted at Elizabeth showing glaringly to her that blacks do not belong in their school
Elizabeth and Hazel, September 4, 1957 Photo: Will Counts Collection, Indiana University Archives

Margolick writes that “on her first morning of school, September 4 1957, Elizabeth Eckford’s primary concern was looking nice. Her mother had done her hair the night before; an elaborate two-hour ritual, with a hot iron and a hotter stove, of straightening and curling. Then there were her clothes. People in black Little Rock knew that the Eckford girls were expert seamstresses; practically everything they wore they made themselves, and not from the basic patterns of McCall’s but from the more complicated ones in Vogue. It was a practice borne of tradition, pride, and necessity: homemade was cheaper, and it spared black children the humiliation of having to ask to try things on in the segregated department stores a lawyer, and she thought Central would help her realise that dream.
On the television as Elizabeth ate her breakfast, a newsman described large crowds gathering around Central. It was all her mother, Birdie, needed to hear. “Turn that thing off!” she shouted. Should anyone say something nasty at her, she counselled Elizabeth, pretend not to hear them. Or better yet, be nice, and put them to shame.Lots of white people lined Park Street as Elizabeth headed towards the school. As she passed the Mobil station and came nearer, she could see the white students filtering unimpeded past the soldiers. To her, it was a sign that everything was all right. But as she herself approached, three Guardsmen, two with rifles, held out their arms, directing her to her left, to the far side of Park.”

Reconciliation; Elizabeth Eckford and Hazel Bryan and reunited for Will Counts's poster
Image 2 of 2
Reconciliation; Elizabeth Eckford and Hazel Bryan are reunited for Will Counts's poster Photo: WILL COUNTS

Jefferson`s article chronicled the odyssey of hatred that was exhibited by Hazel towards Elizabeth and how they two women finally reconciled in their later years after school. he writes that "One girl, Hazel Bryan, looked livid, her face poisoned with hate. As Benjamin Fine of The New York Times later described her, she was “screaming, just hysterical, just like one of these Elvis Presley hysterical deals, where these kids are fainting with hysteria”. Her eyes narrowed, her brow furrowed, her teeth clenched, Hazel shouted: “Go home, nigger! Go back to A-”. 
It is so refreshing that these two personalities were reconciled by a lawyer/writer and their story is comforting for us all. Kindly follow the rest of the story here: and get the copy of the book by David margolick "Elizabeth and Hazel
In the fall of 1957, Elizabeth was among the nine black students who had enlisted, then been selected, to enter Little Rock Central High School.
Central was the first high school in a major southern city set to be desegregated since the United States Supreme Court had ruled three years earlier in Brown vs Board of Education that separate and ostensibly equal education was unconstitutional. Inspired both by Thurgood Marshall, who had argued the case of plaintiff Oliver L Brown, and Clarence Darrow, Elizabeth wanted to becoel" here:

.Dorothy Counts was the first black student to be enrolled into Harding High School, Carolina. This 1957 image gives us an idea of the taunts and unnecessary humiliation she had to face during the time. What was once accepted as a part of social behavior is today rightly condemned as racism. This image reminds us of what society was like, not too long ago.

Where Are They Now?: Dorothy Counts," 

the writer notes that "On the morning of September 4, 1957, fifteen-year-old Dorothy Counts set out on a harrowing path toward Harding High, where-as the first African American to attend the all-white school -she was greeted by a jeering swarm of boys who spat, threw trash, and yelled epithets at her as she entered the building.
Charlotte Observer photographer Don Sturkey captured the ugly incident on film, and in the days that followed, the searing image appeared not just in the local paper but in newspapers around the world.
People everywhere were transfixed by the girl in the photograph who stood tall, her five-foot-ten-inch frame towering nobly above the mob that trailed her. There, in black and white, was evidence of the brutality of racism, a sinister force that had led children to torment another child while adults stood by.
A week later, the girl in the photograph was gone. Her parents -having been told by the school administrators and police officials that they could not guarantee her safety -sent her to live with a relative in suburban Philadelphia, where she could peacefully attend an integrated school.
Rather than permanently quitting the city that failed her, she moved back three years later to earn her degree from Johnson C. Smith University and, except for a couple early years spent living in New York City, she has lived here ever since. (

Dorothy Counts—being jeered and taunted by her white, male peers. This photo encompasses a lot of things that must be hated: prejudice, ignorance, racism, sexism, inequality…

Dorothy Counts was taunted by, spit on, and harassed by other white classmates during her first four days of school. However, despite the uninviting atmosphere, she pressed on for 3 more days (before dropping out and moving to Pennsylvania for safety reasons) and became one of the first students in a line of many to integrate public schools.


