Monday 29 December 2014

The career of Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali is widely considered to be one of the greatest boxers in the history of the sport. Originally known as Cassius Marcellus Clay Junior, he renamed himself in 1964 after becoming a member of an organisation called the Nation of Islam.

Ali was born in Louisville, Kentucky on 17 January 1942. He was introduced to boxing at the age of 12, and won his first amateur match that same year. At the age of 14 he won the novices' division of the Golden Gloves light-heavyweight tournament, and at 17 he was crowned the winner of the national title for the light-heavyweight division of the Amateur Athletic Union tournament, as well as gaining the National Tournament of Champions Golden Gloves title. Throughout his amateur career, Ali lost just five matches, and won a hundred.

Tunde Folawiyo

Ali turned professional in 1960, after stepping into the ring at the Olympics on 5 September to face Zbigniew Pietrzykowski. He emerged victorious from this match, beating his opponent 5-0, and subsequently took home the gold medal for the light-heavyweight division. He soon earned a reputation among the professional boxing community for his rather unusual fighting style; due to his astounding agility and speed, he often deliberately let his guard down, in order to taunt his opponents and encourage them to try and hit him.

Ali was at the top of his game throughout the 1960s, winning one bout after another, often by knocking out his opponents with a single punch. Three years after his success at the Olympics, he took on and defeated Henry Cooper, the British heavyweight champion, in a non-title fight. In 1964 he won a match against Sonny Liston, the world heavyweight champion. Prior to the fight, the press had favoured Liston to win; however, Ali's deft footwork and speed allowed him to punch his opponent in the face several times. By the sixth round, Liston - who by this point had several bruises on his face and a severe shoulder injury - announced his retirement from the match.

Ali's career was put on hold after the war erupted in Vietnam and he was drafted. He refused to acknowledge his draft notice, and as a result of this he was fined $10,000, and sentenced to five years in prison. The sentence was appealed, and eventually quashed; however his licence to fight was suspended, and he was stripped of the heavyweight boxing title he had earned in 1964.

On his return to the ring in 1970, Ali travelled to Atlanta to take on Jerry Quarry, who he subsequently knocked out. A year later, he participated in what many now describe as the 'fight of the century' against Joe Frazier. The two men fought each other for 15 rounds before Ali admitted defeat. He did, however, manage to beat Frazier in a rematch that took place three years later.

The year 1974 was an important one for Ali. In addition to taking on the aforementioned Frazier, he also won his second international heavyweight boxing title, in a match nicknamed 'Rumble in the Jungle'. Held in Zaire and arranged by Don King, the match saw Ali take on George Foreman, the reigning champion.

Much like in his 1964 battle against Sonny Liston, Ali was touted by the press as the underdog. But his critics were silenced after he managed to defeat Foreman, and was crowned world heavyweight champion. The following year, Ali faced Joe Frazier once again, in a match that the public called 'Thrilla in Manila'. The fight went on for 14 rounds, but Ali eventually succeeded in defeating his opponent.

Ali lost his heavyweight title in 1978 to a young boxer named Leon Spinks.
However, in a rematch which took place later that same year, he won it back, thus becoming the only boxer in the world to have been named as the heavyweight champion three times. Shortly after this, Walnut Street, located in Ali's birthplace of Louisville, was renamed as Muhammad Ali Boulevard 6 by the city’s Board of Aldermen.

As someone who enjoys learning about inspirational figures like Muhammad Ali, Tunde Folawiyo may recall that after losing the world heavyweight title in 1981 to Trevor Berbick, Ali announced that he would be retiring from the sport. Three years later, he revealed that he was suffering from Parkinson's disease. Since his retirement, Ali has dedicated much of his time to philanthropic work. He has been honoured many times over the years; for instance, in 1997 he was the recipient of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, and in 1999 he was named by the BBC as the Sports Personality of the Century. More recently, in 2005, the not-for-profit Muhammad Ali Centre was opened; this centre focuses on themes relating to respect, social responsibility and peace. It also features a display of Ali's boxing memorabilia.

