The contemporary relevance of Pan-Africanism in the 21st century

Authored by: Mueni wa Muiu

Routledge Handbook of Pan-Africanism

Print publication date:  May  2020
Online publication date:  April  2020

Print ISBN: 9780367030667
eBook ISBN: 9780429020193
Adobe ISBN:


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Pan-Africanism developed in the new world in the face of racial discrimination and dehumanization of people of African descent. The following African American and Afro-Caribbean activists and intellectuals were the key actors in its creation: W.E.B Du Bois, Paul Robeson, CL.R. James, George Padmore and Marcus Garvey. The first Pan-African congress meetings which were organized by W.E.B Du Bois in London, Paris, Brussels and London as well as in Brussels and Lisbon favored the gradual independence of African countries. Some mothers of Pan-Africanism include Amy Jacques Garvey, Amy Ashwood Garvey, Shirley Graham Du Bois, Audley Moore and Dara Abubakari. 1 There are certain common factors that unite people of African descent based on Pan-Africanism which include the common suffering under slavery, colonialism, neocolonialism as well as cultural and political factors. Although the cultures of people of African descent in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America may be different, based on economic class they experience some similar conditions such as poverty and discrimination. Because of poverty, ethnic, racial or religious discrimination and war some people of African descent are forced to live in inhumane conditions. In what ways can the ideology of Pan-Africanism be harnessed as a weapon to better the conditions facing people of African descent? Only radical Pan-Africanism can be relevant in the 21st century. By “radical” we mean a Pan-Africanism that leads to economic empowerment, control of resources within the continent, peace and African Unity. Economic empowerment of the majority of people of African descent will halt the migration to Western countries. It will also provide opportunities for African youth to succeed as they live lives of dignity. This chapter will examine the relevance of Pan-Africanism in the 21st century by focusing on conflict, forced migration and poverty as well as education.

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