PAN-AFRICANISM ON THE MOVE

27.09.2021

PAN-AFRICANISM: FROM THE ORIGIN TO AFRICAN RESISTANCE IN THE XXI CENTURY

Many people know the character Thomas Sankara or Muammar Kadhafi was, but few know the deep thoughts of these characters. Few people know the concept of Pan-Africanism (at least among non-African peoples). Yet it is a thought that has always been at the center of the African debate in every era, in every generation. We will try to understand together the origins of this ideal, its objectives and the problems that it has had to face in each era and continues to face. In this article, we will focus on the history of the Pan-African current, addressing its origins, the Afro-descendant resistance in the Americas, Garveyism, African independence, and then addressing the more political-contemporary part with the resistance movements in this XXI century, like NGO Urgences Panafricanistes of Kemi Seba, an organization that I coordinate in the African diaspora, precisely in Italy.

THE FEDERAL IDEAL AS THE ONLY WAY OUT

To face the globalist threat, the african micronationalism is no longer necessary. No nation state in Africa is strong enough on its own to cushion and reverse the imperialist and neocolonialist avalanche. To regroup according to a block of continental civilization (United States of Africa), as the fathers and mothers founders of Pan-African ideology wanted, it is the only soteriological solution.
A HISTORICAL OVERVIEW OF A CONTINENT TO KNOW
Africa is a polycentric and heterogeneous continent, characterized by multiple realities, cultures and customs. One could say that it is a space in its own right which constitutes its uniqueness. These differences have not always been synonymous with division on the continent. On the contrary, the desire for African unity in diversity has always been an endogenized concept within African cultures, as Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop shows us in his works. A desire that led to a higher ideal that we call: Pan-Africanism.

Historically, Africa has seen the birth and prosperity of Kingdoms and Empires on its soil. Vast Empires which were not destined to impose themselves in a belligerent manner (contrary to certain historiographical caricatures), but which aimed to unite under confederations. Emblematic is, for example, the Kouroukan Fouga Charter (better known by the name of Manden Charter) of 1236, which was a charter of rights and duties consisting in uniting the Empire of Mali (or Manden Kouroufaba) following the victory of the King Mari Soundiata Keita in Kirina against Soumahoro Kante. We can also speak of personalities like Shaka Zulu, who dedicated his existence to the desire to unite a large part of South Africa, or King Behanzin at the head of Dahomey, Samory Touré and his Wassoulou Empire, as well as women like Kimpa Vita, who dedicated their lives to the reunification of Kongo Dia Ntotila (better known as the Kongo Kingdom).

On the basis of these elements, we want to weave the web of the will for African unity, in other forms which are superior today: continental unity and no longer limited to kingdoms.

THE DEFINITION OF PAN-AFRICANISM AND ITS ORIGINS

As the term itself indicates, Pan-Africanism intends to represent the unity of Africans present on the African continent or in geographical areas that have suffered a strong diaspora (Caribbean, Americas, etc.). It is a soteriological ideology, that is to say of salvation, since its goal is to free the African peoples both from the exogenous powers of domination and from the endogenous socio-political-economic asphyxiation. Since its genesis, Pan-Africanist thought has been located at the antipodes of the borders established by the Berlin Conference of 1884-1885, which balkanized Africa and, consequently, created artificial nations which did not always respect the status quo of the African continent. The ultimate goal of Pan-Africanism is the construction of a large monolithic-federal African block, through the reappropriation of continental sovereignty in all its aspects, and above all the emancipation of the endogenous evils which paralyze the progress of Africa.

It becomes necessary to ask the first question: why think in federal terms? Because, in this geopolitical world, only civilizations which have decided to unite in the name of a common destiny and of a matrix which unites them, weighs and are respected. For example, in Eastern Europe a continentalist concept like Eurasism has spread and is supported, defended by the Russian intellectual Alexander Dugin (author, in 2009, of the book ''The fourth political theory''), since they argue that the eurasian matrix is the root that unites this space.
Likewise, in Latin America, it is believed that only a united South America, as Simon Bolivar hoped in his time, can lead to a real salvation in the face of dollarism and endogenous constraints that block the progress and emancipation of these peoples. Federal South-Americal is a concept carried by figures such as Raphael Machado, leader of the Nova Resistencia movement, like other continentalist and anti-imperialist representatives of this space.
If we look at China, the latter appears as a sum of several provinces, united in the name of a common destiny, while the United States of America (even if we can criticize them in the face of their imperialist policies ) are a federation which, from the moment their founding fathers understood that only unity could have weighed this bloc in the geopolitical concert, they embraced what they believed to be their soteriological destiny of unity.

