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Encouraged


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CLARENCE G. CONTEE But my life will flow on in the vigorous, young stream of Ghanaian life which lifts the African Personality to its proper place among men, and I shall not have lived and worked in vain .59 Du Bois was still asking for a place in the sun for all members of the Negro race. In himself he read the past, present, and future greatness of the land and people of his beginnings. A nonagerarian, he could see continuity in the life and work of an individual. Du Bois died on August 27, 1963, before he could consummate his concep-tions of an encyclopedia Africana.60 By that time he had published several in-formation reports detailing the plans for a biographical section of the project. He had also held a conference on the plans. In Freedomways he wrote that the encyclopedia was at last based in Africa and in African ideological control, and again he noted the unfulfilled tasks connected with the preparatory volume of the Encyclopedia of the Negro .61 But none of his own volumes had ever been pub-lished. In one sense, his mission had ended in failure. But at his death he was given a state funeral and buried near Christiansborg Castle in Accra. Deserved praise was heaped upon him for his efforts on the encyclopedia. The Organiza-tion of African Unity was said by an African writer to be one of his monuments .62 President Nkrumah's eulogies added to the praise, and he said that a "father and son" relationship had developed between the two giants of Pan-Africanism. He revealed that it was he who had invited Du Bois to come to Ghana "to pass the evening years of his life and to work on the Encyclopaedia ."63 The work on the encyclopedia was continued by Dr. W. Alphaeus Hunton, an Afro-American and an old friend of Du Bois'; he served as editor-in-chief from 1963 to 1966. Hunton personified the continuity of the Pan-African move-ment for his mother, Addie Hunton, a famous YWCA worker, had participated in the Pan-African Congress meetings in the 1920's.64 Hunton continued the infor-mation reports on the evolution of the encyclopedia. One of them states that the encyclopedia would have ten million words comprising ten volumes .65 At the meeting creating a continental board of editors representing twenty-nine 59. Accra Evening News, August 28, 1963, 13. 60. Ibid., 1. 61. Freedomways, III (1963), 28-30; Information Report (Secretariat for an En-cyclopedia Africana), 3 (December, 1962), 1-3. 62. Accra Evening News, August 29, 1963, 5; New York Times, August 30, 1963, 21. 63. Broadcast by Nkrumah following the burial of Du Bois; copy of the speech was a special insert into Information Report (Secretariat for an Encyclopedia Af-ricana), 6 (September, 1963). 64. G. James Fleming and Christian E. Burckel (eds.), Who's Who in Colored America, 7th edition (Yonkers, 1950), 283; Thomas Yenser (ed.), Who's Who in Colored America (Brooklyn, 1937), 272, contains information on Mrs. Hunton; Addie W. Hunton et al. to Mary White Ovington, November 4, 1926, Records of NAACP, Library of Congress. 65. Information Report (Secretariat for an Encyclopedia Africana), 10 (Septem-ber, 1964), 3. 90
THE ENCYCLOPEDIA AFRICANA PROJECT countries in September, 1964, President Nkrumah viewed the project as a Pan- African endeavor to erase forever notions of White superiority and Black inferi-ority .66 The new director spent from August, 1963, until August, 1966, assem-bling the plans of the contents and organizing a committee of specialists from various parts of Africa.67 In October, 1965, the Organization of African Unity during one of its heads of states summit meetings in Accra gave its blessing to the Encyclopedia Africana. By that time articles were being collected and edited for the projected three volumes due out in 1970. But the Ghana coup on February 24, 1966, impeded the proceedings and the editors feared that the new government would stop support of the project. In his account of the coup, Dark Days in Ghana, Nkrumah said that the project was being deliberately broken up because of the principles and the ideology which inspired it .68 The leadership of the project was taken from the hands of its last Afro- American editor in August, 1966, when Hunton was made secretary. A Ghana-ian, L. H. Ofosu-Appiah of the Ghana Academy of Sciences, was made editor. According to Hunton, his removal was not personal, but it was upsetting and em-barrassing.69 Ofosu-Appiah felt it necessary to assure the public that the new regime planned to continue the work; he also stated that he doubted there would be a Marxist slant in the ideology.70 But only one volume was scheduled to be published in 1970. A lack of funds and the failure of the various national coop-erating committees to cooperate were held responsible.71 When the Pan-African Cultural Festival met in Algiers in July, 1969, a committee of the African cul-tural symposium called for the publication of an "African encyclopaedia."72 A volume of biographies is due out soon.73 Certain basic conclusions emerge from a study of Du Bois' efforts to pub-lish a multivolume encyclopedia on the Negro. He obviously knew that the publi-cation of such a work meant immortality for him as well as racial uplift for Afri-cans and Afro-Americans. His efforts demonstrate decisively that in order to begin to understand the complex personality and the multitudinous works of Du Bois, one must trace some of the threads of his life that led him to devote so much of his thoughts to the project and to spend his last days as a Ghanaian cit-izen and a confessed Communist. He had his fingers and his mind on the pulse of the future directions of the intellectuality of the Black mind. His prophetic gifts remained with him to the last; he must be considered a romantic radical, who had his race at heart. 66. Ibid., 2; New York Times, September 25, 1964, 16; Information Report (Secretariat for an Encyclopedia Africana), 11 (January, 1965), 1-2. 67. New York Times, January 29, 1967, 28. 68. There is a very good short account of the history of the project since 1962 by L. H. Ofosu-Appiah, "The Encyclopaedia Africana," Journal of Modern African Studies, V, 5 (1967), 567-569; Kwame Nkrumah, Dark Days in Ghana (New York, 1968), 138. 69. New York Times, January 29, 1967, 28. 70. New York Times, March 5, 1967, 12; Information Report (Secretariat for an Encyclopedia Africana), 13 (March, 1967), 1-3. 71. Ofosu-Appiah, "Encyclopaedia Africana, " 568-569. 72. African Research Bulletin, VI, 7 (August, 1969), 1483. 73. L. W. Hesse to the author, August 6, 1970. 91

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