Why do we not celebrate this great man who laid down his life for us every December

By Ayo Akinfe

[1] We are now into December and in a festive mood when we recognise and appreciate those who laid down their lives for us but alas, the negro fails to celebrate one caucasian who was executed for them. A white gentleman named John Brown who was hanged for leading slave revolts

[2] On this day in 1859, John Brown was hanged in Virginia for leading an armed slave revolt. As far as I know, he was the first white man in history to lay down his life so blacks could have a better future. I am not aware of any white man who did more for us, not wanting anything in return

[3] Today, December 2 2019 marks 160 years since John Brown died and not one African country even marks it with a John Brown Day. Yet, we celebrate the heroes of the slave owners and colonialists who hanged Brown. Is there something wrong with us?

[4] On October 16, 1859, Brown led 18 men in an attack on the Harpers Ferry Armory. He had received 200 Beecher's Bibles i.e breechloading .52 (13.2 mm) caliber Sharps rifles and pikes from northern abolitionist societies in preparation for the raid. His strategy was essentially to deplete Virginia of its slaves, causing the institution to collapse in one county after another, until the movement spread into the south, wreaking havoc on the economic viability of the pro-slavery states

[5] After Brown attacked, local farmers, shopkeepers, and militia pinned down the raiders in the armory by firing from the heights behind the town. The surrounding forces barraged the engine house, and the men inside fired back with occasional fury. Brown sent his son Watson and another supporter out under a white flag, but the angry crowd shot them. Intermittent shooting then broke out, and Brown's son Oliver was wounded. His son begged his father to kill him and end his suffering, but Brown said: "If you must die, die like a man." A few minutes later, Oliver was dead

[6] By the morning of October 18 the engine house, later known as John Brown's Fort, was surrounded by a company of US Marines under the command of First Lieutenant Israel Greene, USMC, with Colonel Robert Lee of the United States Army in overall command. Army First Lieutenant JEB Stuart approached under a white flag and told the raiders their lives would be spared if they surrendered. Brown refused, saying: "No, I prefer to die here." Stuart then gave a signal. The Marines used sledgehammers and a makeshift battering ram to break down the engine room door. Lieutenant Israel Greene cornered Brown and struck him several times, wounding his head. In three minutes Brown and the survivors were captives

[7] Altogether, Brown's men killed four people, and wounded nine, while 10 of Brown's men were killed (including his sons Watson and Oliver). Five escaped (including his son Owen), and seven were captured along with Brown. Basically, John Brown not only laid down his own life but also sacrificed his two sons in the fight for black freedom

[8] On November 2, after a week-long trial and 45 minutes of deliberation, a Charles Town jury found Brown guilty on all three counts. He was sentenced to be hanged in public on December 2. In response to the sentence, Ralph Waldo Emerson remarked: "John Brown will make the gallows glorious like the Cross."I ask myself why the gallows are not as celebrated as the cross today. No figure in either Christianity or Islam has sacrificed as much for the black man as John Brown

[9] There is more though. John Brown refused to be rescued by Silas Soule, a friend from Kansas who somehow infiltrated the Jefferson County Jail and offered to break him out during the night and flee northward to New York state and possibly Canada. Brown told Silas that, aged 59, he was too old to live a life on the run from the federal authorities as a fugitive and that he was ready to die as a martyr

[10] On the day of John Brown's funeral, in the North, large memorial meetings took place, church bells rang, minute guns were fired and famous writers such as Emerson and Thoreau joined many Northerners in praising him. I think this is the very least every member of the African Union should do annually. Personally, I ask everyone to join me in singing this song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6WignKYFI8

Can we also please observe a minute of silence for him at midday at 12 noon on December 2 2019.