Pan-Africanism is a clarion call and a massive urge for all peoples of African descent, whether they live in North or South America, the Caribbean, Europe or in any other part of the world to realise that they are African and that they share in the African heritage. They should know that they have the responsibility of contributing to building African societies in ways that strategically position them for prosperity and progress.
Pan-Africanism as a concept symbolises the core values and principles of African nationalism intrinsically linked to the creation of an African nation that will contribute to the strengthening of continental solidarity and the building of a common destiny among peoples of Africa. The ideal also seeks to further promote collective self-reliance and economic recovery; ensure respect for the principles of human rights and democracy on the continent and fostering peace, unity, understanding and cooperation among the people and as well contribute in creating a more dignified and prosperous future for Africans and Africa.
It is part of the ethos of pan-Africanism for black people to be seen as equal with other races but not to seen as inferior or superior to any race. As an American civil rights activist Martin Luther King Junior commented “Black supremacy is as dangerous as white supremacy. God is not interested in the freedom of the black men and brown men and yellow men, but God is interested in the freedom of the whole human race”. So for those who think that our past great Pan-Africanists were struggling for the supremacy of the black race, know that you have imbibed a wrong perception of history, and for those that fight for the supremacy of the black race as ethos of pan-Africanism, know that you are as well on the wrong side of history. Equally, for those that think that the black race is an inferior race, I here and now tell you that you are on the wrong side of history and by far a betrayal to the African fraternity and humanity as a whole.
Our splendid pan-African movement operates on a robust ideological pattern which recognises the importance of all races and has the vision of achieving and maintaining a society that will operate on the basis of mutual respect for all races while carving a dignified and prosperous future for our people.
The main characteristics of Pan Africanism are that it is Africanist in orientation; socialist in content; continental in scope; dynamic in motivation; creative in purpose; humanist in approach; democratic in form; non-racial in character; and original in conception.
- Africanist in orientation means that all the ideals and theories that combine to make up a concrete philosophy. Pan Africanism has been selected and synthesized or adopted to suit the conditions of Africa and to highlight and clarify the true aspirations of African people with the outmost accuracy. We mean also that Pan Africanism seeks to solve the problems of humanity from an African standpoint or perspective.
- Socialist in content means that the central idea upon which all other ideas of Pan Africanism rest is socialism, and that socialism in Pan Africanism is like a nucleus in a cell. There is no Pan Africanism without socialism. Pan Africanism is nothing else but socialism manifesting itself on the African soil. It is socialism chemically compounded with the revolt against colonialism and foreign domination and the aspiration of the oppressed for one truly united nation on the African soil. We want to end all forms of oppression and exploitation. We want no economic exploitation by the evil designs of monopoly capitalism with firm control from the imperialist centres. We oppose unequal exchange of trade among nations and we deplore a system that enriches a tiny minority at the expense of the African workers and poor peasants. We want to bring to the scientific and technological world of today that blessed and virtuous system of society known to our forebears where human beings are not divided into classes of the haves and the have-nots.
Continental in Scope means that the African continent in its entirety is the terrain of the sphere of Pan Africanism. Pan means all, it also means united. African people in the diaspora are also included in the broad Pan Africanist movement. So the literal meaning of Pan Africanism is African Nationalism manifesting itself in all spheres of society that will give character to the African nation and endow the individual African with genuine dignity among the peoples of the world. We do not mean that we are indifferent to the oppression and exploitation taking place beyond Africa, for on the contrary we say Africa for the Africans, Africans for Humanity and Humanity for God. We are not neutral in the world-wide struggle against imperialism and everything that springs out of this evil.
Dynamic in Motivation means that Pan Africanism is always that of creating goodness. We mean that, the reasons behind any action of Pan Africanism are positive. The action of rejecting settler colonialism and, putting to reality genuine national liberation is positive. By destroying all forms of oppression and exploitation we are creating freedom for all. Pan Africanism is a living philosophy. It is not static by nature, it rejects dogmatism and convertism. Its nature allows the addition of new ideas and thus gets invigorated and enriched. It creates new instruments for new problems.
Humanist in Approach means tact whatever Pan Africanism does; it considers human life and human dignity. We subscribe to the well-known maxim of humanism that “humankind is the measure of all things”. As Sekou Toure, the late President of Guinea (Conakry) puts it: “We apply science to man, we do not apply man to science”.
Democratic in Form means that Pan Africanism is standing for the good interests of the majority of the people. We reject the government of a few people who will use the majority for their personal interests. We reject the institutions of social minority rights and chauvinistic sectional interests. Pan Africanism upholds the democratic rights of the individual who voluntarily and willingly submits her loyalty to her natural rights.
Non-racial in character means that there is only one race – the human race, to which we all belong. The myth of superior and inferior “races” has been propounded and propagated by European imperialists and colonialists in order to make easy the justification of their inhuman exploitation of the indigenous people of the land. In addressing ourselves to the national question, we do not wear racial spectacles or prescribe racial solutions. We think in terms of individuals, not groups.
Original in conception means that Pan Africanism evolves from the material conditions and circumstances obtainable in Africa. All foreign contributions to it have been, assimilated and adapted to enrich it. The principles are indigenous. What Pan Africanism purports to do, is to bring forward our way of life to the modern scientific age.
These are the characteristics of Pan Africanism.
Edward Mitole is senior political analyst at GPAN and the founder of African Renaissance project, he is the candidate Doctor of Philosophy of Development studies at Univeresity of Pretoria.