Meaning of Pan-Africanism.
“Pan” means “all” and “Africa” refers to the continent. “Africanism” refers to those of African Origin.
Pan-Africanism is a belief in the uniqueness and spiritual Unity of Black people acknowledging their right to self determination.
It is a movement aimed at unifying all the people of African descent in the world. It stands for economic, political and social advancement for all peoples of African descent throughout the world.
Origin and Development of pan-Africanism.
The movement has roots in the trans-Atlantic slave trade that took place between 15th and 19th c. the trade was responsible for the dispersal of black people all over the world. The suffering the slaves underwent made them become conscious of their colour and origin. The Africans viewed themselves as having a common destiny. Even those who remained in Africa were later subjected to the colonial experience including forced labour, land alienation, taxation, poor wages, discrimination corporal punishment rape and murder.
The movement first started as the Pan Black Movement for the American and Caribbean black only. Several African Americans wanted to uplift the lives of fellow Africans in USA and in Africa. They included Martin Delaney, Alexander Cromwell, Bishop James Johnson, Wilmot Blyden and Bishop Turner. The leading pan-Africanists in America were Booker T Washington, Marcus Moziah Garvey, Dr. William Edward Burghardt Du Bois and George Padmore.
The pioneer African pan-Africanists included Kwegyir Aggrey from Gold Coast, Wilmot Blyden from Liberia, Kwame Nkrumah from Ghana and Leopold Sedar Senghor. The Pan Black Movements enlisted all blacks worldwide. It sometimes was called Pan Negro Movement and was pitted against the evils of racism.
Pan Black Movement gave birth to Pan-African Movement, which had its first meeting in London in 1900 attended by 32 delegates, drawn from USA, Africa, Canada, West Indies and Britain.
Sylvester Williams, a lawyer from Trinidad, coined the term Pan-Africanism.
By 1920, an all-African idea had been developed.
The first pan-African congress for Africans was held in Manchester –England in 1945, also attended by Jomo Kenyatta.

Causes of pan-Africanism.
a) The Trans-Atlantic slave trade. It took place between 15th and 18th centuries. Africans who were forced into slavery in America during this period suffered a lot under the white people. The Africans in Diaspora, through humiliation and sadness realized they had a common destiny.
b) Colonization of Africa. The division of Africa into 50 colonies separated some communities. It also put together various people of different history and culture. The divide and rule tactics of colonialists brought deep divisions among same communities. The Africans realized later on that there was need to find a common ground to bring about change.
c) The need to correct the negative ideas about Africa and Africans held by Europeans. The whites held a popular belief that Africans belonged to an inferior race without ability to run their own affairs.
d) Pan-Africanism was a fight against Racism-Africans were despised and ridiculed on the ground of colour and hair texture.
e) The evolution of leadership cadre of educated class of Africans- leaders like Kwame Nkrumah, Sedar Senghor, Jomo Kenyatta and Blyden wanted to prove that Africans were a civilized people with a rich history and culture.
f) European missionaries had discriminated against the Africans /Africans formed independent churches contributing to the rise of Pan-Africanism.
Objectives of the Pan-African movement
a) To unite all the peoples of African origin in the struggle for emancipation from social discrimination and colonial rule.
b) To challenge the ideology of white supremacy on which European colonization was based.
c) To improve the African living conditions in the Diaspora and in the African continent.
d) To secure democratic rights for all African peoples e.g. right to vote. Form political associations etc.
e) To restore the dignity of the black people and liberate them from the bondage of slavery.
f) To create a forum through which protests against European colonization and racial discrimination could be channeled.
g) To find better ways of establishing better relations between the Europeans and Africans on the one hand and among Africans on the other hand.
h) To appeal to missions and humanitarians to protect Africans against colonial aggression and exploitation as well as land alienation.
i) To fight neo-colonialism
1. Marcus Garvey (1887-1940)
He was born on 17th August 1887 in the West Indies island of Jamaica to a family of freed slaves. The fact that Marcus was very dark is what shaped his philosophy of PanAfricanism. While a young man, he witnessed great European and Mullato discrimination on account of his complexion.
