Building future generations : A Shout Out to three Black professors making us proud – By Strive Masiyiwa

  • Photo: Masiyiwa*

Today I wanted to say congratulations to three esteemed Black African intellectuals: my friend Prof Henry Louis “Skip” Gates, Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka, and Prof Kwame Anthony Appiah.


Last week they each received honorary degrees from University of Cambridge in the UK (one of the highest that the University can bestow) for outstanding achievement in their fields. Both Professor Appiah and Professor Gates attended Clare College at Cambridge as students years ago where they both did their PhDs back in the 1970s. They then went on to do great things to educate and inspire future generations, and they continue in this calling. I am sure most of you know about the great writer Wole Soyinka as I’ve written about him here before!

I don’t usually do this but I will go ahead and share their bios directly here below because I think it will be really good for those of you with children and young adults in your families who are looking for role models, and also for all generations looking for hope, inspiration, and good news about greatness during these challenging times.
I also wanted to share on this platform because the fact is, of course, not everyone is a business entrepreneur, which we’ve mostly talked about here. Some of you have huge talents to be creative and literary entrepreneurs, imagining new ways to think about the world and share it creatively and academically, using Innovative ways to communicate that knowledge to future generations.
Let us today celebrate all our teachers, be they esteemed professors, mentors, online lecturers, or YOU… taking the time to tutor or read to a neighbourhood child. If you’re a parent, you’re a teacher, too, every day. Take the time to show your child you care about their homework and studies. IT MATTERS!
Without our teachers, where would any of us be?
Here are the bios I mentioned:

Professor Kwame Anthony Appiah – Kwame studied philosophy as an undergraduate at Clare College and did his PhD there. He is an Honorary Fellow at the College. He is also the present Leslie Stephen Lecturer. A Professor of both Philosophy and Law at New York University, Appiah has taught philosophy, African studies, and African American studies at the University of Ghana and at Yale, Cornell, Duke and Harvard Universities.
Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr – The filmmaker, literary scholar, and institution builder, Henry Louis Gates Jr, came to Clare College, of which he is an Honorary Fellow, to study for his PhD. Currently Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard, Gates is known for pioneering theories of African and African American literature and has created more than 20 films, including a ground-breaking genealogy and genetics series, Finding Your Roots. Gates, affectionately known as Skip, said “All honours are a blessing, of course, but it is difficult to imagine one more meaningful than recognition from one’s alma mater.”

 Professor Wole Soyinka – The playwright, poet, novelist and political activist, Wole Soyinka is an Honorary Fellow of Churchill College and has held visiting appointments at Cambridge, Legon, Atlanta, and Yale. He is presently Professor Emeritus, Dramatic Literature of the Obafemi Awolowo University. His numerous plays, poems, novels, essays and short stories won him the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1986.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *