Among the Swahili (Waswahili) people of East African coasts, Ndugu designates “brother,” “kith,” relative,” “kinsman,” “a family member.” According to Ndugu T’Ofori-Atta, the reality of segregation was first introduced to me in the (US) Army” which a black army and a white army. It is unarguably the resulting dengrating treatment being metted to people of color that launched fully into declaring war against racism, a war which he fought to the end of his life. Like the Biblical apostle Paul, Ndugu T’Ofori-Atta could say in the end: “I have fought a good fight.”
Writing about the late preacher, a Savannah Georgia resident, Lucas John, who also serves on the National Council of the U.S. Fellowship of Reconciliation, the International Committee of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation, as well as on the board of the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America, describes T’Ofori-Atta as a “tireless advocate for human rights” and frequent “volunteer at the Open Door Community” where Murphy Davis was leading a radical social justice project on 910 Ponce de Leon Avenue NE Atlanta.
I had opportunity to volunteer there sometime ago. Breathless describes the feeling of the impact of what Murphy and his team members are doing. The Open Door community’s activities dwarf the many sermons from socially, economically, or politically disconnected pulpits. Home to several homeless people, the Open Door community experience reminds me of the radical portraiture of Jesus of Nazareth.
As chronicled in various historiologies, Jesus’ quest for social equality,and his desire for personal transformations of humans was always on the spot, no time to wait, no procrastination. The same attentiveness to need for self-evaluation occupied the messages and activities of T’Ofori-Atta. Dr. T’Ofori-Atta’s research invites the Black community, as a thinking community of peoples, to reflect upon the self. We are to live thoroughly examined lifestyles. We can’t live careless lives and continue to look for white men to put the blame on. We must be prepared to help ourselves, rather than wait on heaven to send the help which we have been given since the foundation of the world.
Loads of untouched and yet-to engaged research data from all the daunting years of his labor remain incontrovertible testaments of his love for and connection with Africa, African peoples and African American realities. T’Ofori-Atta was not one of those who verbally professed love for Africa. He hit the African soil running. He witnessed first-hand the birth of political independences in some African countries including Congo, Ghana, Nigeria, and Zambia.
T’Ofori-Atta is survived by wife Alice Pippins T’Ofori-Atta, George Ghana Thomas (Carylon) of Montgomery, Alabama and Eric Allen Shaka Thomas, and Arthur Pippins, Akua Pippins Hicks (Isaiah), Akosua Aisha T’Ofori-Atta, and the very Reverend Roseanna Lorraine Abina Thomas Brannon, Pastor at Faith AME Zion Church.
The seeds that would germinate into the RHAW idea can be traced back to North Carolina, at Living Stone College, where he and his late wife engaged with normative discriminations justified by America’s populist racisms. He unabashedly stood for a cause.
There is a time to be born and a time to die, unfortunately. The eight-year-old boy George Benjamin Thomas who, thirteen years since WWI ended, and nine prior WWII, built a spiritual altar in the basement of his family home located inside a community along the south bank of the Ohio River; grew up knowing that the divine mandates of earthly justice are fulfilled if the changed hearts of women and men indicate readiness for use; and departed our world on Wednesday, January 11, 2012 as the Reverend Dr. Ndugu G.B. T’Ofori Atta fulfilled.