The story of Russia’s Alexander Pushkin is evidence of the African presence in Europe. Born in Moscow in May 1799, Russian literary icon Alexander Pushkin was of Black African Ancestry and he proudly celebrated his African Ancestry during his lifetime.
Publishing his first Poem at the age of 15, by the time he graduated from school in St. Petersburg, Alexander Pushkin was already widely known on the Russian literary scene.
Throughout his career Alexander Pushkin as one of the few Africans in Europe proudly referenced his Black African Ancestry going as far as to state in a letter to Emperor Nicholas II of Russia that, ‘no Russian man of letters except me can count a Negro among his ancestors’.
Alexander Pushkin’s African Ancestry came through his great-grandfather who was a captured Black African Royal Page taken by Slave Traders and eventually given as a gift to Russia’s Tsar Peter I, also known as Peter The Great.
Pushkin was Baptized and conducted his studies in Europe, and he was also impressed by the achievements of the famous African General Of Carthage, Hannibal The Great.
As a result, in tribute to his Black Ancestry, Pushkin adopted the surname ‘Gannibal’ after his Christian name ‘Abram’.
Pushkin was fiercely proud of his Black ancestry and he was greatly inspired by Hannibal’s love for freedom which was a major theme in Pushkin’s Poetry.
After the publication of Pushkin’s Poem ‘Ode To Liberty’, Pushkin was arrested and exiled but was released after persistent pleas were made by his family to Tsar Alexander I and Tsar Nicholas I.
However, during 1836 there were rumors that his Wife was having an affair with a Nobleman as Pushkin fell into crippling debt.
Pushkin’s response was to challenged his Wife’s Lover to a duel which took place of in January 1837.
Pushkin lost the duel after he was shot through the abdomen and Alexander Pushkin died in early February of that same year.
Today Pushkin stands as a symbol of Russia’s identity with his contributions to Russian literature continuing to be recognised. Due to his African Ancestry, Alexander Pushkin’s legacy should also be considered as part of that of the Black diaspora and proof of the African presence in Europe.