Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Tanzania and the Pan African Quest for Unity, Freedom, and Independence in East, Central, and Southern Africa: The Case of the Pan African Freedom Movement for East and the Central Africa/Pan African Freedom Movement for East Central and South Africa

Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Tanzania and the Pan African Quest for Unity, Freedom, and Independence in East, Central, and Southern Africa: The Case of the Pan African Freedom Movement for East and the Central Africa/Pan African Freedom Movement for East Central and South Africa

Article excerpt

The Pan Africanist former President of Tanzania (then Tanganyika), Julius K. Nyerere argued in a paper entitled "United States of Africa," in 1963 that African unity already existed in one sense; he asserted that this unity existed in the "sentiment of 'African-ness'a feeling of mutual involvement, which pervades all the political and cultural life of the continent." (1) Nyerere would go on to make a strong case for African unity. He warned that "African nationalism is meaningless, is anachronistic, and dangerous, if it is not at the same time Pan-Africanism." Indeed, Nyerere was a committed Pan Africanist. And as such, he helped launch the Pan African Freedom Movement for East and Central Africa (PAFMECA) in 1958. The organization broadened its scope to include Southern Africa and changed the name to Pan African Freedom Movement for East Central and South Africa (PAFMECSA) in 1962. The founding members of the organization espoused a regional approach to coordinating independence struggle and building unity. Nyerere and Tom Mboya of Kenya came to the conclusion that regional unity was the building block for the establishment of a United States of Africa. Before such a goal could be established, Africans leaders in East and Central Africa had to come together to coordinate their activities to remove the yoke of colonialism and apartheid. PAFMECSA was the most powerful regional organization working to win freedom and independence in east, central, and southern Africa between 1958 and 1964. For the east African leaders like Nyerere and Mboya, the Pan-African movement and Pan-African nationalism were not mutually exclusive. As the Chairman of PAFMECA in 1960 and as the President of Tanganyika after December 9, 1961, Nyerere pushed for the idea of East African Federation; he wanted to establish a Federation made up of Tanganyika, Uganda, Kenya, Zanzibar, and Ruanda-Urundi (Rwanda and Burundi). Nyerere's strategy was to start with regional unity and eventually establish the "United States of Africa" as he argued eloquently in 1963. PAFMECA, therefore, helped advance the independence movements in the region and provided a platform for building regional unity with the ultimate goal of establishing continental unity.

Independence groups from east, central and southern Africa came together under the umbrella of PAFMECA for the first time in September of 1958. By linking up independence movements from neighboring territories, Nyerere hoped that the organization would provide leaders with a platform to begin to think about eventually uniting their territories. However, the first priority was to work towards winning independence. PAFMECSA was an organization established to provide nationalists with a platform to share ideas, resources, and assert political pressure to end colonialism and apartheid. The colonial regimes worked diligently to suppress this body; they saw it as a threat to their interests.

The British colonial administrators in Nyasaland (Malawi), Northern Rhodesia (Zambia), Uganda, Kenya, and Zanzibar cooperated to undermine the work of the organization. It was because of PAFMECA's program of unity, mutual support, and the commitment of its leaders to use Pan Africanism as a tool for liberation, that the organization became a formidable force in the fight for freedom and independence in the region. The organization helped bring together rival groups in Zanzibar, it pushed for a successful campaign to boycott South African goods, helped advance the struggle for independence in Northern Rhodesia (Zambia), and finally after 1960, pushed for regional federation. The organization provides an example of how the Pan Africanism helped bring together groups from different territories to fight for independence and unite.

PAFMECA was the most important regional organization in East, Central Africa, and southern Africa between 1958 and 1964. Scholars have not paid much attention to this organization. PAFMECA/PAFMECSA has been relegated to the footnotes and is mostly considered to have accomplished very little. …

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