We can therefore see how all the nations which have united in the course of history are those which have understood that unity shifts the balance of power to their advantage. Pan-Africanism represents Africa's response to this global concept of unity and this ideal is defended by figures such as Kemi Seba at the start of the 21st century, at the head of his NGO Urgences Panafricanistes which he chairs.
But we cannot speak in depth about Pan-Africanism, and its real objectives, without analyzing its genesis, its origin and its patriarchs.
First of all, to clarify, it must be said that Pan-Africanism was not born in Africa, but in the Afro-descendant diaspora of the Americas, and finds its genesis in the period of the slave trade. The suffering that blacks went through when they were kidnapped from their families, ethnicities, kingdoms and deported to the Americas led to a common sense of social maturity. In a context of brutality and oppression of big capital, a movement known under the name of "marronage" is born.
But what are we talking about when we invoke the concept of marronage? To answer correctly, it is necessary to contextualize the behavior of the black deportees. At the time of the slave trade, there were three types of blacks: the black of the plantation totally submitted to the master, the black in search of greater autonomy without seeking to completely rid himself of the one who oppressed him and - finally - the black who wanted a definitive independence face to the master, seeking complete self-determination and freedom; a black therefore who flees and builds with his fellows, autonomous villages, where he could be the sole master of his destiny. This last category was called Neg-Marron, therefore represented the radical blacks (as they were presented at the time), those who were ready to do anything for their freedom, in the name of a ''pan-negro'' feeling common.

HAITIAN REVOLUTION

Over the centuries, black consciousness had become very 'radicalized', particularly during the French Revolution of 1789, after which some blacks realized that freedom should not and could not be a concept of varying geometry. From this event and this awareness was born one of the greatest black revolutions in history: on August 22, 1791, several Neg-Marrons, in the company of the voodoo priest Dutty Boukman, gathered on the French island of Saint -Domingue (now Haiti) to start the Haitian Revolution against the French colonial slavery system.

The revolution was led by General François Domenique Toussaint Louverture (1743-1803), who, between more or less diplomatic actions, fought to redeem Santo Domingo from French colonialism, often finding himself in collaboration with the British or the Spaniards in a French anti-colonial tone. It was a struggle that lasted for years and was later won by other personalities like Jean-Jacques Dessalines (1758-1806), an even more radical figure than Louverture. Those who led the revolution succeeded in disciplining and training the inhabitants of the island, forming a united front against the same enemy, to the point that Napoleon Bonaparte, fearing that his imperial interests would be disturbed, decided to restore slavery in the colonies (abolished just after the French Revolution) and to arrest Louverture in 1802, who was deported to France and imprisoned until his death. With the arrest of Louverture, the Napoleonic Empire thought it could stifle the Haitian revolution, but it was a mistake: during his arrest, in fact, Louverture said: "By arresting me in Santo Domingo, they did not cut as the trunk of the tree; the roots are many and deep - they will rise again! '' A prediction which came true thanks to General Dessalines, who took the reins of the situation and continued the mission of Louverture until the battle of Vertières (November 18, 1803), which he saw confronting the Neg-Marrons and the Napoleonic troops and sanctions the defeat of the latter.
Following the military defeat of France on January 1, 1804, Saint-Domingue obtained de facto independence. Renamed by the name of "Haiti", the latter had become the first black republic in history.
But faced with the colonialist powers who wanted to see Haiti subjugated, Dessalines - was assassinated in 1806. At the time, all the nations ostracized Haiti which had dared to fight for its sovereignty and, following the death of General Dessalines, a a series of easily manageable subjects followed one another on the island. The Pannègre project, which had been evoked within certain Neg-Marron of the island, was abandoned, but would survive, basically, among the people and certain black intellectuals.

