THIS DAY IN HISTORY: 24th February 1995 - Olu Awoonor-Gordon, Pan Africanist historian, lecturer, journalist and political activist, was arrested and detained at the Criminal Investigations Department, Freetown, Sierra Leone.
Awoonor-Gordon, born in Lagos, Nigeria in 1957 to a Nigerian mother and Sierra Leonean father, was a founding member of the Pan African Union (PANAFU) Sierra Leone which was launched at Fourah Bay College (FBC) in 1982 with the aim of reawakening the consciousness of young Sierra Leoneans to continue in the footsteps of their forebearers by advancing the struggle of African people for dignity, freedom and justice, and an end to poverty, exploitation and oppression. He was also a leading member of the All African Peoples Revolutionary Party (AAPRP), which he joined in the late eighties, becoming a close friend and confidante of Kwame Ture (formerly Stokely Carmichael).
Awoonor-Gordon's arrest happened the same day he and PANAFU organised a commemoration of I.T.A. Wallace-Johnson, founder of the West African Youth League, and after he had applied for entry clearance to travel to the United States to attend an AAPRP meeting. It was also soon after he had written a letter of protest to the administration at FBC, for its refusal to allow registration of a branch of PANAFU, on the grounds that he and other members of PANAFU were "trouble makers." Awoonor-Gordon had been dismissed from his post as History lecturer at FBC in 1985 for allegedly inciting student protests.
There is no doubt that Awoonor-Gordon's arrest was an attempt to intimidate and silence him, and other members of PANAFU. Awoonor-Gordon had been arrested on several other occasions, most noteably on Valentine's Day 1992, when police searched his home, seized documents belonging to him and his wife, and detained him on grounds of possessing "subversive material."
Undeterred by this harassment at the hands of state forces Awoonor- Gordon, described as the "greatest philosopher" in Sierra Leone, continued to promote Pan Africanism, and be an outspoken critic of neo-colonialist regimes in Africa until his untimely death on 4th April 2011.
The following video is a clip of Awoonor-Gordon talking to students in London, United Kingdom about the need to organise:
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