Today’s African Hero we celebrate for our #AfricanHeroesMonth is less-known but as great as any of Africa’s greatest leaders.
A true Pan-Africanist, Modibo Keïta was the first President of Mali after independence in 1960.
Born on June 4 1915 in Bamako, Modibo Keïta’s family were Malian Muslims who claimed direct descent from the founders of the Mali Empire. He was educated in Bamako and at the école normale William-Ponty in Dakar, where he was top of his class.
Modibo Keïta devoted his entire life to African unity. Together with Sékou Touré, the president of Guinea, and Kwame Nkrumah, the President of Ghana, he formed the Union of the States of Western Africa. In 1963, he played an important role in drafting the charter of the Organization of African Unity (OAU).
On 19 November 1968, General Moussa Traoré overthrew Modibo Keïta in a coup d’état, and sent him to prison in the northern Malian town of Kidal.
After being transferred back to the capital Bamako in February 1977 in what was claimed to be an action by the government towards national reconciliation in preparation for his release, Modibo Keïta died, still a prisoner, on May 16, 1977.
His reputation was rehabilitated in 1992 following the overthrow of Moussa Traoré and subsequent elections of president Alpha Oumar Konaré. A monument to Modibo Keïta was dedicated in Bamako on June 6, 1999.
In closing, here’s a quote by Modibo Keïta on the push for African Unity:
“Brushing aside every obstacle, contemptuous of all pressures, we must proceed, stage by stage, to concrete actions, looking only to the ideals of liberation and African Unity”