Making Panafricanism a Political Reality

Now that we have witnessed the redeployment of Western powers armed forces of on the African soil, the division of Sudan, the attacks on Ivory Coast, Libya, the disturbance in the Central African Republic and Nigeria, if we ad to these examples the long suffering of the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo, It would be no exaggeration to say that great risks and threats are weighing on the continent; and these are signs  that indicate that the colonial relations between the West and Africa have been preserved unchanged.

In light of the current international context, the Unification of the African Progressive Forces, how pretentious it may sound, is more than a reasonable ambition which appears rather to be a compelling need and a pressing political imperative.

The project to unite the African Progressive Forces, far from being a pretentious, is rather, in light of the current international context a reasonable ambition which appears to be a compelling need and a pressing political imperative.

We can no longer keep on supporting the strategy of the division that has being successful in playing Africans off against each other. That strategy of division has led to the ongoing economic competitions between our micro dominated states, between Africans living in the continent against those living abroad, and infighting between individuals for access to resources, status and acceptance from powerful groups and organizations.

The need for Unity and Solidarity, with regards to our collective vulnerability, should prevent us from maintaining these internal divisions.

Needless to say that in this vision of Pan-Africanism, resolutely global, we consider Africans living outside the continent, who are endorsing different nationalities imposed by the vagaries of history, should be considered Africans with full rights, as those living inside the continent even though they are also deprived of their full citizen rights. Because Africans are in fact, second class- citizens in their own continent. These differences exist on the one and same continent where the different historical, cultural, social and political experiences have molded people’s temperaments, in different ways.

Our differences in life trajectories and experiences, as well as the numerous sources of internal contentions or conflicts, should in no way hold back the unification process of the progressive forces. These differences must not lead to any feelings of superiority towards one another. Once we understand that social struggles are shaped by the different contexts in which they took place; we have to realize that engaging the struggle in a global context in which the socio-political structure relies on the systematic exploitation of African resources and labor, will necessarily require some adjustments. The struggle at a global level should be as, flexible and creative- if no more so- than the system that oppresses us. In these times of profound shifts, where technological advancement has made the world smaller, giving Unity a chance is the most revolutionary act we can try.

We have no interest in establishing a hierarchy between oppressed and downtrodden, or to set up gradation in our level of misery and sufferings endured since African Holocaust on the continent and abroad.

We have to break with that tendency that seeks to assign a savior mission to individuals or one particular group. We have to be careful not to see the world through the lens of western academic tradition or its entertainment industry, if not we will reproduce colonial mentality and fall into the arrogance of Europeans’ civilizing mission.

We have to respect people’s world view and realize that it is not all Africans who are impressed neither by western achievements and view world, nor by its development model which is based on human labor exploitation, unsustainable policies that lead to social and ecological imbalances.

In the current phase of our struggle, can we allow ourselves to interfere in the individual liberties of people to whom we do not provide jobs, housing, health care or security yet?

Working together on a Pan-African agenda will help us get rid of the mutual biases and stigmas that we nourish towards one another.

We all have interest in building together, a politically independent and economically prosperous Africa.

We must also be careful by trying to embrace our “Africanness”, to idealize Africa or Africans by thinking that we can recapture the “authentic Africa”, through spiritual leaders or traditional “aristocracies”, which most of theme, have plaid allegiance to colonial and neo colonial rulers.

The survival of some the “aristocracies” from past does not necessarily mean that they embodies our glorious past, unless we see them engaging in progressive activities or lobbying for social justice.

African culture as well as African religion, like any other culture or religion is represented by fallible human beings, who may not fully live according to the principles they profess.

Africans who adhere to the so-called "traditional religion" also participated in slavery and supported the colonizers. Many of the traditional authorities that still exist today have forged alliances with the colonial powers, and continue to operate without questioning the neo-colonial order.

An authentic African social order under our collective oppression should be necessarily revolutionary. A genuine spirituality cannot be disconnected from people‘s social economic and political concerns and aspirations for Freedom and Justice. Because an oppressive environment does not offer the conditions conducive to the development of aptitudes in all fields which are a prerequisite for of any spiritual growth.

We have to realize the authentic African Civilization is yet to be built on the foundations of our lessons learned under the fire of our long lasting oppression.

We can no longer afford to be content with merely analyzing the system and its mechanisms, hoping that it will transform itself to coincide with our desires, or continue to be surprised that oppressors behave as such.

