Pan-Africanism: What Exactly Are We Talking About?

How We Got Here


Like all the cultures of the people of the world, our ancestors were not homogeneous. While the elements of society existed in the beginning, structures were not handed over to man by the Big Bang, Evolution or what or whoever it was that coordinated the primordial soup. At this point, Pan-Africanism was not even at the conception stage.

We were just there. Our civilisation: tabula rasa-ted, paid great attention to simple motivations. The gametes were the first to unify. Then the family and this was followed by the clan, the village, town, the city and country. And because the world was not connected everyone thought they were the only ones that existed in the beginning.

We forged ahead and after many years and centuries, the journey that began with decentralised families led to the creation of centralised societies. Kings and empires popped up and to maintain stability, they were allowed too much power.

The stabilized nations invaded the decentralised families lacking in stability and unity and also planted seeds of discord in other centralised nations for more control. It went back and forth. One day, a nation is a world power and next she is nothing.


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In all of these periods, some spanning hundreds of years, there were always movers, ideas that built the empires. For some, like the Israelites, one was the idea that divinity has granted them access to fertile lands and to enslave anyone who stands in the way pleases the Lord.

For others like the Egyptians, it was the idea that they were superior to other people. To the Romans and Spartans, it was the idea that the Roman and Spartan blood was thicker than that of others. These ideas were the lifeline for the progress of the people invading and enslaving at the time. It was the source of their actions.

Unfortunately, these ideas work even though flawed. With similar ideas, the Aryans ruled and enslaved many in Nazi Germany. With them, the Japanese ruled China. With these, the United States of America mess up the world. It was these same ideas that birthed the racism which inspired Pan-Africanism.

The Europeans sold the idea that by virtue of skin colour they were superior to every other race and in the past four hundred years that has motivated the state of Africa and every part of the world the idea torched. Pan-Africanism was birthed in response to this racism.

Racism defined all that was bad in the centralised societies and all that was bad in man. From one source came man and the transformations that gave us different colours did not in any way affect the quality of our Genotypic appearance. No form of man was less man or even less valuable (there is also something wrong with this idea that being a man is the most wonderful thing ever).

The black, brown, pink and white-skinned men were still Homosapiens. No one deserved to be killed for their skin colour but it happened with racism. No one was genetically superior but skin colour made the invaders genetically superior. People in different forms who were the result of the uncommon connections of the human chromosomes and hormones created a class to justify the invasion.

Albinos are men. Dwarfs are men. Tall, short, paralysed, blind, sick, poor and rich humans are men. But with the coming of racism, the definition for man was redesigned like it has always been done by all conquerors and knowingly or unknowingly; the criminal invaders gave themselves a reason to keep doing what they were doing. They convinced themselves and then they convinced the conquered.

When Pan-Africans like Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Du Bois and Marcus Garvey spoke of Pan-Africanism, they were simply trying to regain what was lost. They were trying to get for Africa the soul that was carted away. They were trying to rewire the African brain that has come to normalise racism. They were for the liberation of the shackles placed on the minds of the people. The spirit of Negritude is one of the spirits of Pan-Africanism.

The Negro is a human too and should be treated as such and not like the tool he has always symbolised. The Negro is not inferior to the white man and shouldn’t act as though he is. For Pan-Africanism, the African mind and land need to be emancipated. The African mind needs to be reprogrammed. So much shit has gotten into African mental tank and Pan-Africanism seeks to empty it.

But there are some, with the gift of garb, who miss this point. For example, for many Pan-Africans preaching the message of Pan-Africanism, the late Robert Mugabe was an African hero. Because he fought against the white men who enslaved Zimbabwe he was seen as someone who fought for Africa. Obviously, Mugabe was intelligent but if fighting colonization was the only definition of Pan-Africanism, we can put Idi Amin and recently, the biggest failure of South Sudan, Salva Kir, in the same bracket.

Their common enemy: foreign control in native lands, but do these guys really care? While fighting against evil invaders is good, failure to capitalise on the battle and reconcile home is tantamount to helping the invaders. Humans in power with evil intention carry with them similar manuals and act as the manuals advised. What they hate about evil is just that they are not the ones perpetuating it.

They hate corruption because they are not in charge of corruption. They hate the bully because they wish they were the only ones with such rights. When they centralise a certain power source, it is because they are trying to weaken the decentralised regions this power concentrated. And this is the attitude of humans without honour. That neighbour who condemns bribery but accepts a bribe is an example. That friend who criticises users but is also a user is another.

They hate the proud because they believe they alone should show pride. They hate disobedience because they believe it is their exclusive right. They hate stealing because they were left out. With all his attack on western imperialism, someone as intelligent as Mugabe made sure his people were never in control of their lives in Zimbabwe. So much for the Pan-African and Pan-Africanism!

Then there is the Pan-Africanism of Zik. Nnamdi Azikwe was both a Nationalist and like Gaddafi, a Pan-Africanist who believed in the unification of Africa. While this idea seemed good, their method of penetration was flawed. In fact, looking at the conduct of Zik one wouldn’t be wrong to call it dictatorial.

If you really understand what it means to love someone, you wouldn’t force or play people into relationships but that was what Zik did. Pan-Africanism is love for Africans and the liberation of the continent but when you follow the same method that put the continent on her knees, you are digging the ground to bury the continent.

Repeating fine words on (forced) oneness will not help anyone, as in the heart of hearts where actions are mobilised, resides motive in bed with the motif. Humans are of dissimilar temperaments. There are families that act a certain way. There are clans that follow a particular idea. There are kindred and villages with shared values and the town and city is formed by their unions. Ideological homogeneity is necessary for societal growth.

We know that common ground through commonsense and compromise is often reached for peaceful cohabitation but in a chaotic environment where both commonsense and compromise have been damaged by prejudice and ignorance, deciding their lives without consulting them is to elevate anarchy. That was Zik’s proposition. He assumed he knew better and chose for people who still want to chop the heads of each other off.

The idea of Pan-Africanism is to carry everyone but when you assume you know better and act without consultation you succeed in defeating the idea. Sometimes, even when it is harsh, love is still love, but at no time will it remain so, if it aims to decapitate. By cutting off the people it is in symmetry with the goal of the racist and by that fact, its nature changes and it ceases to be for the African. So, my dear Pan-African, is your Pan-Africanism actually Pan-African?

About Poet 171 Articles
I am Rey Alaetuo, a conscious Poet and health care professional living in Owerri, Nigeria. I am an exponent of humanism and a vigilant Poet. I am deeply interested in the propagation of positive human values and behaviour.

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