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Pan Afrikanism

Pan Afrikanism

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Published by: Mosi Ngozi (fka) james harris on Aug 04, 2011
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12/11/2011

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1
INTRODUCING PAN-AFRICANISM
Marcus Garvey and W.E.B Du Bois
 – 
Founding Fathers of the Pan Africanmovement.
Previously it was argued that Pan-Africanism was not well understood in SouthernAfrica. What was better understood in that region was black consciousness. Whereasblack consciousness is part of Africanism, Pan-Africanism is distinct,from black consciousness, certainly in the Southern African context.Black conciousness seems tohave been a particular Southern African reaction to institutionalized racism underapartheid, and should be understood as race based African nationalism, a reaction to statesponsored racism.In the Southern Africa struggle for emancipation against racism and settler colonialismblack consciousness (or black nationalism) was the alternative philosophy to socialism. InSouth Africa and in Namibia, at least in the first phase of the struggle for self-government, socialism triumphed and black consciousness lost out. This we saw asbetween the African National Congress (ANC) and the Pan African Congress (PAC) inSouth Africa and The South West Africa Peoples Organization (SWAPO) and The SouthWest African Students Union (SWANU) in Namibia. In West Africa, in Ghana forexample, the absence of settlers meant that the need to assert an African consciousnesshad no relevance. African identity was only an issue in so far as the foreign policy wasconcerned. Kwame Nkrumah, the first President of independent Ghana had attended the5
th
Pan-African Congress in Manchester, England in 1945. He was a practicing Pan-Africanist, so that the foreign policy of Ghana in the Nkrumah years was driven by Pan-Africanism.In those years W.E.B.Du Bois lived in Ghana.
 Nkrumah’s choice of continentalism ( ie continental unity ) before unity with Africa’
s Diasporas, has resultedin a re-appraisal in west and southern Africa of his foreign policy legacy (ie Organisationof African Unity/OAU), which is felt to be at odds with the reality in the Afro-ArabBorderlands, stretching from Mauritania on the west coast of Africa, through Mali, Niger,Tchad to Sudan on the Red Sea.In South Africa, what appears to have happened, is that despite the early influence of Garvey and Pan-Africanism in the period around 1920, and the undoubted role Pan -Africanism played in the armed struggle for freedom in Namibia, in South Africa inparticular black consciousness was identified in the public mind as synonymous withPan-Africanism. This situation was further complicated by the decision by the SouthAfrican black consciousness movement, at the behest of Nkrumah, to call itself the Pan -African Congress of Azania (PAC).Over the past decade in South Africa we saw the PAC squander its huge Pan-Africanistpotential capital in its pursuit of a black consciousness agenda (Beko
had said ‘I write as Ilike’), which had nothing to do with Pan
-Africanism, but which the public in SouthAfrica perceived was a Pan-African agenda. If the PAC had been a Pan-Africanorganisation it should have been pre-occupied with developments in Africa and itsDiaspora..
 
2Minority communities in Southern Africa and in Africa in general consider Pan -Africanism inimical to their interests. It is therefore necessary to contextualise Pan -Africanism. For instance the farm murders in South Africa are associated in the publicmind with Pan-Africanism. In truth Pan-Africanism is not anti-white,nor anti-Arab butpro-African.It is not a racist agenda. Pan-Africanism, as Walter Rodney stated, is themovement for the unity of the Africans at home and abroad, within Africa and itsDiaspora. Specifically Pan-Africanism is the movement to unify the African Nation athome (being constituted by Africans South of Sahara) and in the Diasporas, whichincludes both the Western Diaspora in the Americas and Carribean, and the EasternDiaspora in Arabia, north Africa and other parts, where people of African descent findthemselves.Another truth which needs to be stated and which is often lost, is that there is only oneroute to African unity and that is via Pan-Africanism/African nationalism. That mayappear obvious, but the fact is that few of the people who talk about African unity havetaken time to read and study the development of the ideal. The question needs to beasked, why? One would go so far as to call Pan-Africanism/African nationalism apolitical science, or rather a particular area of polical science, or alternatively,international relations. Like any other science it can be studied. One knows of few placesin Africa where specific courses in Pan-Africanism are taught. South Africa has a numberof such African study centres, such as the Africa Institute of South Africa (AISA) and theCentre for African Renaissance Studies at the University of South Africa (UNISA). InSouthern Africa only the Pan-Afrikan Center of Namibia (PACON) has in its objectivesthe dissemination of Pan-Africanism
 – 
which aim has yet to be achieved.As South Africa advances in its active role in African affairs it is obliged to adoptelements of Pan-Africanism, such as its recently found concern for the African Diaspora.In a world increasingly divided into continental unions, the relevance of the Pan-Africanexperience will be an increasing source of inspiration, which cannot be ignored, based asit is on historical fact. We can either build on what we have, or ignore it at our peril.J.N.Karioki of AISA in Pretoria, South Africa, in his chapter contribution to the 2006book publication of Gamsberg Macmillan ( obtainable fromelmarie@bookden.com.na )
of Windhoek, Namibia, entitled ‘ Pan
-Africanism; Strengthening the unity of Africa and
its Diaspora ‘, informs us how the ANC of South Africa adopted Pan
-Africanism. Thistook place in March 2005 at the South African-African Union-Caribbean Diaspora
Conference, held in Kingston, Jamaica in the Caribbean. Karioki’s article is presented
with three subtitles
 – 
Racial Pan-Africanism, Continental Pan-Africanism and GlobalPan-Africanism. He states that this Conference was called by continental Africans- SouthAfricans, who reached out to African Diasporans- Caribbeaners, despite the African
Union’s exclusion of the Diaspora, at the behest of Arabia.
 In the Journal of Southern African Studies, volume 30, number 1 of March 2004, is found
the article ‘Commun
ist and Black Freedom movements in South Africa and the UnitedStates: 1919-
1950’by Edward Johanningsmeier. The paper begins by making the
 
