Pan-Africanism is a movement for the unity of all African peoples. It has gone through different stages and developments. This sample history paper explores African Americans and their interactions with Pan-Africanism.
Research paper abstract
This paper discusses Pan-Africanism from its basic definition and how it came to be as a theory. From there, the paper expresses how Pan-Africanism has changed by providing insight from several scholars on the subject and how they believe it has changed from what it was once established to be. The paper concludes with an understanding that all political science theories evolve throughout the years and that is what makes discussion on theories and perspective sound.
African Americans and the Pan-Africanism movement
Pan-Africanism can best be explained as the intricate illustrations of intellectual and political thoughts expressed by African Americans throughout the years. The term Pan-Africanism reflects a variety of perspectives on a host of subjects including culture, ideology, and culture (Eze 675-676). In most discussions, Pan-Africanism is seen as the link between Africans in diaspora and the African-American experience in the United States.
In the book African American Consciousness: Past and Present, by James L. Conyers, Jr., it provides an interesting understanding of Pan-Africanism by Dr. Gregory Carr, who notes that the term accentuates the issues of the world as it relates to African phenomena. Carr goes on to state that many of the earliest depictions of the term arrived through religion and that the church offers a glimpse into the thought processes of African Americans as it relates to individuality and political viewpoints (8-10).
African-American religion and cultural significance
Religious identity is an essential element of Pan-Africanism as it offers specific reasons as to why Africans think as they do. The continent of Africa and the African people tend to blend many different belief systems including that of Christianity and Santeria, Voodoo, and Candomble of Brazil; but the African Americans of the United States do not mix the religious practices.
Despite the fact that there is a considerable difference in terms of identity and essentially, viewpoints, both Africans and African Americans each wholeheartedly hold their beliefs dearly to the point that it serves as the basis for their political practices. Historical books and articles reflect this in the lives of Gabriel Prosser, Nat Turner, and Denmark Vesey to name a few.
These depictions have run rampant throughout time and continue to operate in the African and African American identity today (“Pan-Africanism”; “Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance”). Essentially, the argument regarding religious identity and Pan-Africanism is that African Americans generally draw from their religious experiences in their expressions of how they feel and believe politically.
Early Pan-Africanism scholars
Both Murithi (2007) and Kendhammer (2007) assess Pan-Africanism and argue that it is an ideology of many currents. Perhaps the most well-known representation of Pan-Africanism as it relates to 20th century scholars is that of W.E.B. du Bois and his approach to the advancement of African Americans’ rights as well as the systematic theories that he proposed regarding race and race consciousness (2007).
Kendhammer (2007) goes further to state that a lot of Pan-Africanism is derived from the disillusionment of White America and the need for Africans and African Americans to transform their thinking in a colonial world (53-55). However, there are some scholars that believe Pan-Africanism has evolved into something completely different than that of some of the early African-American thinkers.
Reflecting on African Americans and their connections to Pan-Africanism
Momoh (2003) argues that Pan-Africanism today is not the Pan-Africanism of du Bois or even Turner. His argument is that it is more for show than Afrocentric viewpoints and has evolved into an ideology of pillage and plunder for the sake of organizational funding (32-34). Basically, his argument is that Pan-Africanism was created for the purpose of strengthening African Americans and Africans in their thinking of themselves
But that over time, the ideology has not only been watered down but has been nurtured by the Western world’s perspective on Black people. Landsberg & McKay add that Pan-Africanism has indeed evolved in terms of what is seeks to resolve. However, although it has evolved, it has not gotten away from the conventional ideology (p.9-11) .As with all political theories and notions, Pan-Africanism has a wide-ranging spectrum of thoughts and views even though it is rooted in positive individuality.
Conyers, Jr., James L. African American Consciousness: Past and Present. ebook. Piscataway, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2011. Print.
Eze, Michael O. “Pan-Africanism and the Politics of History.” History Compass 11.9 (2013): 675-686. Print.
Kendhammer, Brandon. “DuBois the pan-Africanist and the development of African nationalism.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 30.1 (2007): 51-71. Print.
Landsberg, Chris, and Shaun Mckay. “ENGAGING THE NEW PAN-AFRICANISM.” ActionAid International-Southern Africa Partnership Programme and the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, n.d. Web. 11 Dec. 2013. http://www.sarpn.org/documents/d0001537/CSO-Guide_pan-africanism_2005.pdf.
Momoh, Abubakar. “Does Pan-Africanism Have a Future in Africa? In Search of the Ideational Basis of Afro-Pessimism.” African Journal of Political Science 8.1 (2003): 31-57. Print.
Murithi, Tim. “Institutionalising Pan-Africanism Transforming African Union values and principles into policy and practice.” ISS 143 (2007): 1-16. Print.
“Pan–Africanism.” Africana Age, Web. 11 Dec. 2013. http://exhibitions.nypl.org/africanaage/essay- pan-africanism.html.
“Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance.” Au Echo, 27 Jan. 2013. Web. 11 Dec. 2013. http://summits.au.int/en/sites/default/files/AUEcho_27012013_v2.pdf.