Pan-Africanists world-wide are most often striving to unify and liberate Africa and African people
What is often missing is a narrative that outlines what some Pan-Africanists are fighting for and how they are going to achieve their objective. The fight against our oppression sometimes creates a scenario where some Pan-Africanists find themselves consistently fighting against everything that they don’t believe in and consequently also fighting against being part of an organization or collective understanding and adhering to an ideologically framework and most importantly against fellow Pan-Africanists.
Ideology is a set of ideas that guide our behaviors and actions and often if our ideology is created and reinforced by the capitalist system we will use this ideology to guide our work in and out of the Pan-African movement. As we move through our Pan-African lives we cannot help but recognize the destructive behavior that also exists inside of the movement. How can we justify disrespecting one another or exploiting ourselves, our partners and our community if we claim to be a Pan-Africanist? How is it possible that a movement that is pushing unity has more sects within it than many African countries have ethnic divides? Are we truly on the road to building Pan-Africanism or are we just part of the larger capitalist system that uses ideology to divide and conquer our people?
The answer to these and many questions cannot be answered in a single blog post but they can raise some valuable points about the way forward. We contend that it is important as Pan-Africanists to:
- Recognize that oppression impacts us all in various forms and we often are unaware of how deeply we are impacted by our inability to shake the yoke of oppression
- We must not allow our class positions to dictate how we engage with our comrades and our community. Too often we believe that because we have read a few books or have a PhD that somehow we are more qualified to “lead” the people to “freedom” or mind and body. This thinking is not only individualistic but also reinforces the notion that because we have access to resources we are somehow more intelligent than the people and we must be the savior of African people.
- We must immediately halt our internal fight for who is the hardest, most revolutionary and most righteous Pan-Africanist. These struggles not only divide the movement but it makes it easy on our enemy to continue to organize to exploit our need to be the supreme Pan-Africanist. Who qualifies any of us to be more Pan-African than the next? Is it our place of birth, is it the number of African print clothes we have in our closest, it is our African names, is it how many times we have read Kwame Nkrumah or Thomas Sankara, is it our pouring of libation, is it our perceived dedication to the people, is it how many people viewed our most recent video or liked our cool saying on facebook What makes any of us more Pan-African than the next? This is not a popularity contest but rather it is a fight for our lives!!!!!
How do we move forward is what we need to address as Pan-African scholars and activists and we would like to suggest a few things:
- We must individually and collectively check our ego at the door and allow for positive criticism to be our guide towards changing our behavior. If we are not able to accept positive criticism about our behavior and principles then we are in the wrong movement.
- We must be part of organizations that are pushing Pan-Africanism. History has proven that the individual is never as successful as the group and it is only in an organization of other Pan-Africanists that we will begin to be challenged about some of our backward and reactionary behavior!! We must not surround ourselves with people who will not challenge our negative behavior but with people who will pull us up when we have gone astray and will be our role models for a positive and productive model of non-capitalist behavior.
- When we disagree with one another ideologically we must never use the enemy’s tactics of belittling our comrades and or personally attacking them. This ultimately yields us nothing and takes our movement backward instead of forward.
- We must be comfortable with understanding the evolution of our ideological framing and be patient with those of us around us who we believe are less ideologically sound or are “lost”. We are all on an ideological journey one that never stops and the minute we believe that we have arrived ideologically that is the moment that we have lost the battle.
At the end of the day we must ask ourselves are we Pan-Africanists because we want the fortune and fame or because we work for our people!!!
Edem & Mjiba