Pan-Africanism (Literally All Africa) is a movement that seeks to unify African people or people living in Africa, into a "one African community". Differing types of Pan-Africanism seek different levels of economic, racial, social, or political unity. The largest governmental body striving for governmental unity is the African Union.
In the United States, the term is closely associated with Afrocentrism, an ideology of African American identity politics that emerged during the civil rights movement of the 1960s to 1970s. "Pan-African" unity is especially important in African American identity politics, because the African ancestry of Afro-American community cannot be derived from any identifiable African people. Therefore it has become necessary to minimize the differences between the various peoples of Africa in favour of a generalized "African" heritage. As a philosophy, Pan-Africanism represents the aggregation of the historical, cultural, spiritual, artistic, scientific and philosophical legacies of Africans from past times to the present. Pan-Africanism as an ethical system traces its origins from ancient times, and promotes values that are the product of the African civilization and the struggles against slavery, racism, colonialism, and neo-colonialism.
Pan-Africanism is usually seen as a product of the European slave trade. Enslaved Africans of diverse origins and their descendants found themselves embedded in a system of exploitation where their African origin became a sign of their servile status. Pan-Africanism set aside cultural differences, asserting the principality of these shared experiences to foster solidarity and resistance to exploitation.
Alongside a large number of slave insurrections, by the end of the eighteenth century a political movement developed across the Americas, Europe and Africa which sought to weld these disparate movements into a network of solidarity putting an end to this oppression. In London, the Sons of Africa was a political group addressed by Quobna Ottobah Cugoano in the 1791 edition of his book Thoughts and sentiments on the evil of slavery. The group addressed meetings and organised letter-writing campaigns, published campaigning material and visited parliament. They wrote to figures such as Granville Sharp, William Pitt and other members of the white abolition movement, as well as King George III and the Prince of Wales, the future George IV.
Modern Pan-Africanism began around the beginning of the twentieth century. The African Association, later renamed the Pan-African Association, was organized by Henry Sylvester-Williams around 1887, and their first conference was held in 1900.
Billboard in Zambia with Nkrumah's non-alignment quote: "We face neither East nor West; We face forward" (Taken in May 2005)
As originally conceived by Henry Sylvester-Williams (note: some history books credit this idea to Edward Wilmot Blyden) pan-Africanism referred to the unity of all continental Africa. The concept soon expanded, however, to include the African diaspora.
During apartheid South Africa there was a Pan Africanist Congress that dealt with the oppression of South Africans under European apartheid rule. Other pan-Africanist organizations include Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association-African Communities League, TransAfrica and the International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement.
The goals of Pan-Africanism are diverse. Some may view pan-Africanism as an endeavour to provide revisionist histories of Africa that include and focus on the perspectives of Africans, rather than only Europeans or colonialists. Others may view Pan-Africanism as an endeavour to return to "traditional" African concepts about culture, society, and values. Examples of this include Léopold Sédar Senghor's Négritude movement, and Mobutu Sese Seko's view of Authenticité.
An important theme running through much pan-Africanist literature concerns the historical links between different countries on the continent, and the benefits of cooperation as a way of resisting imperialism and colonialism.
In the 21st century, this theme has developed in response to globalisation and the problems of environmental justice. For instance, at the conference "Pan-Africanism for a New Generation" held at the University of Oxford, June 2011, Ledum Mittee, the current president of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) argues that environmental justice movements across the African continent should create horizontal linkages in order to better protect the interests of threatened peoples and the ecological systems in which they are embedded, and upon which their survival depends.
An important aspect is the argument that Egypt is an African country, and shares important historical and cultural continuities with other countries in the Nile valley. This is sometimes characterised by the term Nile Valley Civilizations or African civilizations that group Egypt with other civilisations of other parts of the continent.
