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Ras Makonnen

(c. 1900—1983) political activist


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Adopted name of George T. N. Griffith, Pan-Africanist born (c.1900–1983) in Buxton, British Guiana (now Guyana). His background provides an insight into his later political development. His paternal grandfather was reported to be been born in Tigre, Ethiopia, and taken by a Scottish miner to British Guiana. In the village of Buxton many of the African descendants owned their own plot of land, and the tradition of cooperative work existed, which enabled families to plant and harvest together. His maternal grandmother was one of the founders of a village (possibly Buxton itself), and wielded tremendous power in its social and cultural organization. She shared a husband with two or three other women. Makonnen commented that ‘nobody cared much about this sort of thing’, and that their marriage had survived slavery intact. His father was a gold and diamond miner. It was perhaps from his father that he inherited his entrepreneurial gifts, for at an early age he and his cousin sought out ways to mine minerals.

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From The Oxford Companion to Black British History in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: British History.


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