Pan-Africanism 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.
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.
Key figures in Pan-Africanism
- Kwame Nkrumah was a Pan-African activist who became the first president of Ghana. Brain behind the Organisation of African Unity.
- Edward Wilmot Blyden- Pan-Africanist writer from Liberia
- W. E. B. Du Bois African-American Pan-Africanist writer. Du Bois hosted the highly influential 5th Pan-African Conference in Manchester, UK.
- Marcus Garvey, was a Jamaican 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Pan-African banner 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.
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.
Black Power is a political slogan and a name for various associated ideologies. It is used in the movement among people of Black African descent throughout the world, though primarily by African Americans in the United States. The movement was prominent in the late 1960s and early 1970s, emphasizing racial pride and the creation of black political and cultural institutions to nurture and promote black collective interests and advance black values. "Black Power" expresses a range of political goals, from defense against racial oppression, to the establishment of social institutions and a self-sufficient economy. The earliest known usage of the term is found in a 1954 book by Richard Wright titled Black Power. Although he did not "coin" the phrase, New York politician Adam Clayton Powell Jr. used the term on May 29, 1966 during a baccalaureate address at Howard University: "To demand these God-given rights is to seek black power."
Links and resources
- The Harlem Cultural Political Movements 1960-1970: From Malcolm X to Black Is Beautiful by Klytus Smith, Abiola Sinclair, and Hannibal Ahmed.