Pan-Africanism

Pan-Africanism, general term for various movements in Africa that have as their common goal the unity of Africans and the elimination of colonialism and white supremacy from the continent. However, on the scope and meaning of Pan-Africanism, including such matters as leadership, political orientation, and national as opposed to regional interests, they are widely, often bitterly, divided.

One catalyst for the rapid and widespread development of Pan-Africanism was the colonization of the continent by European powers in the late 19th cent. The First Pan-African Congress, convened in London in 1900, was followed by others in Paris (1919), London and Brussels (1921), London and Lisbon (1923), and New York City (1927). These congresses, organized chiefly by W. E. B. Du Bois and attended by the North American and West Indian black intelligentsia, did not propose immediate African independence; they favored gradual self-government and interracialism. In 1944, several African organizations in London joined to form the Pan-African Federation, which for the first time demanded African autonomy and independence. The Federation convened (1945) in Manchester the Sixth Pan-African Congress, which included such future political figures as Jomo Kenyatta from Kenya, Kwame Nkrumah from the Gold Coast, S. L. Akintola from Nigeria, Wallace Johnson from Sierra Leone, and Ralph Armattoe from Togo. While at the Manchester congress, Nkrumah founded the West African National Secretariat to promote a so-called United States of Africa.

Pan-Africanism as an intergovernmental movement was launched in 1958 with the First Conference of Independent African States in Accra, Ghana. Ghana and Liberia were the only sub-Saharan countries represented; the remainder were Arab and Muslim. Thereafter, as independence was achieved by more African states, other interpretations of Pan-Africanism emerged, including: the Union of African States (1960), the African States of the Casablanca Charter (1961), the African and Malagasy Union (1961), the Organization of Inter-African and Malagasy States (1962), and the African-Malagasy-Mauritius Common Organization (1964).

In 1963 the Organization of African Unity (OAU) was founded to promote unity and cooperation among all African states and to bring an end to colonialism; it had 53 members by 1995. The OAU struggled with border disputes, aggression or subversion against one member by another, separatist movements, and the collapse of order in member states. One of its longest commitments and greatest victories was the end of apartheid and the establishment of majority rule in South Africa. Efforts to promote even greater African economic, social, and political integration led to the establishment in 2001 of the African Union (AU), a successor organization to the OAU modeled on the European Union. The AU fully superseded the OAU in 2002, after a transitional period.

Bibliography

See C. Legum, Pan-Africanism (rev. ed. 1965); R. H. Green and K. G. V. Krishna, Economic Cooperation in Africa (1967); J. Woronoff, Organizing African Unity (1970); I. Geiss, The Pan-African Movement (1974); P. O. Esedebe, Pan-Africanism (1982); C. O. Amate, Inside the OAU; Pan-Africanism in Practice (1987).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

Pan-Africanism: Selected full-text books and articles

The Urban Plantation: Racism & Colonialism in the Post Civil Rights Era By Robert Staples Black Scholar Press, 1987
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 2 "Pan-Africanism as Ideology and Utopia"
Pan-Africanism Reconsidered By American Society of African Culture University of California Press, 1962
Pan-Africanism and East African integration By Joseph S. Nye Jr Harvard University Press, 1965
Pan-Africanism: 50 Years On By Rathbone, Richard History Today, Vol. 45, No. 10, October 1995
Africa: The Politics of Independence and Unity By Immanuel Wallerstein University of Nebraska Press, 2005
Librarian’s tip: Chap. VI "Larger Unities: Pan-Africanism and Regional Federations"
The Resurgence of Race: Black Social Theory from Reconstruction to the Pan-African Conferences By William Toll Temple University Press, 1979
Librarian’s tip: Includes "Pan-Africanism and American Pluralism: The Origins of a Cultural Reconstruction"
W. E. B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, and Pan-Africanism in Liberia, 1919-1924 By M'bayo, Tamba E The Historian, Vol. 66, No. 1, Spring 2004
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Black Americans, Africa and History: A Reassessment of the Pan-African and Identity Paradigms By Adeleke, Tunde The Western Journal of Black Studies, Vol. 22, No. 3, Fall 1998
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
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