In some ways, her actions and the actions of those like her helped spur on social reform during the Civil right movement in the 1950s and on. Her courage to press on and walk through the halls of Harry Harding High School made her a part of an ugly piece of American history and walking proof that few people can really change a lot.

Dorothy Counts Walks To Harding High School.

Dorothy Counts now Mrs Dorothy Counts-Scoggins rather than permanently quitting the city that failed her, she moved back three years later to earn her degree from Johnson C. Smith University and, except for a couple early years spent living in New York City, she has lived here ever since.

Dorthy Counts
Counts being interviewed after the very school that
jeered at her has one of its school buildings named
after her.

Elizabeth Eckford and Dorothy counts` story must serve as a source of inspiration for every Black person living everywhere and should motivate them that no matter the odds against them with just a little perseverance success would be theirs. Black women should know that they are great and strong and that nothing can obstruct their aim of succeeding in life. Our African history is filled with the heroic feats of women like Queen Sheba and Zewditu of Ethiopia,Ndola Ann Nzingha of Angola,Yaa Asantewaa of Ghana et al and that what both Eckford and Count`s did in the face of the massive discrimination and hatred was just the genetic expression of how hard our African women are. Let us all celebrate them for they triumph in their quest for di-segregation of schools.

Dorothy Counts-Scoggins may be found here on facebook:

Saturday, July 28, 2012


The history of mathematics in the world cannot be full without metioning the great contribution of the early black mathematician especially those from the medieval black Africans. Among these African mathematicians was Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Fullani al-Kishwani. Unlike the 18th century Ghanaian Wilhem Anton Amoo, the great philosopher who worked and live in Europe, al-Fullani al-kishwani spent all his life and career in the Middle East.He was a ma of many talents. He was mathematician, astronomer, mystic and astrologer. He was a Fulani and the Fulanis were the first people to convert to Islam. He traveled to Egypt and in 1732 he wrote a mathematical scholarly manuscript (in Arabic) of procedures for constructing magic squares up to the order 11.
Muhammad is noted for saying “work in secret” and for saying “Do not give up, for that is ignorance and not according to the rules of this art. Those who know the arts of war and killing cannot imagine the agony and pain of a practitioner of this honorable science. Like the lover, you cannot hope to achieve success without infinite perseverance.Muhammad died in Cairo in 1741

Ancient fulani farmers

Some historians believe the Fulani emerged from a prehistoric pastoral group that originated in the upper Nile region around 3500 B.C. As the climate of the Sahara grew increasingly harsh, population pressures drove them to migrate slowly west and south in search of better grazing lands. By the eleventh century the Fulani emerged as a distinct people group in the Sénégambia Valley. Over the next 400 years they journeyed back east, but south of the Sahara, which had become an inhospitable desert.
Traditionally most Fulani are shepherds or cattle herders, but over time some settled down and, by the nineteenth century, had established a series of kingdoms between Sénégal and Cameroon. The Fulani have myths about how the nomads and settled rulers emerged..

Muhammad: a Life in Math, Magic, and Religion.

