When Boniface Offokaja represented Nigeria at the World Youth Forum in 1957, he was only 16 years. But his words carried the weight of an adult determined to tear down the wall of segregation in 1950s America. He used the opportunity granted to him by Herald Tribune to boldly speak out against discrimination of Afro Americans. See video below:
Speaking Truth To Millions Of Americans On Tv And Radio
It was the age of segregation against African Americans. An era when many would have laughed you to scorn if you dared suggest that, an African would one day be President of the United States. Two years before, in 1955, civil rights leader Martin Luther King had organized the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Law enforcement had arrested Rosa Parks, an Afro American lady. Her crime? She refused to stand up from a seat ‘not meant for’ African Americans!
Then high school student Boniface Offokaja, sat down in front of millions of American television viewers/radio listeners and courageously told them that their country was biased against its Afro Americans, but could do better.
Boniface Offokaja pricked America’s conscience by asking rhetorically, “How can you (America) be objective about African Negroes, when you are prejudiced against American Negroes?” He then went on to say he saw prospects that America would improve.
Visitor-to-America, Boniface Offokaja thus told millions of Americans a simple truth: support for self-determination of African colonies isn’t enough. America also had to clean up racist discrimination from its own backyard.
I Think They Heard
In the 1960s, in the age of John F. Kennedy, Americans did so much to dismantle discriminatory laws against African Americans. Who knows, the conscience-pricking question of the brilliant, fearless and selfless African student might have been ringing in their ears. It might have been urging them to do the right thing.