Beatrice Achaleke and Toni Morrison during their meeting in Vienna, 2006 / Photo: Beatrice Achaleke

Vienna-based Beatrice Achaleke recounts encounter with Toni Morrison that changed her life

Beatrice Achaleke, founder of the International Centre for Black Women’s Perspectives and the First Black European Women’s Congress, recalls her fortuitous encounter with the African-American writer and Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, who died last week (7 August), that changed the course of her life forever!


“There are some people you only get the chance to meet once in your lifetime and when you do, they change the course of your life forever. One of those people for me was and is still Toni Morrison. In spite of her busy schedule during her impressive presence and numerous presentations at the New Crown Hope Festival masterminded by the amazing Peter Sellars in Vienna in 2006, she made time for me, a couple of Black women and my brother Simon Inou.

Toni Morrison hugs Beatrice Achaleke (backing the camera) at their fortuitous meeting in Vienna, 2006. The encounter changed the course of the Cameroonian scholar’s course of life / Photo: Beatrice Achaleke


“The conversation we had during dinner and in her hotel room the next day, gave me the audacity to launch the International Centre for Black Women’s Perspectives, the First Black European Women’s Congress and Council, all of which formed the foundation for everything I have done since then.

“I am truly thankful for having met and learned from you phenomenal Black woman. I still remember your warm hug, your words of wisdom and encouragement like it was yesterday. “If you don’t find the books you want to read, write them, train your own lawyers, create your own organizations, do not expect anyone to do it for you”, you said and yes I did just that. Thank you for having inspired me to my own greatness.

“Go rest in peace and may our ancestors receive and surround you in their everlasting love.”

READ ALSO  Toni Morrison’s quintessential message to Black people everywhere

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