W.E.B. DuBois was one of the most important thinkers of American race ideology and one of the greatest American intellectuals to have ever lived. On Saturday we visited his memorial at the W.E.B. Dubois Centre in Accra at the site where he lived. It is currently the site of his tomb and the ashes of his wife. Additionally there is a small museum in his house that displays various relics from his life, his library, and publications and photographs of DuBois.
For someone who I have always studied in an American context it was interesting to see him memorialized abroad. Many of the items on display were related to his time in Ghana when he worked on the Encyclopedia Africana. Most of the photos were of DuBois with Kwame Nkrumah. The museum touched only briefly his achievements in America but the primary focus was on his role on the Gold Coast and in other parts of Ghana. I am almost surprised that the NAACP, which he once spearheaded, has not taken on a role to develop the African American History component of this museum.
Despite my surprise I enjoyed my visit. The tomb was beautiful as was the grounds in general. Some wonderful DuBois quotes were prominently displayed, engraved into the stone foundations of the various buildings. What this made me realize was the universality of much of DuBois' message. It made me think about memorializing as a practice. While DuBois was a key African American, his burial site is here on the Gold Coast. For that reason his achievements here in Africa are at seen as essential. Spending all those years in high school and college studying the Talented Tenth, I never realized how important DuBois was internationally. For that reason the experience at his Centre in Accra was eye opening.