EAST ORANGE, NJ - Balozi Harvey who has long been considered one of the more important figures in and around the East Orange area has influence that spans generations, continents and ethnicity.
Balozi” Robert Alexander Harvey was born in East Orange on January 26, 1940. His early years were spent in the City of East Orange Public Schools system. He graduated from East Orange High School; majored in Political Science at Seton Hall University in South Orange and later attended the United Nations Language School where he learned to speak Swahili, Mandarin Chinese, Arabic and Zulu. Harvey joined the Strategic Air Command of the United States Air Force and was honorably discharged in 1961.
Early in his childhood, Balozi was mentored by his father, an activist in the Marcus Garvey movement, about his African legacy and pan-Africanism thoughts. In the last half-century, Balozi has dedicated his life towards building cultural bridges between and among Africans and people of African descent; promoting the economic and political development of African-American communities, and African and Caribbean nations; and forging relationships between and among peoples of all races and nationalities at home and abroad. He has also contributed generously to numerous local, national and international humanitarian causes. Since 1964, Balozi has traveled to nearly 100 countries around the world, including embarking on at least 200 trips to the African continent.
Life and Legacy
In 1964, Harvey became a personal guest of the most esteemed statesman President Julius K. “Mwalimu” Nyerere of the United Republic of Tanzania, a proponent of North-South Dialogue who named him “Balozi” (Swahili word for ambassador and/ or statesman). In 1966, 18 months after his return to the United States, he served as the Job Recruiter for Tanzania, in which capacity he placed many African-Americans in professional and technical positions in Tanzania.
Harvey founded and became Chairman of the Black Community Development Organization, a grass-roots community organization helping to instill Afrocentric values in African American youth in various communities within Essex County, New Jersey.
Balozi functioned as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Representative to the United Nations for the Congress of African People. During this time, he also served as the Impresario for the Ballet Africana (National Dance Troupe of the Republic Guinea).
During 1973 -1977, he served as the Director of Drug & Alcohol Control for the City of East Orange, New Jersey. Thereafter, in 1977-1982, he was employed as a Special Aide in the Office of Hon. Kenneth A. Gibson, Mayor of Newark, New Jersey where he was responsible for protocol and international relations. He was assigned as Mayoral Liaison to the United Nations diplomatic community to help expand trading links between Newark companies and developing nations, as well as the Mayoral Representative to the Newark Export Task Force. In 1978-1979, he was a Mayoral Liaison to the Newark-Rutgers University Small Business Development Center; and, in 1978, Balozi served as the President of the Newark United Nations Association.
In 1982, upon the recommendation of U.S. Congressman Charles B. Rangel (D-New York), Balozi was appointed as Executive Director of the Harlem Third World Trade Institute (HTWTI), an international trade and investment promotion agency of the Harlem Urban Development Corporation (HUDC) in New York City.
In 1988, Balozi was “installed” as King Nana Kablam I of the Village of Azzuretti in the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire. Later that year, Cheikh Moutada M’Backe, spiritual leader of the 7-million worldwide Mourid Islamic Community headquartered in Touba, Senegal appointed Balozi as His North American Representative and Spokesman. Since 1988, he continued to serve as the President of the Mourid Islamic Community in America (MICA).
In 1995, Balozi formed and became Chairman of Balozi & Associates (B & A), an international trade and investment consulting firm focused on exploring business opportunities in emerging African and Caribbean market economies. The firm opened offices in New York City, East Orange, London, Paris and Monrovia (Liberia). One client, ACTEL, is developing an $800 million satellite project in Africa in conjunction with Lockheed Martin. Balozi also served as Director of Global Mining Consultants (England) and Director of Guardian Scientific Africa (USA).
In 1995, Balozi established and became Chairman/CEO of His Majesty Traders, a business entity, and later that year founded and became Chairman of Human Bridges, Inc., a nonprofit charity. Two years later, in 1997, Balozi was appointed as Special Presidential Envoy of the Government of Liberia by H.E. Charles G. Taylor, President of the Republic of Liberia.
In January 2003, Balozi was appointed as Director of the newly-created Office of Cultural Diversity and Affirmative Action (OCDAA) by Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. In this capacity, he served as member of the Essex County Disparity Study Commission and the Essex County Juvenile Justice Disparities Working Group. A year later, in January 2004, Balozi was appointed as Executive Director of the Essex County Economic Development Corporation (EDC) by County Executive DiVincenzo. He is a member of the Essex County Workforce Investment Board (WIB) and serves as the County Executive’s Municipal Liaison to the Township of Irvington, New Jersey.
In May 2006, Balozi was honored as the Grand Marshall of the 40th Annual African-American Heritage New Jersey Statewide Parade. Joining the African-American community were delegations from several African countries, including Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Senegal.
Balozi participated in the American civil rights movement, and is a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Balozi’s activities have been covered in several print and broadcast media outlets at home and abroad, including newspapers such as the New York Times, Newark Star Ledger, New York Daily News, New York Daily Challenge, and Amsterdam News. In addition, coverage was provided by magazines, such as Ebony, Jet, and Black Enterprise, Crisis, Trade Winds, and the Mourid. Television Appearances have included “Like It Is” (ABC) in 1968, “Black Journal” (Fox) in 1977, British Broadcasting Corporation (BCC) in 2001, and the Senegalese National Television (1987- 2002). He appeared on radio talk shows at WLIB, WBGO, WBAI, 1010 Wins, and BBC Radio.