Muhammed Ali

17th June 2016
Some previously unpublished pix of Muhammed Ali added to the site:

"Sad to see Muhammad Ali has passed away. In January 1980 he and I, three of his aides, and a small State Department delegation, clambered aboard the US presidential jet, sent by President Jimmy Carter, on an ill-conceived Carter initiative around Africa. The trip started at Dar es Salaam (then the Tanzanian capital). As usual, crowds on the tarmac chanted “Ali, Ali, Ali”. By all appearances, the former champion’s arrival in Dar looked familiar enough: exactly like the humanitarian missions he had become accustomed to. But this was different, and Ali - who had been doing charity work in India the day before - was groggy. Worst of all, he was unsure about why he was even there.
In a plan that seemed like a good one when it was hatched, Carter convinced Ali to help lobby African countries to support a proposed American boycott of the Summer Olympics in Moscow. The boycott had been ordered by Carter in response to the recent Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, but the White House knew that a failure to get other nations to similarly boycott could embarrass the US and render its move to sit out the games ineffective.
Now the president was in bad need of assistance in selling the plan abroad - and the boxing legend was needed in Africa. Ali, offended by the Russian invasion himself, agreed to lend a hand. These are a few pix I took in Dakar, Senegal. We also visited Tanzania, Nigeria, Kenya, Ivory Coast and Liberia. The one picture without Ali in it was taken by him with my camera. I am second from the right with the members of his personal staff and a lady from the State Department.
As an aside, in April, just two months after he had received us at his beachside residence in Monrovia, Liberian president Tolbert was murdered in a coup d’état, reportedly "disemboweled in his bed while he slept", by coup leader, Samuel Doe.
On a happier note, in Senegal, we were received by the cultured and pleasant president Léopold Sédar Senghor. He and Ali, who both enjoyed writing poetry, recited their poems to each other on a beach under palm trees. Senghor was the first African elected as a member of the Académie Française."