Have you ever wondered how mathematics, magic, and religion are all connected?  Look no further than the work of Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Fullani al-Kishnawi, of Katsina (now Nigeria).  Although not much is known about Muhammad’s life, what we do have are his quotes and written words that reveal to us what type of person and mathematician he became.  We also know what type of math Muhammad worked on through the reading of Africa Counts. 
There is still debate as to what year Muhammad was born, however, we do know that his time was spent creating a new way to develop magic squares and completing the five pillars of Islam.  His multi talents as an astronomer, mathematician, mystic, and astrologer helped him during his prolific career.  As a member of the Fulani people, he was one of the first groups to be converted to Islam.  The Fulani people have a history as nomadic herders and traders; they also have made an impact on politics and economics throughout West Africa. Additionally, the Fulani people are very independent and competitive.  They have used Islam as well as their competitive spirit to acquisition new lands around present day Nigeria.  
 Because of Muhammad’s faith, he spent a large portion of his life in the Middle East completing his duties as a devoted Muslim.  It is because of this devotion to Islam, that he is recorded as saying, “work in secret and privacy.  The letters are in God’s safekeeping. God’s power is in his names and his secrets, and if you enter his treasury you are in God’s privacy, and you should not spread God’s secrets indiscriminately.”  This quote from Muhammad clearly symbolizes the first pillar of Islam by stating that any inspiration that is given to you by God, stays between you and God until another is found worthy of this inspiration.  This leads us to the conclusion that Muhammad worked independently and led his students to do the same.  After completing the fifth pillar of Islam, which is the pilgrimage to Mecca, Muhammad traveled to Egypt.  While there, in 1732, he wrote a manuscript in Arabic about how to complete magic squares of up to an order of eleven.  Unfortunately, Muhammad ibn Muhammad died in Cairo in 1741 before returning to Katsina.
            Does it bother you when you believe you have mastered a concept only to discover you have not even come close?  Do not worry because some things are not always the way they appear.  In the words of Muhammad, “Do not give up, for that is ignorance and not according to the rules of this art.  Those who know the arts of war and killing cannot imagine the agony and pain of a practitioner of this honorable science.  Like the lover, you cannot hope to achieve success without infinite perseverance.”  This quote describes the pain and suffering of someone who does not live up to his full potential by giving up.  Muhammad’s statement reveals to us the quality of his work as a mathematician.  He was not only devoted to the art of mathematics, but Muhammad wanted his students to understand and join him in God’s privacy.  This could not be achieved without time and energy, devotion, and practice.  Without a doubt, giving up is not an option. 
Curious as to what this has to do with math, magic, and religion?  The answer goes back centuries to a divine turtle  Lo Shu in ancient China.  On the back of this divine turtle, appeared this configuration of numbers:


Notice anything magical about this square?  Look closely and you will find that all rows, all columns, and the two main diagonals sum to fifteen. This arrangement of numbers in which the columns, rows, and main diagonals sum to the same number is known as magical squares.  For instance, the row consisting of four plus nine plus two is equal to the column of four plus three plus eight, which is equal to the diagonal of two plus five plus eight.  All of these sums are equal to fifteen.  The mysterious number fifteen is known as the magical constant. Muhammad’s work in the mathematical arts consisted of developing a system to come up with higher order magical squares.  The order of a magic square is found by counting the number of rows and columns.  For example, the magic square that appeared on the divine turtle Lo Shu, above is of order three.  All magic squares have an odd order.  The odd order is necessary because an even order square does not comply with every property of a magic square.  For example, one can have an even order in which the columns and rows add to the same.  However, the diagonals of the square will not sum to the same magical constant.  The numbers will repeat themselves, and in a true magical square the numbers are used only once.  The numbers used in a magic square can be found by multiplying the number of rows by the number of columns.  This is also the same as squaring the order, which is found by counting the number of rows or columns.  For instance, if there is a three by three magic square, you will use numbers one through nine.
Muhammad came up with a formula to find the magical constant, the number that is the sum of the rows, columns, and diagonals and a formula to find the middle square.   The formula for finding the magical constant is n(n^2 + 1)/2, where n is equal to the order of the magic square.  The second formula that Muhammad developed was
(n^2 + 1)/2.  Once again, n is the order of the square and in this formula we can derive the middle number.
            Muhammad’s work on magic squares was a beginning to group theory.  By group we mean that a set of elements is closed, associative, contains an identity, and contains inverses for each element.  Muhammad noticed that you could perform certain operations such as reflection about an axis or rotations of up to any degree and not change the properties of the square.  This meant that out of one simple square one could now generate a finite number of magic squares and the properties would still hold true.  For example, the following magic squares are the same square as above reflected about the x-axis and rotated ninety degrees.
This square is rotated about the
This square is rotated about an
Ninety-degree angle.

Muhammad proved that combinations of these two reflections are the dihedral group.  In other words these two reflections generate the rest of the group. In this case generate means that all combinations of these two reflections produce a finite number of elements.  There are eight distant elements in this group.  They include the identity and its inverse and the inverse of every other element.  This group is also associative and is closed under the compositions.  Only the square position is reflected, not the numbers.  This is so you do not end-up with an E for a three.
Although Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Fullani al-Kishnawi was not a minority in either race or religion in the western part of Africa, he was considered a minority because of his career as a mathematician.  Also in the mathematical world he was one of the few who were not Anglo-Saxon or Christian.    Ideas that included people of African decent could not do mathematical problems, and were intellectually inferior kept on in the minds of Anglo-Saxons until recently.   Despite this Muhammad never once gave up.  He persevered through it all, never giving in to the pressures of being a minority in both race and religion.  Muhammad showed the people of the time as well as today that no matter what race, ethnicity, or religion, you should not let this stand in the way  of what you want to do with your life.  If Muhammad had let the issues of multiculturalism get in the way he would have never developed the mathematical formulas and concepts of group theory that are still used hundreds of years later.

