Figure 1.-- the leading African spokesmen for Panafricanism was Ghana's new president Kwame Nkrumah. He like many other Pan-Africanists were educated and or lived in the West. And this ideology became a major part of his speeches and pronouncements. Here some Ghana boys look at one of the many displays put up to promote the ideology. Ghana with its healty economy had been one of the colonies seen as most likely to scuceed. Nkrumah turned it into an abject failure.

Pan-Africanism is a political ideology that promotes the ideal of a solidarity of Africans worldwide. Africans are defined in racial terms meaning blacks. It is centered on the idea that racial unity is essential to African economic, social, and political progress. Proponents asert that that the fate of peoples of African discent and African countries are related. intertwined. One author sums up the the core ideological belief, "... African peoples, both on the continent and in the diaspora, share not merely a common history, but a common destiny". [Makalani] Panafricanism is a very modern concept and originated in of all places the United States. It was in the United States that people of African ancestry began to see common interests. In African itself, blacks were more likely to see differences as the prevalent social unit was the tribe and and the people there flt very strongly tribal differences and tribal conflicts. This was broke down in merica where eople from different tribes were thrown together and exploited by whire slave owners. It is interesting that Panafricanism first surfaced in the United States and to a lesser extent the British West Indies. This was because after Emancipation, blacks here had rights of self expression and the ablity to organize and publish. In the The United States, this was motly in the North. There was, however, only limited support for Panafricanism. The earlier Abolition Movement of forced prompted the isea of ereturning freed slaves to Africa. This proved unworkable primrily because few American blacks had any interest in returning to Africa. There interest was primarily in suceeding in America. The most important American Pan-Africanist was W.E.B. Du Bois who promoted the study of African history and culture. He summed up his ideas with a single statement, 'the problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line'. American blacks showed relatively little interest in Pan-Africanism and focused on the Civil Rights Movement. The locus of Pan-Africanism shifted with the post World War II Decolonization process. And as American blacks were not really interested in Africa at all. This changed a bit with 'Roots', but not much. Likewise Africans showed relatively little interest in the diaspora--except perhaps how to reach America or Europe. Perhaps the leading African spokesmen for Panafricanism was Ghana's new president Kwame Nkrumah. He like many other Pan-Africanists were educated in the West. Other important voices were Léopold Sédar Senghor's Négritude movement, and Mobutu Sese Seko's view of Authenticité. Other important asspect of Panafricanism besides racial identity was a heady mix of Socialism, Communism, and authoritarian rule. And almost without exception, the proponents of Panafricanism presided over the economic failure of their countries and the implementation of authoritarian rule. Although major leaders were edicated in the west, what waslargely lacking among Panafrican proponets was an appreciation of democracy, the rule of law, and capitalism. This is why Decolonization proved such as collosal failure. It is something that only has begun to change anf the future of Africa it is not at all sure.


Makalani, Minkah. "Pan-Africanism". Africana Age (2011).


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Created: 7:04 PM 3/2/2013
Last updated: 4:24 PM 3/6/2013