Pan-Africanism

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Pan-Africanism is an ideology and movement that encourages the solidarity of Africans worldwide.[1] It is based on the belief that unity is vital to economic, social, and political progress and aims to "unify and uplift" people of African descent.[2] The ideology asserts that the fate of all African peoples and countries are intertwined. At its core Pan-Africanism is "a belief that African peoples, both on the continent and in the Diaspora, share not merely a common history, but a common destiny".[3]

The Organization of African Unity (now the African Union) was established in 1963 to safeguard the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its Member States and to promote global relations within the framework of the United Nations.[4] The African Union Commission has its seat in Addis Ababa and the Pan-African Parliament has its seat in Johannesburg and Midrand.

Overview[edit]

Kwame Nkrumah, an icon of Pan-Africanism

Pan-Africanism stresses the need for "collective self-reliance".[5] Pan-Africanism exists as a governmental and grassroots objective. Pan-African advocates include leaders such as Haile Selassie, Ahmed Sekou Toure, Kwame Nkrumah and Muammar Gaddafi, grassroots organizers such as Marcus Garvey and Malcolm X, academics such as W. E. B. Du Bois, and others in the diaspora.[6][7] Solidarity will enable self-reliance, allowing the continent's potential to independently provide for its people to be fulfilled. Crucially, an all-African alliance would empower African people globally.

The realization of the Pan-African objective would lead to "power consolidation in Africa", which "would compel a reallocation of global resources, as well as unleashing a fiercer psychological energy and political assertion...that would unsettle social and political (power) structures...in the Americas".[8] United, African nations will have the economic, political and social clout to act and compete on the world stage as do other large entities, such as the European Union and the United States.

Advocates of Pan-Africanism – i.e. "Pan-Africans" or "Pan-Africanists" - often champion socialist principles and tend to be opposed to external political and economic involvement on the continent. Critics accuse the ideology of homogenizing the experience of people of African descent. They also point to the difficulties of reconciling current divisions within countries on the continent and within communities in the diaspora.[8]

Origins[edit]

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.[6]

Alongside a large number of slave insurrections, by the end of the 18th century a political movement developed across the Americas, Europe and Africa that 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 start of the twentieth century. The African Association, later renamed the Pan-African Association, was established around 1897 by Henry Sylvester-Williams, who organized the First Pan-African Conference in London in 1900.[9]

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.[10]

Concept[edit]

A mural in western Tanzania.

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.[11]

During apartheid South Africa there was a Pan Africanist Congress that dealt with the oppression of Africans in South Africa under 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.

Additionally, Pan-Africanism is seen as an endeavour to return to what are deemed by its proponents singular, 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, some Pan-Africans aim to address globalisation and the problems of environmental justice. For instance, at the conference "Pan-Africanism for a New Generation"[12] 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.

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.[1] Syracuse University also offers a masters degree in "Pan African Studies".[13]

Pan-African banner[edit]

The red, black, and green Pan-African flag designed by the UNIA in 1920.

The Pan-African flag, also known as the UNIA flag, is a tri-color flag consisting of three equal horizontal bands of (from top down) red, black and green. The UNIA formally adopted it on August 13, 1920,[14] during its month-long convention at Madison Square Garden in New York City.[15][16]

Variations of the flag have been used in various countries and territories in Africa and the Americas to represent Pan-Africanist ideologies.[citation needed] Among these are the flags of Malawi, Kenya and Saint Kitts and Nevis. Several Pan-African organizations and movements have also often employed the emblematic red, black and green tri-color scheme in variety of contexts.

Additionally, a number of nations in Africa (such as Mali) and Pan-African groups use green, yellow and red in their flags. This color combination was originally adopted from the 1897 flag of Ethiopia, and was inspired by the fact that Ethiopia is the continent's oldest independent nation.[17]

Maafa studies[edit]

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.[18][19] 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.[20]

Political parties and organizations[edit]

Muammar Gaddafi at the first Africa-Latin America summit in 2006 in Abuja, Nigeria.

In Africa[edit]

In Barbados[edit]

  • The Pan-African Affairs Commission for Pan-African Affairs,[21] a unit within the Office of the Prime Minister of Barbados

In the UK[edit]

In the United States[edit]

  • The Council on African Affairs (CAA): 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 United States, 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.[22] 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.[22] 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, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Alphaeus Hunton (1903–70), 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.[23]
  • The Us organization was founded in 1965 by Maulana Karenga, following the Watts riots. It is based on the synthetic African philosophy of kawaida, and is perhaps best known for creating Kwaanza and the Nguzo Saba ("seven principles"). In the words of its founder and chair, Karenga, "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".[24]

Pan-African concepts and philosophies[edit]

Afrocentric Pan-Africanism[edit]

Afrocentric Pan-Africanism is 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.[25] Black Nationalism is sometimes associated with this form of pan-Africanism; a representative of Afrocentric Pan-Africanism in the Spanish-speaking world is Antumi Toasijé.