We can not continue to indulge in ideological postures that condemn us to slumber and passivity. Postures that make us repeat permanently the same observations, showing thereby our powerlessness, and confirming in a certain way, the prejudices which depict us as unable to take historical initiatives. We cannot keep on placing the entire “responsibility” of our condition on “our leaders”, who, curiously, have never showed us that they were “ours”, for the simple reason that they never serve our best interests ,now that we have witnessed that those who try to do, are systematically eliminated in front of our passivity. Even if the responsibility of our bad condition fell on these leaders, is it an unsolvable problem for us Africans?

It seems much easier to blame the leaders, when the majority of us devote so little time in reflecting and seeking solutions to the problems that affect us. It is a way of burying ours heads in the sand, to avoid facing up the hidden forces behind those “powerless” leaders, whose only purpose is to keep their people at the mercy of all potential exploiters.

We cannot keep on treating our condition in a passionate mode, or limiting our militancy in the academic field. Some academically interesting questions may be politically irrelevant and even counterproductive.

Is it really politically relevant to be concerned with who enslaved us or not, knowing that if we stay in this vulnerable condition, any nation would probably subjugate us when they had to?

The logic of empires is very a complex and doesn’t always strictly follow the borders of ethnic and national affiliations.

Africans have being subjugated in the past, by other nations with the help of some Africans, just like nowadays Blacks are serving in Africa, the Caribbean’s, USA and other Europeans armies and administrations to help keep African nations in bondage. The totalitarian nature of this oppressive order make that, even the most “revolutionaries” voices among us, are depending in some extend from our oppressor’s world system, infrastructures and commodities.

All societies have experiences some kind of internal aggression, be it from their elite, through, exploitation, tyranny, collaboration with foreign powers, or from the lower class through various criminal activities. Every nation on earth has exploited or kept some of its members on servitude, and every nation has people who are ready to sacrifice the collective interest for their individual interests or beliefs.

Even the hegemony of the United States of America in itself, is based on the existence of European vassal countries through their elites.

Europeans, Asians, have experienced the same internal conflicts that we face.

The cultural and linguistic differences, the geographical distance, as well as the several and frequent bloody wars which have opposed Europeans, within their continent as well as, in their colonies and they still oppose them today, through proxy wars, far from their continent, that did not prevent them from silencing their rivalries, to maintain their hegemony.

We act as if we are expecting love from other nations; instead of seeking love from other nations while we should be able to earn their respect.

None of these nations, who are exploiting and mistreating Africans, would ever not dare to do so, if we were less unmoved to the plight of our fellow brothers and sisters.

Because we have no red line fixing the limits not to be crossed when it comes to the attacks that targets the African community. There is no collective answer to the physical and moral violence of which we are globally victims.

Nations do not necessarily maintain peaceful relations; some among them have to engage in colonization enterprises driven by the urge to ensure their survival or in search for vain Glory.

We are living in a world where all the historical facts cannot be known with an absolute certainty, a world where some events of the past, particularly on the African continent, has been poorly documented for political reasons.

We must work on the common factors that bring us together, which are by far, the most numerous than those who divide us.

We have to get rid of the discourses of those who, for lack of a real political project, want to reduce Africa's problems to a problem of religion. It is really easy to fall into these simplifications, which claim that Africa is dominated because of its religion. No religion prevents us from mastering energy, science, controlling our economy or coming together.

Oppression affects all Africans, be they Muslims, Christians or adept of what we call African traditional religion, (which in fact, is still largely dominant because it is present in the previously quoted beliefs) and, and our oppressors are from different beliefs.

We can not blame religions and ideologies for the misconduct of their followers. People have as always used ideologies to serve harmful ambitions. We have witnessed mass murdered occurring in the name of Democracy, Freedom, communism and even Peace.

“African traditional belief” is no exception to the rule that make possible ,for any given human group, to use religion as an instrument of social control, organizing and regulating the relations between those who “know” and, those who have to “follows.

Are we going to wait the conversion of all Africans to the “traditional belief”, before engaging on the struggle for the liberation of Africa, while Europeans have been able to utilize foreign religion to serve their hegemonic ambitions?

Our collective oppression is a political problem and the social problems they generate must be addressed according to political and economic methodologies.

The main basis of our oppression is in our inability to secure our economic independence and our political sovereignty that is what exposes us to social and cultural repression. It is through political means and economic pressures that we are driven to cheapen up our identity and culture.

As long we feel comfortable, that most of our economic opportunities and needs will depend on other communities, our Human dignity will be undermined and we will be forced to "sell" it to meet our needs.

Without a strong economy, without the ability to ensure, to satisfy through our own efforts and sacrifices, our basic needs, without a burning desire to live Free, we will have a hard time gaining respect from other communities.