Friday, July 27, 2012


Presumed portrait of Abram Petrovich Gannibal
         The supposed Portrait of  Abram Petrovich Gannibal that has been disputed
         by Hugh Barnes,author of Gannibal: The Moor of Petersburg

Sold into Turkish slavery, Abram Petrovich Hannibal was brought as a black servant to Czar Peter I, known as Peter the Great. He became one of the royal favorites, a general-in-chief and one of the best educated men in Russia. His great-grandson was Alexander Pushkin, the famous Russian writer who later glorified the deeds of his black ancestor in his book, The Negro of Peter the Great.

Hannibal was born on an unknown date around 1696 in the principality of Logon in present day Cameroon. Abducted by a rival tribe, Hannibal was sold to Turkish slave traders who brought him to Constantinople in 1703. As an eight-year-old boy he came to the court of Peter the Great who adopted him immediately. Being the Czar's godson, Hannibal assumed his name, Petrovich, and became his valet on Peter's various military campaigns and journeys. When the Czar visited France in 1716, Hannibal was left behind in Paris to study engineering and mathematics at a military school. Two years later, he joined the French army and fought in the war against Spain. In January 1723, Hannibal finally returned to Russia.

To Hannibal's misery, his protector Peter the Great died in 1725, leaving the black artillery lieutenant in the dependence of the royal advisor Prince Menshikov, who–due to his dislike for Hannibal–assigned him to Siberia and later to the Chinese border where his task was to measure the Great Wall.

Hannibal’s fortunes changed in 1741, when Empress Elisabeth took the throne and Hannibal was allowed to officially return from his exile although in fact he had done so clandestinely in 1731. Five years after his illegal return, he married his second wife Christina Regina von Schöberg, the daughter of a Swedish army captain, who bore him eleven children. One of his sons named Osip was the grandfather of the poet Alexander Pushkin.

Although it had been his wish to retire, Empress Elisabeth did not want to abandon Hannibal and his engineering skills. He was made commander of the city of Reval between 1743 and 1751 and by 1760 had been promoted to the rank of a full general. During his military career he oversaw various projects such as the construction of the Ladoga Canal and Russian fortresses. Abram Petrovich Hannibal died on April 20, 1781, as one of the leading pioneers of his country and probably the first outstanding engineer in Russian history.

                    COMES FROM?
There is a raging argument among historians and academicians about the actual place in Africa that Abram Petrovich Gannibal comes from. Wikipaedia: claims  "he was born in 1696 in a village called "Lagon", in present day Eritrea, located "on the northern side of the Mareb River..." (which serves as much of the modern border between Ethiopia and Eritrea). On an 1810 map by Henry Salt, Logo appears in Ethiopia (the area corresponds to today's Loggo Sarda, which had its own rulers, and which is inhabited by Christian Tigrayans and Muslim Saho; others claim it to correspond to nearby Loggo Chewa further west in Eritrea). "As the other sons were brought to their father with their hands trussed up with a rope, he enjoyed freedom of the youngest son swimming in his father's fountains" (Pushkin's notes to Eugene Onegin). The research (1996) of Dieudonné Gnammankou suggests he may actually have been from what is now the Sultanate of Logone-Birni on the Logone River, in Cameroon, south of Lake Chad."
However, in a recent article entitled " Of African Princes and Russian Poets" in The New York Times newspaper`s Opinion pages  written by I.H.T. Op-Ed Contributor, Serge Schmemann in November 12, 2010, he confirmed Mr Gnammankou`s finding of Cameroon as Abram Gannibal`s original home.

Файл:Abram Petrovich Gannibal.jpg
The assumed portrait of what Major-General Abram Gannibal might look like.

Schmemann writes "In Russia, it is common knowledge that Pushkin was descended from an African who was raised to high rank by Czar Peter the Great. Pushkin’s African ancestry was evident in his appearance, and the poet was proud of the heritage, using Gannibal as the model for an unfinished novel known in English as “The Negro of Peter the Great.”
But it is only in recent years that Gannibal, and Pushkin, have become sources of pride for Cameroon. The main reason for that is the research done by an African historian who pored over Russian, French and African sources to conclude that Gannibal most likely began life as the son of a chief in the ancient sultanate of Logone-Birni. Indeed, it was the findings of the historian, Dieudonné Gnammankou, himself from Benin, that led to the little celebration in La Fère......."