The above-mentioned Tunde Folawiyo is fascinated not only by the achievements of Muhammad Ali, but also by those of many other sporting and cultural icons. For more information about this businessman's interests, take a look at his About Me page.

Make sure to check back soon; the previous article is a Biography of Bob Marley.

Tuesday 25 November 2014

A biography of Bob Marley

Tunde Folawiyo
Bob Marley - born Robert Nesta Marley - was a reggae musician who hailed from Jamaica. A committed Rastafarian, he infused many of his songs with a distinctly spiritual air. Over the course of his career, he sold over 75 million singles and albums, thus becoming one of the best-selling artists in the world. He has been honoured posthumously on many occasions; in 1994, for example, he was admitted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and five years later, Time Magazine named his 1977 record ‘Exodus’ as the Album of the Century.

Marley was born on his grandfather's farm in St Ann's Parish on 6 February 1945, to Cedella Booker and Norval Sinclair Marley. He developed a love of music at an early age. He and one of his childhood companions, Neville O'Riley Livingston (affectionately known as 'Bunny'), devoted much of their free time to learning about music, and it was Bunny who encouraged Marley to take up the guitar. Their friendship grew stronger after Marley's mother and Livingston's father began a romantic relationship, which led to all four of them living in Kingston together.

In Kingston, Marley resided in an impoverished area called Trench Town. Struggling to make ends meet, he sought comfort in the town's music scene. During this period of his life, he discovered the songs of many great American performers, including The Drifters, Fats Domino, Elvis Presley and Ray Charles. Marley and Bunny also attended singing classes, and learned the basic principles of melody, harmony and rhythm. Their teacher introduced them to a young man named Peter Tosh, and in 1963 the trio decided to form a band called The Teenagers; this group would eventually change its name to The Wailers.

Their first single - which they produced with the help of the label Studio One - was entitled 'Simmer Down', and spoke directly to the youths living in Jamaica's ghettos. It sold approximately 80,000 copies. The group released a string of subsequent hits, including 'One Love', 'I'm Still Waiting', and 'Rude Boy'.

The Wailers developed a strong following in Jamaica; however, they found it difficult to support themselves financially and, in the mid-1960s, they drifted apart. Marley travelled to the United States to visit his mother; while there, in 1966, he met and married a woman named Rita Anderson. After spending eight months in the US, Marley and his new wife returned to Jamaica, and The Wailers reformed. At this stage in his life, Marley started to take an interest in spirituality, and found himself intrigued by the Rastafarian movement, which had begun in the 1930s in Jamaica.

The Wailers went on to set up a record label, called Wail n' Soul’m, in Trench Town. Although the band released a number of successful singles under this label, such as 'Mellow Mood' and 'Bend Down Low', a lack of financial support led to it being shut down in 1968.

At the turn of the next decade, politically-motivated violence, rationed food supplies and soaring unemployment rates were all prevalent issues in Jamaica; these concerns were close to Marley's heart, and he began to explore them frequently in the songs that he wrote. In 1970, two new members joined The Wailers; brothers Carlton and Aston Barrett, a drummer and bassist. The band's big break came just two years later, when they were signed to Chris Blackwell's famous label, Island Records.

This was the group's first ever opportunity to record a full album; the end result, which they named 'Catch A Fire', was an enormous success, and led to them spending an entire year touring. Throughout 1973 they performed in many venues around both the US and Britain, serving as the opening act for Sly & the Family Stone, as well as Bruce Springsteen. That same year, their second album was released. 'Burnin' featured the famous song 'I Shot The Sheriff', which was a huge hit and ended up reaching the number one spot in the American charts.

Marley’s wife Rita and two other female vocalists joined the band during the early 1970s, and the group was renamed Bob Marley and The Wailers. They toured frequently throughout this decade, and became particularly popular in Africa, Scandinavia and the UK. They enjoyed great success with several of their songs, including 'Satisfy My Soul', 'Waiting In Vain', 'Exodus' and 'No Woman No Cry', all of which reached the top 40 in the UK charts.

