We were always here – Dr Candice Bailey, Lerato Makate, Sizwe Malinga, Les Owen, Therese Owen

By Steuart Pennington

‘WE WERE ALWAYS HERE’ contains 42 remarkable, and inspirational, stories about the work of Black entrepreneurs, inventors, ‘out of the box’ thinkers that have made their mark across the world, but in South Africa and the USA in particular. The stories are short, easy to read, and often confounding in their ingenuity. With a heart-tugging Foreword written by West Indian cricketer Michael Holding to moving stories of the African slave Onesimus who showed how to inoculate against smallpox, ultimately turning the War of Independence in favour of the Americans; to Edmond Albius in Reunion who showed to way to pollinate the vanilla vine, beating Europe’s  greatest botanist to it; to Marie van Brittan Brown in the US who pioneered CCTV technology to improve personal security; to Dorothy Vaughan (Remember the movie Hidden Figures?) who worked for NASA at the forefront of electronic computer programming. All the stories are of great interest, but what is special about them is the determination of the inventors to succeed no matter the odds. Stereotyping, racism, condemnation, discrimination, inferior schooling, second-class citizen status were amongst the barriers they had to overcome to bring their inventions to the world. More often than not official recognition for their contributions to societal well-being were decades in the making. For me, this book should be in every school library, on every university essential reading list. It illustrates, more than anything I’ve read previously, what the combination of determination, original thought, and perseverance can herald for mankind, and has been heralded by the black inventors in our midst.

Available at Exclusive books, Amazon and Takealot.

ISBN 978-1-991220-72-1