Sir Arthur Lewis

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Sir Arthur Lewis (23 Jan 1915 – 15 June 1991)

Sir Lewis was born in St.Lucia and was raised by his mother after his father passed away at age 7. He excelled in school and finished school at the age of fourteen after being skipping 2 school years. He continued his academic achievements by earning his Bachelors (first class honors) and completing his scholarship funded Ph.D at the London School of Economics by the age of 25. He set a record by finishing first in his class with first class marks in 7 of 9 subject. He stayed at LSE before becoming a full-time lecturer at the University of Manchester at 33 years old. He developed important economic concepts and started to become known and sought after during the late 50’s when many former colonies started to gain independence from European countries. He was appointed as Ghana’s first economic advisor in 1957 and helped to draw up its Five-Year Plan (1959-1963). A few years after being appointed as Vice Chancellor of the University of West Indies in 1959, he was knighted for his efforts and contributions to economics. He spent over 20 years as a professor at Princeton University, during which, he was named as the first president of the Caribbean Development Bank, as well as receiving the Nobel prize in Economics in 1979.

His other achievements include:
Member of the Colonial Advisory Economic Council
Committee for National Fuel in Britain
Managing Director of the United Nations Special Fund
First West Indian to head the University of the West Indies
Established the School of Engineering at University of the West Indies
Chancellor of the University of Guyana
Wrote 81 professional articles and 10 books

After his death in 1991, he continued to be remembered. The University of Manchester named a building after him in 2007, there is a college in his native St.Lucia named after him, and he is featured on the rear of the $100 Eastern Caribbean note.

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Lord Kitchener

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Lord Kitchener (Aldwyn Roberts)  (18 April 1922 – 11 Feb 2000)

Even as the Trinidadian Lord Kitchener stepped off the Empire Windrush in 1948, he was singing the song he wrote on the famous boat, ‘London is the place for me’. Kitch brought a twist to the calypso that already existed in London, with the likes of Sam Manning and Rudolph Dunbar already plying their trade in the capital. The difference was, that fresh from his 6 month tour of Jamaica, he was already adapting his music to his surroundings.

London is the place for me
London, this lovely city
You can go to France or America
India Asia or Australia,But you must come back to London city.

Kitch’s lyrics, instead of conforming to the norm and singing for pure entertainment, he took Calypso’s original meaning (coming from the word ‘kaiso’ in the Hausa language) by acting as a contemporary griot, commenting on social events and criticism of government. he wrote songs such as Cricket, Lovely Cricket to celebrate the West Indies beating England in 1950, My Landlady which spoke about struggles to pay rent, and If You’re Not White, You’re Black.

Your Negro hair is obvious,
You make it more conspicuous,
You use all sort of Vaseline,
To make out you are European…

He also commemorated Ghana’s Independence with the song Birth Of Ghana:

This day will never be forgotten,
The 6th of March 1957,
When the Gold Coast successfully,
Get their independence officially,
Ghana…

He also paid homage to some of the bebop artists of the day on Bebop Calypso and the jovial Love in the Cemetery. His most successfully commercial song was Sugar Bum Bum which was written in 1978. He made some of the funniest, introspective and historically significant calypso of his time, and had an influence on Ghanaian highlife music due to his tours there, and won many awards in his native Trinidad all the way into the 90’s.

On Africa and the World Cup

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One thing that has always caught my attention is how Africa and African football teams are spoken about at the World Cup. It seems as though the last African team left in the tournament somehow carries the hope of not only their nation, but the whole continent of Africa. Headlines such as ‘Ghana – Africa’s Best Hope in Tough World Cup Pool’ and ‘Why do African teams underperform at the World Cup?’ are common and go without questioning if the idea itself makes sense. The idea that African teams are spoken about in very different ways to teams from the rest of the world. Listen closely at how many times commentators and presenters will say things like ‘These players are not just representing their country, but also they are representing Africa’.

When Ghana were knocked out of the 2010 World Cup by Uruguay, it was seen as not only a triumph, but a possible glimpse into the future, as Ghana equalled the best result by an African team in World Cup history. Watching Luis Suarez’ handball and sending off, Asamoah Gyan’s subsequent penalty miss and Abreu’s audacious chip to win it, was one of the most heartbreaking events in recent World Cup history. It endeared Ghana and in particular Asamoah Gyan, to hearts all over the world; not just African hearts.

In last nights BBC World Cup preview show, Reggie Yates spoke about the history of African sides at the World Cup and about the chances of Ghana escaping the group of death this year. He quoted the African saying ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together’. I’m sorry but on a continent where approximately 2000-3000 different languages are spoken, not to mention possibly 8000 dialects, the idea of the African proverb makes no sense. Africa is not a country. The proverb European or South American proverb makes no sense, so how can a proverb from Africa be acceptable? It just seems as though Ghana, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Algeria get lumped together when the need to explain how they perform and where they come from arises. Speaking of under-performing, do African teams really underperform?

If we go by appearances in the last 16 (that is countries that qualify from their group), we see that Africa is actually the 4th most successful continent over the last 6 World Cups. The 3rd most successful is North America, with 9 appearances in the knockout stages to Africa’s 5 (Asia has 4 while Oceania has 1). If we look at quarter-final appearances however, Africa beats North America 3 -1, with quarter-final appearances by Ghana (2010), Senegal (2002) and Cameroon (1990) to the one appearance by the USA in 2002. So in terms of progression in the tournament, African sides come in 3rd to Europe and South America. South Korea earned Asia’s only spot in the quarter finals of the 2002 World Cup and Oceania’s furthest foray was in the last 16 with Australia in 2006. So do African teams really under achieve? I’ll leave that to you to decide.

Did Germany carry the hopes of Europe when they reached the final of the 2006 World Cup? Do the defending champions Spain go into this years tournament being spoken of as Europe’s best hope of a World Cup? Much has been made of the socio-economic problems that Brazil has, and we have heard over and over again, that failure for Brazil to win the World Cup would be a disaster for its people. Would it be a disaster for the rest of the South American continent? Of course not. Perhaps many Argentinians would relish seeing Brazil knocked out before them. After all, Brazil represents Brazilians. Greece for Greeks. Iran for Iranians. Cameroon for…Africans? Sure many Africans will hope that other African side do well, but I’m sure an Ivorian would much prefer to see Ivory Coast progress rather than supporting the African nation with the best squad, out of a sense of ‘Africanism’??

If Nigeria reach the World Cup final against Brazil on the 13th July, many Africans will be cheering for Nigeria. Maybe, just maybe, there will also be some Africans watching the same game wearing Neymar Jr on their backs.