Inspirations from Hard History


Nature's Own
Numbers Man

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Reported by Barry Morgan from Accra, Ghana (West Africa) for Upstream (January 27, 1997, Oslo, Norway)

THE DOCTOR and his wife Dale, a fellow academic, lead an annual scientific workshop for inner-city youths and he runs a website ( used as a teaching resource in US classrooms.

The mayor of a Minnesota town appointed him to a Shelter Board, which helps the homeless, and he serves on the Board of the African Health Organization.

Emeagwali was inspired by the 18th century letters of black mathematician Benjamin Bannekar to Thomas Jefferson.

He says, "Bannekar's amazing mathematical calculations so impressed Jefferson that he was forced to review his opinion of the intellectual capacity of Africans and urged they be freed from slavery."

Emeagwali himself appear to be making a career of overturning conventional wisdom. The scientist is currently researching a book on how the Greeks learned mathematics from Africans.

But despite his successes and evident satisfaction with his professional life, he has strong reservations about "pervasive and deeply ingrained racism" in America.

He says: "The US is one of the worst countries to live in for an ambitious black professional."

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