MODERN PAN-AFRICANISM AND DECOLONIZATION IN AFRICA

Many Haitian intellectuals, including Martin Robinson Delany (1812-1885) and Benito Sylvain (1868-1915), continued to speak of a probable pan-African project. But they were elitist characters, who never wanted to guard their intellectual approach among the masses. It is a Jamaican who dared to put the Pan-African unitary project at the center of the table, among all black social categories: Marcus Mosiah Garvey (1887-1940), the most influential leader of the black world at the beginning of the 20th century. Born in Saint Ann's Bay (Jamaica), Garvey has traveled extensively around the world; moving to the United States, in 1914 he founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). UNIA was the first black and pan-African nationalist organization which revolved around the idea of the Great Return to Africa (Back To Africa), self-determination and the total decolonization of the continent. Great preacher of the return to Africa of all Afro-descendants, Garvey affirmed that each people has its own identity and that its goal is to remain firm in its roots. In the twenties of the twentieth century, he was the first to imagine the birth of the United States of Africa: Garvey, in fact, understood that only a large continental bloc of Africa could resist in the face of exogenous colonialism and be respected in the concert of nations. To do this, Garvey succeeded - through the shipping company he owned, the Black Star Line - in transporting many Afro-descendants to Liberia from 1919 to 1922. He had become a threat to government interests. American in the USA and Liberia (as well as in the neighboring colonies), who decided to expel him to Jamaica and prevent him from continuing his work. However, his ideas did not die, as they were the essence of the Fifth Pan-African Congress of 1945, which saw the participation of future “new leaders” of African nations, including Kwame Nkrumah, Ahmed Sékou Touré and Jomo Kenyatta, men who in their lifetime will lead Ghana, Guinea Conakry and Kenya as presidents. These men were personalities who opted for an "African way of socialism" which, combined with pan-Africanism, represented the only way - according to their vision - to find salvation in Africa. Deeply and firmly anti-colonialist, they placed the urgency of African decolonization on the international scene: following this Congress, in fact, and a process of struggle, many African nations succeeded in obtaining their independence in the years that followed.
Shortly after independence, however, a new obstacle appeared, namely that represented by "neo-colonialism". If, on the one hand, colonialism consisted of home slavery and obvious looting on the ground by the big Caucasian capitalists, neocolonialism, for its part, had arisen as a paternalistic form of the ex-colonizing countries on the neo-independent countries through the co-optation of African elites, cooperation agreements which consisted of being agreements of unilateral domination, control of the military and economic systems, through the concept better known as Françafrique (with regard to the Franc Zone ). Neocolonialism had become a more latent form compared to colonialism: the colonist was no longer distinguished by the color of his skin, because some African elites had accepted this new system.

This accentuates more and more the desire for federal unity among the most `` radical '' leaders (always to use a terminology of the system), who reasoned more in a sovereignist perspective, like Nkrumah, Modibo Keita (first president of Mali ), Patrice Lumumba, Sékou Touré and Julius Nyerere (first president of Tanzania). Federal sentiment led to the creation, on May 25, 1963, of an international body called the Organization for African Unity (OAU), which, from a political point of view, was the precursor of the current African Union (AU ). This organization, co-founded by Nkrumah, Haile Selassie and others in Addis Ababa, has set itself the objectives of fundamental points that it has not always respected over time: the fight against neo-colonialism, promotion of African integration in politics as well as in the economic field, fight against corruption and imperialism. But over time, indeed, the original project of African unity had started to be abandoned, with political elites thinking more in terms of micro-nationalisms instead of understanding that independent neo-nations were easily attacked by imperialism.

Pan-African rulers and patriots who dared to oppose any exogenous hegemony were eliminated by imperialism. Very often the imperialists have collaborated with Africans to overthrow regimes. In this regard, we cannot fail to think of men like Thomas Isidore Sankara (1949-1987), a non-aligned Burkinabé, opposed to the colonial debt, in favor of full African self-sufficiency. We can think of men like the Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Emery Lumumba (1925-1961), the Cameroonian revolutionary Ruben Um Nyobe (1913-1958), the Moroccan Pan-African Mehdi Ben Barka (1920-1965) and all those who wanted and dreamed that Africa could take off from its condition.

