We mourn the death of Dr. William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, a great son of Africa.
Dr. Du Bois, in a long life-span of 96 years, achieved distinction as a poet, historian and sociologist. He was an undaunted fighter for the emancipation of colonial and oppressed people, and pursued this objective throughout his life.
The fields of literature and science were enriched by his profound and searching scholarship, a brilliant literary talent, and a keen and penetrating mind. The essential quality of Dr. Du Bois’ life and achievement can be summed up in a single phrase: intellectual honesty and integrity.
Dr. Du Bois was a distinguished figure in the pioneering days of the Pan African Movement in the Western World. He was the Secretary of the First Pan African Congress held in London in 1900. In 1919, he organised another Pan African Congress in Paris which coincided with the Paris Peace Conference. When George Padmore and I organised the Fifth Pan African Congress in 1945 at Manchester, we invited Dr. Du Bois, then already 78 years of age, to chair that Congress. I knew him in the United States and even spoke on the same platform with him. It was however at this Conference in Manchester that I was drawn closely to him. Since then, he has been personally a real friend and father to me.
Dr. Du Bois was a life-long fighter against all forms of racial inequality, discrimination and injustice. He helped to establish the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, and was the first editor of its fighting organ The Crisis. Concerning the struggle for the improvement of the status of the Negro in America, he once said:
"We will not be satisfied to take one jot or little less than our full manhood rights. We claim for ourselves every single right that belongs to a free-born American, political, civil and social; and until we get these fights, we will never cease to protest and assail the ears of America. The battle we wage is not for ourselves alone, but all true Americans."
It was the late George Padmore who described Dr. Du Bois as the greatest scholar the Negro race has produced and one who always upheld the right of Africans to govern themselves.
I asked Dr. Du Bois to come to Ghana to pass the evening of his life with us and also to spend his remaining years in compiling an Encyclopaedia Africana, a project which is part of his whole intellectual life. We mourn his death. May he live in our memory not only as a distinguished scholar, but as a great African Patriot. Dr. Du Bois is a phenomenon. May he rest in peace.