‘Comrade Algerine Sankoh of West Africa’: Pan-Africanist and Britain’s first black revolutionary socialist?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapterpeer-review


This essay will explore the early political and intellectual itinerary of the black West African Pan-Africanist intellectual Algerine Kelfallah Sankoh (c1882-1940). Originally born Isaac Augustus Johnson in Sierra Leone, Sankoh was a British colonial subject who, like many of his contemporaries, was keen to adopt a more African name. It will explore Sankoh’s travels and studies in the United States, Britain and France in the early twentieth century, focusing on his involvement with the tiny British revolutionary socialist movement while studying as a law student in Liverpool. Sankoh then seems to have become a Christian pastor, moving to Nigeria where he became a respected member of the Saro community and from 1932 to 1937 editor and columnist of the Nigerian Observer. In 1938 - just before his passing in November 1940 - he was appointed Vice-Principal of Enitonna High School in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. The life of Sankoh will be used to open up a wider discussion about the relationship of black radicals to British socialism– and in particular the tiny revolutionary socialist movement in Britain - before the Russian Revolution. It will tentatively pose the question about whether Sankoh may have a reasonable claim to be the first black revolutionary socialist in Britain, but also suggest that more research in the relationship of black radicals to British socialism in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries is necessary.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMany Struggles
Subtitle of host publicationNew Histories of African and Caribbean People in Britain
EditorsHakim Adi
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherPluto Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780745347684
ISBN (Print)9780745347653
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jun 2023


  • Africa
  • Sierra Leone
  • Socialism
  • Nigeria
  • Black British History


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