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 The AU fully superseded the OAU in 2002, after a transitional period.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).
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.
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.
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.
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.