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Volume No. 1 Issue No. 32 - Wednesday, November 27, 2002
George James ChristianGeorge James Christian: Pioneer in Africa
by: Thomson Fontaine

When George James Christian died in the Gold Coast Region of Ghana in 1940, few in Dominica heard of his passing nor were aware of his involvement in the Pan Africanist Movement, nor of his pivotal role in shaping the Ashanti region of Ghana as a member of the Legislative Council of the Gold coast, and as a prominent lawyer trained in Gray's Inn in London.

His remarkable life and contribution to the Gold Coast of Ghana was highlighted in a paper presented by Margaret Rouse-Jones at a conference on Henry Sylvestre-Williams and Pan-Africanism: A Retrospection and Projection, organized by the University of the West Indies, and Oberlin College, Ohio in January 2001.

Born in the village of Delices on February 23, 1869, to an Antiguan solicitor, Christian received his early schooling in Dominica and at the Mico Training college in Antigua. He spent his early professional life in Dominica as a school teacher before been admitted to Grays Inn London in 1899 to pursue a law degree.

While at Gray's Inn, he participated in a conference organized by Henry Sylvester Williams of the Africa Association at which the Pan-African conference was discussed. During the conference he led a discussion on the theme Organized Plunder and Human Progress Have Made Our Race Their Battlefield, where he exhibited a depth of knowledge and understanding on the issues of slavery and the continuing domination and exploitation of African States by the colonization process.

Having graduated from Gray's Inn and called to the bar on June 11, 1902, he left soon afterward for the Gold Coast (current day Ghana), and at the time a British colony. He was later to be joined by several other West Indians including St Lucian George Stanley Lewis, brother of Noble Laureate in Economics Sir Arthur Lewis.

On arrival in the coastal town of Sekondi, Christian set up a law office and quickly distinguished himself as an outstanding criminal and concessions lawyer, dealing with concessions for gold mining. In one instance, he successfully appealed the death by hanging sentence of a white man to the Privy Council in England.

Among his other outstanding achievements in the Gold Coast was the prominent role he played in the opening up of the Ashanti region to legal practitioners. Christian also actively participated in local politics serving on the Sekondi Town council before been elected to serve on the (National) Legislative Council of the Gold Coast from 1929 until his death in 1940.

His time in the council was devoted to a tireless campaign to draw attention to inadequate education and health facilities in the coastal region of the Gold Coast. He also contributed to the discussions on the building of the railway line for the Northern territories citing the economic benefits that would accrue.

Christian also served as Liberian Consul for thirty years largely on account of his personal friendship with then Secretary of State Edwin Barclay who was to assume the position of president of Liberia in 1931.

In that position he looked after the well being of Liberian citizens in the Gold Coast many of whom were brought in as indentured servants or as government employees in the Sanitary Department.

George J. Christian was the uncle of Wendell, Henkell and Lemeul Christian. For many years, Henkell Christian served as Minister of Education and Health in the Dominica Government. Lemeul Christian was a famed Dominican musician and owner of the Christian Music School. He also wrote the music to the national Anthem of Dominica. Wendell Christian is the father of criminal attorney and author of Back to Eden Gabriel Christian.

Many of George Christian's own children and grandchildren have risen to prominence in Ghana and England. One of his daughters Essi Matilda Forster would become the first woman to be called to the Ghana bar. His granddaughter Moira Stuart is the premier female broadcaster of African descent of BBC TV.

Another granddaughter Margaret Busby became the United Kingdom's youngest and first Black woman publisher when she co-founded the company Allison & Busby Ltd. Of which she was Editorial Director until 1987, producing several hundred titles in an international list of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and childrens books.

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Volume No. 1 Issue No. 32
West Indies Cricket Tour of India
Paying Homage to the Countryside
Shanghai's 2010 Expo Bid
Dominica's History Revisited
George James Christian: Pioneer in Africa
LIAT May be Facing Bankruptcy

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