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| | |-+  Dr. Ivan Van Sertima passess on
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Author Topic: Dr. Ivan Van Sertima passess on  (Read 13294 times)
Iniko Ujaama
Posts: 536

« on: May 29, 2009, 05:50:54 PM »


Ivan Van Sertima Dies

Well known Guyanese-British literary critic, linguist, poet and anthropologist, Dr Ivan van Sertima, died recently, according to a release from the Guyana Cultural Association New York Inc/Guyana Folk Festival which expressed condolences to his family.

Ivan van Sertima

According to the release Dr Van Sertima was born in January 1935 in Kitty when the country was still a British colony and remained a British citizen. After completing his primary and secondary schooling in Guyana, he travelled to London and went to university. In addition to producing an array of creative writing, van Sertima also completed undergraduate studies in African languages and literature and during his studies he became fluent in Swahili and Hungarian. He also worked for several years in Great Britain as a journalist, doing weekly broadcasts to the Caribbean and Africa.

He later immigrated to the US where he entered the University of Rutgers in New Brunswick, New Jersey for graduate work and he has had over 30 years of teaching at the university where he also completed his Master’s degree.

End of article

Dr. Van Sertima was the founder of the Journal of African Civilizations and author a number of fantastic texts about African Global Presence, the role of African in Science in the past and presently among other topics.

Iniko Ujaama
Posts: 536

« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2009, 07:19:32 AM »

30 May 2009

Greetings Sisters and Brothers,

I first met Ivan Van Sertima in either late 1980 or 1981.  I went to a lecture that he gave in a classroom at UCLA.  An evening or so later I attended a reception in his honor at the residence of Legrand H. Clegg II.  The lecture was about the African presence in America before Columbus and the reception gave us a chance to have an up close interaction with him.

He was a light skinned Black man of medium build.  He wore a jacket and tie.  He was clean shaved except for a mustache and wore a short Afro.  And he spoke with a distinct British accent. I was honored to be in his presence.  He seemed rather detached and aloof but you could tell that he was a great scholar.  And he really seemed to appreciate the ladies!

It was around this same time that I quit my job with a mortgage company and started working in the EOPS department at Compton Community College.  My job was to organize cultural awareness programs designed to expose the students and the community in Compton to things African.  I believe that Ivan was our first speaker.  Among the other early speakers that I brought to Compton at that time were political activist Kwame Ture (formerly Stokely Carmichael) and the great cultural historian John G. Jackson. 

Another person that I got to know during those early days at Compton College was Charles S. Finch, MD.  Jan Carew who, like Ivan, was from Guyana, South America and who was Ivan's major mentor also I invited in as a speaker.  Jan even stayed at my apartment.  But Ivan became our regular.  He was a great orator and had a grand and commanding on stage presence.  You know, I think a lot of it had to do with his British manners.  Whatever the case, his speaking style and presence were clearly captivating.

Sometime in 1982 I started writing for Ivan.  In 1977 his great book They Came Before Columbus was published and in 1979 he began publication of the Journal of African Civilizations.  How I began to write for the Journal makes for a good story. 

Legrand Clegg and I had driven down to San Diego, California to attend a program highlighted by Ivan and John Henrik Clarke (another wonderful scholar that I was to get to know and develop am excellent personal relationship with). 

I remember that Van Sertima, Legrand, myself and a San Diego brother named Chuck Ambers, were parked in front of a liquor store talking about what spirits we were going to buy when Ivan asked no one in particular if anybody knew anybody who might know somebody if they knew anybody who had photographs of the people of ancient Iraq.  He wanted to use the photos to illustrate a new issue of the Journal.  I had recently begun to study the subject but did not say a word.  Legrand Clegg, busy trying to promote me, pointed out immediately that Runoko Rashidi was just the man!  Ivan looked at me as if to say, "who, that guy?"  He appeared to have no confidence at all at the suggestion and seemed extremely dubious.  But Legrand was persistent and Ivan relented.  His parting words to me were, "Well just write a few words and send in the photos." 

He later told me that the photos were actually terrible but that the article that I wrote was very good and he was impressed with my style. (I wonder what he would say about my photos now?) From that day on I held him in awe and wrote for all the Journals from 1982 to the last one in 1995.

Just about at that time the Journal of African Civilizations ceased to be a Journal per se and became a book that was published two or three times a year.  The first was Egyptian History Revised and the second one was Black Women in Antiquity.  He published my first article in the former and my second (an even bigger essay) was published in the latter.  By this time I could see that the respect that he had for me and the confidence that he had in me was beginning to grow immeasurably, for in the Black Women in Antiquity anthology he not only published an article of mine on African goddesses, but I also helped him do some of the editing for the book.  He was extremely grateful and at this point we actually began to be something approaching confidants and friends. 

You know, with Ivan's transition (I could not write the "d" word) it seems almost like I have lost my bridge to those early years and those scholars that mentored and influenced me at that pivotal stage in my life.  Little by little and one by one they are all gone now, or just about gone.  First Chancellor Williams and then John G. Jackson passed.  Then Charles B. Copher and Edward Vivian Scobie and, especially John Henrik Clarke, joined the Ancestors.  Then Ivan got sick and Jacob H. Carruthers died.  Shortly after that Nana Ekow Butweiku I got sick and died. William Mackey and Baba Donaldson died.  And it seems like just yesterday that my friend Asa Hilliard made his transition.  Jan Carew is sick and Dr. Ben is in a nursing home in the Bronx.  And now Ivan is gone.  Kind of takes my breath away and puts a tear in my eye.  I am oh so grateful for the fellowship that they provided and the mentoring that they gave.  But, still, I miss them
very much.  It seems like the end of an era.

In love of Africa,

Runoko Rashidi Okello
Posts: 8

« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2009, 02:52:39 AM »

yes Dr. Ivan Van Sertima his life work has and will continue to bless this generation and the oncoming generations of african people through out the earth, physically he may not be amongst us but his spirit that lead him onto his glorious achievements will always be with us all.....times have changed and this generation is a dawning for african people and all other people who live in this struggle, but as for the african people of the earth we have alot of work to do and in no way can we disgrace our selves by fussing over non-sense

give thanks 
Posts: 61

« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2009, 05:57:55 PM »

I was fortunate enough to be introduced to Dr. Van Sertima's works around the seventh grade.
He was quite a scholar and was concerned with the truth; that is, he didn't make any leaps of
logic when dealing with our history, he just put it down plain and simple and left something we
could be proud of as well as learn from.

his work lives on.
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