Dusé Mohamed Ali
Dusé Mohamed Ali (Bey Effendi), (21 November 1866 - 25 June 1945) (دوسي محمد علي), was an African nationalist. He was also an actor, historian, journalist, editor, lecturer, traveller, publisher, a founder of the Comet Press Ltd, and The Comet newspaper (Nigeria).
He was born in Alexandria, Egypt. His father, Abdul Salem Ali, was an Officer in the Egyptian Army and died in active service at the battle of Tel-el-Koiber, Egypt, in the year 1882. His mother was Sudanese. Ali would eventually lose his knowledge of Arabic and contact with his family in Egypt.
He received his early training in Egypt, but at the age of 9 or 10 was sent to England to be educated, until the death of his father forced him to return to his homeland. Having settled his affairs at home he returned to England again, still as a young boy and as the ward of Canon Berry, he pursued his studies at King's College London.
Ali originally intended to take up the medical profession and had actually started on his medical studies when the news of his father's death came to him. Left to make his choice, he felt strongly the urge to write and also to go on the stage and so he left his medical studies. On completing his studies at the University of London, he went on the stage where he soon distinguished himself and it was not long before he ranked with the foremost actors of his time.
Besides Ali’s strong nationalist and Pan-Africanist views, he was an active proselytizer for Islam, having in 1926 established the Universal Islamic Society in Detroit, Michigan. It is said that this organization was the precursor to both Noble Drew Ali's Moorish Science Temple and Wallace Fard Muhammad's Nation of Islam, and a source for their beliefs and information. This Islamic influence can be seen in Marcus Garvey's motto "One God, One Aim, One Destiny".
The lasting effects of Ali’s social and academic efforts are far-reaching, being seen not in Garvey but in those to whom Garvey was mentor, such as Noble Drew Ali and Elijah Poole (who was reportedly involved with the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League's (UNIA) Detroit chapter before joining the Nation of Islam and becoming Elijah Muhammad). Both of Malcolm X’s parents were also members of UNIA. A continuum of claims and beliefs can be found among these movements and their leaders, such as Black Pride, the idea of a land base, Black Supremacy, and return to the primordial religion.
Actor and playwright
Ali also toured England, Ireland and Scotland. He produced Othello and The Merchant of Venice at Hull, Yorkshire, in 1902, playing the parts of Othello and the Prince of Morocco, and winning the plaudits of the British Press.
Among his credits as a playwright, he produced The Jew's Revenge at the Royal Surrey Theatre in London, in 1903, A Cleopatra Night at Dundee in 1907, and the Lily of Bermuda, a musical comedy produced at the Theatre Royal, Manchester, in 1909.
Every production was enthusiastically welcomed by the British and American press, but perhaps the most outstanding of his productions and performances was A Daughter of Judah, which was first produced in the Glasgow Empire Theatre, in 1906. Reviewing the production, the London Daily Telegraph wrote: "Duse Mohamed is an actor of outstanding merit."
He also produced many plays in America, where he won fame as an actor. He won fame also in England as a social worker.
In 1915 Ali founded and was Secretary of the Indian Moslem Soldiers' Widows' and Orphans' War Fund, and among the patrons were Consuelo, the Duchess of Marlborough, the Right Hon. D. Lloyd George, Sir Edward Grey, Lord and Lady Lamington, Lord and Lady Newton, the Marquis and Marchioness of Crew, Mrs. H. H. Asquith, Sir Austen and Lady Chamberlain, Lord Curzon, and almost all the members, of the British Cabinet.
Lecturer and journalist
In 1925, at Detroit, Ali founded the Universal Islamic Society, of which he was president, and in 1926 he founded the America-Asia Association. He wrote In the Land of the Pharaohs (published in London and New York in 1911), a history of modern Egypt that "became a significant contribution to the decolonization efforts in the United States and West Africa".
After the First Universal Races Congress held at the University of London in 1911, Ali, with the help of John Eldred Jones, a journalist from Sierra Leone, founded the African Times and Orient Review in London. Financial assistance in launching the paper was given by some West Africans who were visiting London, including J. E. Casely Hayford, Francis T. Dove and C. W. Betts from Sierra Leone and Dr. Oguntola Sapara from Lagos. As a political, cultural, and commercial journal advocating Pan African-Asian nationalism and a forum for African intellectuals and activists from around the world it drew the attention of a wide variety of contributors. Among the writers in the ATOR were George Bernard Shaw, H. G. Wells, Lord Lytton, Annie Besant, Sir Harry H. Johnston, Henry Francis Downing, William H. Ferris and Marcus Garvey, who frequently visited Ali's Fleet Street office. The journal covered issues in the United States, the Caribbean, West Africa, South Africa, and Egypt, as well as in Asia, including India, China, and Japan. Garvey, who was living in London at the time, briefly worked for Ali and contributed an article to the journal's October 1913 issue. It ceased publication in October 1918, and was succeeded by the African and Orient Review, which operated through most of 1920.