Some universities have gone as far as creating "Departments of Pan-African Studies" in the late 1960s. This includes the California State University, where that department was founded in 1969 as a direct reaction to the civil rights movement, and is today dedicated to "teaching students about the African World Experience", to "demonstrate to the campus and the community the richness, vibrance, diversity, and vitality of African, African American, and Caribbean cultures" and to "presenting students and the community with an Afrocentric analysis" of anti-black racism. Syracuse University also offers a masters degree in "Pan African Studies".
Key figures in Pan-Africanism
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Edward Wilmot Blyden has been called the Father of Pan-Africanism.
W. E. B. Du Bois has also been called the Father of Pan-Africanism. Du Bois hosted the highly influential 5th Pan-African Conference in Manchester, UK.
Marcus Garvey, was a Caribbean-born Pan-Africanist, stern advocate for the Back-to-Africa movement, and has also been labeled as a Father of Pan-Africanism. Garvey led the largest organization with Pan-African goals in history.
Paul Robeson, the singer, actor and political radical, co-founded the Council on African Affairs(1937–1950) which became a leading voice of anti-colonialism and Pan-Africanism in the U.S. and internationally. Robeson said as early as the 1930s that he wanted "to be African", studied African language and culture and urged Americans to fight African imperialism. Robeson was close friends with Jomo Kenyatta, Kwame Nkrumah and W. E. B. Du Bois. Despite stereotypes endemic to the times, Robeson's films such as Song of Freedom and Jericho/Dark Sands were the first to show African's in a positive light. Robeson also wrote and spoke out against Apartheid, the need for African Independence and narrated an early film about the regime, My Song Goes Forth (also known as Africa Sings, Africa Looks Up, U.K., 1937).
Jomo Kenyatta was a Pan-African activist who became the first president of Kenya.
Bob Marley was a Jamaican born musician whose music reflected Pan Africanist thought, music and philosophy.
Julius Kambarage Nyerere: Key figure for Pan Africanism and SADC.
Ahmed Sékou Touré was a Pan-African activist, who became the first President of Guinea, West Africa, the first French sub-Saharan African colony to gain independence from France on October 2, 1958 following its rejection of the famous 1958 Referendum that was proposed by President Charles De Gaulle of France. President Toure, along with President William Tubman of neighboring Liberia and President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, was the vanguard behind the creation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), which has been transformed into the African Union (AU), at a Special Head of States Meeting held in the northern Liberian city of Sanniquelle, Nimba County, which is often referred to as the "birth place" of the OAU (now the AU).
Fela Anikulapo Kuti: The founder of Afrobeat music, and political/human rights activist. Promoted pan-africanism through his music.
Gamal Abd El Nasser was a Pan-African activist and the president of Egypt. Alongside Nkrumah, he endorsed the African countries who were fighting for independence and placed Egyptian culture and civilisation within an African framework.
Kwame Nkrumah was a Pan-African activist who became the first president of Ghana.
Haile Selassie, emperor of Ethiopia, was a key figure in Pan-Africanism due to his call for greater unity among African Nations.
Molefi Kete Asante strongly influenced by Kaiwada philosophy wrote his treatise on Afrocentricity. This greatly influenced Pan-Africanists in the late seventies and eighties. Another contemporary Afrocentric movement leader was Prof. Chinweizu Ibekwe (known simply as Chinweizu), a scholarly Nigerian anthropologist and a beacon of Africanism.
Muammar al-Gaddafi, known as Colonel Gaddafi, was an active organizer of African unity and the proposed formation, based on Gamal Abd El Nasser and Kwame Nkrumah's dream, of a United States of Africa Report.
Robert Gabriel Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe who has ruled for more than 28 years.
Malcolm X planned to link the Organization of Afro-American Unity through Pan-Africanism to internationalize the human struggle of African people.
Robert Sobukwe was a South African political dissident, who founded the Pan Africanist Congress in opposition to the apartheid.
Main article: Pan-African colours
The Pan-African flag was designed by Marcus Garvey and is known as "The Red, Black, and Green". This flag symbolizes the struggle for the unification and liberation of African people. The "red" stands for the blood that unites all people of African ancestry, "black" represents the color of the skin of the people of Africa, and "green" stands for the rich land of Africa.
