What Is Pan-Africanism?

The definition of Pan-Africanism is a belief in the laws and representation that serve Africans at home and across the Diaspora. And by that definition, Pan-Africanism is a political philosophy above all else.

Where host nations are concerned, Pan-Africans remain politically agnostic – meaning we do not serve any one political party. In short, the Pan-African philosophy is one designed exclusively for the interests of the 1.2 billion Black people of the planet.

The Birth Of The Pan African Movement

“Pan Africanism can be said to have its origins in the struggles of the African people against enslavement and colonisation” Dr Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem

When Pan-Africanism came into being is subject to debate. In some schools of thought, our struggle began on 21 August 1415 – the first battle at the Port of Ceuta that would begin our period of great suffering. Others assert that modern Pan-Africanism was born on July 23 1900, when Henry Sylvester Williams assembled the First Pan African Conference in London.

But if ever there was an event that led to the birth of the movement, it was the partition of Africa in 1884. In that year, white nations gathered in Berlin to carve Africa into territories to divide amongst themselves.

During that meeting, no African or representative was present. Once the agreement was finalized, new borders were drawn, new languages were forced on colonial subjects, and Black men fought against each other carrying the British flag on one side and the French flag on the other.

In response to this, warriors and scholars from across the African Diaspora assembled to develop counter imperialist strategies. These assemblies became known as the Pan-African Congresses.

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

The Founders Of Pan Africanism

There is no one person who can be called the Founder of Pan-Africanism. The movement owes its identity to the thought leadership of dozens of women and men.

There are, however, several notable figures who have shaped what we know and believe about the movement and what it means to be Pan-African. Some of those figures include the following.

Paul Cuffe – One of the Early Founders of Panafricanism
  • Led First Back To Africa Expedition
  • Born: January 17, 1759 Transitioned: September 7, 1817
Edward Wilmont Blyden – One of the Founders of Panafricanism
  • Brought the Ideals of Pan-Africanism to the African Continent
  • Born: 3 August 1832 Transitioned: 7 February 1912
WEB Dubois – One of the Founders of Panafricanism
  • Founder Of The Pan-African Congress
  • Born: February 23, 1868 Transitioned: August 27, 1963
Henry Sylvester Williams – One of the Founders of Panafricanism
  • Organized the First Pan African Conference in 1900
  • Born: 15 February 1869 Transitioned: 26 March 1911
Marcus Garvey – One of the Founders of Panafricanism
  • First Provincial President of African And Founder Of The UNIA - The Largest Pan-African Movement In History
  • Born: August 17, 1887Transitioned: June 10, 1940
Kwame Nkrumah – One of the Founders of Panafricanism
  • First President of Ghana And Founder Of The Organization For African Unity, A Precursor To The African Union
  • Born: 21 September 1909Transitioned: 27 April 1972

These are just 6 of the hundreds of thought leaders and warrior-scholars in the Pan-African pantheon.

The Origins Of The Pan African Flag

No nation or political movement is complete without a flag. The Pan-African flag – also called the RBG flag – is our symbol of unity, a reminder of our past, and a representation of our future.

The RBG flag was created by Marcus Garvey, who admonished us to ‘sail on until the flag of the red, the black, and the green is perched upon every hilltop in Africa!”

Since our flag was born, nations around the world have adopted its bold colors to pay homage to the revolutionary spirit of the struggle.

🇦🇪🇦🇫🇦🇴🇵🇸🇮🇶🇬🇭🇯🇴🇰🇪🇱🇾🇸🇿🇰🇳🇲🇼🇿🇲🇸🇾🇿🇼

To remember our Ancestors and the destiny that awaits us, August 17 should be celebrated worldwide as Universal African Flag Day by flying the red, black, and green banner.

The Relationship Between Pan africanism and Black Consciousness

The two phrases – Black Consciousness and Panafricanism are often used interchangeably. However, there are subtle but important differences that must be clarified.

Pan-Africanism is a part of Black Consciousness. We define Black Consciousness as a knowledge of who you are, how you came to be, the world around you, and your place in that world. Pan-Africanism operates within one of the 9 ‘areas of life’ – namely the Political area – that define the world around you.

There are many who claim to be ‘woke’ or Conscious, but still battle along party lines within their country. White nations have used partisan politics as a means of divide and conquer among themselves and particularly among Black populations. Partisanship is used to cultivate an alien identity among those who would otherwise be unified.

To be conscious is not synonymous with being a Pan-African. Thus, it is the duty of each Pan-African to educate those who may be Conscious but still addicted to the propaganda that is espoused by parties that have used Blacks as nothing more than political fodder.

What Does It Mean To Be Pan African Today?

“Our next assignment in history is nation management and nation structure.” – John Henrik Clarke

Our struggle is – and always has been – for our own system of government, our own borders, and our own way of life. Pan-Africans understand that we can never reach our fullest potential while our limits are defined by outside groups.

Thus, we labor for political justice in every nation of the African Diaspora, while also working towards the rebirth of strong Black families, Black nations, and a new golden age of Black Civilization.

Our destiny as Pan-Africans is a sovereign nation of our own where we can protect and defend Black lives by harnessing the political, military, and economic power of our Diaspora. This is the great task that our history and this century places before us.  

While it is important to hold the line and fight for our existing rights and freedoms, we must also move toward establishing a Pan-African state. As a Pan-African today, never lose focus of the ultimate objective of the movement: the establishment of a Pan-African state.

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