Marcus Garvey with Prince Kojo Tovalou-Houenou of Dahomey, called the “Garvey of Africa”, and George O. Marke. In Harlem 1924.
Kojo Tovalou Houénou (born Marc Tovalou Quénum; 25 April 1887 – 13 July 1936) was a prominent African critic of the French colonial empire in Africa. Born in Porto-Novo (a French protectorate in present-day Benin) to a wealthy father and a mother related to the king of the Kingdom of Dahomey. He was sent to France for education at the age of 13, received a law degree, medical training, and served in the French armed forces as an army doctor during World War I. Following the war, Houénou became a minor celebrity in Paris; dating actresses, writing books as a public intellectual, and making connections with many of the elite of French society. In 1921, he visited Dahomey for the first time since 1900 and upon returning to France became active in trying to build bonds between France and Dahomey. In 1923, he was assaulted in a French nightclub by Americans who objected to an African being served in the club and the attack served to change his perspective and increase his efforts to confront racism. He founded an organization and a newspaper with the help of other African intellectuals living in Paris like René Maran and traveled to New York City to attend Marcus Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) conference. Upon returning to France, Houénou was considered a subversive by the French government, his newspaper went bankrupt, the organization he founded folded, and he was forced to leave France and move back to Dahomey. Following unrest attributed to him in Dahomey, he relocated eventually to Dakar, Senegal where he continued to be harassed by the French authorities. He died from Typhoid fever in 1936 while imprisoned in Dakar, after being arrested on contempt of court charges.