Tunde Folawiyo
At the pinnacle of his career, Marley had a number of traumatic experiences. As a result of his outspoken ways, an attempt was made on his life in 1976. His health then went into decline in 1980; after collapsing during a jog, it was found that he had cancerous tumours in his liver, lungs and brain. The disease took his life just eight months after it was first discovered; he died on 11 May 1981 at the University of Miami Hospital (formerly known as Cedars of Lebanon Hospital). Ten days later, his funeral was held. At the service, Edward Seaga, the Prime Minister of Jamaica, delivered a eulogy in which he described the musician's voice as an “omnipresent cry”, and noted that Marley would be a part of his country's collective consciousness forever.

Like millions of others, the businessman Tunde Folawiyo enjoys listening to Marley's music (you can find out more about this entrepreneur's interests by visiting this page on SlideShare). As such, he is probably aware of the fact that Marley is still considered to be a cultural icon, despite having died more than three decades ago. His music has been recognised numerous times over the past 33 years; one of the most notable of these honours was a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, bestowed on Marley posthumously by the Recording Academy in 2001.

Why not check our latest post about the career of Muhammad Ali?

Wednesday 8 October 2014

Nelson Mandela: A Dream of Equality

Nelson Mandela, who sadly passed away recently, has undoubtedly been one of the most influential and thought provoking world leaders of the 20th and early 21rst centuries. After struggling for years to vanquish apartheid rule where white South Africans were treated as superior to black South Africans, he was imprisoned for life by the authorities, only to be released decades later as an icon for the South African people's struggle against unfair oppression. His legacy looms large, and continues to influence and inspire those seeking true equality throughout the world until this day, including Tunde Folawiyo, the director of the African Leadership Academy which aims to develop and nurture the youth leaders of the entire continent.

Tunde Folawiyo
Born on 18th of July, 1918, Rolihlahla Mandela originated in the small town of Mvezo in Transkei. It was in this village setting that he would first be exposed to the accounts of those who had struggled against oppression, inspiring him to seek somehow to better the lives of those around him by abolishing inequality forever from the borders of South Africa.

After being expelled from the University College of Fort Hare for being involved in a student protest, Mandela refused to be subjugated into following tradition and being forced into an arranged marriage by his elders. In 1941, he left any ideas behind of returning to his remote home and instead took up residence in the capital, Johannesburg. Following this, he was able to finally complete his degree and graduated from the University of South Africa in 1943.

By 1952, Mandela had become increasingly disillusioned with the status quo in South Africa and so became a prominent figure in the non-aggressive fight against oppression through his role as the Chief of the Defiance Campaign by Maulvi Cachlia. This initiative was put in place to use civil disobedience to persuade the government to repeal unfair racist policies. By 1963, he had grown in influence and was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964 for his involvement in encouraging workers to strike against oppression.

Over the next two decades, he became an icon for those who wished to end the racist government system in South Africa, becoming a symbol for peace and tolerance around the world. Finally, after years of incarceration he was released from prison on the 11th of February 1990. While his imprisonment was cruel, he never lost his belief in a free and tolerant society and reached this dream by becoming South Africa's first democratically elected president in 1994.
Nelson Mandela's legacy has grown over the years and has influenced, not just the people of South Africa, but millions of individuals around the globe. More specifically, his positive, life-affirming message has been one which has profoundly affected later generations of Africans, from groups fighting for democracy throughout other regions, to world leaders and individuals like the founder of the African Leadership Academy, whose story can be explored in this Tunde Folawiyo biographical article. Nelson Mandela's actions and words have come to mean much to many, and will continue to inspire for generations to come.

Wednesday 1 October 2014

A biography of the novelist Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison is an African-American professor and novelist, whose books have had an enormous impact on the world of literature. Those who are familiar with her work, such as Tunde Folawiyo, will probably know that her novels have led to her winning several prestigious awards over the years; in 1988 she won a Pulitzer, and five years later she received the Nobel Prize for Literature. More recently, in 2012, she was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Born in Ohio in 1931, Morrison was named Chloe Ardelia Wofford (she chose to change her first name to Toni when she was a student at university).  She was an avid reader, and was often found poring over the writings of novelists such as Flaubert, Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy. An intelligent and talented young woman, she graduated with honours from her local high school, and went on to complete her undergraduate degree at Howard University.

