Pan-Africanism was the idea that all Africans should be united in a common cause. Its aim was to liberate Africans from colonialism and racism. It promoted a growing sense in black identity and achievement. The Pan-Africanist movement had two main characters, namely W.E.B Du Bois and Marcus Garvey. Movements of Pan-Africanism were the Harlem Renaissance, Negritude and Rastafarianism. Pan-Africanism sparked Nationalist movements worldwide. W.E.B Du Bois wrote 20 books on Black culture and history. He formed the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People) and he organised the first two Pan-Africanist Conferences.
The first was in 1919, it coincided with the Paris Peace talks, it had moderate ambitions and it felt that ‘Self Determination’ one of Woodrow Wilsons 14 points should apply to Africa through granting African colonies independence. This conference called for better conditions and protection for those in African colonies. The second conference was in 1921, it was more radical than the first as the delegates openly criticized colonial policies and the situation of blacks.
It demanded equality of the races and democracy in the colonies. But all the demands were ignored. W.E.B Du Bois believed that education was important for the Black community because it would change the perceptions of black people. Marcus Garvey was born in Jamaica but moved to Harlem in 1916. He formed the UNIA (Universal Negro Improvement Association). The UNIA stood for Black economic self-reliance, the repatriation of all Black people to Africa to reconstruct a united Africa, the right to Self-determination and that all black people shared a common heritage. It adopted the slogan “Africa for Africans”. The UNIA had a newspaper known as “Negro World” which was widely read by African Diaspora. It ran Liberty Halls that provided social services to black Americans and also provided funding to small black owned business. The UNIA had 2 million supporters in over 40 countries in its height.
It had branches in North, Central and South America, Caribbean, England, West Africa and South Africa. In 1920 the UNIA had its first conference where the Declaration of the Right of the Negro people was written. An anthem, Universal Ethiopia Anthem, was produced. The colours Red, Black and Green were adopted. This called for black school children to be taught African History. In South Africa Garveyism had a particularly profound effect, inspiring the Blacks to fight for their own liberation instead of relying on Britain for help as it had in the past. It promoted the idea of “Black Republic”; Garveyism dominated Black South African thinking after 1950. Negritude was a philosophy brought on by French-speaking writers during the same time as Garveyism. It referred to an interest and pride in black culture and the ancient history of Africa. Whilst in Paris Leopold Senghor discovered an interest in his African Heritage, he became the most prominent of the French-speaking writers that philosophized about Negritude. The skill of the African American Jazz musicians inspired an interest in African History, art and literature. Negritude was seen as a way to develop a sense of black pride, and it promoted pride in African heritage, culture identity and it contributed to the growth of the Pan-African movement.
The Harlem Renaissance took place in Harlem, New York during the 1920s. Even though Harlem was a rundown neighbourhood where overcrowding and unemployment was rife, it was seen as the vibrant cultural centre of the Pan-Africanist movement. Many famous black artists, musicians, poets and novelists came from Harlem during this time. This movement created a new positive identity for black people as they took pride in their ancestry. Rastafarianism was derived from a prediction made by Marcus Garvey before he left Jamaica; he spoke of a Black emperor in Africa that would bring deliverance. In 1930 a man named Ras Tafari was crowned Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, he was seen as a god and the religion of Rastafarianism was born. Rastafarianism was particularly prominent in Jamaica amongst the descendants of the freed slaves in the slums of Kingston and from there it spread. Rastafarians believed that they would only be liberated if the return to Africa either spiritually or physically.
They tried three times to repatriate groups to Africa this was in 1934, 1956 and 1959, all three attempts failed. Rastafarian idealism was shown though cultural forms such as reggae music and also through their dreadlocks which were a symbol of defiance of the white man. The impact of World War 2 on Pan-Africanism was extremely positive; The UNO passed the Declaration of Human Rights and also put a tremendous amount of pressure on colonial powers. In 1945 a Pan-Africanist conference known as the Manchester Conference was held. The purpose of this conference was to demand the end of colonialism and to demand the independence of all African colonies. There were delegates from Africa and this was the most radical of all of the Pan-Africanist conferences to have taken place.
The African soldiers that were returning from the battlefield felt that they should be able to receive the freedom that they had fought for during the war. After the war the colonial powers were weakened both economically and politically and the colonies were seen as a burden, so independence was given most of the colonies. These sparked Nationalist movements world-wide. Even after the emancipation of the slaves, African Diaspora have been treated as second rate citizens, the Pan-Africanist movement fought against this and aimed to find an identity for the Black people. It all started with W.E.B Du Bois and his original Pan-Africanist conferences held after the First World War then it moved onto Marcus Garvey who brought about the UNIA which stood for Black economic self-reliance and aimed to unite all Black people. Garveyism spread world-wide and attracted a lot of support, even in South Africa.
Cultural movements such as the Harlem Renaissance and Negritude helped blacks get a positive identity, they were educated and where taught about Black history and culture. The religion of Rastafarianism was born out of a prophecy made by Marcus Garvey and this was a true example of Pan-African beliefs. After the Second World War people started to take human rights more seriously and organisations such as the United Nations were formed, the UN urged colonial powers to release their grip on their African colonies and this brought about independence for the African people. Pan-Africanism succeeded in creating an identity for the Black person and brought about much change throughout the world with regards to how people think.
Cite this Pan-Africanism Idea Theory Overview
Pan-Africanism Idea Theory Overview. (2016, May 18). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/pan-africanism/