Tribute to a True Pan-Africanist

Pan-Africanism evokes the names and memories of such great Africans as Kwame Nkrumah, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Jomo Kenyatta and Julius Nyerere, alongside others in Africa. On the other side of the Atlantic in the Americas, such names as W.E.B. du Bois in the U.S. and George Padmore, Marcus Garvey and Dudley Thompson among several others are as prominent as their African counterparts. Their foot prints are indelible in the sands of the unending struggle for the emancipation of Africa.

Marcus Garvey’s strong belief in the pan-Africanist cause ignited the fire in a fellow Jamaican Dudley Thompson who just joined the ancestors and was and honored at a ceremony at the African Union offices in New York City.

A gathering of African ambassadors, scholars and other Africans in the Diaspora a tribute paid tribute to the lawyer, scholar, diplomat and a foremost pan-Africanist. Ambassador Tete Antonio, Permanent Observer of the African Union to the United Nations described the timing of the tribute to Dr. Thompson as auspicious and fitting. The month of May, the ambassador said is Africa’s month, and it was fitting to remember the honorable man at such time and in the conference hall of the African Union premises.

Others who also paid tribute to Dr. Thompson included Ambassador Ismael A. Gaspar Martins, Angola’s Ambassador to the United Nations and the chair of the African Group for the month of May. He said Dudley Thompson was a strong defender of pan-Africanism, having assembled a team lawyers to defend Jomo Kenyatta during the Mau Mau revolution in Kenya. He said that 2012 is designated as a year of shared values and that it offers the African Union the opportunity to share its core values. The AU, he went on, was founded on the principles of the shared values of freedom and unity. Ambassador Martins stated that on his assumption of office as the President of the World African Diaspora Union in 2007, Dudley Thompson insisted on the establishment of a platform for justice for the peoples of African descent. Dr. Thompson was a man of excellence, dedicating himself to the cause of the Diaspora. As an intellectual, the Angolan diplomat said “He [Dudley Thompson] will be remembered as one of the intellectual pillars of pan-Africanism.

In his tribute, the Ugandan ambassador to the United States, Perezi Kamunanwire recalled his meeting with Malcolm X who he described as the driving force to his decision to come to the United States to study. He said he met Dudley Thompson at the 1957 pan-Africanist conference in Uganda, where Dr. Thompson asked him to study the history and culture of his people in order to understand and have reason to know what the struggle is all about. He questioned the current rush for Africa’s resources by the Chinese and other non-Africans and bemoaned the incidence of tribalism. He said no matter how loud our leaders shout Washington ignores them. Washington ignored Africa’s warning against intervention in Libya.

Referring to the unsuccessful bid for the position of the President of the World Bank of Dr.Okonjo Iweala, Mr. Kamunanwire revealed that the lady had dared question the billions of money meant for Africa but left in the vaults of the bank. He maintained that she was the most qualified candidate for the job.

Jamaica’s ambassador to the United Nations, Raymond Wolfe described Dudley Thompson as primarily an educator. He was also a diplomat who once represented Jamaica in Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone. Through his efforts, the Caricom and the AU have been commissioned to erect a monument in commemoration of the trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. “We feel the UN is the most appropriate location for the monument,” Ambassador Wolfe added.

On her part, Dr. Georgina Falu, Chair of AU Diaspora Task Team recalled Dr. Thompson’s insistence on the need for the African Diaspora to participate in the economic development of Africa. She added that at a time when the Chinese and everybody is having a free time with the continent’s resources it was a most appropriate call. She said that in the pipe line is the establishment of a pan-African Enterprise Development Center to help African descendants develop their own business and to transfer technology and expertise to Africa.

Professor Leonard Jeffries, President of World African Diaspora Union (WADU) began with a tribute to Mrs. Cecile Thompson and said the tribute to her husband was a chance to salute pan-Africanism. The mission of WADU is to clarify who is an African, he said because one of the problems Dudley Thompson kept worrying about is the issue of identity. “Dudley Thompson knew his own identity,”

Prof. Jeffries said. Dr. Thompson brought the understanding of Marcus Garvey coming from Jamaica. According to Dr. Jeffries, Dudley Thompson was a success in in own right. He was a brilliant lawyer, academic and diplomat, yet he chose to join forces with the likes of Kwame Nkrumah, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Nyerere and the rest for Africa’s liberation. He chose to set up his law practice in colonial East Africa defending Jomo Kenyatta during the Mau Mau revolution. He was also active in the Reparation movement with Nigeria’s Moshood Abiola. He prepared a comprehensive paper on the issue of reparations for the 1993 Abuja conference. Prof. Jeffries opines that this year should be dedicated to Dudley Thompson. In spite of his many accomplishments, Dudley Thompson was described as a great family man.

Mrs. Cecile Thompson expressed her gratitude for the tribute and in a few words described her husband as a man who had time for the family. She concluded that her husband had a sense of humor which he showed when he filled out the form for training as an officer of the Royal Air Force. He wrote white when asked what his race was. But he was never rejected when it was found out that he was black. Mrs. Thompson was presented with a proclamation by WADU.

Dudley Thompson was born in Panama and raised in Jamaica. He served in Britain’s Royal Air Force as a pilot during World War II. He interacted with such great pan-Africanists as Kwame Nkrumah, Jomo Kenyatta and George Padmore. He studied at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar and practiced law in Tanganyika (now Tanzania) and Kenya in the 1950s. Dudley Thompson became Jamaica’s ambassador to Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone in the 1960s.

Ambassador Dudley Thompson died on January 20 this year and was buried on February 10 in his native Jamaica.

Posted by on May 19 2012. Filed under top stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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