May their giant souls rest in peace. Amen
Virgil Abloh, the acclaimed menswear designer for Louis Vuitton and founder/CEO of Off-White, died Sunday 28, November according to a post from his verified Instagram account. He was 41. For over two years, Abloh a child of Ghanaian immigrants valiantly and privately battled a rare, aggressive form of cancer, cardiac angiosarcoma. All the while helming several significant institutions spanning fashion, art and culture.
Chad’s strongman Idriss Deby, an important Western ally in the fight against Islamist militants in the region ruled for more than 30 years before he was killed on the frontlines against rebels in the north on April 20. Deby, 68 was one of Africa’s longest-ruling leaders, surviving numerous coup attempts and rebellions. His died just a day after he was declared winner of a presidential election that would have given him a sixth term in office.
Rapper and actor Earl Simmons, better known by the stage name DMX died April 9 after suffering a heart attack during what media reports have concluded was a drug overdose. He was 50 years old. His career had been marked by addiction, legal troubles and prison time. Growing up in New York, an older rapper and mentor tricked him into smoking crack at 14. DMX released eight albums.
Born Gloria Jean Watkins, this trailblazing cultural theorist and activist, public intellectual, teacher and feminist writer authored around 40 books in a career spanning more than four decades. She died 15, December of kidney failure aged 69, Her work explored the intersecting oppressions of gender, race and class. Her writing would reflect her concerns with issues related to history, sexuality and psychology ultimately with love at the heart of community healing.
Zambia’s founding president and independence hero, Kenneth Kaunda led his country for 27 years and championed Africa’s struggles against apartheid. He died on June 17 at the age of 97. Although the country’s economy fared poorly under his stewardship, Kaunda is remembered more fondly for his role as an anti-colonial fighter, elder statesman and HIV/AIDS activist.
He was one of the most famous people on earth during his heyday hosting Larry King Live on CNN from 1985 to 2010. Talk show host Larry King quizzed thousands of world leaders, politicians and entertainers in a career spanning more than six decades. He died January 23 at age 87. Larry King Live was one of the network’s prime attractions with its curated mix of interviews, political discussions and current debates.
Tanzanian President John Magufuli, 63 admired for his clamp down on corruption and waste but dismissed as an authoritarian died 17, March under dramatic conditions. He was one of the world’s biggest covid deniers. He detested lockdowns, was skeptical of COVID-19 drugs and encouraged unsubstantiated rumors that vaccines are part of an imperial plot to steal his country’s wealth. He died of covid complications.
Haitian President Jovenel Moise, 53 was shot dead and his wife Martine injured by gunmen at their private residence on July 7, sparking an international outcry. Moise, a banana exporter-turned-politician took office in 2017 and had been ruling by decree for more than one year after the country failed to hold legislative elections.
Credited as helping modernize the British monarchy through repeated crises, prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth of England, for more than seven decades died April 9 at the ripe old age of 99. The Duke of Edinburgh stood by his wife’s side throughout her record setting reign. He earned a reputation for having a cranky attitude and had a propensity for making the occasional offensive comments.
The Canadian actor was recognized the world over for his work as Captain von Trapp opposite Julie Andrews in the classic 1965 musical, The Sound Of Music. In 2012 Plummer, an accomplished Shakespearean actor became the oldest actor to win an Oscar for his role as a gay dad in the film, Beginners. He died February 5 at 91 after appearing in late career films like Knives Out and The Last Station.
Colin Powell, the first Black US secretary of state whose leadership in several conservative administrations helped shape American foreign policy in the last years of the 20th century, died from complications from Covid-19, his family said on Facebook. He was 84. Powell had multiple myeloma, a cancer of plasma cells that suppresses the body’s immune response, as well as Parkinson’s.
Egyptian feminist writer Nawal el-Saadawi, a leading voice on women’s rights in the Arab world died March 21 aged 89. el-Saadawi was detained countless times for her views and had some of her work banned in Egypt. She grew up in a patriarchal culture and was subjected to female genital mutilation as a child. Trained as a doctor, she criticized religious authorities and governments and wrote dozens of books.
The beloved American actress died January 28 at the age of 96. She enjoyed a 60-year career and won three Emmys and a Tony Award. Tyson’s acclaimed performances came in historical works such as the 1972 movie Sounder in which she played a sharecropper’s wife, earning her sole Academy Award nomination. Tyson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama in 2016 and guest-starred in the Viola Davis led drama series How to Get Away With Murder.
This beloved character actor was perhaps best known for her Emmy nominated work in Arrested Development. In the long running series, Walter played scheming socialite Lucille Bluth an audience favorite role that spawned countless GIFs and memes. Walter died on March 24 at the age of 80. She appeared in over 170 film, theatre and stage productions.
Wilfred Okiche is a medic, reader, writer, journalist, culture critic, and occasional ruffler of feathers. One of the most influential critics working in the Nigerian culture space, his writing has appeared extensively in platforms like YNaija.com and 360nobs.com. Okiche has provided editorial assistance to the UK Guardian and has had his work published in African Arguments, Africa is a Country and South Africa’s City Press. He has received trainings and acquired experience in multimedia and online journalism. He also appears on the culture television show, Africana Literati. He has participated at critic programs in Lagos, Durban and Rotterdam.