African People Must Nourish Pan Africanization
Posted By: Ras Marcus
Date: Monday, 13 December 2004, at 7:45 p.m.
While we are wasting time arguing about religious beleifs and things which cannot be proven, and more seeds of divide and rule are being planted in the process, we are neglecting to nourish, water, and care for the social and cultural structures of Pan Africanization, which is one of our main vehicle, to the true liberation of Mama Africa and her people, everywhere upon the face of this earth. Africa for African those at home and those abroad.
Again I send many oceans of blessings and self determination to African people everywhere.
ONE BLACK LOVE ONE BLACK HEART
Baba Ras Marcus
by: Thandika Mkandawire
The history of pan-Africanism is a subject that has attracted considerable interest. There is a revival of interest and a reinterpretation of its itinerary that is well covered in this conference by a number of eminent historians so I will not be so imprudent as to tread on that terrain. Instead, I will focus on the relationship between pan-Africanism and Africa’s contemporary concerns.
In its original form Pan-Africanism was naturally borne by non-state actors and deeply influenced by Africa’s Diaspora and by the racism that pushed Africans together. Pan-Africanism was not simply a moment bringing together people of African origin; it was also an ideology that has left a strong imprint on African political thinking and sensitivities. It covered cultural, political and economic dimensions.
Like all ideologies pan-Africanism set up a vision of what is desirable; It set norms by which adherents were judged; it gave a semblance of cohesion to disparate interests. But like all ideologies, it has its blind spots, some of which have threatened subvert its central projects. And if it is to maintain its relevance and vitality Pan-Africanism must be subjected to constant critical re-evaluation and refurbishing. The role of intellectuals is not simply to give coherence to a shared ideology but to permanently critique the project, revealing its myths, falsifications and lacunae, reinforcing its strong points and identifying for it new sources of energy and new challenges.
The history of pan-Africanism is characterized by seesaw like shifts in emphasis as continental or Diasporic issues have become dominant.
This is not surprising, given the fact that the imaginary of exile is quite different from the nation-building project of the nationalist at home. In Africa, as elsewhere, Diaporas have played an important role in the reinvention and revitalisation of the “home country’s” identity and sense of itself. And today, with the capacity to participate in the political life of their homelands, there can be no doubt that Diasporic groups will be even more immediate to the rethinking of a new Africa. , Mamdani noting the contributions to African intellectual work of the Creole to pan-Africanism seems to suggest that their alienation has given them unique insight and driven their pan-Africanism in a much more transcendental direction which has been a source of its vitality and attraction (Mamdani 1999).. This is one of the reasons for its resilience among pan-African intellectuals circles even when it appeared to have disappeared from serious official discourse in addition to the fact, unlike the prevailing forms of nationalism, it was freely adhered to and not imposed by the state.
However there is another side to this alienation and its transcendental character: it may also have detached it from the day to day trials and tribulations of national actors and given it what has at times seemed an ethereal existence. This may also account for the extreme voluntarism surrounding it. The failures of the pan-African project are often attributed to wrong thought and much less to any objective conditions.
Thus, it is asserted, Africa would have been better if one form of identity had prevailed over another, one understanding of the national state (the Eurocentric one) had been rejected or if only the ideas of the founding fathers had prevailed in their pristine form. Such voluntarism and concentration on the ideational may be understandable, given the intellectual foundations of pan-Africanism and its self-conscious claims of an ideological status. And there can be no doubt that ideas will be decisive in the success or failure of the pan-African project. But this one-sided focus on the ideational side of the equation fails to come to terms with the objective conditions that gave birth to the bearers of the different ideas that are bemoaned or to come to grips with the reality that pan-Africanism has had to contend with in different places and times. Agency divorced from structure has tended to pose the question in a rather utopian and voluntaristic manner.
One major task that pan-Africanism set for itself – the complete liberation of the continent has been achieved. However, on other items on the agenda that were expected to follow decolonisation pan-Africanism has not done well. The political unification and economic integration of the continent have thus far failed, at least when judged against the dreams of the key figures of the Pan-African movement, the documents and plans prepared by pan-African conferences, and the declarations and the rhetoric of African leadership. It has failed when judged against other projects of regional co-operation in other continents. It has failed when judged against the well-articulated, widely shared understanding of the needs of the continent. It has failed when judged against the emotive force of pan-Africanism in African discourse. I state these facts not to cast a diminishing light on the pan-African vision writ large.
Indeed, I believe that it is pan-Africanism that will ultimately make coherent the jigsaw puzzle of Africa’s multiplicity of identities and interests, and that will provide us the real basis for addressing Africa’s daunting problems. And yet despite its poor record pan-Africanism has tenaciously held its grip on the minds of Africa’s intelligensia
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