The path of a spiritual quest is a purely individual choice. It is very unfortunate to see that Pan-Africanism, which aims is to fight against oppression, taking a turning point that reduce  to a fight against religion, emptying it of any revolutionary load.

We have to question certain type of discourses which, while claiming Pan-Africanism, violate its most fundamental principles, and thereby, serve the interests of our oppressors. Shouldn’t we question the motivations and projects of those who want to engage in a struggle, while beginning to divide the troops, multiplying the factors of disagreement, and adopting a totalitarian stance?

Is it not to adopting a totalitarian stance than trying to impose a single vision of the Africa culture or religion, to more than one billion individuals? Cultural unity does not mean the standardization of its forms of expression. Great human collectivities, empires and kingdoms, have been, as always, a space of ethnic, linguistic and religious diversity.

We do not see Pan-Africanism as a rigid and totalitarian ideology; but rather as a political instrument at the service of people in their struggle for Freedom and justice and not the reverse. In this sense, it can bring together people with different beliefs. It is, for us, an essentially political instrument which, we think, when purged of its regressive inclinations, will be able to release the creative energy of the people, and direct it towards the struggle against the capitalist predation of the nations we have seen invading the African continent.

We note with a great concern, that while foreign communities are covering the entire continent with their corporations, social organizations and institutions networks, serving their collective interest, while Africans with weak networks ;when they are not busy helping other communities achieve their agencies, are pursuing mere individual objectives due to a lack of collective agenda. Africans business men who try to compete with foreign corporations, have been facing financial restrictions and fiscal pressures at national level, with the complicity of local “governments” or visible or latent trade barriers at international level.

That is to say, that the heavy financial, economic, social and military presence of “industrial powers” in Africa and their willingness to keep Africans in bondage, can’t be challenged by mere fiery speeches, catchy rhetoric, and creative slogans.

The struggle for African liberation cannot rely solely on a protesting.

Nation building requires some code of conduct, protocols and sacrifices.

We believe that pan-Africanism cannot be limited to the dream or the prediction of an individual, but must express the realization of the collective aspirations of African people by mobilizing around their social concerns and their economic interests.

Pan-Africanism, can be seen as being the movement that expresses the long historical process of the African Nation building, through the integration of its various constituents parts, with the ultimate goal being, to assume responsibility for its destiny, by way of the ownership and control by the African people, of all the economic and political levers as well as all key factors that ensure the long term survival of their societies.

Pan-Africanism as an idea and project is the ownership of no one. That is influence of the Eurocentric narrative that makes us neglect the numerous other Panafrican experiences.

We have to keep in mind that we are still standing, it is in part due to the daily sacrifices of millions “ordinary «men and women, many of whom, have lost their lives, contributing with complete anonymity, to preserve our freedom and dignity.

If the principles and objectives of Pan-Africanism may appear from different scales and perspectives, or strategies, they are an integral part of the legitimate aspirations of any given nation, to Progress, Freedom, Prosperity, and to defend the values that they cherish, when they are threatened.

Pan-Africanism is a moral imperative to get over the centuries of tragedies, self-destruction, and dehumanization and hence should become our common political project to rebuild morally, politically and economically a new African civilization.

In other words, Pan-Africanism should stop being a pure academic subject, if it is to become a vibrant political force.

The different political ideologies that exist in the world, be they liberal or socialist, would not have much impact, if their followers were satisfied doing lectures over the history and the biography of their pioneers.

Like any other ideology Pan-Africanism needs a political, economic, cultural, educational, and ecological program. The implementation of this program will make us confront our thoughts with the reality, which will set the basis for a real critical analysis process. It takes much more than Billionaires, academicians to build a Nation. Great nations are not built only by great entrepreneurs.

We need to have the clear awareness and feel the necessity of having our Human Dignity to preserve, common values that need to be perpetuated and the duty our collective liberties to defend.

We can no longer stay passive; thinking that it it’s not enough to “know” how others must think and act, while being powerless when it comes to show to the less “enlightened” the way forward, as the elite of other communities do.

We seem to think, that we will be able to influence things our way through criticism alone. We have lost the ability to affect the course of events and decisions and still expect things to happen according to our wishes. We expect that leaders we don’t train nor really select, serve our best interests, That scholars and academicians trained by colonial education system develop critical thinking, and produce new ideas, that from traditional communities emerge spontaneously highly organized nations. The USA and Europe are both the results of a political project they went through bloody wars, they all keep developing tribal bonds, speaking their languages and so on. The Pan African project is largely absent virtually absent from the speeches of political parties and electoral issues.

