Pan-Africanism, general term for various movements in Africa that have as their common goal the unity of Africans and the elimination of colonialism and white supremacy from the continent. However, on the scope and meaning of Pan-Africanism, including such matters as leadership, political orientation, and national as opposed to regional interests, they are widely, often bitterly, divided.

One catalyst for the rapid and widespread development of Pan-Africanism was the colonization of the continent by European powers in the late 19th cent. The First Pan-African Congress, convened in London in 1900, was followed by others in Paris (1919), London and Brussels (1921), London and Lisbon (1923), and New York City (1927). These congresses, organized chiefly by W. E. B. Du Bois and attended by the North American and West Indian black intelligentsia, did not propose immediate African independence; they favored gradual self-government and interracialism. In 1944, several African organizations in London joined to form the Pan-African Federation, which for the first time demanded African autonomy and independence. The Federation convened (1945) in Manchester the Sixth Pan-African Congress, which included such future political figures as Jomo Kenyatta from Kenya, Kwame Nkrumah from the Gold Coast, S. L. Akintola from Nigeria, Wallace Johnson from Sierra Leone, and Ralph Armattoe from Togo. While at the Manchester congress, Nkrumah founded the West African National Secretariat to promote a so-called United States of Africa.

Pan-Africanism as an intergovernmental movement was launched in 1958 with the First Conference of Independent African States in Accra, Ghana. Ghana and Liberia were the only sub-Saharan countries represented; the remainder were Arab and Muslim. Thereafter, as independence was achieved by more African states, other interpretations of Pan-Africanism emerged, including: the Union of African States (1960), the African States of the Casablanca Charter (1961), the African and Malagasy Union (1961), the Organization of Inter-African and Malagasy States (1962), and the African-Malagasy-Mauritius Common Organization (1964).

In 1963 the Organization of African Unity (OAU) was founded to promote unity and cooperation among all African states and to bring an end to colonialism; it had 53 members by 1995. The OAU struggled with border disputes, aggression or subversion against one member by another, separatist movements, and the collapse of order in member states. One of its longest commitments and greatest victories was the end of apartheid and the establishment of majority rule in South Africa. Efforts to promote even greater African economic, social, and political integration led to the establishment in 2001 of the African Union (AU), a successor organization to the OAU modeled on the European Union. The AU fully superseded the OAU in 2002, after a transitional period.


See C. Legum, Pan-Africanism (rev. ed. 1965); R. H. Green and K. G. V. Krishna, Economic Cooperation in Africa (1967); J. Woronoff, Organizing African Unity (1970); I. Geiss, The Pan-African Movement (1974); P. O. Esedebe, Pan-Africanism (1982); C. O. Amate, Inside the OAU; Pan-Africanism in Practice (1987).

Pan-Africanism is a sociopolitical world view, and philosophy, as well as a movement, which seeks to unify both native Africans and those of the African diaspora, as part of a "global African community".


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 struggles against slavery, racism, colonialism, and neo-colonialism.

Pan-Africanism is usually seen as a product of the European slave trade, rather than as something arising in the continent of Africa itself. Enslaved Africans of diverse origins and their descendants found themselves embedded in a system of exploitation where their African origin became a sign of their servile status. Pan-Africanism set aside cultural differences, asserting the principality of these shared experiences to foster solidarity and resistance to exploitation.

Alongside a large number of slave insurrections, by the end of the eighteenth century a political movement developed across the Americas, Europe and Africa which sought to weld these disparate movements into a network of solidarity putting an end to this oppression. In London, the Sons of Africa was a political group addressed by Quobna Ottobah Cugoano in the 1791 edition of his book Thoughts and sentiments on the evil of slavery. The group addressed meetings and organised letter-writing campaigns, published campaigning material and visited parliament. They wrote to figures such as Granville Sharp, William Pitt and other members of the white abolition movement, as well as King George III and the Prince of Wales, the future George IV.

Modern Pan-Africanism began around the beginning of the twentieth century. The African Association, later renamed the Pan African Association, was organized by Henry Sylvester-Williams around 1887, and their first conference was held in 1900.

Key figures


As originally conceived by Henry Sylvester-Williams (note: some history books credit this idea to Edward Wilmot Blyden) pan-Africanism referred to the unity of all continental Africa (excluding North Africa) The concept soon expanded, however, to include the African diaspora.

During apartheid South Africa there was a Pan Africanist Congress that dealt with the oppression of South Africans under European apartheid rule. Other pan-Africanist organizations include Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association-African Communities League, TransAfrica and the Internal Peoples Democratic Uhuru Movement.

Pan-African Banner

The red, black, and green flag represents Pan-Africanism: the red standing for the blood that the African diaspora has shed, black representing people of the African diaspora, and the green standing for the Earth. Also used in the Pan-African movement are the Ethiopian colors of red, gold, and green. The red and green stand for the same principles as Garvey's flag, and the gold stands for the mineral wealth of Ethiopia/Africa.


Two of Pan-Africanism's major goals are re-examining African history from a pro-African perspective as opposed to a pro-European perspective and a return to traditional African concepts and culture. Pan-African academics often espouse the view that Egypt and some other civilizations were and should be acknowledged as having African origin.

Pan African studies

Also related to Pan-Africanism is the academic discipline of Pan-African Studies. Departments of Pan-African Studies have existed in many North American universities since the 1960s.

Maafa Studies

Maafa is an aspect of Pan-African studies. The term collectively refers to the 500 hundred years of suffering (including the present) of people of African heritage through slavery, imperialism, colonialism, invasions, oppression, and exploitation. In this area of study, both the actual history and the legacy of that history are studied as a single discourse. Thus the paradigm is the legacy of the African Holocaust on African people globally. The emphasis in the historical narrative is on African agents, as opposed to non-African agents..