He arrived in USA in 1916 after widely travelling in south and Central America and Britain. While in England, he was greatly encouraged by Mohammed Duse to lead the peoples of African descent all over the world in the struggle for liberation. He developed the Pan-African philosophy in USA through which he sought to make
Africans take pride in their blackness and cultural heritage. He founded the Negro Empire in New York in 1920. He organized a black convention in 1924 in New York during which he launched the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) whose
HQs were to be at Harlem, New York. UNIA had the following objectives;
~ To create universal fraternity among the Black Race.
~ To assist uplift the civilization of African communities.
~ To establish a central nation for the black race.
~ To establish academies for African children.
~ To promote African cultures.
Garvey founded a Journal “The Negro World” and the African Orthodox Church under a black Patriarch or chief Bishop and a Black Madonna as the symbol of his church. He advocated for the return to Africa by the Africans. To Garvey, freedom was to be gained through economic empowerment of Africans. To this end, he mobilized African Americans to contribute funds to establish black businesses like the Black Starline Shopping Company. The project however collapsed due to mismanagement. He was arrested, tried and convicted of fraud (collecting funds unlawfully) and imprisoned for five years. He was deported to his home country Jamaica after two years in Jail where he died in 1940
He is credited for succeeding in mobilizing Africans to take pride in their cultures and complexion.
2. Booker T. Washington.(1856-1915)
He was born in 1856 in USA to a poor slave family. He acquired a university degree in Agriculture at Hampton Institute.
He is credited for promoting African Education.
He started a model institute for training blacks in agricultural and industrial skills (the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama).
Unfortunately, Washington adopted a policy of cooperation with the government as a means of winning acceptance by the European community. To him, Africans ought to gain wealth in order to attain equal status with Europeans and end racial discrimination. He began the National Negro Business League with the help of a European Andrew Carnegie.
He died in 1915.
3. Dr. William Edward Burghardt Du Bois.
He was born in great Barrington, Massachusetts, USA on 23rd February 1868.
He was the first black to receive a PHD Degree and become a professor of History, Economics and Sociology. He was also a renowned journalist.
He greatly disagreed with Booker T. Washington’s policy of accommodation and cooperation. In 1905, he established the Niagara Movement to protest against racial discrimination. In 1900, he was one of the founder members of the National Association for the advancement of Coloured Peoples (NAACP) an association that championed for the struggle for Negroes’ civil rights in America.
He prepared the pan-African conferences that were held between 1900 and 1945 to fight against slavery, colonial exploitation and repression of African peoples. He was the chairman of the Manchester Conference of 1945..
In 1961, he relocated to Ghana where he became a citizen, on invitation of Nkrumah. He died in 1963 in Ghana.
a) The 1st pan-African conference, London, 1900. It was held at the Westminster
Townhall from 23rd to 25th July with 32 participants from Africa, USA, Canada and
West Indies. The conference was sponsored by a Trinidad lawyer Henry Sylvester
Williams who coined the term Pan-Africanism. The conference marked the entry of Du Bois into Pan Africanism where he made his famous statement “The problem of the 20th c is the problem of colourline”. Objectives of the conference.
~ To unite people of African origin in all parts of the world.
~ To appeal for the end of European colonization and exploitation of Africa.
~ To look for ways of establishing better relations between the Caucasian and African races.
~ To initiate a movement for securing the full rights for all Africans in and outside Africa and promote the economic rights.
~ To appeal to missionaries and philanthropists in Britain to protect Africans against
aggression by colonizers.
Conference Agenda
~ Human Rights Violation against blacks in South Africa.
~ Living conditions of blacks in different parts of the world.
~ Racial discrimination against Africans all over the world.
