Pan-Afrikanism: Brief Introduction

edited February 2015 in Pan Africanism

Pan-Afrikanism as a concept or ideology, per se, is difficult to date or ascribe to any particular individual. If viewed by way of one of the tenets of the ideology, namely resistance to enslavement, colonisation and domination, then it can be argued that the very first Pan-Afrikanists were those of our Afrikan ancestors who resolutely fought the Arabs as far back as the seventh century.

Also read :
Marcus Garvey Philosophy (God and Nature first made us what we are - Part 1)
Marcus Garvey Philosophy (God and Nature first made us what we are - Part 2)

These ancestors resisted enslavement in what could be referred to as the Arab led Eastern Maafa or Eastern bound Afrikan Holocaust (Maafa is a Kiswahili derived word meaning “terrible occurrence” or “great disaster or tragedy”). Further to resisting the said enslavement they also resisted colonisation and domination by the Arabs, which fight is still being fought by present day Pan-Afrikanists, a good 14 centuries later. By the time the West came to Afrika and introduced the Caucasian led Western Maafa (Western bound Maafa), Pan-Afrikanism, albeit without definition or form, was already active as a force of resistance. Despite being limited in its tenets, it displayed an important feature in its resistance and defiance and the desire to protect the Afrikan way of life. The age old Pan-Afrikan spirit of resistance, initiated by our ancestors then, is what is still firing up present day Pan-Afrikanists globally.

In as much as some Pan-Afrikanist writers, scholars and/or thinkers have engaged in never ending debates as to who the father of Pan-Afrikanism is, these debates are neither here nor there and, in actual fact, should be interpreted for what they are; in the absence of educating, they are simply divisive and therefore militating against what Pan-Afrikanism seeks to establish, for the benefit of the Global Afrikan Family. If the living memory personalities, like the Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey and William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, the writers and scholars identify, as fathers of Pan-Afrikanism, are indeed that, then we have to accept that Pan-Afrikanism has more than one father and that, at the end of the day, the unacknowledged ancestors of old are the grandfathers and grandmothers of Pan-Afrikanism.

Given that the ancestors do not seem to have formalised Pan-Afrikanism as an ideology, to understand it in its modern day, formal sense, we have to pick it from where it began to be used as a tool relevant to the aspirations of the Global Afrikan Family. As the socio-political ideological vehicle that many Afrikans, worldwide, have come to identify with, it owes its consolidation to the Trinidadian barrister Henry Sylvester Williams who organised the first Pan-Afrikan Conference in the United Kingdom in July 1900. Amongst the core objectives of Barrister Williams was to “bring into closer touch with each other the peoples of Afrikan descent throughout the world”. Attracting delegates, participants and observers from Afrika, United Kingdom, United States of America and West Indies, it was a great achievement in bringing people of Afrikan descent together to address issues of common concern.

Pan-Afrikanism thus brought together anti-slavery, anti-colonisation and back-to-Afrika ideological viewpoints to the table, so to say. Since 1900 to date, some of the core tenets of Pan-Afrikanism have been the following:

• Afrikan Unity
• Struggle against racism, slavery and colonialism.
• Right to self-government.
• Political and civil rights.
• One man - one vote.
• Struggle against cultural imperialism and domination.
• Afrika is the Motherland of all people of Afrikan descent.
• All people of Afrikan descent, world over, regardless of physical location, are members of a single global Afrikan Family.
• The entire Afrikan continent must be free of all forms of imperialism and neo-colonialism.
• Propagating the back to Afrika ideology.
• Afrika is the primary source of the Afrikan people’s quest to revive their dignity, culture and therefore identity.
• Combating of foreign exploitation of Afrikan people and Afrikan resources.
• Devotion to the oneness, unity and solidarity of the Global Afrikan Family.
• Political and economic cooperation
• Struggle against Arab domination

Pan-Afrikanism is therefore the most viable avenue by which the Global Afrikan Family may reclaim its culture and heritage and in the process reassert its position of strength and recognition in the World of Nations.

See also:
Sabelo Sibanda “Pan-Afrikanism and Afrikan Nationalism: Putting the Afrikan Nation in context” in Pan–Africanism African Nationalism Strengthening the Unity of Africa and Its Diasporas 3rd Edition, edited by BF Bankie and K Mchombu by Alistair Boddy-Evans Pan

Marcus Garvey Philosophy (God and Nature first made us what we are - Part 1)
Marcus Garvey Philosophy (God and Nature first made us what we are - Part 2)
Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe: Challenge to Pan-Afrikanists
Pan Afrikanism : Brief Introduction
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