This article explores the unconventional life of Ugandan Akiki Nyabongo, an “intellectual misfit” whose career and legacy reveal some of the limitations of global intellectual history. Nyabongo led a remarkably global life: he lived and worked with George Padmore, collaborated with W. E. B. Du Bois, and introduced civil rights activist Eslanda Goode Robeson to Uganda during her trip to the African continent in 1936. He conducted research for his doctorate degree at Oxford University, and he pursued additional projects in the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens and numerous universities across the United States. Thus far, though, Nyabongo has remained at the margins of stories about pan-Africanism, Black internationalism, or African anti-colonialism. This article argues that conventional global frameworks—often determined by scholarly priorities and interests that originated outside the African continent—have confined Nyabongo's relevance and importance. This scholarly and international invisibility is worth correcting, in part because he remains an important figure in western Uganda. And, his importance there reveals the limitations of conventional scholarly categories and sheds light on how western Ugandans, using oral traditions and long-standing idioms of power and prestige, understood global mobility and international importance in the midst of an increasingly globally connected world.

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