The conference sent a Memorandum to the Queen of England demanding respect for the rights of Black People especially in the British Empire.
b) The 2nd Pan-African Conference, Paris, 1919. The conference coincided with the Paris Peace conference. The conference was convened by William Du bois who had been sent to Paris by NAACP to investigate the allegations that African American troops stationed in France during world war I experienced racial discrimination and to represent the interest of the black peoples at the Paris peace conference. The conference made the following recommendations; ~ The need for international laws to protect Black people.
~ African land to be held in trust for Africans.
~ The prevention of exploitation of African nations by foreign companies.
~ The rights of Africans to be educated.
~ That slavery and capital punishment were to be abolished.
~ The right of Africans to participate in their government as fast as their development permitted.
c) The 3rd Pan-African Conference 1921. The conference was held in three sessions in
London, Brussels and Paris. The London session was attended by 41 Africans, 35 American coloureds, 7 West Indies and 24 Africans living in Europe at that time. It was patronaged by Du Bois. The conference demanded for the establishment of political organizations among the suppressed blacks. It emphasized international and interracial harmony and democracy.
d) The 4th Pan-African congress (London and Lisbon 1923.) it reiterated earlier resolutions and also demanded that black people be treated like human beings.
e) The 5th Pan-African Conference, New York 1927. It was mainly attended by African Americans and was partly sponsored by European Philanthropists. It discussed the attitude of the communists towards pan-Africanism.
f) The 6th Pan African conference, Manchester coincided with the end of the World War II. It was convened by the Pan African Federation which had been formed in 1944 by 13 organizations representing students’ welfare and political groupings. Leaders of the federation were George Padmore, Ras Makonnen (Ethiopia). C.L.R Wallace Johnson and Jomo Kenyatta. The conference was greatly inspired by the liberation of Ethiopia in 1941 and Clause three of the Atlantic Charter (1941) (that USA and British governments would respect the right of all people to choose the form of government under which to live) which Winston Churchill claimed was not applicable to the Africans.
The conference was convened on 15th oct. 1945 and was attended by 90 delegates who included Du Bois(West Indies), Nkrumah(Ghana), Kenyatta(kenya), Padmore(Trinidad), peter Abrahams(south Africa), Ras Makonnen(Ethiopia) , Magnus Williams representing Azikiwa Nnamdi (Nigeria), Obafemi Owolowo(Nigeria) and Kamuzu Banda (Malawi) and 11 observer nations
Du bois chaired the conference while Nkrumah and Padmore were joint secretaries.
Uniqueness of the conference.
a) The conference was mainly organized by Africans from the continent unlike earlier ones which were organized by the Africans in Diaspora. The only exceptions were W.E.B Du Bois and Padmore.
b) Representatives of white philanthropists were absent. Neither did they finance the conference.
c) Many African trade unions were represented. These included the trade Unions from
Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Ghana and Gambia. Most of West Indies was also represented.
Key Resolution of the Manchester Conference
a. Africans should concentrate on winning political power through non-violent means e.g strikes and boycotts.
b. African intellectuals should play an important role in mobilizing the masses to fight for political liberation.
Pursuant to the conference resolutions, Kwame Nkrumah established the West African National Secretariat (WANS) on 15th December 1945 in England to act as a regional body for Pan African Federation, promote unity in West Africa. WANS published a newsletter, The New African, whose main aim was to inspire the youth in Africa to resist imperialism.
Why the 1945 Manchester (Pan-African) Congress was a landmark in the history of Africa.
a) For the first time leading African representatives in the continent attended e.g. Jomo Kenyatta, Kwame Nkrumah, Kamuzu Banda, Haile Sellasie etc. on coming back , they all adopted radical nationalistic demands for independence of their states.
b) It was the first congress that strongly condemned European colonization of Africa and demanded the autonomy and liberty of African states.
c) The congress was instrumental in granting of independence to Ghana in 1957 and to Egypt soon after.
d) It set the pace for organization of similar conferences in the African continent like; the 1958 All African Congress and the 1960 Tunis-Pan African People’s Conference.
e) During the conference, the solidarity and unity among Africans began to develop and paved way to the formation of Organization of African Unity.
f) It marked the establishment of the movement’s activities in Africa.
