African Liberation Day: “Africans, We should All be Pan Africanists” – Ousman Touray

Efforts to strengthen bonds between the native and diasporic Africans 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 favor 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.

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