He went on to write that " Gannibal’s roots in Africa, however, long remained vague. Russian biographers decided early on that he was Ethiopian, though the only known fact was that he himself wrote in a letter to Empress Elizabeth, Peter the Great’s daughter, that he was from the town of “Lagon.” Vladimir Nabokov, conducting research for his definitive translation of Pushkin’s “Eugene Onegin,” was the first to cast serious doubt on the Ethiopian angle. But it was Mr. Gnammankou who first made a strong case in 1995 that “Lagon” was Logone, the capital of the ancient Kotoko kingdom of Logone-Birni on the southern side of Lake Chad, now located in northern Cameroon.
Mr. Gnammankou’s thesis caused something of a stir in Russia, where Pushkin has the status of a god. Roots in black Africa, Mr. Gnammankou suspects, seemed less acceptable than roots in the ancient Christian kingdom of Ethiopia. Nonetheless, his book on Gannibal was translated into Russian in 1999 and was judged the best book on Pushkin that year at the Moscow Book Fair. In 2000, a documentary about Gannibal shown on Russian television included scenes shot in Logone, as well as an interview with Mr. Gnammankou.
In Logone-Birni, the discovery of a tie to one of the world’s great poets was a sensation. Sultan Mahamat may, in fact, be a distant relative of Gannibal. The sultan claims to be the 47th in his line, and Mr. Gnammankou believes that Gannibal was most likely the son of the local ruler. He believes the boy was kidnapped in 1703 by a neighboring chief to be given as tribute to the newly enthroned sultan in Constantinople. There, the boy was converted to Islam as Ibrahim, which became Abraham, or Abram, when Czar Peter had him baptized in the Russian Orthodox faith.
The ceremony at La Fère was thus something of a personal triumph for Gnammankou, who was the main speaker at a subsequent symposium — and whose wife, Joëlle Esso, a professional singer, entertained the gathering with rousing songs she wrote about Gannibal and Pushkin (“Le czar le rappelle en Russie/ Hannibal n’en a pas très envie ...”).
The fact that an African could rise to high rank in the Russian and French royal service in the 18th century figured prominently in the speeches of the day. For Gannibal, Gnammankou said, Russia became “his land of liberty, which gave him the means of fulfilling his talents.” In return, Russia gained its greatest poet.

Abram (Ibrahim) Petrovich Gannibal (1696-1781) married Christine von Schöberg (1717-1781).
Their third son Osip Abrahamovich Gannibal (1744-1806) married Marya Alexeevna Pushkina (1745-1818).
Their daughter Nadezhda Osipovna Gannibal (1775-1836) married Sergei Lvovich Pushkin (1770-1848).
Their son was A.S. Pushkin.
Pushkin's father and his grandmother on his mother's side had the same grandfather, Petr Petrovich Pushkin (1644-1692). When Marya Pushkina married Osip she became a Gannibal. When their daughter Nadezhda Gannibal married Sergei Lvovich she became a Pushkin.
Note on Pushkin's ancestry
Copyright © The British Library Board.

 Aleksandr Pushkin, from his unfinished novel Peter the Great's Moor (1827) translated from Russian into English by Justin Erik Halldór Smith,the poet shows us his African ancestry in the following write up:
"I've noticed, brother, that you're feeling down," said Peter. "What's missing in your life?" Ibrahim assured his lord that he was satisfied with his lot and that he did not want anything more.
"Good," his lord said, "if there is no reason for it, then I know how to cheer you up."
When their work was concluded, Peter asked Ibrahim:
"Did you like that girl with whom you danced the minaret at the last assembly?"
"She is very sweet, sir, and is a modest and good girl, it seems."
"Then I'll introduce you to her soon. Would you like to marry her."
"Me, sir?"
"Listen, Ibrahim, you are a lonely man, without family or tribe, strange to everyone but me. If I die today, what will come of you tomorrow, my poor blackamoor? You need to make an effort while there is still time; find your foothold in new connections, enter the ranks of the Russian gentry."
"Sir, I am pleased with the patronage and the kindness of your highness. May God grant that I not outlive my Tsar and benefactor, I want nothing more. But if I intended to marry, would the young woman and her family agree? My appearance..."
"Your appearance! What nonsense! Why, you're a regular beau! The young woman is obliged to obey the will of her parents, and look, what is old Gavrila Rzhevskiï going to say when I myself am your wedding's sponsor?" At this the lord called for the sleigh to be brought, and left Ibrahim immersed in his deep reflections.