Why pan-African movement was not active in Africa before 1945
a) There was lack of adequate African representation in the movement before 1945. Africans in the movement were few and were staying outside Africa as political exiles or students.
b) Colonial authorities could not allow Africans to organize a movement that was against their policies. Such movements were outlawed.
c) The ‘divide and rule’ policy used by the Europeans made it impossible for Africans to communicate and cooperate.
d) Africans in each colony were mainly concerned with issues that affected them directly e.g. Land alienation, forced labour and taxation.
e) The only Countries that were independent (Liberia and Ethiopia) could not champion pan-Africanism since they had their own internal problems and paid little attention to international matters e.g. Ethiopia and Liberia.
f) Lack of venue to hold meetings on the African soil since the colonial government would not have allowed such meetings.
g) Poor state of transport and communication at the time did not permit fast spread of Pan-Africanism.
h) Few people were educated and only a minority in Africa had higher education hence there was widespread illiteracy and ignorance.
i) Africans were too poor to contribute to pan-African efforts.
The role of Kwame Nkrumah in Pan-Africanism.
a) He participated in the 1945 Manchester Conference as the secretary during which he proposed that delegates go back to their countries and spearhead the nationalist struggle for political independence.
b) He established the West African National Secretariat (WANS) in England to coordinated pan African federation activities in West Africa and promote panAfricanism.
c) He founded the Convention People’s Party (CPP) in 1949which led Ghana to Independence in 1957.
d) As president of Ghana, Nkrumah inspired many African countries to struggle for political independence, and the black civil rights movement in the USA to fight for their rights.
e) In 1958, he hosted the first pan-African conference of independent states in Accra which pledged to assist fellow Africans to fight for political independence.
f) He funded nationalists in other countries e.g. Ghana and Algeria.
g) He supported other African leaders who faced political threats from their former colonial masters. For example he assisted the Guinean leader, Sekou Toure , with
Loans following the withdrawal of French support to the country after independence
h) He championed trade unionism in Africa as a means of promoting pan-Africanism. During the Manchester conference as a joint secretary with George Padmore, he allowed participation of trade Unions from Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Ghana and Gambia.
i) He participated in convening various pan-African conferences that led to the formation of O.A.U, an association of independent African states.
NB- it is most probably because of his fight against western domination that Nkrumah was eventually overthrown in 1966 in a military coup that forced him into exile. He died on 27th April 1972 in Bucharest, Romania, where he had gone to seek treatment for cancer.
Reasons why the pan-African movement became active in Africa after 1945.
a) World War II strengthened nationalism in the continent. The Africans’ quest for political independence received a boost with support from UNO, USA and USSR.
b) The 1945 Pan-African Conference in Manchester, brought many African elites together. They later inspired their colleagues back home to join the movement.
c) The attainment of political independence in India in 1947 and Burma (now Myanmar) in 1948 encouraged many nationalists in Africa.
d) The slowing down of the pan0africanism activities in America during the cold war period activated the same in Africa. USA tried to control activities of people like Padmore who had links with USSR.
e) The attainment of independence by Ghana in 1957 inspired other African nations to focus on the liberation of their respective countries rather than fight for the betterment of fellow Africans outside the continent.
Performance of the Pan-African Movement..
