Africans, we should all be Pan-Africanists – The New Times

Posted: May 27, 2021 at 8:09 am

EFFORTS TO STRENGTHEN BONDS between the native and African diaspora have been ongoing since the mid-19th century. To foster unity among all African peoples, Henry Sylvester Williams coined Pan-Africanism and convened the First Pan-African Conference in London, July 1900. Pronounced in different forms, proponents of Pan-Africanism like Marcus Garvey called for Africa for Africans, at home and abroad whereas W.E.B. Dubois called for reforms in the imperialists' policies. Despite the variations in semantics and approach, they all rose in unison to create public opinion and enhance public sentiment in favour of a free and united Africa.

While these leaders directed their amalgamated efforts in this enormous cause, certain individuals of the same race were leveraged against Africa. With little to no faith in themselves or their fellow Africans, they heinously used their access to imperialists, helping them to exacerbate and maintain colonialism, which tainted the image of the Pan-African movement.

Their school of thought associates Pan-Africanism with self-centric radicals and opportunists, who outrageously denounce the rest of the world, and position themselves as a new African elite (African/neo colonialists) who are up no good siphoning the wealth that Africa retained after years of exploitation. This unfounded view has robbed the concept of the initial intent that triggered its scripting. Degraded by multifaceted oversight, the Pan Africanism movement has not yet fully realized its primary aim.

To keep Africa as a dependent continent, narratives have been shaped by imperialists and their African puppets. The African image has been painted as destitute - it has been portrayed as a 'dark continent', a place of horrific savagery where 'inhumanism' thrives; a place of feudalism and barbarianism, with people rotting in hunger and poverty. It is pictured as a continent where naked kids play in the rains or with AK 47s as toys. It has been labelled as a continent where natural resources are shipped to the Western world by greedy leaders in the name of attracting development and creating employment. Such stereotypical stories told by the Western powers seek to diminish our esteem as Africans and narrow the relevance of Pan-Africanism to nothing but a failed utopia.

The fostering of this altered reality is sold to break us further apart and keep us in circles, chasing endless ends. Africa has been viewed through the lenses of a fragile state and profoundly ignored the meritorious success stories within the vast continent. The scintillating stories of great men like Cheikh Anta Diop, who predicted that man first lived in Africa, have been kicked under the carpet but promoted the narratives of recent historians like Yuval Noah Harari, who preaches the same tales.

The realities of Africa's transformation from small tribes to spontaneous cartographic dissection of Africa into states, and still tried to stay as intact communities go uncaptured. The mysterious shift from over 40 coup d'etats in different African nations to having the fastest-growing countries two decades later, remains utterly ignored.

Whereas Africa has been branded unfairly, the fact that Africa as a continent has achieved tremendous results over the last 60 years can't go uncounted for. This doesn't imply that African states are perfect, but should call for a joined voice to ensure that our stories are captured with honesty and proper representation.

Africa is not needy. Africa is vastly endowed. We are responsible for making use of our diverse abilities to make it a better place, a haven other than auction it to the West for the benefit of a few. We should work together, united in our diversity and seek the promotion of an authentic story that represents our beliefs and lived realities. We cannot ignore that conflicts still exist, hunger and poverty, disease and ignorance. But we should equally show that we have walked through this and made commendable steps. While we paint a new picture, we should not wallow in comfort and ignore that we have more issues to solve.

Firmly, we should not be a people without memory, as Cheikh Hamidou Kane writes in the New School: The Cannon and the Magnet. We have a vast past, we have endured a tortured history, and we have been able to thrive even when the world keeps us at bay in significant global conversations whose consequences affect us. Our willingness to learn from the past will enable us to define a more coherent future where Africa is united and able to live up to her rights of self-definition.

Ousman Touray is Young Pan Africanist from Gambia .

The views expressed in this article are of the author

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Africans, we should all be Pan-Africanists - The New Times

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