Ali was a contributor to several leading European and American periodicals and his articles were translated and published in Germany, France, Austria, Turkey, Egypt and Japan. In the year following the demise of the African and Orient Review, Ali traveled to the United States, never returning to Britain. There he briefly worked in Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association movement, contributing articles on African issues to the Negro World, and heading a department on African affairs.
He wrote and published The Hull Coronation Ode, a history of Hull in verse, in 1902, a copy of which was presented to his Majesty King Edward VII.
In Europe he was recognized as an authority on Oriental affairs, political and social.
Travels to Nigeria
Ali's first visit to Nigeria was in July 1921. He was accorded a big reception by the entire Lagos community at the Shitta Mosque and the occasion was historic. He was back in Lagos again in 1931 primarily for the cocoa business. He was appointed editor of the Nigerian Daily Times.
On Monday, 3 October 1932, Ali produced in the Glover Memorial Hall, Lagos, Nigeria, the play A Daughter of Pharaoh, which according to The Daily Times: "Set a new standard in Lagos entertainment, introducing real stagecraft."
Before long Ali assumed the editorial chair of the daily Nigerian Daily Telegraph, having as his immediate assistant Ayo Lijadu (subsequently editor of the Daily Times). Ali began publication of The Comet as a weekly newspaper on 27 July 1933. He took great interest in the educational and general welfare of the Muslim community.
Following a protracted illness, Mohamed Ali died at the age of 78 in the African Hospital, Lagos, Nigeria, on 25 June 1945. His funeral took place on the afternoon of Wednesday, 27 June 1945. It was attended by a large group of sympathizers numbering well over 5,000 consisting of people from various walks of life including political, social and religious leaders.
A short Khutba (sermon) in English was delivered by Mr. L. B. Agusto, B. L., President of the Islamic Society of Nigeria, who paid glowing tributes to the life of the deceased. A short oration in Arabic was also delivered by Mr D. Couri, a friend of the deceased.
Led by the Ansar Ud Deen school children, boy scouts and girl guides, Muslim women, the exeutives of all Muslim Societies taking the rear, the funeral procession went through Victoria streets and other prominent throughfares watched by a teeming crowd who lined the Streets to Okesuna Muslim Cemetery where what was once Duse Mohamed Ali, the veteran journalist, author and actor was committed to mother earth.
Wreaths were laid by Madam Gertrude La Page (wife), Mr. and Mrs. A. S. W. Shackleford, Mr. and Mrs. V. Renwick, Mr. and Mrs. B Gbajabiamilla, Mr. and Mrs. M. A. Ogun and staff of the Nigerian Bureau of Publicity, Miss Moss, The Rosicrucian Fellowship Lagos Group Centre, Young Moslem Society, Federation of Master Printers, Mrs. Otunba Payne, Moslem Reading Circle, and staff of the Comet Press Ltd., Mr. and Mrs. S. H. Pearce and Miss Remi Pearce and many others.
Among those present were Messrs. Herbert Macaulay, Karimu Kotun, J. T. White, Dr. I. Nimbe, Messrs. S. L. Akitola, and Olatunji Idewu (Daily Service), I. B. Thomas, (Akede Eko), Tony Enahoro, (Daily Comet), Delu Akitoye, C. N. Jellicoe Johnson, S.M. Kadiku, M. S. Jibril Martin, Messrs. F. I. George, M. A. Ogun, Ferdinand Stine Morocco-Clarke, John Adebayo, Revs. J. A. Idowu, and D. A. Bababunmi.
- David Dabydeen, John Gilmore, Cecily Jones (eds), The Oxford Companion to Black British History, Oxford University Press, 2007, p. 25.
- Imanuel Geiss (1974). The Pan-African Movement: a history of pan-Africanism in America, Europe, and Africa. Taylor & Francis. p. 223. ISBN 0-8419-0161-9.
- The Official UNIA-ACL Website
- The Global African Community
- Pan African Nationalists
- The Autobiography of Dusé Mohamed Ali, 1866-1945: A Pioneer of Pan-Africanism and Afro-Asian Solidarity Movements by Abdelwahid, Mustafa A.