Between June 19 – 27, 1974 more than 500 delegates, guests, observers and media representatives arrived in Tanzania for the 6th Pan-African Congress.
The 6th Congress was the first to follow a long and bloody period of liberation struggles that broke the back of old colonialism. Prior to the 6th, the conditions of the African continent were such that no nation was capable of hosting the Congress.
That changed when President Julius Nyerere – a true Pan-African – opened his nation to the assembly and delivered its opening speech.
The Call to the 6th Pan-African Congress
“We believe that the future of Africans lies in the fullest utilization of our human resources instead of continued dependency on loans and gifts from abroad …if we do not control the means of survival and protection in the context of the 20th century, we will continue to be colonized.” – The Call
The 6th Pan-African Congress followed a series of gatherings that dated back to 1900. To date, there have been 8 official, well organized Congresses.
1st Pan-African Congress: Held on February 1919 in France
2nd Pan-African Congress: Held on August 28, 1921 in England, France, and Belgium
3rd Pan-African Congress: Held on the first week of November 1923 in England
4th Pan-African Congress: Held on August 21, 1927 in the United States
5th Pan-African Congress: Held on October 15, 1945 in England
6th Pan-African Congress: Held on June 19, 1974 in Tanzania
7th Pan-African Congress: Held on April 3, 1994 in Uganda
8th Pan-African Congress: Held on March 4, 2015 in Ghana
These Congresses gave us the opportunity to develop strategies that would help us achieve our ultimate goal: sovereignty.
Unlike gatherings of the past, the 6th Pan-African Congress emphasis on using technology to address the needs of the African Diaspora. In the seven-page call to assembly, a full page is devoted to the formation of a Pan African Center of Science and Technology:
[Pan-African Center of Science and Technology] will be an educational exhibition so designed as to attract and instruct the obsetver to an understanding of both the geopolitics of Africa and of the geopolitical and economic position of Africans in the Americas and the Caribbean. This will be done graphically and simply with large maps, books, articles, charts, and a tour-guide adept at exploring the exhibition.
Secondly, the Center will be a locus for organizing scientific and technological expertise to assist, advise and develop various projects touching on the human and technical development of African societies.
The Center will be financed and operated by Africans from all over the world. Its staffing and its teams of experts will be Africans contracted from wherever we are for specific periods of time, to carry out specific tasks, solve particular problems or conduct research in areas of science and technology.
One of the Center’s priorities will be the making available of human, technical and scientific resources to develop a viable and self-supporting agricultural system in Africa. That is to say, Africa must feed itself. And to be relevant, agriculture has to consider every other human endeavor; economics, nutrition, medicine, transportation, communication, education, etc. Embodied in this goal is Pan Africanism.
The Center must not be viewed as a fixed structure but rather as a living concept among all African people. It is to be so designed as to be relevant to utilizing Black resources for the development of Africa for Africans at home and abroad. It is a move towards self reliance in the Pan African perspective.
The 9 Point Resolution of the 6th Pan-African Congress
1. To put an end to foreign domination in Africa by destroying the bases of the last colonial and racist regimes; because for as long as part of the African continent continues to suffer under the yoke of foreign domination, irresponsibility and indignity, the personality and moral integrity of every man, whether or not of African descent, will be jeopardized.
2. To get rid of neo-colonialism since it hinders the overthrow of the last colonial
regimes as well as the achievement of African unity, and in as much as it represents a concrete instrument of imperialist oppression of our peoples.
3. To liquidate foreign military bases in African States as a contribution to the achievement of the political independence and the total liberation of Africa.
4. To consolidate the unity between the peoples of Africa and of African descent and all peoples.
5. To appeal to all the progressive forces in Africa and in the world to give political and material aid to the liberation movements in Africa and outside Africa.
6. The strategy of Revolutionary Pan Africanism is basically defined in terms of the anti-imperialist, anti-colonialist, anti-neo-colonialists, anti-capitalist and anti-racist struggle that it considers to be a means of promoting equality, democracy and developing a new society:
a) The people must form the basis of this generalized struggle and the aspirations of the masses and the working classes must constitute the moving force behind it.
b) It must be defined in terms of the class struggle at the national and international level, as the rational basis for explaining and finding solutions to social injustices, exploitation, oppression and racism.
7. Based on the common objectives of the anti-imperialist struggle, Revolutionary Pan Africanism takes into account the organizational and tactical peculiarities of its various component forces throughout the world, provided the tactics and organization are subordinate to the ultimate aim, namely the destruction of capitalism and its by-products.
8. In 1974 Pan Africanism aims at the complete restoration by the African peoples of their dignity and responsibility, the radical transformation of the whole society, the whole of mankind and the complete development of man as well as the building of socialist societies.
9. Pan Africanism therefore excludes all racial, tribal, ethnic, religious or national chauvinism; it embraces the cause of all oppressed peoples of the world and is opposed to all reactionary forces throughout the world.