"Marriage!," thought the African. "Why not? Am I really fated to live out my life in solitude, without knowing the greatest pleasures and the most solemn duties of a man, just because I was born beneath the fifteenth parallel? It's a childish objection to suppose that I could never hope to be loved! Can one really believe in love? Does it really exist in the frivolous heart of a woman? Forever declining to fall victim to sweet delusions, I've given in to other temptations, even greater still. My lord is right: I should see to my future fate. My marriage to the young Rzhevskaia will unite me to the proud Russian gentry, and I will cease to be a stranger in my new homeland. I will not demand love from my wife, but will rest content with her loyalty, and I will transform her friendship into lasting tenderness, trust, and forbearance."

Kindly look for this book below and the review by Andrew Kahn who teaches Russian Literature at the University of Oxford. He has edited Pushkin's fiction for Oxford World's Classics for more in depth information on Abraham Petrovich Gannibal.

Gannibal: the Moor of Petersburg

by Hugh Barnes
Gannibal: the Moor of Petersburg Cover


Thursday, July 26, 2012


A man of remarkable intelligence, intelligence that won his freedom.

He spoke six languages fluently and could write three of them fluently as well.
He was also a master swordsman, war hero, chess specialist, navigation expert, concert composer, and a tutor to royalty.
He may have been the subject of Mozart’s popular opera The Magic Flute.
Soliman was considered one of the most learned people of his generation.

Angelo Soliman born in Africa in 1720/21 either to the Wandala or Mandara, a Muslim ethnic group in the Mandara Hills of Northern Cameroon but also in Bornu State Nigeria. His original name, Mmadi Make, is linked to a princely class in the Sokoto State in modern Nigeria. Around the age of 7 He was taken captive as a child and arrived in Marseilles as a slave, eventually transferring to the household of a marchioness in Messina who oversaw his education. Out of affection for another servant in the household, Angelina, he adopted the name Angelo and chose to celebrate September 11, his baptismal day, as his birthday. After repeated requests, he was given as a gift in 1734 to Prince Georg Christian, Fürst von Lobkowitz, the imperial governor of Sicily. He became the Prince’s valet and traveling companion, accompanying him on military campaigns throughout Europe and reportedly saving his life on one occasion, a pivotal event responsible for his social ascension. After the death of Prince Lobkowitz, Soliman was taken into the Vienna household of Joseph Wenzel I, Prince of Liechtenstein, eventually rising to chief servant. Later, he became royal tutor of the heir to the Prince, Aloys I.

A cultured man, Soliman was highly respected in the intellectual circles of Vienna and counted as a valued friend by Austrian Emperor Joseph II and Count Franz Moritz von Lacy. In 1783, he joined the Masonic lodge “True Harmony”, whose membership included many of Vienna’s influential artists and scholars of the time, among them the musicians Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Josef Haydn as well the Hungarian poet Ferenc Kazinczy. Lodge records indicate that Soliman and Mozart met on several occasions. It is likely that the character Bassa Selim in Mozart’s opera The Abduction from the Seraglio was based on Soliman. Eventually becoming the Grand Master of that lodge, Soliman helped change its ritual to include scholarly elements. This new Masonic direction rapidly influenced Freemasonic practice throughout Europe.

Remains dishonored in death

While Angelo was cultured and dressed in the latest European fashions in life, death was not so kind to him. Emperor Francis II, who came to power in 1792, had Angelo skinned upon his death in 1796 when he died of a stroke strolling the streets of Vienna. His body was taken to an anatomical theater where he was skinned and his skeleton was removed. His internal organs were then interred. His skin was given to the sculptor Franz Thaller who stretched it over a wooden model and then added stuffing to fill it out. The Emperor dressed the skin in what he thought was African garb and kept him in his wonder cabinet, a curio room. Eventually, Soliman was added to a display on Africa with a little girl, some animals, and an ex-zoo keeper who was also African. The display was destroyed in 1848 when a bomb being used to quell rioters hit the building where the display was stored and the display, thankfully, burned.
For more elaborate information and life of the great and enlightened Angelo Soliman kindly visit this link:


