Respect!: Edward Wilmot Blyden and the Cosmopolitan Challenge

In: Humanity 12: 73–86


Martin Rempe


Edward Wilmot Blyden (1832–1913) is regarded as a pioneer of Pan-African ideas and Afrocentrism. Blyden’s concept of the “African personality” supplied Africans with a history, an identity, and original skills, supposed to counterbalance Western ideas of superiority. Nor did he shy away from the propagation of racial segregation. Many accounts even denounce him as a Black racist. Against this backdrop, this article re-evaluates Blyden’s ideas about education, religious encounter, and humanity. I argue that his main drive was a struggle for respect: he campaigned to endow Black Africans with self-respect and gain recognition from Western people. Thus, Blyden’s struggle exemplifies the challenges in promoting cosmopolitanism from the marginalized position of the colonized. At the same time, ideas of a Black intellectual come to the fore that are no less illuminating than the European blueprints before and after Blyden that never lived up to the reality.


Rempe, Martin. 2021. Respect!: Edward Wilmot Blyden and the Cosmopolitan Challenge. In: Humanity 12: 73–86. doi:

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