A Status Report on the 9 Point Resolution
It has been more than 40 years since the 9 Point Resolution of the 6th Pan-African Congress was published. If our aims are to be achieved over the long term, it is important for us to return to those resolutions and review our progress thus far.
To this effect, we have listed the fundamental tenets of each of the 9 Resolutions along with a largely subjective evaluation based on three criteria:
Failed: No action was taken or conditions have worsened since the Pan-African Congress
Incomplete: Action has been taken but resolution remains incomplete
Achieved: Adverse conditions have been successfully eliminated
Destroying the bases of the last colonial and racist regimes
If we use the term ‘bases’ to describe the economic, political, and academic institutions of racist regimes, then it is difficult to say whether this objective has been achieved.
The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are well known vehicles for economic enslavement on a national level.
Take Ghana, for instance. Despite being blessed with an abundance of natural resources and large rice farming communities, the nation is forced to import most of its rice from abroad at huge prices each year. Why? The World Bank refused to lend to the nation unless the Ghanaian government cut farming subsidies given to poor rice farmers. This forced Ghana to import rice from the United States.
As a result, Ghana remains both in debt and dependent on the United States and World Bank.
This pattern of economic exploitation is repeated across Africa. Today 18 countries have government debt above 50 per cent of GDP.
Former French colonies are as enslaved to France as Ghana is to the United States. All 14 of Ghana’s French-speaking neighbors still pay a “colonial tax” to France in the form of force deposits. Specifically, former French colonies must deposit 50% of foreign exchange reserves at the Bank of France.
Those nations can only access 15% of the money in any given year. If they need more than that, it will have to borrow their own money from France for a fee. And even then, the nations are capped at 20% of their public revenue from the previous year.
It is important to note that the President of the World Bank has always been – until recently – a U.S. citizen nominated by the President of the United States, the largest shareholder in the bank.
Neo-colonialism is defined as the use of economic, political, cultural, or other pressures to control or influence other countries, especially former dependencies.
Based on the evidence presented above, it is evident that neo-colonialism has not been abolished, but has remained almost perfectly in tact.
Even worse, China has picked up where the West has left off.
China is now the leading exporter of world merchandise, the worlds largest energy consumer, and arguably the world’s largest economy.
China’s success is in no small part thanks to its neo-colonial approach to Africa’s resources. Here is how:
China takes raw materials out of Africa, turns them into finished goods in China, and brings those finished goods back to Africa to sell to the masses. This is the same recipe for disaster that Europeans used to under-develop Africa.
When a company pays African workers pennies to dig raw material out of the ground, then charges those same hands dollars to buy goods made from that raw material, this is a form of fraud – a deception deliberately practiced in order to secure unfair or unlawful financial gain.
Liquidating foreign military bases in African States
The United States and other white powers use good facades to mask their despicable motives. These powers must pretend to support a noble, humane cause or serve a purpose to benefit the people, but behind the facade, white powers (including the United States) prove to be as demonic as ever before. One of these facades is AFRICOM.
AFRICOM, or The United States Africa Command, is responsible for U.S. military operations and military relations with all 54 African nations. After becoming operational in 28 September, 2007, AFRICOM became a tactically organized arm of American colonialism. Ironically, AFRICOMs first commander was a Black man (General William E. Ward.)
Because the African Union and the Pan-African community failed to prevent the rise of Africom, this objective has been a complete failure. There are now more foreign military bases on the African continent than ever before.
Consolidating the unity between the peoples of Africa and of African descent
The African Union – the successor organization to the Organization of African Unity was formed in 2001. Since then, the AU formed the Diaspora Division is under the Directorate office of the Department. According to their website;
…the African Union defines the African Diaspora as “Consisting of people of African origin living outside the continent, irrespective of their citizenship and nationality and who are willing to contribute to the development of the continent and the building of the African Union.” Its constitutive act declares that it shall “invite and encourage the full participation of the African Diaspora as an important part of our continent, in the building of the African Union.”
Thus the Diaspora Division serves as the focal point and hub for implementing the African Union decision to invite and encourage the African Diaspora to participate in the building and development of the African continent. Its main task therefore, is to serve as a catalyst for rebuilding the global African family in the service of the development and integration agenda of the continent.
While the establishment of the African Union was a major victory, tribal, national, and ethnic divisions run deep across the African diaspora.
Aiding liberation movements
Following the 1974 Pan-African Congress, the final remaining African colonies were liberated. 7 nations fought bloody political and conventional wars to free themselves aided by members of the diaspora.
For instance, during the bloody war for liberation in Angola, Cuba would end 25,000 troops to Angola to support the the National Liberation Front of Angola against the Portuguese. These troops were instrumental in the liberation of Angola.
Developing anti-imperialist strategies
It can be difficult to quantify if this objective has been met, and that in and of itself is a problem. When a strategy is developed, where is it written so that other extra-Congressional organizations can follow through on it? What framework for strategic implementation exists? How do we know if a strategy is effective?
When future assemblies set vague objectives, they fail to give the Diaspora the clarity it needs to move forward.