PAN-AFRICANISM IN THE XXI CENTURY: FROM GADHAFI TO AFRICAN CITIZEN RESISTANCE

During its existence, the OAU (Organization for African Unity) has been unable to solve most of the time the internal problems of the African continent and this failure has led to the dissolution of the organization, to cede the place at the African Union (formalized on July 9, 2002).
But although the latter presented itself as a pan-Africanist structure, it is in reality only a kind of "European Union 2.0", a structure imbued with neoliberalism in the economic field, which therefore follows the agenda of globalism and is funded by outside forces (European Union, United States, among others).
You have to ask yourself: how can we speak of development - or even worse - Pan-Africanism if those who finance you are the same who paralyze you?
The African Union is today in a state of asphyxia, paralysis, and dependent on others. We could therefore define - to use a neologism used by Kemi Seba in his book Black Nihilism published in 2014 - this structure is not pan-Africanist, but “para-fricanist”. If Pan-Africanism represents this thought of liberation and unity for the African continent, acclaimed by the popular masses, para-fricanism is, according to Kemi Seba, a pseudo-grid for reading African unity, which consists in seeing the African continent according to the Eurocentric and elitist lens. Why such a statement? Because if Africanism represents the study of everything concerning Africa, the latter is almost always carried out from a Eurocentric perspective. In the political-economic sphere, the AU follows the model of the European Union. The African Union in its many shortcomings has therefore not been able to solve the most fundamental problems of the African continent.
Yet a man like Muammar Gaddafi (1942-2011) understood these issues and viewed the AU as obsolete and incapable of solving Africa's political, economic and social problems.
This is why he decided, during his presidency of the AU in 2009, to re-propose the question of the United States of Africa, united by a single government, a single sovereign currency, a common African passport and a single pan-African army. Gaddafi considered, like his predecessors, that only a truly united Africa could be able to overcome all the problems it faces such as: the lack of monetary sovereignty of 14 African nations, the weakness of national armies unable to cope with it advance of Islamic fundamentalism (under-armed armies, to be specified as well), the impossibility for Africans from certain continental regions to move to others and the low rate of exchanges between African nations, because they are too dependent foreign powers. At the start of the twenty-first century, these are questions that Gaddafi addressed a lot when he was alive. He started in Lomé (Togo) in 2000 when he began to propose the initiative of the United States of Africa, then in Conakry (Guinea) in 2007 and later in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) in within the African Union. The initiative of a federal Africa was well accepted and shared by several heads of state on the continent, with the sole exception of South Africa and Nigeria who were less interested at the time.
Gaddafi worked on the dinar-gold project, hoping for the establishment of a single continental currency which should have been pegged, mainly to gold, but also to the various mineral resources of the African continent. Libya had managed to accumulate a large quantity of gold thanks to oil revenues and with this gold it wanted to free itself from Western imperialist domination on its territory. This dynamic could have allowed an economic take-off in Africa and would have guaranteed the sovereignty of all these African nations held hostage by economic colonialism. At the same time, Gaddafi believed that Africa should have an African Monetary Fund and an African Central Bank to guarantee the status of the future gold dinar.
Another big issue he fought for was the creation of an African passport. It should be known that at present, Africans of the ECOWAS zone (Economic Community of West African States), cannot move freely towards the countries of the CEMAC zone (Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa) . A single African passport could have eradicated this problem forever and made free movement, a project that Nkrumah dreamed of at the time, a reality.

Gaddafi was determined in his actions, but his plans represented a great danger to the exogenous powers who saw in all this the destruction of their interests in Africa. This is why the same imperialist powers (France, European Union, United Kingdom, United States through NATO) orchestrated the assassination of Gaddafi, who died on October 20, 2011. Gaddafi represented the last hope of the process of continental unity initiated by the patriarchs of Pan-Africanism. Therefore, her death was a tragedy, because she represented the last bastion of African solidarity, balance and stability in the Mediterranean Sea, this sea which for a few years has become an open-air cemetery, which sees a thalas immigration, following African poor governance and the systemic plundering of African raw materials by Western multinationals.

As questionable as Gaddafi may be in some aspects, his death was a disaster in many ways.

Yet his assassination never discouraged the indomitable African youth seeking their full sovereignty. There is today a new Pan-Africanist generation, in Africa and in the diaspora, ripe on many questions which have understood the danger that hangs over the continent.

Pan-Africanism has undergone several phases of change since its genesis: resistance against slavery in the Americas (the famous Marronage), the struggle against colonialism at the end of World War II, resistance to neo-colonialism from 1960 until reaching the last stage represented by the generalized neoliberal globalism of today. A globalism which suffocates the African continent but, in reality, when it is analyzed it is a metastasis which harms the whole of humanity.

In the last century, the Toubab capitalist colonist entered Africa and exploited the territories he encountered on his way (often with the laxity and complicity of the local authorities he encountered).

Today, the modern colonialist has understood that in order to maintain his supremacy he must bring stateless ''thalassocratic '' NGOs into Africa following an ultra-globalist agenda in order to introduce them into ultra-millennial African traditionalist societies, to co-opt the rooted indigenous civil society and convince it that West modernity (which is none other than the illustration of a Hindu metaphysical concept developed by Réné Guénon known like as '' kali yuga '', that is to say the dark age of disorder, materialism, individualism, anti-Messiah) is their salvation, and that anything that targets their traditional values is to be defeated or demonized. In short, that El Dorado is the West.

