Pushkin was the Russian Spring. Pushkin was the Russian morning. Pushkin was the Russian Adam. Pushkin did for us what Dante and Petrach did for Italy; what the seventeenth century giants did for France; and what Lessing, Schiller and Goethe did for Germany - A.V. Lunacharsky.
"Pushkin alone had to perform two tasks which took whole centuries and more to accomplish in other countries, namely to establish a language and to create a literature." -- I. Turgeniev.
Alexander Sergevitch Pushkin (1799-1837) was born in Moscow, but his ancestor was a Black African, and that is common knowledge in Russia.
His grandfather from the mother’s side, Ibrahim Hannibal (1697-1781) was captured by Arab slave traders from Africa and sold into slavery in Constantinople. His origin is still a matter of debate. The Russian poet and novelist, Vladimir Nabokov, claimed in 1964 that Pushkin’s ancestor came from the now defunct Sultanate of Logon, then situated on the border of present day Cameroon and Chad. This was confirmed in 1999 by a Russian team of historians and ethnographers.
Abraham was later bought in Constantinople and sent as a gift for Tsar Peter I of Russia who adopted him. His name, Ibrahim, was later changed to Abraham and he was given the surname of Hannibal, after the great Black Carthaginian general who nearly destroyed Rome.
Abraham Hannibal was very brilliant and was sent to study in Paris where he became a favorite of the ladies. He later became one of Russia's greatest military engineers and rose to become a general in the Russian army. The Black general was very loyal to Tsar Peter I and after his death, refused to take part in the court intrigues, for which he had to undergo sixteen years of exile in Siberia and China. When Anna, Peter I's niece later came to the throne, she honored Abraham Hannibal, and lavished many gifts on him. As a military engineer, the illustrious African drew plans for a canal to link Moscow and St. Petersburg. The Empress Anna also made him General-in-Chief and awarded him the title of the Order of St. Alexander Nevski.
His first wife was a Greek woman who was unfaithful to him. She created a scandal by giving birth to a "white baby," much to the displeasure of the African general who took care of the baby, nevertheless. He claimed, however, that the child was not his.
His second wife was a Livonian named Khristina Sheserkha. They had eleven children, of whom five sons and four daughters survived. One of his sons, Ivan became a great admiral and built the fortress at Kherson. Another son, Joseph, a naval Commander, married Nadezhda, the daughter of Count Pushkin. She was the mother of Alexander Pushkin.
By the age of 21, Alexander Pushkin had become Russia's most popular writer. His first literary success was the romantic poem Ruslan and Lyudmila (1820). Some of his great works include Eugene Onegin, Boris Godunov, The Captain's daughter, The Prisoner of the Caucasus, and The Ode to Liberty.
According to J.A. Rogers:
To Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin belongs the unique distinction of welding together and elevating a great European language. Before his day the Russian language was half-formed, and disdained, being used chiefly by the enslaved serfs and the masses. The educated and the elite spoke and wrote in French.
When the Russian uses his language he is more indebted to Pushkin than Anglo-Saxons are to Shakespeare. But for him, Tolstoi, Dostoevski, Gogol, Gorky, Lenin, and other famous Russian writers might have written in French instead of in Russian. Pushkin, in the fullest sense, is "The Father of Russian Literature."
Pushkin also used his satirical wit against many people in Russia, including the Tsar, and in the process created many enemies. He was called the "cricket," and had to fight many duels. Slavery (Serfdom) was then widespread in Russia. Often, families were broken up because of this vile system. Pushkin used his talent to attack Serfdom.
His enemies often made fun of his African ancestry: "There goes the Negro, a descendant of cannibals," prompting Pushkin to write in jest: " An ever-idle scapegrace, a hideous descendant of Negroes, brought up in savage simplicity. ...knowing naught of the sufferings of love, I pleasure the young beauties with the unbridled furies of my African passion." Pushkin was in fact, a playboy.
Unable to match his wit, his enemies decided to destroy him through his wife, the young and beautiful Natasha (Nikolayevna Goncharova). It was said that the Tsar Nicholas himself was in love with her because of her beauty.
Pushkin married her when she was sixteen years old. She was a flirt and was only concerned with displaying her beauty at parties. Although she bore him four children, they were incompatible.
She later fell in love with Baron d'Anthes, the son of the French ambassador. He was the same age as Natasha. Her extramarital affairs led to many gossips, mostly fed by his enemies. Pushkin, having had enough decided to defend her honor and challenged Baron George d'Anthes to a duel.
When the two met, the Frenchman fired first at Pushkin, and he was struck a mortal blow in the abdomen. Pushkin fired back a few minutes later at the Baron but the wound was not serious. Two days later Pushkin died from the wounds he had sustained.
Ordinary Russians were filled with great anger and the Tsar, afraid of a demonstration, ordered his soldiers to maintain order. Among other things, newspapers were ordered to publish only brief notices of Alexander Pushkin's death. A private funeral was, however, held by the government in his honor.
So ended the life of one of the world's greatest literary figures. Pushkin regarded his Black ancestry with great pride; he was very proud of his African ancestor. His work, The Negro of Peter the Great, was in progress before his untimely death.
Says Rogers: "Descendants of Pushkin have married into the royal families of Germany, Russia, Luxemburg, Italy, and England."