3
connection between the Garveyist movement in the 1920’s and South African activists.
Interestingly it has no difficulty in incorporating both the socialist and capitalist (i.e. leftand right) orientations in one text. Johanningsmeier is clear about the interaction betweenthe African Diaspora and South Africa by way of Garveyism and Pan Africanism and byway of African-American marxists and black South African marxists. The point here isthat Pan-Africanism embraces both the left and right options.
Prof Kwesi Prah in his paper entitled ‘Capacity of the Southern African states in
developing and implementing policies promotive of African unity through Pan-
Africanism’ delivered in Durban in October 2003, tells us about the work of the Pan
-Africanist Henry Sylvester Williams in Cape Town around 1903. P rah refers to figuressuch as Sol Plaatje, Selope Thema and Walter Sis
ulu’s early politicization by way of Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) founded in Jamaicain 1911.’The African World‘ newspaper of the African National Congress (ANC) in 1925 published Garvey’s ‘African Fundamentalism’ in an Af 
rican language.T
he chapter contribution of Tony Emmett entitled ‘Popular Resistance in Namibia 1920
-
1925’, in the book ‘Resistance and ideology in the settler societies’edited by Tom Lodge,
published in the Southern African Studies series in Johannesburg in 1986, is theauthorative source on Garveyism in Namibia. It teaches us that the UNIA Branch inLuderitz was launched in 1921. In that year the branch consisted of 31 members. Namessuch as Frtz Headley and John De Clue come down to us from the research of Emmett.By January 1922 a UNIA branch existed in Windhoek. Emmett explains how the ideascoming from the UNIA brought together the various ethnic groups in the area of SouthWest Africa to oppose German imperialism. Prior to the influence of Garvey, the groupssort individually to confront foreign influence. The birth of Namibian nationalism findsits root in Garveyism.Prah says in his above-
mentioned paper,‘the Ideal of African unity has been a consistent
and ever present feature in African nationalist through since the end of the 19
th
 
century’.In the unipolar world today, moving to a multi
-polar world tomorrow, thepolitics of unity will be the dominant discourse globally. This discourse for us will begrounded in the soil of African nationalism. However whereas the nationalism whichdecolonised east Africa was in pursuit of the recognition of the states created by theBerlin Conference, none of these states proved viable. The future objective therefore isthe unity of the African Nation, a larger objective than the nation state project.The seed of Pan-Africanism originated in Africa. It then crossed the Atlantic to theCaribbean, North and South America, where it germinated in the experience of Africansunder slavery. In the western Diaspora the experience was refined into a modernphilosophical ideal, which came back to Africa by way of a set of ideas circulated atvenues such as the 5
th
Pan-African Congress of 1945,the 6
th
Pan-African Congress held inDar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania in 1974, the 7
th
Pan-African Congress held in Kampala,Ugandaand via the Pan-African Congress series convened by WEB Du Bois. The 8th Pan-African Congress will be convened by Ibbo Mandaza in Zimbabwe.

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