At a time when being black feels like sin and the news is showing what has been hidden from the public, I thought I would write about some of the most exceptional black people. Most who are unknown because they have been “erased” by racism or simply because the media has never mentioned them but as always, we rise. Below are some black people around the world who have altered history and changed lives.
1. Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner
Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner was an African-American woman behind the invention of the sanitary belt. She developed a sanitary belt with an insult, moisture-proof napkin pocket in the 1950s. However, the company that first showered interest in her invention rejected it after they discovered she was a black woman. She never made money from her invention as her patent expired and it ended up being manufactured freely.
She is also behind the invention of the toilet paper holder, together with her sister, Mildred Davidson. The toilet paper holder was created to be more accessible for blind and individuals and people with arthritis. Mary has also held the patent on a back washer that could be mounted on the shower and bathtub wall, and the patent for a walker in 1959, after her sister Mildred developed multiple sclerosis.
2. Artwell Mandaza
Artwell Mandaza was the first black Sportsperson of the Year in 1970 in Rhodesia, modern-day Zimbabwe. In the same year, he ran 100m in 9.9 seconds at the South African Bantu championship but he missed out on the 1972 Olympics because Rhodesia was banned.
The record was disallowed because of a following wind of 4.27 metres/second (2 metres being the maximum allowed), but after running 10.3 seconds in an earlier race, he won the final in a legal 10.2 seconds placing him at 11th in the world in 1970. However, Artwell never explored his full potential as Rhodesia was under sanctions. He is most famous for having competed with a horse in 1984 at the Borrowdale Race Course for a fundraising campaign for the Zimbabwean team to participate in the Olympics.
3. Mashudu Tshifularo
Mashudu Tshifularo is a professor at the University of Pretoria who made history by performing the world’s first 3D-printed middle-ear replacement surgery in 2019. He used inventive 3D technology to print the bone that makes up the middle ear and implanted the model into a trauma patient.
The patient to undertake this landmark procedure was a 40-year-old man whose ear had been damaged due to an injury. Deeming the first surgery to be a success, Professor Tshifularo and his team arena planning to conduct a second operation on a 62-year-old, born with an underdeveloped middle ear. Professor Tshifularo is currently seeking industry sponsors and funding.
4. Tapiwa Dingwiza
Tapiwa Dingwiza is a Zimbabwean born fashion designer who has incorporated Braille into her fashion designs. Having learnt garment making from her parents, Tapiwa was inspired and ended up studying Textile at school and sowing seeds of desire to make and design clothes. She says she wants fashion to represent and celebrate blind people. Her clothes contain personal motivational Braille messages.