Kawaida[edit]

Hip Hop[edit]

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.[26] 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".[26] Hip-hop unifies those of African descent globally in its movement towards greater economic, social and political power. In Andreana Clay's article "Keepin' it Real: Black Youth, Hip-Hop Culture, and Black Identity", she states that hip-hop provides the world with "vivid illustrations of Black lived experience", creating bonds of black identity across the globe.[27] Hip hop authenticates a black identity, and in doing so, creates a unifying uplifting force among Africans as Pan-Africanism sets out to achieve.

Pan-African art[edit]

See also[edit]

Literature[edit]

  • Imanuel Geiss: Panafrikanismus. Zur Geschichte der Dekolonisation. Habilitation, EVA, Frankfurt am Main, 1968, English as: The Pan-African Movement, London: Methuen, 1974, ISBN 0-416-16710-1 and as: The Pan-African Movement. A history of Pan-Africanism in America, Europe and Africa, New York: Africana Publ., 1974, ISBN 0-8419-0161-9.
  • Colin Legum, Pan-Africanism: A Short Political Guide, revised edition, New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1965.
  • Tony Martin, Pan-African Connection: From Slavery to Garvey and Beyond, Dover: The Majority Press, 1985.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Dictionary.com = a basic definition of Pan-Africanism. Accessed 13 September 2012.
  2. ^ Frick, Janari, et al. (2006), History: Learner's Book, p. 235, South Africa: New Africa Books.
  3. ^ Makalani, Minkah (2011), "Pan-Africanism". Africana Age.
  4. ^ About the African Union.
  5. ^ "The objectives of the PAP", The Pan-African Parliament - 2014 and beyond.
  6. ^ a b Hakim Adi, Pan-Africanism and the Politics of Liberation, African Holocaust.
  7. ^ Maguire, K., "Ghana re-evaluates Nkrumah", GlobalPost, 21 October 2009. Accessed 13 September 2012.
  8. ^ a b Agyeman, O. (1998), Pan-Africanism and Its Detractors: A Response to Harvard's Race Effacing Universalists.
  9. ^ The History of Pan Africanism, PADEAP (Pan African Development Education and Advocacy Programme).
  10. ^ See e.g. Ronald W. Walters, Pan Africanism in the African Diaspora: An Analysis of Modern Afrocentric Political Movements, African American Life Series, Wayne State University Press, 1997.
  11. ^ Crystal Z. Campbell (December 2006). "Sculpting a Pan-African Culture in the Art of Négritude: A Model for African Artist". The Journal of Pan African Studies 1 (6). 
  12. ^ Oxford University African Society Conference, Corpus Christi College, Oxford University, 5 May 2012.
  13. ^ The M.A. in Pan African Studies, African American Studies at Syracuse University.
  14. ^ Wikisource contributors, "The Declaration of the Rights of the Negro Peoples of the World", Wikisource, The Free Library (accessed October 6, 2007).
  15. ^ 25,000 NEGROES CONVENE: International Gathering Will Prepare Own Bill of Rights. 1920. The New York Times (1857-Current file), August 2 Proquest (last accessed October 5, 2007).
  16. ^ Special to The Christian Science Monitor from its Eastern News Office 1920. NEGROES ADOPT BILL OF RIGHTS: Convention Approves Plan for African Republic and Sets to Work on Preparation of Constitution of the Colored Race Negro Complaints Aggression Condemned Recognition Demanded. Christian Science Monitor (1908-Current file), August 17, Proquest (accessed October 5, 2007).
  17. ^ Smith, Whitney (2001). Flag Lore of All Nations. Millbrook Press. p. 36. ISBN 0761317538. Retrieved 7 October 2014. 
  18. ^ "What Holocaust". "Glenn Reitz". 
  19. ^ "The Maafa, African Holocaust". Swagga. 
  20. ^ "Removal of Agency from Africa". "Owen 'Alik Shahadah". Retrieved 2005. 
  21. ^ Commission for Pan-African Affairs Pan-African Barbados.
  22. ^ a b Duberman, Martin. Paul Robeson, 1989, pp. 296-97.
  23. ^ "Council on African Affairs", African Activist Archive.
  24. ^ "Philosophy, Principles, and Program". The Organization Us. 
  25. ^ "African Resource" "Francis Ohanyido Bio". 
  26. ^ a b Tate, Greg, "Hip-hop Turns 30: Whatcha Celebratin' For?", Village Voice, 4 January 2005.
  27. ^ Clay, Andreana. "Keepin' it Real: Black Youth, Hip-Hop Culture, and Black Identity". In American Behavioral Scientist, Vol. 46.10 (2003): 1346-1358.

External links[edit]