Traditional flag of Ethiopia
Sometimes the green, gold, and red of the Ethiopian flag are used as the colors of the Pan-African movement. According to some sources, this is because Ethiopia resisted European colonization attempts except for a brief period of occupation by Italy under the Fascists. Ethiopia is the headquarters of the African Union and several institutions concentrated on the African continent. Sebujja Katende, ambassador of Uganda to the AU said Ethiopia is considered as "the grand father of Africa."
The four Pan-African colors—red, black, green, and gold—have inspired many nations flags, outside of Africa as well as within it.
Maafa is an aspect of Pan-African studies. The term collectively refers to 500 years of suffering (including the present) of people of African heritage through slavery, imperialism, colonialism, and other forms of oppression. In this area of study, both the actual history and the legacy of that history are studied as a single discourse. The emphasis in the historical narrative is on African agents, as opposed to non-African agents.
Political parties and organizations
African Unification Front
All-African Peoples Revolutionary Party (Ghana)
Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (South Africa)
Ubuntu Republics of Africa
The Commission for Pan-African Affairs, a unit within the Office of the Prime Minister of Barbados
The Council on African Affairs Founded in 1937, by Max Yergan and Paul Robeson the (CAA), was the first major U.S. organization whose focus was on providing pertinent and up-to-date information about Pan-Africanism across the U.S., particularly to African Americans. Probably the most successful campaign of the Council was for South African famine relief in 1946. The CAA was hopeful that following World War II, there would be a move towards Third World independence under the trusteeship of the United Nations. To the CAA's dismay, the proposals introduced by the U.S. government to the conference in April/May 1945 set no clear limits on the duration of colonialism and no motions towards allowing territorial possessions to move towards self government. Liberal supporters abandoned the CAA, and the federal government cracked down on its operations. In 1953 the CAA was charged with subversion under the McCarran Act. Its principal leaders, including Robeson, Du Bois, and Hunton, were subjected to harassment, indictments, and in the case of Hunton, imprisonment. Under the weight of internal disputes, government repression, and financial hardships, the Council on African Affairs disbanded in 1955.
The Us organization was founded in 1965 by Dr Maulana Karenga, following the Watts riots. It is based on the synthetic African philosophy of kawaida and the Nguzo Saba. In the words of its founder and chair, Dr. Karanga, the essential task of our organization Us has been and remains to provide a philosophy, a set of principles and a program which inspires a personal and social practice that not only satisfies human need but transforms people in the process, making them self-conscious agents of their own life and liberation. Us is perhaps most well-known for creating Kwaanza and the Nguzo Saba, or Seven Principles.
Pan-African concepts and philosophies
Afrocentric Pan-Africanism, as espoused by Kwabena Faheem Ashanti, in his book The Psychotechnology of Brainwashing: Crucifying Willie Lynch. Another newer movement that has evolved from the early Afrocentric school is the Afrisecal movement or Afrisecaism of Francis Ohanyido a Nigerian Philosopher- Poet. Black Nationalism is sometimes associated with this form of pan-Africanism; the figure of Afrocentric Pan-Africanism in the Spanish-speaking world is Professor Antumi Toasijé.
Main article: African philosophy#Kawaida
During the past three decades hip hop has emerged as a powerful force shaping black and African identities worldwide. In his article “Hip-hop Turns 30: Whatcha Celebratin’ For?,” Greg Tate describes hip hop culture as the product of a Pan-African state of mind. It is an “ethnic enclave/ empowerment zone that has served as a foothold for the poorest among us to get a grip on the land of the prosperous,”. Hip-hop unifies those of African descent globally in its movement towards greater economic, social and political power. Andreana Clay in her article “Keepin’ it Real: Black Youth, Hip-Hop Culture, and Black Identity” states that hip hop provides the world with “vivid illustrations of Black lived experience” creating bonds of black identity across the globe. Hip hop authenticates a black identity, and in doing so, creates a unifying uplifting force among Africans as Pan-Africanism sets out to achieve.