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Ere Roosevelt Came

Ere Roosevelt Came

The Adventures of the Man in the Cloak - A Pan-African Novel of the Global 1930s

by Duse Mohamed Ali

Edited by Marina Bilbija and Alex Lubin

Series: Black Critique

Strange and speculative, this 1934 pan-Africanist novel conveys the complexities of Black internationalism in the interwar years

Ere Roosevelt Came is a short novel by early pan-Africanist Dusé Mohamed Ali. Originally serialised in Ali's Nigerian magazine The Comet in 1934, it grapples with the rise of global fascism and white supremacy, and the growing geopolitical influence of the USA in the interwar period.

This is a fantastical, intricately woven and speculative story about how Black American airmen, organising in secret, fight an international assemblage of white supremacists and Russian foreign agents bent on instigating a new world war. The narrative reveals how Black liberation struggles, Bolshevism, and the rise of so-called 'coloured' Japanese empires were bound together in the Pan-African literary imaginary.

Written by a Sudanese-Egyptian, serialised in West Africa, and set in the USA, Ere Roosevelt Came is a Pan-African novel par excellence, and a fascinating historical document that conveys the complexities of Black internationalism in the interwar years.

The novel is presented with two original, contextualising essays and appendices featuring selected other writings to provide further insight into Ali's vision of a Pan-African future.

Duse Mohamed Ali (1866-1945) was an Egyptian political activist known for his African nationalism. He was also a playwright, historian, journalist, editor, and publisher. In 1912 he founded the African Times and Orient Review, and while living in Lagos, Nigeria, The Comet newspaper, in which his novel Ere Roosevelt Came was serialised in 1934. He inspired many Black nationalists, including a young Marcus Garvey, who he mentored.

Marina Bilbija is Assistant Professor of English at Wesleyan University, Connecticut. Her work has appeared in American Literary History, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, South Atlantic Review and Modern Fiction Studies.

Alex Lubin is Professor of African American Studies at Penn State University, Pennsylvania. He is the author of Romance and Rights: The Politics of Interracial Intimacy, 1945-1956; Geographies of Liberation: The Making of an Afro-Arab Political Imaginary, and Never-Ending War on Terror. 

'Bilbija and Lubin have made an outstanding contribution to literary Pan-Africanism by reintroducing the obscure Pan-African novel of Duse Mohamed Ali. This once influential Pan-Africanist ... a significant influencer, introduced Islam and the history of Africa to members of the UNIA. His novel and the accompanying essays make a welcome addition to the field.'

- Rey Bowen, University of Chichester

'A compelling addition to the canon of Pan-African creative writing from the 1930s. The engaging, informative essays by the editors show how Ali brought to life core themes of African American literature for readers in colonial Africa.'

- Stephanie Newell, George M. Bodman Professor of English, Yale University

'Ali's creative intellectual productivity was a major force in early twentieth-century pan-Africanism. The introductory material by Alex Lubin and Marina Bilbija offer essential tools for today's readers to appreciate this extraordinary, yet previously inaccessible, novel and its author. Reading this text through the multi-continental circuits of both its author's travels and the novel's protagonists, we recalibrate our own grid of pan-African literary productivity.'

- Dr. Leslie James, Queen Mary University of London

'In recovering this daringly speculative serial novel by Duse Mohamed Ali, Lubin and Bilbija have excavated a landmark of literary Pan-Africanism while capturing the vibrancy of transatlantic Black periodical networks in the 1930s.'

- Brent Hayes Edwards, author of 'The Practice of Diaspora: Literature, Translation, and the rise of Black Internationalism'

i. Duse Mohamed Ali, West African print culture and an emergent pan-African literary formation
ii. Duse Mohamed Ali in the history of pan-Africanism, pan-Islamism, and the Third World movement
1. Ere Roosevelt Came
Appendix of other writings by Ali

Published by Pluto Press in Jan 2024
Paperback ISBN: 9780745348605
eBook ISBN: 9780745348612

140mm x 216mm