The Origin of Pan-Africanism and Its Role Today in Relation to Africa Development

By: Clifton Ellis (Jamaican-British Geopolitical Analyst, Strategist & Electrical Power Engineer)

“Mamma Africa Calling”

The issues affecting the continent of Africa or “Mama Africa” as she is so affectionately called by Jamaicans, have never been very far from my human experience in this life. Being born in Jamaica in 1979 gives me a unique perch from which to observe the ongoing issues that affect Mamma Africa in light of the awareness that was introduced to me by the indigenous Jamaican culture of Rastafarianism and by the works of legendary Pan-Africanist His Excellency The Honourable Marcus Mosiah Garvey, the founder and first President-General of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL, commonly known as UNIA) which sought to build on the continent of Africa a Black-governed nation.

It is a poignant point to note for historical purposes and to give accreditation to by noting that it is Marcus Garvey, aka the “Black Moses” that originally introduced the concept of Pan-Africanism which is also termed Garveyism.

Figure 1 Portrait of His Excellency Marcus Mosiah Garvey

Garveyism was a worldwide movement that encouraged the return of diaspora peoples of African ancestry to join the indigenous peoples on the African Continent to establish and build a Nation that would warrant its citizens the right to the pursuit of happiness based on the American Constitution which states fundamentally that “All men are created equal” thus successfully exposing the immorality of the official Government’s position of depriving blacks of their rights via segregation laws and colonial occupation of Africa.

The movement had a substantial support base primarily among the African diaspora in the Americas where Garvey travelled extensively. Garvey observed and regularly challenged the establishment at the time in his writings and speeches concerning the prevalence of racially motivated atrocities against blacks and their communities during the early 1900’s.

The Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 which destroyed the Greenwood community in Oklahoma that had built a highly successful “Black Wallstreet”, fuelled by ingrained institutional racism at the time at both State and Federal levels of government and the existence of blatant bias within the operations of the judiciary that actively deprived blacks of the presumption of innocence and that of Habeas Corpus.  Garvey concluded that, like the Children of Israel, black people needed to establish an African Nation on their ancestral land to cultivate, foster and establish their ambition for socio-economic prosperity, political stability, and freedom.

Figure 2 Black People of the Community of Greenwood Tulsa, Oklahoma 1921 being arrested.

As history would have it, it was a black Jamaican that first envisioned the Pan-African ideology that was subsequently taken from Jamaica and transplanted in the fertile soil of the African diaspora of North America, the Caribbean and on the African continent over a hundred years ago that now fuels African development philosophical and economical ideology. Garvey’s thoughts on Pan-Africanism have been a stalwart framework on which many African leaders since the black liberation movement of the 1950’s and 60’s have built their political philosophy and socio-economic agenda, including the legendary Pan-Africanist Leader of the Democratic Republic of Congo, His Excellency the Right Honourable Patrice Lumumba.

Figure 3 Pan Africanist Extra-ordinaire His Excellency Patrice Lumumba, First President of The Democratic Republic of Congo

Garvey understood that the plight of Africans throughout the diaspora was inextricably linked to those of the indigenous Africans’ fight against neo-colonialism on the continent. He successfully connected the struggles which accelerated the timeline towards the restoration of a free, independent, and sovereign Africa. This also ensured that an awareness was created within the consciousness of the black community that the restoration of the dignity of all black people across the world is connected to the success of this agenda. The two movements cannot be separated and it is for the people of both groups of Africans to strategically look to harness this highly creative potential for the benefit of Africans and all humanity by extension.

Where there are a people that is made up of hundreds of tribes having a multitude of beliefs, it is extremely challenging, though very critical to formulate a set of coherent principles or doctrine which is suitable enough to successfully inspire unanimous support. Pan-Africanism is suitable because it emphasises freedom and socio-economic prosperity for all Blacks all over the world irrespective of tribe or creed.

“African Diaspora: Africa Connection” – A Case of DNA

An analysis of my (the author’s) DNA undertaken by reveals that my DNA is made up of many indigenous peoples covering Western, Central and Southern Africa (See Figure 4 & Figure 5). The constituent of my DNA is as follows; 59% Nigerian, 18% Ivorian and Ghanian, 8% Cameroonian, Congolese & Western Bantu, 7% Beninese & Togolese, 2% Malian, 1% Senegalese, 1% East Central Nigerian, 1% Khoisan, Akan & Mbuti which equates to 97% African DNA. I am also 2% English and Northern European and 1% Filipino.

Figure 4 Geographic spread of the origin of my DNA across Africa
Figure 5Graphical Geographic Spread Across Africa of my DNA (The author’s)

The story of my DNA is not unique to myself and represents a typical story of millions of Africans from across the diaspora whose ancestors were brutally trafficked across the Atlantic Ocean via the middle passage to the Americas bounded for an existence in chattel slavery on a sugar cane or cotton plantation. Their incredible journeys and stories are collectively archived within the database of our human genomes. The historical bifurcation that took place as a consequence of slavery to the diaspora has now is able to reunite together which for better or for worse seals our fate to that of our brothers and sisters across Africa continent.

A Triumphant Reunion

Africa has been subjected to continual negative press that is interesting to note are primarily written and broadcast from the neo-colonial centres of power, who have chosen to bombard the consciousness of the peoples of the world with prevalent images of poverty and destitution. These negative stories and narratives are mostly left without a healthy counterbalancing perspective to paint a fairer, fuller, and far more positive point of view about the real and vast opportunities that exist to the citizens of the African Continent as we move down the timeline of the 21st century. In a similar fashion, we can also observe the prevalence of negative press concerning the prospects of African Americans. A contingency of Black Americans has consequently bought into the “Black Lives Matter” ideology which is being stoked up by the pent-up anger, fear and frustration that exist within marginalised and socio-economically deprived black communities, to push a radical Marxist Socialist agenda built on false ideas of affirmative action and critical race theory.

We the children of the diaspora join hand in hand with our African brothers and sisters on the continent to boldly state that a counter narrative is in the making, and like the children of Israel who escaped their bondage in Egypt to successfully sojourned to the promised land, so we the children of Africa now emerge from the wilderness left behind us, ready to plant and reap the opportunities that abundantly abound to be seized by much unity of purpose, strategic thinking, planning, and project execution. This is the moment where we Africans collectively transmute the pain and trauma of the past 500 years to realise what will be the greatest success story of the 21st century. We Africans will rightly continue to build on the strong and lasting philosophical foundation that was boldly laid down by Pan-Africanist geniuses such as Marcus Garvey. Long may their legacy continue through the DNA of purpose they seeded in us.  “Wakanda Forever”.