What is needed is more than a loose coalition of individuals who come together to discuss hypothetical strategies. What is needed is a permanent body with leverage and mass support that is able to both develop strategies, issue orders, and supervise their followthrough.
If the sole objective of discussing potential anti-imperialist strategies was the aim of the Congress, then it was successful.
But where are the strategies that were developed? Wo is responsible for their implementation? What nations or organizations have agreed to implement the developed strategies?
Ending Foreign Domination
Africa is ruled by ‘market dominant minorities’, ethnic minorities who dominate economically, often significantly, over all other ethnic groups on the Continent.
One such market dominant minority is the Lebanese community of West Africa.
From The Economist:
Ezzad Eid, a businessman and community leader in Liberia… claims that 60% of Liberia’s economy is in Lebanese hands.
Those in business say several factors have helped them to succeed. Most crucial are trade networks among the Lebanese diaspora and beyond, says Abdallah Shehny whose office-equipment business spans Sierra Leone, Liberia and Dubai. Contacts in countries Brazil to China—little trade is done with other African countries due to costs of overcoming poor infrastructure—are important for trade. But they also act as substitutes for the lack of local services such as access to finance. Family workers bring down costs.
Lebanese-descended Ivorians comprise less than 0.5% of the total population, while recent estimates suggest that they control between 35% and 50% of the commercial economy, and own an estimated 99% of major stores. They also contribute some 15% of total government tax revenues, which would indicate that they earn, on average, well above 30 times as much as the average Ivorian.
Most governments have turned a blind eye to these market dominated minorities since they benefit from tax revenues and bribes. But what do these leaders benefit from a few million when their nations lose billions?
Destroying Capitalism and Building Socialist societies
Today, there are 6 out of 53 African nations with governing Socialist Parties. Of those 6, only Tanzania overtly declares itself Socialist in Section 1, Article 3 of their Constitution which states:
“The United Republic is a democratic, secular and socialist state which adheres to multi-party democracy”
Meanwhile, African nations that are chasing the capitalist dream have led to the rise of the aforementioned World Bank/IMF, market dominant minority, and imperialist conquest of Africa.
Chauvinism – the tendency to align and leverage a gender, tribal group, or class to dominate other groups is far from gone.
In todays age of identity politics and intersectionality, the movement has been fractured and distracted from its ultimate objective.
The 1994 Rwandan genocide was a chauvinist orgy of violence motivated by tribalism and instigated by the system of white supremacy. The same chauvinist tendencies are prevalent across the Diaspora, including these most recent events transpiring in Nigeria:
Herdsmen militancy has been ongoing in Nigeria for a long time but in recent years the incidents have become a lot more organized, sophisticated and complicated. With security compromised due to the Boko Haram insurgency, attacks have increased. From 2010 to 2013 Fulani militants killed around 80 people in total. In 2014 alone they killed 1229. – Source
The Pan-African community has been woefully inadequate in voicing its positon on the issues of gender and tribal chauvinism.
It will take far more activism to ensure this objective is met, or that appreciable progress is made towards its resolution.
What Did The Pan-African Congress Accomplish?
With 7 out of 9 of the objectives either incomplete or marked failures, one would be forgiven for asking what the Pan-African Congress has accomplished.
One notable achievement was bringing the women of Pan-Africanism to the forefront. Ashley Farmer wrote:
Women’s organizing of and participation in 6PAC also challenged conventional ideas about gender and Pan-African liberation… Women like Sylvia Hill, Judy Claude, Kathy Flewellen, among others were responsible for the immense amount of planning that afforded over 200 men and women from North America the opportunity to attend the Congress. Hill, then a professor at Macalester College, became the secretary-general for the North American region. Along with Claude and Flewellen, she was in charge of the series of planning meetings to select delegates and develop the North American Delegation’s congress agenda.
Thanks to the efforts of these women, thousands of participants convened at the University of Dar es Salaam from June 19–27 to chart a new course for Pan-Africanism. Not only was the meeting the most diverse in the history of the congresses, it also included more women delegates. 6PAC brought together elder women activists like Queen Mother Audley Moore and Mae Mallory with younger organizers like Florence Tate and Brenda Paris. And, as Augusto noted in pre-congress interviews, the “position of sisters throughout the African world [was] sure to be discussed” at 6PAC.
The 6th Pan-African Congress And The Future of Black History
As Pan-Africans, the responsibility to ensure that the objectives of the 6th Pan-African Congress are achieved rests on our shoulders.
While organizations such as the African Union pursues broad legislative measures to advance these aims, we as individuals must work to create grassroots progress through community organization.
We must also remain vigilant and aware of the threats of neocolonialism.
The nations of the world have harvested trillions of dollars from our homeland and have used that capital to become world superpowers.
If Africa resists and instead uses her resources for her own development, she will come to realize superpower status herself.
… . the co-ordination of the struggle for freedom; the control of African resources; racial discrimination, apartheid and segregation; peace . . . These are the issues facing the peoples of Africa and they should be the issues on which our united voice should be heard at the Pan-African Congress. Africa Must Be Free! Africa! Mayibuye!