There are many things that I can say about my brother Ahmed Akil Tahir that words could not describe. Yet he was a man that during his time with us wore many different titles son, brother, friend, street legend, entrepreneur, loving husband and father and fierce warrior. Over the 22 years that I knew and worked with him I never found a more devoted, hardworking and passionate individual, when it came to servicing his community and his people. He always had a kind word of advice for anyone that was trouble or unclear about something or very emphatic and sure when it came to views social issues politics affecting the larger black community.
Brother Ahmed was born Curtis Eugene Rider on September 20, 1965 as the youngest child of Helen Rider and Curtis Wooden. As a youngster growing up in the streets of Southwest Philadelphia it was often said that Ahmed displayed signs of leadership and genius at a very early age. As a youth Ahmed would become well-known throughout the city as a graffiti legend The Notorious Lord or King Razz of the writing crew L.A.W. 1 a.k.a. Lunatics at Writing #1. His artwork was a major contributing factor the rapid growth of Hip Hop Culture right here in the city of Philadelphia, as his pieces could be seen on walls and subways throughout the city. In 1989 Brother Ahmed would graduate and receive an Associates Degree from Community College of Philadelphia, the same place I would eventually meet him one year later. While attending Community Ahmed was a member of the Black Student Union on the campus which he would become President of and rename the African Student Congress. After I met him in the Fall of 1990 he would serve an advisor and mentor for the organization and a big brother and friend to a young incoming Freshman being introduced to the world of student activism.
Ahmed would go on to further his education at Temple University earning a Bachelors Degree in English and a minor in African-American Studies. Even prior to attending Temple University Ahmed was always interested in the history of his people and had a burning desire from more information about African people that would lead him on a personal crusade in addressing some of the many problems that plagued the community. He would dedicate his life’s work to the liberation and redemption of African people here in the United States and all over the world. Because Ahmed had such a knack for business and entrepreneurship during his adolescences selling candy and cigarettes to individuals whom he attended Job Core with and his unconditional love and unyielding commitment to his people. He along with his wife Sister Nandi Tahir in 1994 would open up their first store together The Pearl Africa/Gates of Zion 732 South Street and then later on in 2000 a second store down the street at 624 South. The Pearl would become a citywide and world renown for selling the best in African Cultural attire for both men and women, artwork, jewelry, Conscious Lecture Tapes and DVD’s and Music CD’s from the best in Roots and Culture and Dancehall Reggae to Hip Hop and Soca. The Pearl of Africa would also become well known as a cultural hub for many local artist, poets and musicians on a weekly basis as they would perform at the vastly popular Zion Train Venue every Saturday Night.
For well over 18 years The Pearl of Africa has played host to many different events from African Fashion Shows to Community Kwanzaa Celebrations from Conscious Movie Night to Community
Fundraisers. Over the years there been thousands of people, celebrities, activist and political figures that have stepped foot inside The Pearl Africa. In the winter of 2003 started his own radio show African Peoples Radio (APR) “The Voices of Revolution” on 900 AM W.U.R.D. which I was proud to co-host with him. The purpose of the program was to create a platform where we the people could the discuss the different issues politically, socially, economically spiritually and physically that effected the everyday Black Community. The show allowed various guest local and national from different backgrounds, organizations and walks of life to come up with viable solutions to a problem that was common to all African people. It was always Brother Ahmed’s vision to unite our people no matter to what land, labor or title we went by. The idea behind African Peoples Radio gave rise to the birth of The Nation of African Peoples Unity (N.A.P.U.) in February of 2004.
The Nation of African Peoples Unity was established as a confederation of various organizations, institutions, services, businesses and selves into one mass organized body to ultimately establish a nation of our own. Because the N.A.P.U. was such a young umbrella organization, Brother Ahmed along with myself and a few other in the core group representing other organizations felt that the N.A.P.U. needed an event that would introduce us to the larger Black Community in Philadelphia and in addition gain there support at the same time. Thus the N.A.P.U. started The African Independence Day/Ma’at Celebration. The celebration would take place annually every first Saturday in the month of August at Malcolm X Park in West Philadelphia. The event would bring together bring together people of African descent and continental Africans in a day of unity, love and celebration.
There is much more that I could tell say about my brother and dear friend “The Man I Knew”…. I felt that even amongst some brothers and sister in the so-called conscious community in Philadelphia that he was truly misunderstood and underappreciated for what he was attempting to do. Mainly out of underlining jealousy and envy that they had for him. Yet Brother Ahmed always believed that anything was possible. He always remained the “Ultimate Optimist” which I use to call him. He never believed in the phrase “We Can’t” but always thought that his people could overcome any obstacle that stood in the way of their freedom. That through love, unity and a tireless commitment to struggle African people could achieve greatness again much that of The Honorable Marcus Moosiah Garvey and Brother Minister Malcolm X believed before him. This would be a life’s philosophy that I would adopt from him and apply it to my own life’s situation. And because of this, it has made me a much better man for it. Brother Ahmed often said “That harvest is great but the laborers were few” but he never stopped working to find a solution for the problems of African people here in America and abroad. Many will ask the question what kind of man was Ahmed Akil Tahir? Some will say that he was some farfetched black radical that was crazy and was no unearthly good. Other will say he was a kind, giving and friendly individual that never stopped fighting for his people. When they ask me about him I’ll turn around and say to them “He was my brother