Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Towards a Pan-African Vision: The Current State of Affairs in Somalia

Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Towards a Pan-African Vision: The Current State of Affairs in Somalia

Article excerpt


The term Pan-Africanism has taken on a life of its own. From a disciplinary stance, PanAfricanism has been written about in a wide array of academic disciplines, including political science, history, sociology, cultural studies, and African studies. What is astonishing in my view is that the social/political idea of Pan-Africanism has been attributed to the failure of the African continent to resolve any of the standing challenges throughout Africa. Moreover, the very idea of Pan-Africanism signifies, to some people, an outdated idea that cannot succeed. For me, the idea of Pan-Africanism is born out of the everyday anticolonial struggles of the African people, wherever they reside. It is a vision to restore all that is thought to be lost, and to hold on to key ideas which encompass the African creed. It is the living quest to restore the dignity of the African, move succinctly towards the unity of African peoples, and to exercise selfdetermination. Moreover, it is central to decolonization as a process which leads to emancipation and freedom. When I think of Pan-Africanism, I'm drawn, first, to the issue of land in Africa. To draw on the words of Frantz Fanon (1967) from the Wretched of the Earth,

For a colonized people, the most essential value, because it is the most meaningful, is first and foremost the land: the land, which must provide bread and, naturally, dignity.... The colonized subject has never heard of such an ideal. All he has ever seen on his land is that he can be arrested, beaten, and starved with impunity (p.9).

The colonial powers have enslaved millions of African people, and have carved out the Continent to dominate the social, political, and economic affairs in Africa. Nugget We Thing's (1986) in his works decolonizing the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature eloquently captures this sentiment when he explains:

   The contention started a hundred years ago when in 1884 the
   capitalist powers of Europe sat in Berlin and carved an entire
   continent with a multiplicity of peoples, culture, and languages
   into different colonies. It seems it is the fate of Africa to have
   her destiny always decided around the conference tables in the
   metropolises of the western world (p.4).

In strong agreement of Thiong'o's articulation, the idea and the movement of Pan-Africanism emerged in response to colonization. The writer of Remembering the Dismembered Continent, Ayi Kewu Armah (2010) goes even further with his analysis explaining:

   We, the people of Africa, have tended to regard the continent--all
   of it--as our home; that regimes imposed by invaders from Europe
   and Arabia, ... have attempted to configure African space and time
   in ways beneficial to themselves ... [F]formalized in Berlin in
   1885, the residual fragment was further subdivided into separate
   plantation-style colonies (p.9).

The first part of the quote is instrumental in thinking of the historical genesis of the collectivist Pan-African identity. As such, the articulation of Pan-African ideology is the work of key African intellectuals and activists such as W.E.B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, George Padmore, Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere, and Jomo Kenyatta to name a few, as they express, collectively of what it means to be African socially, politically, and ideologically. According to W.E.B. Du Bois "the pan-African movement aimed at an intellectual understanding and cooperation among all groups of African descent in order bring about the industrial and spiritual emancipation of the Negro peoples" (Cited in Walters 1993, p.1). Therefore, we must re-think Pan-Africasims within the contemporary moment to address some of the historically rooted challenges facing African peoples. Reiland Rabaka (2010), in his work, Africana Critical Theory: The Black Radical Tradition, From W.E. B Dubois and C.L.R. James to Frantz Fanon and Amilcar Cabral, also echoes this sentiment as he examines the intellectual traditions of Black political activists. …

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