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Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The passing of an African Statesman - Dr. Charles S. Brown [Aug 5, 1947-Sep 29, 2007]

I dedicate this post to my brother and friend, Benin Mwangi whose father Dr. Charles S. Brown passed away on 29th September 2007. Benin may the lord see you safely through this moment of grief. You have inspired many. It's now evident where all your passion and love for Africa came from. God bless.

Adopted from Benin

Born on August 5th 1947, Dr. Charles S. Brown grew up at a pivotal time for Black America. As a young student at Morehouse College he was able to witness and be a part of America’s civil rights movement. After reading books written by Dr. W.E.B. Dubois and Kwame Nkrumah Dr. Brown began to become exposed to a wider perspective. Afterwards, he gradually gained an appreciation for African history. Over time this appreciation would continue to grow and less than ten years after obtaining his PhD in physics he began to research ancient African civilizations. His study was so intense that over a three year time span, he became an authority on the subject.

For Dr. Brown, learning about ancient African civilizations meant more than just being able to quote a few abstract facts, he believed that if he could help African American youth become aware of their true heritage it would be easier for them to dream big. Integrating scientific finds on these ancient civilizations into mathematics or physics curricula for his university classes would later become one of Dr. Brown’s most recognizable hallmarks.

But the event that would later shape his outlook on modern Africa continent took place when he attended the First Edward Bouchet International Conference on Physics and Technology on June 11, 1988 in Trieste, Italy. The Edward Bouchet Institute is today called the Edward Bouchet Abdus Salaam Institute. One of its aims is to foster scientific and technical collaborations between African and American scientists and engineers. Prof Charles S .Brown’s first trip to the African continent occurred in 1990 when he attended the second Edward Bouchet Institute Conference in Ghana. It is through the Edward Bouchet Institute that Professor Brown met the internationally renowned Professor Francis K. Allotey. In the fall of 1991, Prof. F. K. A. Allotey of Ghana visited with Prof. Charles S. Brown, who at that time was the Chairman of the Physics Department at Clark Atlanta University (CAU). The collaboration between Prof. Allotey, Prof. A. E. Bak, and Prof. C. S. Brown resulted in two published papers.

Prof. Allotey, four years later arranged the visit of Prof. Charles S. Brown to Cape Coast, Ghana, where he worked as a Fulbright Visiting Scholar (December 1995 – May 1996) and an ICTP Visiting Scholar (June 1996 – December 1996). Prof. Brown helped to develop the University’s graduate curriculum, served as a research advisor for a physics doctoral candidate, and collaborated on a research paper with Prof. S. Y. Mensah, Chairman of the Physics Department and Vice Dean of the Faculty of Science at the University. The work that Prof. Brown did in Ghana did not go unnoticed; in fact it was instrumental in his enstoolment as a traditional ruler in the Assin Manso district of Ghana.

To elders and other traditional rulers in this district Prof. Brown was known as Nana Kwodo Amoah I. It is a role that he took very seriously, even until his passing.

I love you Dad. I know you are in a better place. Benin Mwangi

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