In 1955, she received her MA from Cornell, after which she accepted a job at Texas Southern University. She remained in this position for two years, and then decided to return to Howard, to work as a lecturer. In the mid-1960s, she also took up fiction editing. In 1970 her first novel, The Bluest Eye, was published; this work, with its poetic dialogue, complex characters and powerful theme, captured the attention of many, and was very well received by critics and readers alike. Morrison wrote this novel while teaching full-time at Howard, and raising her two young children.

In 1973 her second book, entitled Sula, was published; two years after its publication, it was nominated for the National Book Award. However, it was her third novel that established Morrison as one of the greatest writers of her time; Song of Solomon was selected for the Book of the Month Club, and also won the National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) Prize.

Her next work, Beloved, was written during the 1980s. Despite becoming a critical success, it was not chosen as the winner for the NBCC Prize, or the National Book Award. However, literature fanatics like Tunde Folawiyo might recall that a number of well-known writers and critics protested against this decision, and in 1988 it won Morrison not only the American Book Award, but also the Pulitzer Prize.  Her most recent work, Paradise, was released in the late 1990s.

Monday 29 September 2014

A look at the career of WEB Du Bois

By Cornelius Marion (C.M.) Battey (1873–1927)[1] [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
WEB Du Bois was a writer, sociologist and historian who dedicated his life to the pursuit of equal rights for African Americans. As a history enthusiast, Tunde Folawiyo is no doubt familiar with this man's life. Born in 1868 in Massachusetts, Du Bois was raised in a community where racism was not as commonplace as it was elsewhere. However, as he grew up, he became more aware of the prevalence of this issue in other parts of the US.

He was a bright and talented young man, who demonstrated an aptitude for writing at a young age. During his high school years, he spent a considerable amount of time working as a correspondent for several New York publications. He then went on to complete his undergraduate degree at Fisk University, before moving on to Harvard; while studying there, he had the opportunity to collaborate with both Albert Bushnell Hard and William James.

Du Bois became the first African American to complete a PhD at Harvard; shortly after he graduated, he accepted a teaching position at Atlanta University. While he was there, he carried out in-depth studies of the social conditions of African Americans and, in 1900, created an exhibit which depicted the achievements of African Americans since the Emancipation Proclamation, with particular focus given to their accomplishments in the areas of journalism, literature and industrial work.

In 1903, he wrote what would become his most famous work, The Souls of Black Folk. Two years after this was published, he was named as the leader of the Niagara Movement. This led to Du Bois gaining international acclaim, as he became an outspoken opponent of the economic and political system that had exploited so many African Americans.

He protested against racial discrimination in employment and education, Jim Crow laws and lynching, and was a strong proponent of Pan-Africanism. He also spent much of his time working with various Pan-African congresses who wished to free the colonies around Africa from European authorities. In addition to this, he continued to work as a lecturer and public educator, and his teachings had a profound impact on the Civil Rights Movement.

DuBois died in 1963, the night before he was due to take part in a protest march in Washington. Those interested in history, like Tunde Folawiyo, may know that the Civil Rights Act, which was passed just one year after Du Bois' death, included many of the reforms that he himself had fought for during his lifetime.

Friday 26 September 2014

Advocates for Africa: Ken Saro Wiwa

Ken Saro-Wiwa remains one of Africa’s most influential figures with his various contributions throughout the continent. As a writer, producer and activist, the impact he has forged upon African culture is undisputable, inspiring many with his advocacy efforts. His work has merited a number of awards, solidifying his role as one of the continents foremost environmental activists. His protest of
environmental damage caused by oil extraction and petroleum waste disposal in defense of the Ogoni community brought awareness to the extreme conditions effecting Ogoniland. Tunde Folawiyo and other citizens of Africa may regard Saro-Wiwa’s contributions to environmental protection as some of the most significant in the history of Africa.