 Mansa Kankan Musa

Mansa Kankan Musa(1312-1337 AD) , ‘The Lion of Mali’ was the tenth mansa, better known as “king of kings” or “emperor”, of the Malian Empire of Mali West Africa. He became one of the most powerful and wealthiest leaders of his time. He made Mali’s name renowned in the imaginations of European and Islamic countries In the 14th century.
The wealth he commanded, social customs and grandeur of his court, led to the kingdom of Mali being internationally revered (Cheney 2004)

He is most noted for his pilgrimage to Mecca which put Mali on the map, Degraft-Johnson (1998) noted, ‘It was in 1324 … that the world awoke to the splendour and grandeur of Mali. There across the African desert, and making its way to Mecca, was a caravan of a size which had never before been seen, a caravan consisting of 60,000 men. They were Mansa Musa’s men, and Mansa Musa was with them. He was not going to war: he was merely going to worship at Mecca. The huge caravan included a personal retinue of 12,000 servants, all dressed in brocade and Persian silk. Mansa Musa himself rode on horseback, and directly preceding him were 500 servants, each carrying a staff of gold weighing about six pounds (500 mitkal). In Egypt, Musa spent so much money in gold that he devastated that nation’s economy. For years after Mansa Musa’s visit, ordinary people in the streets of Cairo, Mecca, and Baghdad talked about this wonderful pilgrimage - a pilgrimage which led to the devaluation of gold in the Middle East for several years.”
Cynthia Crossen wrote in her book ‘The Rich’ ,”You’ve heard about the extraordinary wealth of Bill Gates, J. P. Morgan, and the sultan of Brunei, but have you heard of Mansa Musa, one of the richest men who ever lived?. He was Neither producer nor inventor, Mansa Musa was an early broker, greasing the wheels of intercultural trade. He created wealth by making it possible for others to buy and sell”. Basil Davidson suggested that the rulers of Mali were “rumoured to have been the wealthiest men on the face of the earth” (Davidson 1995).

 Mansa Musa presiding over his Kingdom

His pilgrimage planted Mali in men’s minds and its riches fired up the imagination. In 1339, Mali appeared on a “Map of the World”. In 1367, another map of the world showed a road leading from North Africa through the Atlas Mountains into the Western Sudan. In 1375 a third map of the world showed a richly attired monarch holding a large gold nugget in the area south of the Sahara. Also, trade between Egypt and Mali flourished (Black History Pages 2008). On his return from Mecca he brought back with him an Arabic library, religious scholars, and architects, who helped him build a royal palace universities, libraries and mosques all over his kingdom (Black History Pages 2oo8). For example the mosque of the University of Sankore was highly distinguished for the teaching of Koranic theology and law, besides other subjects such as astronomy and mathematics. Micheal Palin, a BBC programme maker noted In 2002 on his return from Timbuktu reported that the Great Mosque of Timbuktu “has a collection of scientific texts that clearly show the planets circling the sun. They date back hundreds of years … It is convincing evidence that the scholars of Timbuktu knew a lot more than their counterparts in Europe”. Furthermore he went on to say “In the 15th century in Timbuktu, the mathematicians knew about the details of the eclipse, knew things which we had to wait for 150, almost 200 years to know in Europe when Galileo and Copernicus came up with these same calculations and were given a very hard time for it” (Palin 2002).

 Mansa Musa, ruler of the Mali Empire in the 14th century, from a 1375 Catalan Atlas of the known world (mapamundi), drawn by Abraham Cresques of Mallorca. Musa is shown holding a gold nugget and a European-style crown.

 He strengthened Islam and promoted education, trade, and commerce in Mali. Laying the foundations for Walata, Jenne, and Timbuktu to become the cultural and commercial centers of North Africa (Walker 2005). Infact Timbuktu became one of the major cultural centers of not only Africa but of the entire Islamic world producing Arabic-language black literature in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. (Walker 2005)

 Mansu Musa on his pilgrimage to Mecca

Mansa Musa ruled for 25 years, bringing prosperity and stability to Mali and expanding the empire he inherited. Mali achieved the apex of its territorial expansion under Mansa Musa. The Mali Empire extended from the Atlantic coast in the west to Songhai far down the Niger bend to the east: from the salt mines of Taghaza in the north to the legendary gold mines of Wangara in the south.
In conclusion He brought stability and good government to Mali, spreading its fame abroad and making it truly “remarkable both for its extent and for its wealth and a striking example of the capacity of black Africans for political organization” (E.W. Bovill, 1958,The Golden Trade of the Moors). His example serves as inspiration as to what Diaspora can achieve today!!

