When Freemason is mentioned in Africa, it evokes some sort of fear and sentiment among the less-exposed and less-educated members of society. They consider the Freemanson to be an evil occultic society. It’s funny, isn’t it?
The Freemason Fraternity is a group of elites whose ideals are to unite men regardless of their belief and race. And it would interest the reader to know that Black men were members of the Free Mansory society, as far back as the 1700s, and one of those Black men was Prince Hall.
Prince Hall was the one who founded the first African Lodges for Black Freemason in America, which led to the founding of the Prince Hall Freemasons.
The Freemason fraternity, in the 16th and 17th century, was largely and mainly a white people’s organization and affair. But that changed with the admittance of Prince Hall, who was an African American Abolitionist of slavery. Because of his agitation, today, the fraternity boasts of some of the finest brains and heads from the Black world.
Prince Hall is remembered greatly for this fight for the protection of the free black people in the North of America.
During the war, he fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill (Newman) and also campaigned for the abolition of slavery during the war. He made a living from the manufacturing of leather goods and made a reputation for himself through his trade and participation in activism and politics.
He was neck-deep in the campaign for civil rights in various aspects of society. He championed the state funding for the emigration of Black people to Africa, and also the provision of free schools and education for Black people. He also fought against the continuous slave trading of Black people and the kidnapping pf Blacks in Massachusetts.
His Entry Into The Freemason Fraternity:
After taking up a role as a minister at the Methodist Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts, he went ahead to join and become an active member of the Freemason in 1775.
Prince hall went ahead to establish the first black Freemason Lodge in the United States and indeed the world. It was done, but it was not an easy thing to achieve.
What led him to be attracted to the Free masonry fraternity was the ideals embedded in their theory. The ideas proposed to “unite men regardless of beliefs, race, class, and skills. It was a universal brotherhood that saw men as equal and provided mobility and opportunities for them within society. These were essentially the values of Freemasons worldwide.”
Despite Prince Hall’s gallantry in the defense of America and his contributions to the society, he was still a victim of racism in his early stages with the Freemason fraternity. He was denied entry to the White Masonic Lodges in America because he was Black, but that did not stop him. The brotherhood message and ideals of the Masons at that point did not entirely accommodate Black people, but he stood his ground all the same.
Prince Hall and fourteen other Black men had attempted to gain admission into the St. John’s Mason Lodge in Boston but were rejected. It was the British Masons who were then stationed in America that offered them admission on March 6, 1775.
Prince Hall and 14 others who free Black men, then became members of the British Army Lodge No 411, of the Freemasonry fraternity. The other 14 men were: Peter Best, Duff Buform, John Canton, Peter Freeman, Fortin Howard, and Cyrus Johnbus, Prince Payden, Prince Rees, Thomas Sanderson, Bueston Slinger, Cato Speain, Boston Smith, Benjamin Tiber, and Richard Tilley.
Although they were inducted, they were still not given all the full privileges of a Mason. They were allowed to gather and meet as a separate lodge but were not permitted to confer degrees or perform any other Freemason duties. They could march in parades and bury their dead – that was as much as they could do.
Facing discrimination as Black freemason members, Prince Hall, petitioned the Freemasonry Grand Lodge of England, on the 2nd of March 1784. In his petition, he demanded a new charter for him and his fellow Black Masons. They had initially sent a petition to the White Masons of Massachusetts, which was declined.
The Grand Lodge Of England approved their petition and Prince Hall proceeded to create the first Black freemason lodge for African American Masons in the North of America. It was known as African Lodge No. 459. But even after this, the lodge was still not considered a full Freemasonic lodge, until 1787, when they received a charter from the Grand Lodge of England, which was the mother of all Freemasonry fraternity in the world.
The charter changed the names of their Lodge from African Lodge No. 459 to African Lodge No. 1. Prince Hall was its leader and thus made them independent of the United Grand Lodge of England. After this, they went ahead to form three various lodges which were made up of Black people.
As they grew in number and influence, the Black Masons, under the guidance of Prince Hall and the first 14, created a mother lodge called the Prince Hall Grand Lodge, in 1791. The Grand Lodge, which was to perform the same function as the Grand Lodge of England, governed the other three Black Masonic Lodges.
Hall became the first Grand Master of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge and was, master till his death in the December of 1807. From that point, the legend of the Prince Hall Freemasons was born, and Black elites and people looked up to his standards as a beacon and guidance. Although it is safe to say that many Black people feel the Black Freemasons have betrayed the Black community by being puppets for their European masters.
Prince Hall played a great role in the struggle of Black people towards freedom, equality, and advancement, and he had his influence as a Freemason to help him with the troubles of his time.
Origin Of The Freemason:
The Freemason as a fraternity according to the Masonic scholars,http://www.msana.com/historyfm.asp was founded from the stonemason’s guild around and during the Middle Ages. The oldest documents which the Freemasons have in their possession was written around 1390 and is called the Regius Poem. It is said to be a copy of much more earlier documents of the Stonemasons. Much of the history of the Freemasonry fraternity remains secrete, until the early 1700s, when four lodges in England united to form the initial Grand Lodge Of England.
From 1717, Freemason started to spread around the world, the first beginning in Europe and America. In 30 years, it became so popular that it was sort after by the elites in American and European societies. Some of America’s first presidents, such as George Washington, were Masons.
As they became more popular and turned into a worldwide fraternity, they spread the ideals of Enlightenment, which upheld the dignity of man and the liberty of the individual, the right of all persons to worship as they choose, the formation of democratic governments, and the importance of public education.
Following their ideals of education, they supported and helped build the first public schools in both Europe and America. As they grew dramatically in the 1800s and 1900s, they build orphanage homes, homes for widows and aged people, while they provided safety nets and security in the absence of government intervention.
Presently, there are about 4 million Masons worldwide, and many in their number are Africans and Black people who have helped create a better society, or sometimes helped make life harder for the Black man.
Africans In The Freemason And The African Freemason Fraternity:
Africans, in general, have a negative meaning which they attach to being a Mason. We believe it is for the lack of proper education. Many Africans consider Nelson Mandella a bad person for belonging to the Prince Hall Freemason fraternity.
But if we were to remove the conspiracies and really look at the ideals which the leaders who are inducted into freemason uphold, maybe we might give them some credit. But the argument which proposes that African Masons are sell-outs who work with their white masters is an argument for another day.
In Africa, we have a few Black Freemason lodges, such as the Grand Lodge of Benin, in the Republic of Benin, Ghana, Senegal, in Nigeria and South Africa.
Over the last century, the members of the Freemanson in Africa has held sway and are top in the government and society. And because of the behavior of the average African politician in power, the people have grown to mistrust the Freemasons.
Some of the African leaders who are said to be members of the Prince Hall Free masonry fraternity are the former presidents of Ghana, John kuffuor, and Jerry J, Rawlings, one time President of Gabon, Omar Hadj Bongo, and Paul Biya, the president of Cameroon.
Some of the other African leaders are Blaise Campaore, former president of Burkina Faso, Idris Deby, president of Chad, Mamadou Tanja, former president of Niger, Denis Sassou Nguesso, former president of Congo Brazzaville, his predecessor, Pascal Lissouba and Robert Guei, a general and late head of state of Ivory Coast.
These and many more are leaders who have been members of the Prince Hall Freemason lodges in Africa.