Pan-Africanism through Peace, Non-violence
By Dr.Claude Shema-Rutagengwa
Nowadays, Pan-Africanism represents the aggregation of historical, cultural, spiritual, artistic, scientific and philosophical legacies of Africans from past times to the present. Pan Africanism as an ethical system traces its origins from ancient times, and promotes values that are the product of the African civilization and struggles against slavery, racism, colonialism, and neo-colonialism.
Pan-Africanism is usually seen as a product of the European slave trade rather than as something arising in the continent of Africa itself. Enslaved Africans of diverse origins and their descendants found themselves embedded in a system of exploitation where their African origin became a sign of their servile status. Pan-Africanism set aside cultural differences, asserting the principality of these shared experiences to foster solidarity and resistance to exploitation.
Alongside a large number of slave insurrections, by the end of the eighteenth century a political movement developed across the Americas, Europe and Africa which sought to weld these disparate movements into a network of solidarity, putting an end to this oppression. In London, the Sons of Africa was a political group addressed by Quobna Ottobah Cugoano in the 1791 edition of his book Thoughts and sentiments on the evil of slavery. The group addressed meetings and organized letter-writing campaigns, published campaigning material and visited parliament. They wrote to figures such as Granville Sharp, William Pitt and other members of the white abolition movement, as well as King George III and the Prince of Wales, the future George IV.
Modern Pan-Africanism began around the beginning of the twentieth century.
The Fundamental Ideas
As originally conceived by Henry Sylvester-Williams, pan-Africanism referred to the unity of all continental Africa (excluding North Africa).The concept soon expanded, however, to include the African Diaspora.
During apartheid in South Africa there was a Pan Africanist Congress that dealt with the oppression of South Africans under European apartheid rule. Other pan-Africanist organizations include Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association, African Communities League,TransAfrica and the Internal Peoples Democratic Uhuru Movement.
According to the flag of Pan-Africanism, which is the red, black, and green, Pan-Africanism has deep roots in the bloody history of the colored skin people in the past due to discrimination, white supremacy and slavery which swapped away and handicapped many blacks. For this reason, the Pan-African (was) is regarded - first of all - as an emerging movement of revenge over white skinned people.
Therefore, the flag represents Pan-Africanism: the red standing for the blood that the African Diaspora has shed, black representing people of the African Diaspora, and the green standing for the Earth. Also used in the Pan-African movement are the Ethiopian colors of red, gold, and green. The red and green stand for the same principles as Garvey's flag, and the gold stands for the mineral wealth of Ethiopia/Africa.
USAF (UNITED STATES OF AFRICA) and Pan-Africanism
This was a great idea offered by H.E. Colonel Khadafy of Libya. It was to create one greater Africa, as it is the case of United States of America.
African leaders fear their continent is becoming increasingly powerless in a tough global economic environment. Many believe that, unless Africa can talk and act with greater cohesion, it will continue to be virtually ignored by the richer countries. Even though many African leaders – somehow - support the idea of creating USAF (United States of Africa), there are considerable differences about what is the best way to proceed.
Some of the more powerful African countries are wary of losing their own regional influence and concerned at any initiative that would weaken their sovereignty or ability to act independently. Nigeria, for example, enjoys its role as the dominant force in the existing West African grouping, the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas).
In recent years Ecowas has made significant progress in easing travel restrictions in West Africa, and has started the process of establishing a single West African currency.
In southern Africa, South Africa enjoys a similarly important role in SADC, the Southern African Development Community. Although SADC's effectiveness has been diminished in recent years, in part because of political differences between South Africa and Zimbabwe, many southern Africans would prefer to work towards regional integration first, before looking at pan-African unity.
Likewise, in East Africa, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania (joined recently by Rwanda and Burundi) have been working to revive the old East African Community, which collapsed in the mid-1970s because of political and ideological differences.
There are about 50 African states, and they trade far more with the rest of the world than they do with each other. Despite Colonel Khadafy’s plans, it’s hard to see how an African Union will mean much in practical terms, at least in the short term. But it is possible that new pan-African institutions, such as a parliament and a court of law, will come into existence in the next few years - possibly providing a basis for a more united Africa in the future.
Another challenge would be that some African leasers don’t want to lose their benefits as “Lords Presidents”- like Mugabe, because - in case all countries will be under the same umbrella of United States of Africa - they will not be able to fulfill their personal interests.
The last challenge, but not least, will be how Western leaders would act in this regard. It can be possible to fight against the idea, and use all means to undermine it or to do the opposite.
Some Criticism against Pan-Africanism
Pan-Africanism is often criticized for overlooking the cultural and ethnic differences of African people as well as different socio-political circumstances among people of African descent worldwide. Although African people are ethnically diverse, Anglo and Anglo-African mixed race people are excluded from any discussion. However, being African does not automatically mean that one is racially black, since African people are not exclusively black. The motive of the modern movement seeks to unite "black power" under the label African even though an individual of black race may trace his history for multiple generations past, within national origins far from Africa, as with black Americans, termed "African Americans."
White African people, Anglo-mixed African race people of colonial heritage and tribal blood lines are not included in the definition, though some consider them to be indigenous to the continent over multiple generations. Some criticize the Pan-African movement's perceived tendency to exclude primarily Caucasian businesses from commerce. It is believed that this unwillingness to cooperate with North America and the European community furthers the economic decline of Africa, to the point of financial collapse.
In other words, the Pan-African movement(s) is(are) regarded as a new way of extreme racism based on revenge for the past. Blacks against whites! In one way or another, this would lead to increased revenge-based racism of a new generation of black communities against white ones.
There is a fear associated with the mixed ideology of Pan-Africanism, yes, but there is also a “way out” and positive fruits to harvest from it. All depend on how Africans will focus their concept and vision of this great idea.
Some examples of good results, among others:
Africa can be reunited, as Bob Marley used to often say, and results would be great, but it requires meticulous studies to proceed, and basically the idea should be based on peaceful foundation, focusing on responding to the socio-economical challenges African people have been and still are facing today. That way the United States of Africa people can enjoy the benefits of being unified after hundreds of millions of years of separation.
Strategizing the cooperation with the rest of the world would be a golden pillar of this great United States of Africa as well!