Dr. Pauulu Roosevelt Osiris Nelson Brown Kamarakafego National Hero of Bermuda
Dr Pauulu Roosevelt Osiris Nelson Brown Kamarakafego was political activist, civil rights leader, parliamentarian and world recognized expert in ecological/environmental engineering. He was a campaigner for universal adult suffrage in Bermuda, a Progressive Labour Party (PLP) member of parliament, and worked with the United Nations, but he always considered himself to be a quiet man who shunned the spotlight.
“There are always things which need to be done, and they are done by people,” Dr Brown said in a 1992 Mid-Ocean News interview. “I am willing to do anything to help and prefer to stay in the background, but if a leader is needed, I will come forward as well.”
Early life and education
He was born, ‘Roosevelt Brown' in Middletown, Pembroke on 28 November 1932, the youngest of six children of Henrietta and John Brown. When he was growing up his family urged him to use his education to help others, and his personal philosophy became: “Give back to society wherever I happen to be be it in Bermuda or some other place in the world”.
He was educated at Howard Academy (Bermuda) from 1948 – 1951, New York University (USA) from 1951 – 1954, University of South Carolina (USA) from1954 – 1955, North Carolina University (USA) from 1955 – 1956 and obtained his doctoral degree in ecological engineering from the California Institute of Technology in 1959. Shortly afterward, he realised a childhood dream when he moved to West Africa to teach biology at Cuttinton College in Liberia. It was there that he was given the name Pauulu Kamarakafego. He returned to Bermuda when his father became ill, and became immersed in civil rights activities and local politics.
At the age of 28, he created the Committee of Universal Adult Suffrage in Bermuda, but he continued to work in Africa on and off in the 1960s. In 1967 he joined the new Progressive Labour Party. He told the Bermuda Recorder: “All I believe is that we in Bermuda must work together for the benefit of Bermudians.”
In September 1960, activist Roosevelt Brown organised a series of public meetings that mobilized black Bermudians to campaign for the end of the property vote. A Committee for Universal Adult Suffrage evolved from that.
In 1968 he was elected to a PLP seat in Bermuda's first election under universal adult suffrage. The next year he organised the Bermuda Black Power conference and a series of similar conferences.
He chose not to seek relection in 1972 and instead embarked on a global journey using his training in ecological engineering. He became known worldwide for his expertise in dealing with issues to do with rural technology and community development, solar power and hydro energy, among other things.
He became known as a kind of Johnny Appleseed spreading ideas about ecological and political substantiability wherever he went. After Hurricane Katrina in 2005 he was asked to help with designing better levy systems for New Orleans, Louisiana.
He served in various high level capacities such as a United Nations consultant on rural development and renewable energy sources, consultant on global sustainability to the European Economic Community (EEC) and the Commonwealth Fund Rural Development programme. He was also chief executive officer of the Pan-African movement to the United Nations, and served on the executive advisory board of the W E B DuBois Foundation, among other things.
Two of his designs including a water tank, were selected in 1996 from among thousands of entries by the United Nations Conference as examples of ‘100 Sustainable Ideas for Human Settlement'.
Honours and awards
He received numerous awards locally and abroad.
1964 Outstanding Faculty member, University of East Africa, Kenya
1981 Citizen’s Independent Medal [for assisting the Republic of Vanuata on the road to independence]
1987 Outstanding contribution to Universal Adult Suffrage in Bermuda [from the Anti-Apartheid Committee]
1987 Outstanding contribution to Universal Adult Suffrage in Bermuda [from Friswell Hill United]
1992 One of the first recipients of the Outstanding Human Rights Award [from the Human Rights Commission of Bermuda]
1996 One of the recipients of the “Best Practices for Human Settlements” awards presented in Istanbul
2002 Recipient of an award as an Eminent person in Algeria [from the Non Governmental Steering Committee to the United Nations]
2002 Recipient of the National Association for reconciliation annual award for leadership in achieving Universal Franchise for all Bermudians.
2002: Listed in Who’s Who in the 21st Century for Outstanding Achievements in the Field of Ecological Engineering, International Biographical Centre, Cambridge, England
Kamarakafego was the father of nine children:
Suzanne Darrell (Bermuda)
Wendy Browne (Canada)
Ghrandu, Moulbo and Flumo Kamarakafego (Liberia)
Tchilumba Kamarakafego (Congo)
Keibu and Ronniba Kamarakafego (Kenya)
Carla Kamarakafego (Nicaragua)
Catherine Mckinley (Costa Rica)
Mahatma Kamarakafego (Nicaragua)
Kamarakafego died on 3 April 2007, aged 75. Flags were flown at half mast across Bermuda in his honour.
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