Achievements of Pan-Africanism.
a) The movement created political awareness among people of African origin and a sense of deep concern for suffering of blacks all over the world.
b) It put in place Steps towards the restoration of status and dignity to the African people, which had been eroded by slave trade, colonialism and racism.
c) The movement provided an important forum where the people of African origin could discuss their problems. It promoted brotherhood among Africans.
d) The movement led to the Development of the spirit of solidarity among the African people when dealing with issues that concern the continent.
e) It laid the basis for the Formation of OAU, which later became the African Union (AU).
f) The movement enabled African leaders to be more committed to African issues. For example the black caucus in the USA played an important role in pressurizing the US congress to take drastic measures against the Apartheid regime in South Africa.
g) The movement laid the foundation for the interest in research on African culture, history, literature, music, religion, medicine, art, etc. this empowered Africans by enabling them to understand the status quo.
h) The movement played an important role in the advancement of African nationalism by encouraging peoples of African origin to take pride in their ancestry and demand their rights.
i) The movement condemned Mussolini’s attempt to colonize Ethiopia in 1935 by organizing protests in major towns like New York, London, Brussels and Paris.
Challenges encountered by the pan African movement.
a) Many European groups fought the activities of the pan Africanists. The fact that Marcus Garvey was arrested, tried and convicted of fraud (collecting funds unlawfully) and imprisoned for five years is a clear manifestation of this.
b) It was difficult for the Africans to participate in African affairs since majority of Africans were still under colonialism.
c) Due to lack of economic empowerment and lack of education, many of the pan African projects did not succeed. The Marcus Garvey project for instance collapsed due to mismanagement.
d) Illiteracy and ignorance amongst some people of African origin hindered them from offering constructive support.
e) The movement was restricted to the African continent after independence in 1960s.
The absence of African-Americans in the continents affairs dealt a big to its progress.
f) Division among Africans after independence e.g. Radical and the conservative leaders and between the francophone and the Anglophone countries.
g) The European powers domination of the international media was used to water down the importance of pan-Africans by spreading negative propaganda.
h) Some of the pan-African leaders could not agree on the best strategy of uplifting the welfare of the African origin peoples.
i) The deep economic connection between colonies and the mother countries hindered any meaningful cooperation.
j) Lack of venues to hold conferences in Africa especially before 1957 meant that the movement could not take root in Africa quickly. The far-away venues were inconveniencing.
The Pan-African movement activities after 1950.
Despite the challenges mentioned, the movement was still active in Africa after 1950 as manifested in the political developments that took place in the 1950s and 1960s.
The following conferences were convened during that period.
1) The 1st Conference of Independent African States, Accra, Ghana April 1958. In attendance were the eight independent African states of Ghana, Egypt, Morocco, Ethiopia, Liberia, Tunisia Sudan and Libya. the delegates pledged to assist fellow African countries who were fighting for political independence..
2) The All-African Peoples conference, (Accra De. 1958) the conference was attended by freedom fighters and trade unionists from all over Africa. It was chaired by Tom Mboya of Kenya The conference’s main resolution was to use all means to acquire political independence and to encourage unity between the African leaders.
3) The All-African Peoples Conference, Tunis, January 1960. It strengthened the desire for unity among African states.
4) The 2nd Conference of Independent African States, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, June
1960. The conference was the forerunner to the formation of a continental Body, OAU. The conference exposed sharp division among African states over the situation in Congo, where Patrice Lumumba was facing problems with his former colonial masters.
5) The Brazzaville Conference December 1960
Attended exclusively by the 12 francophone conservative African states, the conference emphasized the need to respect international Frontiers and noninterference in the internal affairs of any African state. They promised political support for Mauritania in her boundary disputes with morocco.
6) The Casablanca conference, January 1961.
It was a reaction to the resolutions of the Brazzaville conference by the radicals who supported Morocco in her dispute with Mauritania. They advocated for the removal of foreign troops in Congo.
7) The Monrovia conference, May 1961. It attracted both moderates and conservatives and aimed at uniting the antagonistic groups. The conference emphasized the absolute equality of all states. The conference succeeded in uniting the hostile groups through the undertaking of two crucial events;
~ The Algerian Referendum of 1961, which passed that the Algerians wanted political independence from France.
~ The situation in Congo stabilized after 1961.

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