The new wave of pan-Africanism

There seems to be a rise once more of the use of the word Pan-Africanism. I am sure there are those who would argue that the concept had never seized to exist but in all honesty the movement had all but went to sleep for a while.

Rwanda and its continued success has helped to breathe renewed life into the ideas of a “one Africanism”.

Once again many of us of African ancestry feel motivated and emboldened. Not only is the movement responding to the pride felt about Rwanda and its leadership but there is the realization that the Black race still has a way to go before we are seen as equal partners.

This resurgence of a movement which saw its peak decades ago, is without doubt a good thing. However, the term Pan-Africanism is often not being used correctly and can be seen as part of the reason nothing much happens no matter how we tout the term and feel pride from being part of a movement.

By definition, Pan-Africanism is a principle which should promote a union of all people who carry African ancestry.

This union should primarily be political but with an openness to any collaboration which leads to the betterment of the community being represented.

Today, more often than not, what passes off as Pan-Africanism is more Africanism as it does not involve or even seek to include the community which exists outside of the African continent.

There is nothing wrong if Africans want to spend the time only working on Africa and Africans but then the farce around Pan-Africanism must be acknowledged and immediately abandoned.

The use of words and playing with ideology has never brought success to any cause or people and as such a decision must be taken as to where the Pan-African movement is headed.

It is romantic and idealistic to imagine Black empowerment the likes as seen in the Black Panther movie. But even in that utopian version there was not a union, political or otherwise, of all Black people.

In actuality the movie portrayed the idea that Wakanda thrived because they existed in secrecy and “off the grid”. If what the movement of today wants is for each individual regions to look out for itself then let us be open and honest about it. Trash the idea of Pan-Africanism and we divide ourselves in groups:

●      Africans

●      Caribbean Blacks

●      Brazilian Blacks

●      Black Americans

In reality this is how we operate today. Even though Brazil has the second largest number of Blacks in any one nation, they are rarely thought of when one speaks of the Black community.

Many Black Americans see themselves squarely as Americans and nothing else. To them, Africa and Africans are a lifetime away only to be remembered historically as the place from where their ancestors were brought on ships. Or a place to visit to discover the past.

With many of the nations in Africa on the rise it is easy to see why Africanism may be the most popular idea for Africans on the continent. Why “waste time” with the “others” when alone our prospects are so good?

Other than skin colour and a few habits and practices what do we really have in common? These may be some of the questions being asked in private. Salih Booker and Ari Rickman wrote an article in June 2018 in the Washington Post where they stated,

“Beginning in 2035, the number of young people reaching working age in Africa will exceed that of the rest of the world combined, and will continue every year for the rest of the century. By 2050, one in every four humans will be African. At the end of the century, nearly 40 percent of the world’s population will be African.”

These statistics are interesting because it shows the prospects for a race which will have an unsurpassed workforce size and that will have dominance in terms of numbers across the globe.

With this in mind is it the time to separate ourselves or is it time to get to know each other better? The best approach may be one where similarities are acknowledged, differences are worked through and a path to partnering and concretizing a union is placed as priority.

Over the years I have noticed right across the globe that Chinese are Chinese wherever they are found. Indians are Indians no matter where they were born or raised. Jews are Jews inside or outside of Israel.

The traditions, principles and ideologies of these groups of people stay with them across generations and borders. It has worked well for them majority of times while the splintered approach and narrowness of vision of the Black community has not helped to propel the race forward.

Maybe we should revisit the core ideas behind Pan-Africanism and not just use the term to describe Africanism as we seem to be doing today.

Twitter: @NatsCR

The views expressed in this article are of the author.