Political parties and organizations



  • Uhuru Movement
  • The Us organization was founded in 1965 by Dr Maulana Karenga, following the Watts riots. It is based on the synthetic African philosophy of kawaida and the Nguzo Saba. In the words of its founder and chair, Dr. Karanga, the essential task of our organization Us has been and remains to provide a philosophy, a set of principles and a program which inspires a personal and social practice that not only satisfies human need but transforms people in the process, making them self-conscious agents of their own life and liberation. Us is perhaps most well-known for creating Kwaanza and the Nguzo Saba, or Seven Principles.

Global Afrikan Congress

The Global Afrikan Congress (GAC) is an international umbrella organization created by and for Africans and people of African descent. The GAC's ultimate goals are to justly redistribute global resources and resist continued oppression; it seeks to accomplish these goals by demanding reparations for the exploitation of people of African heritage, supporting policies to combat institutional racism, and working for recognition and respect for Africans and people of African descent. The GAC was organized in October 2002 in Bridgetown, Barbados and is a direct outgrowth of the African-African Descendants Caucus (AADC) formed before the 2001 United Nations World Conference on Racism (UNWCAR). After the UNWCAR there was no follow-up on the part of those designated to continue the work of the AADC begun during the preparatory conferences (PREPCOMS) leading up to the UNWCAR. Organized by attorney Roger Wareham, the AADC became the leading voice of Africans throughout the world during the UNWCAR. The AADC was instrumental in getting the Transatlantic slave trade declared "a crime against humanity", and opened the door for a direct, legal assault on nations and corporations that benefited from the trans-Atlantic slave trade. The GAC continues the AADC's work and is now organized in 35 nations. Its constitutional convention, held in October of 2004 in Paramaribo, Suriname, ratified a document considered by many to codify the direction in which the Pan-African movement should move during the 21st century.

Pan-African concepts and philosophies


African Code

The African Code is a concept within Pan-Africanism. It stresses unity through diversity based upon the 7 key principles; derived from Kwanzaa. The African Code functions as an intersection of a global Pan-African ethos for unity via diversity. It has been translated into over 30 languages and function as a non-political, non-religious cultural commonground for African people seeking self-determination. The African Code uses the Ge'ez alphabet and sees Kiswahili as the official pan-African language, and subsequently Ge'ez as an African script to replace all forms of Latin to write all African languages.

Afrocentric Pan-Africanism

Afrocentric Pan-Africanism, as espoused by Dr. Kwabena Faheem Ashanti, Ph.D in his book The Psychotechnology of Brainwashing: Crucifying Willie Lynch. Another newer movement that has evolved from the early Afrocentric school is the Afrisecal movement or Afrisecaism of Dr Francis Ohanyido a Nigerian Philosopher- Poet. Black Nationalism is sometimes associated with this form of pan-Africanism; the figure of Afrocentric Pan-Africanism in the Spanish-speaking world is Professor Antumi Toasijé.


Hip Hop

During the past three decades hip hop has emerged as a powerful force shaping black and African identities worldwide. In his article “Hip-hop Turns 30: Whatcha Celebratin’ For?,” Greg Tate describes hip hop culture as the product of a Pan-African state of mind. It is an “ethnic enclave/ empowerment zone that has served as a foothold for the poorest among us to get a grip on the land of the prosperous,”. Hip-hop unifies those of African descent globally in its movement towards greater economic, social and political power. Andreana Clay in her article “Keepin’ it Real: Black Youth, Hip-Hop Culture, and Black Identity” states that hip hop provides the world with “vivid illustrations of Black lived experience” creating bonds of black identity across the globe. Hip hop authenticates a black identity, and in doing so, creates a unifying uplifting force among Africans as Pan-Africanism sets out to achieve.

Pan-African art


Pan-Africanism is often criticized for overlooking the cultural and ethnic differences of African people as well as different socio-political circumstances among people of African descent worldwide.

Although African people are ethnically diverse, Anglo and Anglo-African mixed race people are disregarded from any discussion. However, being African does not automatically mean that one is racially black, since African people are not exclusively black.

The motive of the modern movement seeks to unite "black power" under the label African even though an individual of black race may trace his history multiple generations past within their national origin far from Africa. White African people, Anglo-mixed African race people of colonial heritage and tribal blood lines are not included in the definition, though some consider them to be indigenous to the continent over multiple generations. Further, the modern twist of the movement excludes white race people from business and government matters amongst African international exchanges. See Robert Mugabe; refer also the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Unfortunately once in command, these leaders favor their own tribes forsaking all others that they may represent as leaders. In many cases they have killed their opposition constituents, black and white alike. See Gukurahundi and Zimbabwe's Fifth Brigade.

These leaders ally with Afro-Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Lybya's Muammar Al-Gaddafi, North Korea and Communist China, when black African nations in their alliance cannot provide what they need in barter. Minerals are exchanged for oil (Venezuela, Malaysia, the former USSR), soldiers are exchanged for grain. Grain is exchanged for mineral rights and so on. Often, the soldiers exchanged are opposition tribe members who are enscripted by the Marxist state. Whatever it takes to remain the exclusive leader is done as long as the European Community and North America are not included.

Robert Mugabe for example, was obliged by the Lancaster House Agreement to work with the opposition tribe and anglo representation white constituents of Rhodesia when changed to Zimbabwe. Instead he openly cut off ties to all white businesses that engaged in commerce with Zimbabwe, to the extent of financial collapse that mattered less to his objectives than hand shake deals with black Africans exclusively.

See also


External links

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