Black is determination. Black is strength. Black is greatness. These define the exuberance of Black men across the globe, who are in their varying capacities breaking the odds to put black excellence on the global map of success.
Over the last century, we have seen Black men in different endeavors, who have been tenacious in their exploits towards achieving milestone feats. Bringing the Black men who have excelled in their craft to the fore of honor and recognition informs the need to celebrate them.
In this edition of Duke of the Month, we will be celebrating two distinguished personas who have showcased their dexterity in their respective field to give Black people the respect to reckon with.
John Nkengasong: A Public Health Guardian
John N. Nkengasong joined the World Health Organization in 1993 and served as the organization’s Chief of Virology until his retirement in 2007. He worked at the Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp’s Collaborating Centre for HIV/AIDS Diagnostics. He has studied HIV/AIDS pathogenesis, diagnostics, and treatment options.
He is a Special Envoy to WHO Director-General, which was set up during the COVID-19 pandemic. In his capacity, the Director-General’s signals were amplified and strategic advice on preparedness was given to him in this role. A team of youthful responders, the African Healthcare Volunteer Workforce (AHVW), were trained by Nkengasong in Africa’s response.
In recognition of his distinguished exploits in the field of medicine, the Cameroonian virologist is a recipient of awards and honors. Some of them include the National Order of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, the CDC Foundation William Watson Medal of Excellence, and the US Secretary of Health and Human Services Award for Excellence in Public Health Protection Research.
Felwine Sarr: A Pragmatic Philosopher
Felwine Sarr’s article Afrotopia won the Grand Prix of Literary Associations (Research Category) for the year 2016 and Sarr is both a professor and a writer (Philippe Rey, 2016). For him, conceptual decolonization of knowledge and Africans’ reappropriation of metaphors for their future are essential.
Additionally, Felwine Sarr serves as the editor of the Journal of African Transformation (CODESRIA-UNECA). To explore contemporary issues from an African viewpoint, Sarr and Cameroonian philosopher Achille Mbembe launched the Atelier de la Pensée (Workshops of Thought) in October 2016 in Dakar and Saint-Louis.
The 49-year-old Senegalese economist has honors and recognitions in his award cart, which include the Nicolás Guillén Outstanding Achievement for Philosophical Literature Award of the Caribbean Philosophical Association (2018), Abdoulaye Fadiga prize for research in economics (2010), and 2021 Most Influential People by Time Magazine.