Legendary poetess Maya Angelou was renowned in Africa much as she was beloved in the country of her birth.
Comments on the website of the Mail&Guardian newspaper were already posting Wednesday morning as the news of her passing went worldwide.
“Rest in peace daughter of the soil,” wrote “Hlambamanzi” on the M&G website. “ You will forever live in our memories and consciousness. We thank God, our ancestors for giving us such a wonderful and caring mother.”
“May the family of Maya Angelo be comforted in this moment of grief. You are in our prayers.”
It was preceded by a post by 1Moithuti0 who recalled her poem “Still I Rise…” and wrote: “Phenomenal Woman and she’ll live forever.”
Angelou’s African connection was said to have begun during her time as Northern Coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Council where her anti-apartheid activism developed. She connected with Vusumzi Make, a South African civil rights activist and lawyer. The two moved in 1960 to Cairo, Egypt with their son Guy where Angelou worked as an associate editor at the weekly English-language newspaper The Arab Observer.
In 1962 she and Guy moved to Accra, Ghana, staying there until 1965. She became an administrator at the University of Ghana, and was active in the African-American expatriate community. She was a feature editor for The African Review, a freelance writer for the Ghanaian Times, wrote and broadcast for Radio Ghana, and worked and performed for Ghana’s National Theatre. She performed in a revival of The Blacks in Geneva and Berlin.
Her stay in Ghana brought her together with Malcolm X during his visit in the early 1960s. Angelou returned to the U.S. in 1965 to help him build a new civil rights organization, the Organization of Afro-American Unity; he was assassinated shortly afterward.
Later, she wrote: “For Africa to me… is more than a glamorous fact. It is a historical truth. No man can know where he is going unless he knows exactly where he has been and exactly how he arrived at his present place.”