Less Talk, More Action Needed. (Diaspora: Pan Africanism)

By Clay, Omowale | New African, March 2003 | Go to article overview

Less Talk, More Action Needed. (Diaspora: Pan Africanism)


Clay, Omowale, New African


After years of talking about it, now is the time to translate Pan-Africanism into concrete action. Omowale Clay, a member of the New York-based December 12th Movement, reports on what their Movement has been doing.

The concept of Pan-Africanism was born out of the demand to reconnect the Diasporan African to the mother continent, its history, culture and right to self-determination. In other words, the TransAtlantic Slave Trade's genocidal attack on African civilisation and development necessarily produced the material base for a Pan-African viewpoint in the Diaspora. Ourvery survival gave us no choice.

However, it took decades to consolidate a clear political trend that recognised and tied the human rights of the Diasporan African inextricably to the complete liberation of the African continent. Such notables as Edward Blyden, George Charles, Dr Martin R Delany and Bishop Henry McNeil were signposts on Pan-Africanism's journey of development. Bishop McNeil and Alexander Crummell helped to convene the historic 1893 Chicago Congress of Africa, considered by many historians to be the official beginning of the PanAfrican movement.

Central to the Chicago Convention was European imperialism, specifically French threats against Liberia and Abyssinia (Ethiopia), and Africa as the homeland for Diasporans and how to assist in its development. However, it was not until 1900 that the term Pan-Aflicanism was used in the convening of a conference in London under the leadership of Sylvester Williams.

And so, it was upon this rich history that the titans, Marcus Garvey and W.E.B. Dubois, continued to lay the framework for a serious Pan-African movement.

Garvey's mass organising and thundering slogans, "Wake Up, Ethiopia! Wake up, Africa!" and "Europe for the Europeans, Asia for the Asians and Africa for the Africans", were battle cries to link the destiny of the Diaspora and continent forever together.

Dubois, although not garnering the mass appeal of the Garvey movement, in fhct laid a more solid ideological basis for the PanAfrican movement. Through the successive Pan-African Congresses organised under DuBois' leadership, the Pan-African movement expanded. However, it was left to the works of others, most notably Franz Fanon, Kwame Nkrumah, Malcolm X and Walter Rodney to develop and strengthen the ideological basis of Pan-Africanism in the second half of thc 20th century.

Malcolm X fought for the concrete demand that Diasporan Africans should not simply he a cheering squad and support team for continental African liberation, but an integral and interdependent part of the struggle for liberation on the continent and in the Diaspora. Not since William Paterson's "We Charge Genocide" declaration was presented to the United Nations in the early 1950s, had anyone so concisely framed our conditions and demands for African liberation within the context of the international human rights struggle. In his presentation delivered to the African heads of state at the 1964 meeting of the OAU, Malcolm X said:

"Your problems will never be fully respected unless ours are solved. You will never be fully respected until and unless we are also respected. You will never be recognised as free human beings until and unless we are also recognised and treated as human beings. Our problem is your problem. It is not a Negro problem, nor an American problem. This is a world problem; a problem for humanity. It is nor a problem of civil rights but a problem of human rights..."

He continued "No one knows the master better than his servant. We have been servants in America for over 300 years. We have a thorough, inside knowledge of this man who calls himself Uncle Sam. Therefore, you must heed our warning: Don't escape from European colonialism only to become even more enslaved by deceitful, friendly American dollarism."

The road forward is to complete the liberation of both Continental and Diasporan Africans based on the common Pan-African goals of self-determination, right to development, land and reparations. …

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