It is therefore here that the struggle between tellurocratic civilizations (the multipolar civilizations of the Earth, Tradition, Identity, sovereignty) comes into play against the thalassocratic civilizations (the imperialist civilizations which were built thanks to the maritime exploitation, globalism, neoliberalism, unipolarity, modernity and deregulated capitalism).

It is in this dichotomy that African youth today find themselves facing new exogenous forces of domination.

Consequently, these globalist NGOs which enter Africa, which have not been acclaimed by anyone, represent a danger for Africa. Kwame Nkrumah in his book ''New-Colonialism: The last stage of Imperialism'' spoke of neo-colonialism as the last stage of west colonialism. I will say, that today the real enemy is globalism (which is a little different from globalization). For this reason, today there are African resistance movements such as Urgences Panafricanistes which have decided to fight and resist in the face of the new dangers of Africa.

FRONT ANTI-CFA, URGENCES PANAFRICANISTES AND INTER-AFRICAN MOBILIZATIONS AGAINST THE CFA FRANC

The CFA Franc is a currency of French colonial heritage, printed by the French Bank and affiliated with the euro, which paralyzes the local African economy and deprives fourteen African nations of their inalienable right to monetary sovereignty. CFA represents the last vestige of French neocolonialism, of neoliberalism and represents the symbol of stateless finance which, by its imposition in 1945, destroyed the economic (but also political) fate of the African franc zone.

Between 2016 and 2017, Urgences Panafricanistes, that I coordinate in Italy, organized simultaneous mobilizations across the continent and in the diaspora against neocolonialism, which echoed globally.

Urgences Panafricanistes (URPANAF) is an African international NGO, founded in 2015 and chaired by anti-colonial activist Kemi Seba (leading figure in African resistance in the 21st century). Pan-Africanist and sovereignist ideologically, Urgences Panafricanistes founded a year after its birth the Front Anti-Cfa (Front Anti french colonialism in Africa), a network that brings together more than 130 pan-African organizations against Françafrique (monetary, military and political neocolonialism).

The Front Anti-CFA has become a promoter and actor in the issue of monetary sovereignty. On August 19, 2017, the date on which a large international mobilization was organized and on which the activist Kemi Seba burned - not as an act of vandalism but as a symbolic act and of peaceful protest - a note from 5,000 CFA francs, declaring at the end of the mobilization: ''In the 21st century, normally, every people has the right to own its own currency, and to decide its own political future. But no future can be decided without mastering its economy. We have exogenous forces, in this case the Banque de France, which has the right to say whether or not it agrees with the decisions we make. It shows that we have a currency that is obsolete, which is a currency of bondage, slavery, and submission. The symbol sought by burning this note, even if we are not rich, better wants to live freedom in uncertainty than slavery in joy and opulence. ''

For this gesture, he was arrested in Senegal and released (and deported to France after a week) after a few days following massive mobilizations of Senegalese and African civil society on the continent, which demanded his release.

The anti-colonial mobilisations aroused a worldwide echo. We are talking about the peaceful and anti-colonialist mobilizations which forced France to review the African monetary question, and a year later, a project for a new single currency, the ECO, was announced. A currency which is not yet in force, but which should be implemented in the countries of the Franc Zone in West Africa, including the English-speaking countries Nigeria and Ghana) of this region. But the system of this future currency is criticized by African civil society for certain criteria that have not been eliminated, such as permanent affiliation to the euro. He is also criticized by the Ghanaian government of Nana Akuffo-Addo and Muhammadu Buhari who opposed membership of the euro, demanding that Africans must manage their new currency. A maturity of the situation, of which, humbly, the credit goes to the Anti CFA Front, founded by Urgences Panafricanistes of Kemi Seba.

IS THERE ANY HOPE FOR PAN-AFRICANISM ?

There is hope for the Pan-African cause, in the social and popular field. Because there is a generational awareness never seen before. The desire for unity, the construction of a pan-African federal state, the criticism of Western military bases and foreign multinationals on African soil, the desire for sovereignty, but above all the criticism of bad governance and internal corruption. All these factors, contrary to the media caricature of a passive and silent Africa, should make us think positively. A new African and Afro-descendant generation was born. The result will be visible in a few years.