Date: Sun, 22 Nov 1998 09:53:11 -0600 (CST)
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A Revolutionary's Last Wish
By Lansana Fofana, IPS, 18 November 1998
FREETOWN, Nov 18 (IPS) - Kwame Toure -- known to most people in the world as Stokely Carmichael -- died as he wished this week on African soil in his adopted home of Guinea.
For the past two years, Toure was treated for prostrate cancer in the United States and Cuba, but finally opted for the natural route of herbal medicine in Africa. When asked earlier this year during an interview with IPS in Conakry, Guinea's capital city, whether he would return to his home in the United States, Toure said: "I am an African and would obviously like to die and be buried here."
His death on Sunday has already brought messages of tributes from around the world and according to reports from Guinea, African-American leaders and others have started to arrive in the country for his funeral later this week.
Last week, just days prior to his death, the Rev Jesse Jackson, civil rights leader and President Bill Clinton's Special Envoy to Africa, visited Toure.
Sierra Leone's leftist tabloid 'For Di People' described Toure Tuesday (Nov. 17) as: "A charismatic speaker and extremely dedicated and well-read person. Brother Kwame Toure fought assiduously for the emancipation of the Black man throughout the globe."
The Sierra Leone-based Pan African Union is preparing celebrations to honour Toure who had visited the country on numerous occasions to mark Pan-Africanist celebrations like African Liberation Day in May and the Pan-Africanist Women's Day in August.
"The man is my legend. I felt a part of my body and soul melt away when I heard the news of Kwame's death in Guinea," said Mohamed Kamara, a member of the Pan-Africanist Movement in Sierra Leone.
Born 57 years ago in Port-of-Spain Trinidad, Toure joined his parents in Harlem, New York in 1952. He studied at Howard University in Washington, DC. While there, he joined the Freedom Rides of the Congress of Racial Equality, the bus trips of Blacks and Whites to challenged the segregated interstate travel in the Southern states.
When he graduated from Howard with a degree in philosophy, he joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee(SNCC), where he quickly became a charismatic, confident and fiery young leader within the civil rights movement.
But more than just a speaker, Toure(then known as Carmichael) was a diligent field worker who helped to increase the number of Black registered voters in Lowndes County, Alabama.
Addressing a rally in Mississippi in 1966, he coined the phrase 'Black Power' which was quickly adopted by younger Blacks who were beginning to tire of the non-violent and integrationist tone of the civil rights movement. The term also angered the older generation of civil rights leaders such as the Rev. Dr Martin Luther King and Roy Wilkins, among others.
When he and the SNCC parted ways in 1967, Toure became the honorary Prime Minister of the Black Panthers. He moved to Guinea in 1969 and made his home in Conakry as the guest of Sekou Toure. He chose to remain in Guinea after the death of Sekou Toure in 1984, and also was an active member of the Democratic Party of Guinea (PDG).
A staunch Pan-Africanist, Toure launched the All African Peoples Revolutionary Party in 1972 and travelled the world organising and preaching Pan-Africanism.
While he believed that Blacks could only find their political, economic, cultural and social emancipation in Africa, Toure did not hold a romantic view of the continent.
"Military coups are a setback for the African revolution and we must not relent in our struggle to organise the masses of our people," he said in an interview with IPS in Conakry earlier this year.
He believed that coups were a by-product of bad governance, poverty and underdevelopment. The makers of military coups, he said, are "adventurers who deceive the people with revolutionary rhetoric while having a hidden agenda of plundering state resources and impoverishing the people".
Toure was once married to the South African singer Miriam Makeba. He is survived by his mother, three sisters and two sons.
[c] 1998, InterPress Third World News Agency (IPS)
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