Born in the Niger Delta city of Bori, Saro-Wiwa proved an excellent student during his early years of schooling, obtaining a scholarship for English study at a university in Ibadan. He was later briefly employed as a teaching assistant for a university in Lagos. In the coming years, he served as Civilian Administrator for Bonny, a port city in Niger Delta.

He began a series of successful businesses during the late part of the 1970s, focusing mainly on his creative works in the years following. One of his most famous works, a novel, told the tale of a village boy recruited into war, reflecting his own war time experiences.

His journalism and production work was halted upon his entrance to the country’s political scene. Years later, during 1990, his focus turned to social issues like human rights and environmental topics in Ogoniland and other areas. His reputation as a respected writer and producer drew great attention to the causes he supported, thrusting him further into the international spotlight.

During the early 1990’s, Saro-Wiwa served as Vice Chair for UNPO, an international democratic organisation whose members seek to nonviolently protect their rights and environments from conflict and environmental damage. The indigenous people represented by the organisation faced a variety of hardships affecting their quality of life.

An early member of MOSOP, a movement to ensure the Ogoni people’s survival, Saro-Wiwa was amongst the organisation’s foremost advocates. During January of 1993, MOSOP initiated a series of peaceful marches to bring awareness to the social issues playing Ogoniland. Two years later, his death sparked international outrage, drawing attention to the plight of the Ogoni people. His works are still famed throughout Africa nearly two decades after his passing. The impact he forged upon environmental protection efforts continues to be recognised by African citizens like Tunde Folawiyo and others throughout the world. For more information about others working for a brighter future for Africa, visit Tunde Folawiyo Slideshare.

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Philip Emeagwali

The African continent has long been home to a great number of innovative thinkers, with famed artists, musicians and scholars among them. As a prize-winning scholar, Philip Emeagwali has contributed much to the field of science throughout his successful career, forging a great impact with his research, findings and initiatives. One of his most celebrated career accomplishments, the use of a supercomputer to aid in analyzing petroleum fields, has garnered him worldwide recognition. Tunde Folawiyo and others with a thirst for knowledge may regard Emeagwali as one of Nigeria’s foremost scholars.

Tunde Folawiyo
Born the 23 of August of 1954, Emeagwali’s early education was halted due to war. At the age of 14, he began serving in Biafran’s army. Upon the end of the war, he embarked on rigorous self-study to acquire a high school equivalency that would see him travel to the U.S. for study. Attending under scholarship, Emeagwali earned a bachelor’s in mathematics from Oregon’s state university during 1977. He found work as a civil engineer in Wyoming during his time in the United States before later moving to Washington D.C. Here, he received a master’s in marine and ocean engineering as well as a second in mathematics from the popular University of Maryland. Whilst he studied to acquire a P.H.D. from the same university during the late 80’s, his thesis was rejected, prompting a court case that ultimately failed to reverse the university’s decision to withhold a degree. Though he was never awarded a doctorate, his work maintained its credibility.

Voted amongst Africa’s greatest scientists of all time by various publications, Emeagwali’s work has been recognised internationally, demonstrating the wide impact of his discoveries. Throughout his esteemed career, he was awarded several honours solidifying his place as one of the continent’s foremost scientific minds. His achievements were quoted in a speech by former United States president Bill Clinton, who referenced Emeagwali as an inspiration for Nigerians.

Awarded the Gordon Bell Prize of 1989, Emeagwali’s work continues to benefit the lucrative oil industry throughout Africa and beyond. Whilst some claims he made throughout his career garnered controversy, his contributions to his country through his scientific findings are not lost upon the millions who indirectly benefited from his work. Tunde Folawiyo and African citizens may regard Emeagwali’s achievements as some of the greatest in Africa’s recent memory. His legacy as an esteemed engineer, geologist and mathematician is one that will stand for many years to come. For more information about others working for a brighter future for Africa, visit Tunde Folawiyo Slideshare.