Trinidadians have played a conspicuous part in the Pan African Movement, and in the African anti-
Born Malcom Nurse at Arouca in 1902, his father was an interesting personality, a black schoolmaster, entomologist and agricultural instructor. Malcolm's grandfather was a Barbadian who had been born a slave. He was educated at Tranquillity, St. Mary's and Pamphylian High School in Port of Spain. For a time he worked with the Guardian, but he hated it and was soon fired. Trinidad seemed too confined for the highly intelligent and ambitious young man. He left for the U.S.A. in 1924, proposing to study medicine.
But Nurse was not destined to the respectable world of Negro professionalism. Soon after his arrival in the USA, Nurse entered the Communist Party, taking the cover name of George Padmore when engaged in Party Business. He became quite an important figure in the US Communist world. For Padmore, only the Communist seemed to offer an answer to the colour question: it didn't exist. Workers would unite to throw off their chains regardless of race or nationality. It was a time when the USSR seemed to be the great hope for radicals all over the world, especially the colonial world. In 1929, Padmore went to Russia and became the head of the Negro Bureau of the Communist International of Labour Unions. He also served as Secretary of the International Trade Union Committee of Negro Workers (ITUC-
But disillusionment was to come. In the early 1930s, Stalin's regime reduced its anti-
For most of the rest of his life, Padmore lived in London, nearly always in poverty, as a writer, journalist and agitator in the cause of black freedom. Among his most important books were:
How Britain Ruled Africa (1936); How Russia Transformed Her Colonial Empire (1946); Africa, Britain's Third Empire (1949);and Pan Africanism or Communism? (1956).
The last named is probably his most important and certainly his best known book. He also wrote innumerable articles in a variety of left wing journals and papers, mostly on colonial matters. He lectured very frequently, for instance to meetings of the British Independent Labour Party, and conducted political study groups for colonial students in London. His lodgings became, in the 1930s and l940s, the centre of anti-
In 1945, Padmore met a young African from the then Gold Coast, Kwame Nkrumah. There was an instant mutual attraction. On Padmore's death, Nkrumah was to say, "When I first met George Padmore in London, we both realised from the very beginning that we thought along the same lines and talked the same language. There existed between us that rare affinity for which one searches for so long but seldom finds in another human
being. Our friendship developed into that indescribable relationship that exists between brothers."
By then, Padmore's interests focussed on Africa, though he did not abandon his commitment to the wider cause of international liberation. In 1944, with others, he founded the Pan African Federation. The next year, Padmore organised a Pan African Conference at Manchester. W. Du Bois, the veteran American black leader was its Chairman, and among the participants were Garvey's widow, Mrs. Amy Jacques Garvey, and Nkrumah. Padmore was the main planner of the Manchester conference. After his relationship with Nkrumah developed, Padmore focussed increasingly on the Gold Coast as the vanguard of the anti-
In 1957,Padmore was invited to Ghana for its independence celebrations -
Padmore's career is one of considerable significance for the modem history of Africa. He may rightly be regarded as one of the fathers of African liberation. He devoted a lifetime to the cause of the black man's dignity and freedom; his propaganda and agitation kept the issues constantly alive in Europe, America and Russia. Padmore was one of the men and women who inspired the struggle of the black man for freedom from oppression.
[“Caribbean Emancipators", publication by the G.B. U. Public Relations Division, Office of the Prime Minister, Trinidad and Tobago, 1976].
Reproduced with the permission of the Caricom Secretariat from Caricom Perspective, January-