Ronald Ross, much better known and admired as Runoko Rashidi, died in Egypt a few days ago. He was a brother who had lived up to his own dreams of becoming a remarkable, intrepid and both well-known and extremely well-regarded scholar-historian in his lifetime.
Brother Runoko was in the midst of another one of his many group trips to see the ancient ruins of Egypt-Kemet, while explaining the many intricacies and secrets of the Black man’s involvement in that history. Runoko’s self-described mission in life, since at least 1979, had been to locate, identify, and record the historical Black African presence in the development of the modern world. At the time of his transition, he had traveled to over 147 countries in pursuit of that goal.
His famous lectures mainly based on his travels, full of pictures of Africans in India, in Greece, in Japan, Australia, West Papua, etc., were an evolving treat for both Angelenos and a world-wide audience. For example, he became an international spokesman and star for the causes of the Dalits and Siddhis in India. That population just had a large homegoing and remembrance ceremony in his honor last week that was broadcast through Zoom and YouTube. He became an expert in the African Presence in Asia.
He was a student of, and then co-author with, Ivan Van Sertima, the noted writer of “They Came Before Columbus.” He and Professor Van Sertima edited and published the famous “African Presence” journals (including Early Asia, Early Europe and Black Presence in Egypt) He palled around with Professor John Henrik Clarke, “Dr. Ben” Jochannan, Tony Browder, Lynn Jefferies, James Small, and others of that ilk among the Pan African literati, and he more than held his own. Though he was not classically trained, he was a voracious reader and excellent editor. Of all the Phds I’ve known and worked with, Rashidi was a much better researcher and writer than the majority of them.
One of the little-known facts of Rashidi’s life is his developmental connection with activist attorney Legrand Clegg and Dr. Billie Jo Moore, both formerly associated with Compton College.
After having been a member of the first viable cadre of Nkrumahists of the All African Peoples Revolutionary Party (AAPRP) formed in Los Angeles in 1973 (which was when I met Runoko), Rashidi took a job with Dr. Moore at Compton College to help her organize the All African Peoples Conferences held at and around the college from 1980-1989. Legrand Clegg, as a member of the Board of Trustees for the college, was also deeply involved in the project and told Rashidi about his growing interest in Kemetology (also called Egyptology) and the study of ancient African civilizations.
Rashidi took to this grand opportunity like a duck to water and became a great student of the proper historical documentation of pharaonic Egypt and the African presence thereof. It was based on this connection with the African Peoples Conferences, Mr. Clegg and Dr. Moore, that Rashidi got to meet Van Sertima and that whole pantheon of Pan African historians and researchers. Then Rashidi took it to another level, traveling repeatedly into formerly neglected locales to study and photograph the presence of African people in world-historical areas, becoming an expert himself and bringing his own brand of scholarship to the table.
We are all better for the work he did, including the twenty-something books and periodicals he is credited with writing and having published.
When the 42 principles of Ma’at are applied to Rashidi’s life here among us, it is clear that he will be judged worthy—a Pan African life of outstanding scholarship, honor, commitment and achievement.
Right on, brother.
Professor David L. Horne is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute, which is a new 501(c)(3) pending community-based organization or non-governmental organization (NGO). It is the stepparent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.
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