See Map of Mali

Image 6. Mansu Musa’s journey
Isn’t it ironic that mali is now one of the 25 poorest countries in the world. At the height of its power, Mali had at least 400 cities, and the interior of the Niger Delta was very densely populated. Timbuktu rose from obscurity to great commercial and cultural importance. It became a centre of learning, one of the foremost centres of Islamic scholarship in the world.
Cheny, L, V (1994). The end of History. Wall street Journal. 10/20/94
Crossen, C. (2001). The Rich and How They Got That Way: How the Wealthiest People of All Time—from Genghis Khan to Bill Gates—Made Their Fortunes. Crown Publishing Group
Conrad, D, C. (2005) Empires Of Medieval West Africa: Ghana, Mali, And Songhay (Great Empires of the Past). Facts on file
Davidson, B. (1995) Africa in history.
Degraft- Johnson, J,C. African Glory (1998) Black Classic Press.
Palin, M. (2002) Sahara. BBC
Walker, R. (2005) When we Ruled the world. Every Generation Media
Web links:
Black History pages (2008) Mansa Musa. (Black history pages) [Online] available from:
Walker, R. (2005) Mansa Musa of Mali (ruled 1312-1337 AD) (When we Ruled the world.) [Online] available from:

Mali was now a power of more than local or even regional significance. Under Mansa Musa, Mali ambassadors were established in Morocco, Egypt, and elsewhere. Mali's capital was visited by North African and Egyptian scholars. On returning from pilgrimage, Musa brought back with him a number of learned men from Egypt. These settled in Mali and Timbuktu. One of them, called as-Saheli, designed new mosques at Gao and Timbuktu, and built a palace for the emperor. The fashion of building houses in brick now began to be popular among wealthy people in the cities of the Western Sudan.

From al-Omari, Masalik al Absar fi Mamalik al Amsar, in the French version of Gaudefroy-Demombynes (Paris: 1927). Translated by Basil Davidson, The African Past (1964):

The Empire of Mali

The title he prefers is that of lord of Mali, the largest of his states; it is the name by which he is most known. He is the most important of the Muslim Negro kings; his land is the largest, his army the most numerous . . .

Reception at Court

The sultan of this kingdom presides in his palace on a great balcony call bembre where he has a great seat of ebony that is like a throne fit for a large and tall person: on either side it is flanked by elephant tusks turned towards each other. His arms stand near him, being all of gold, saber, lance, quiver, bow and arrows. He wears wide trousers made of about twenty pieces of a kind which he alone may wear. Behind him there stand about a score of Turkish or other pages which are bought for him in Cairo: one of them, at his left, holds a silk umbrella surmounted by a dome and a bird of gold: the bird has the figure of a falcon. His officers are seated in a circle about him, in two rows, one to the right and one to the left; beyond them sit the chief commanders of his cavalry. In front of him there is a person who never leaves him and who is his executioner; also another who serves as intermediary between the sovereign and his subjects, and who is named the herald. In front of them again, there are drummers. Others dance before their sovereign, who enjoys this, and make him laugh. Two banners are spread behind him. Before him they keep saddled and bridled horses in case he should wish to ride.

The Importance of Horses

Arab horses are brought for sale to the kings of this country, who spend considerable sums in this way. Their army numbers one hundred thousand men of whom there are about ten thousand horse-mounted cavalry . . . the officers of this king, his soldiers and his guard receive gifts of land and presents. Some among the greatest of them receive as much as fifty thousand mitqals of gold a year, besides which the king provides them with horses and clothing. He is much concerned with giving them fine garments and making his cities into capitals.

Niani, the capital of all this empire, has long since disappeared. Yet as late as the sixteenth century, the Moroccan traveller Leo Africanus (Hassan ibn Muhammad al-Wazzan az-Zayyati) could still describe it as a place of 'six thousand hearths', and its inhabitants as 'the most civilized, intelligent and respected' of all the peoples of the Western Sudan. The spread of Islam also called for new methods of rule. Mansa Musa opened courts of law for Muslims, alongside the old courts of law for those who were not Muslims.
(Davidson 1998)

In 1337, Maghan Musa inherited the empire from his father at the height of its glory. He reigned for only four years before being succeeded by his uncle Suleyman and mansa of the Mali Empire from 1341 to 1360. 

The death of Mansa Kankan Musa is still highly debated among modern historians and the Arab scholars who recorded the history of Mali.