Black Excellence: Abdul Karim Bangura, Sierra Leonean Scholar With 5 Ph.Ds

For many years, Abdul Karim Bangura’s graduate students at Howard University and American University have been the most published in refereed and other scholarly journals and books. Bangura is revered as one of the most educated people in the world. He holds five doctorate degrees, authored 66 books and over 600 research papers. 

Currently sitting as a Researcher-in-Residence of Abrahamic Connections and Islamic Peace Studies at American University’s Center for Global Peace, the Sierra-Leonean-American scholar holds the following:

Ph.D., Mathematics, Columbus University
Ph.D., Linguistics, Georgetown University
Ph.D., Political Science, Howard University
Ph.D., Development Economics, University of Maryland Baltimore Graduate School
Ph.D., Computer Science, Columbus University

M.S., Linguistics, Georgetown University
Grd Dpl., Social Sciences, Stockholms Universitet
M.A, International Studies, American University
BA, International Studies, American University

As a notable member of many scholarly organizations and editorial boards, Bangura has traveled across the world, except Antarctica, to give lectures, present papers, engage in peace work, and do television and radio shows, he said in an interview with Sierra Express Media. With many teaching and scholarly and community service awards, the professor, fluent in about a dozen African and six European languages, has had a stint in various institutions.

Apart from lecturing at Howard University, he is a distinguished professor of International Relations and Islamic Peace Studies, a researcher-in-residence at the Center for Global Peace, the coordinator of the BA in International Studies-International Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR) focus, the coordinator of the Islamic Lecture Series, the coordinator of the NCUR, and the faculty advisor of The Africa Project at the Center for Global Peace, the American University Undergraduate Research Association (AUURA), among others. Bangura also taught at Georgetown University and Sojourner-Douglass College. 

Pursuing five doctorate degrees came with social risks, he said. Born in 1953, in Bo Town, Sierra Leone, he grew as a Muslim, but served Mass as an Altar Boy during his youth and studied Judaism under revered Rabbis in Italy, he said.

After his first Ph.D., he applied for an advertised faculty position at Fourah Bay College, but he got no reply acknowledging that his application was received. He sent another application. Again, he received no reply. “While working in the US and waiting for an opportunity to go to Sierra Leone, I became fascinated by the works of Cheikh Anta Diop and early Egyptian thinkers such as Imhotep, Ptahhotep, Hypathia, etc. and realized that they were all great thinkers because they were pluridisciplinarians.

“I then decided to study more to gain as much knowledge as I can, just as the Holy Qur’an teaches. But in order to do so, I had to register in a program and pursue full-time study if I were to get a scholarship. The rest, as they say, is history, as one Ph.D. led to another,” he told Sierra Express Media.

According to Bangura, it took him about 13 years to earn the five Ph.Ds as he would start another program while writing the doctoral dissertation for the other, he explained. One of the most educated Sierra Leoneans in the world, he has not turned his back on his country. 

“My education has allowed me to know people in high positions that I lobby for Sierra Leone and other African countries, help Sierra Leonean and other Black students get scholarships at my academic institution and others, help Sierra Leonean and other African scholars get needed training outside the country, earn money to send remittances to Sierra Leone, and contribute to other Sierra Leoneans’ development projects in the country,” he said.

However, Bangura is planning to help rebuild the educational system of his home country while hoping that its leaders would tap the country’s best and brightest at home and in the diaspora.

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