We expect Pan African ideology to flourish in a socio political environment where there is no significant organized forces to spread it.

We have to make the difference between our future possibilities and our current capabilities.

We must try to link our respective domestic issues with the global ones, and if possible, to coordinate the agenda of the civil society organizations with the African states agenda. These later, whether corrupted or not, must face issues that oblige them to work with international partners, the African civil society have to become a relevant partner on the continent if we want to move the political strategy of our states, in a more progressive direction.

As long as we will not be able to provide a strong back up for progressive leaders when they are attacked, there will remain corrupted ones in office.

We think that it is through a sharp and effective political action that we can help shape an environment conducive to Pan-African economic expansion.

We must come to realize, that the most brainwashed among Africans, are those who went to western schools and. The majority of African masses don’t lack awareness of their condition, they may perhaps fail to grasp the global logic of the oppressive system; but that is essentially, the lack the means of production and distribution networks, which make them fall so easily under the grip of foreign corporations and business groups. African masses have try their best, despite the violent assault for hundred years, to control the traditional economic sector, called “informal sector”, which is now almost stifled by European and Asian economic predation strategies. Now we can also see that unjust land legislations, and land grabbing policies, are threatening at very high pace the Land that African peasants have managed for centuries to preserve, without the support. That is not through pure critical analysis, but with resolute actions that we will be able to win back our vital space.

We have more important issues to discuss related to our survival, than to be continuously offended by the moves of the empire, as if we were doomed to be passive bystanders of the world.

Europeans have the right to say what they “want”; we need to ensure that they can not stop us from doing what we “want” to achieve.

Why should we expect a positive image of Africa and Africans from the “Western media”, when we can create ours?

Proud people do not mirror themselves in the eyes of others, but in their own consciousness, proud people handle by themselves, how, the different knowledge, information and skills which they believe are important, should be passed on to their descendants.

Proud peoples do not fall into worship personalities, scholars, or heroes; they pay their due respect to them. They know that knowledge collective ownership and they “live” the values and principles of “great men”. Proud peoples do not expect leaders; their ardent desire for Freedom, makes them spontaneously rally around goals that allow them to win back their Freedom and Dignity, every time these latter have been denied to them.

We must show a firm will to change our condition, to win back our collective intelligence, and our ability to question the world, to transform it. To regain vitality, energy and creativity to overcome the obstacles that obstructs our path towards political and economic self-determination, the condition of all Renaissance.

Now that we are witnessing the resurgence of the aggressiveness of capitalist countries and corporations, which results in the increase of conflicts centers, the scarcity of water resources, land grabbing amongst many other factors that are threatening the survival of millions of people .In a context where we are facing the weakness of traditional trade union organizations, it is necessary to regain power over our lives, if we do not want to end up being annihilated by the greed of this oppressive system.

Even if Africans “did not have a common culture”, we do share the same condition, that make us the most oppressed ethnic group, citizens dispossessed of their most basic rights on their own continent, as well as outside the continent, those who suffer the most from unemployment, stigmatization, xenophobic aggressions and persecution, arbitrary imprisonment, degrading humiliations.

It is this common condition which must be the catalyst of the political struggle for the liberation of African people, from all the threats which slow down their cultural, economic, social and spiritual development.

We do not need the dogmatic positions and divisive policies, which prevent us from taking fundamental steps.

The time has come to imperatively get rid, of the major obstacles that prevent us from building reliable Pan-African political organizations capable of influencing the political life of the continent and to support the struggles of the peoples for the advent of upright standing Africa.

The African family could come together:

  • To initiate the process for a wide reawakening dynamic of the Pan-African agenda,
  • To find solutions to the burning issues that threaten our survival, such as land grabbing, access to clean water, basic health care and a healthy environment.

These are tasks that can be undertaken by anyone engaged, regardless of their gender, beliefs or different choices in their private life. The only requirement should be their commitment and loyalty to the struggle.

To face these challenges, we must commit ourselves in the understanding of the social and-political forces present in our countries, their ideologies and interests in the national political dynamic.

To involve ourselves in this process of problem-solving, means that we will necessarily have to cooperate, negotiate, forge alliances, in other words, doing what nation builders are supposed to do, if we want to make major changes.

This proposal is an appeal to make things happens, it may be refined; we are open to suggestions and critics on the best way forward.

This “Rise up” political platform is just a step in the process of bridge building, which could help us move toward more formalized and structured organizations and institutions. We have some ideas that we can share later. We do think that we have to build the main routes first, so that future generations could discover the best routes and shortcuts towards the final Victory.

Sidya Diop

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Dernière publication : 16/04/2024