During this 21st century, particularly during this Decade of the African Diaspora, and the 2015-2016 International Year of African Descendants, there are still those who do, and those who keep saying what they’re going to do; those who bring it and deserve to be praised, and those who just want to be praised yet bring nothing beyond hot air. We know that it takes all kinds, but the real evaluation is whether anything positive actually gets done and how sustainable it is.
We also know that there are so many things that need doing just to get through the day sane, let alone taking a little or a lot of time to help somebody else along. The tasks, and other peoples’ problems thrown in, can be enormous. In fact, when we think about what help Africa needs or the assistance Central America asks for, and what aid many islands in the Caribbean can use, or even just helping the neighbors down the street, we often feel crushed and defeated before trying to do anything. But we should all know by now that none of us, alone, can do it all; nor should we try. Instead, we should concentrate on the good that we can do, and do that well, do that consistently, and do it sincerely.
That will not only relieve some stress among those of us who actually would like to help somebody, it will calm us down enough to see all of our real possibilities-what can and cannot be done and how to get it done efficiently?
For those who see themselves as Africans living in America, aka, Pan Africanists, here’s a bit of advice:
There is no single version of Pan Africanism—conceptual, theoretical, analytical, or ideological—that has yet proven itself more quintessential than any other. (Thompson, 1969; Walters, 1993) The most consistently accurate determinant of whether one brand of Pan Africanism is as good as or better than another—or whether one version is mere arm-chair Pan Africanism or action-oriented Pan Africanism—is what work or accomplishment has one’s Pan African perspective produced. To effectively evaluate the worth and significance of one version of Pan Africanism as compared to others is to look at the real life consequences of that Pan Africanism. Activist Pan Africanism-combining ideological and analytical—is applied Pan Africanism. It is Pan Africanism in action in the real world.
Based on a summary interpretation of Blyden, Williams, Turner, Garvey, DuBois, Kenyatta, Nkrumah, Toure, Nyerere, and Cabal on the concept, in its various permutations, 21st century Pan Africanism involves the following principles that will be utilized for consistent movement forward (Horne, 2004) :
Africa must be self-sufficient, autonomous, and free of neo-colonial and capitalist exploitation.
Africa must be united, politically, economically and spiritually-a United States of Africa, or a Union of African states.
The African way of life must be redeemed, restored and used to help Africa reclaim its rightful place in world history, politics and development. The global reparations movement must be a distinctive part of modern Pan Africanism.
African land and resources plus the authority to utilize them both must be re-united with African people.
Repatriation to the African continent and/or dual citizenship opportunities must be consistently and seriously explored and resolved.
Since international and interregional communication between Pan Africanists is crucial, there must be a consistent and reliable network of African-centered and Pan African (Pan Afrikan) nationalist organizations established and maintained. The use of any African-centered conference, meeting or gathering to establish and build such lists is legitimate.
Pan Africanism—in large and small scale—will be achieved by a combination of government action, NGO Non Government Organization forward thinking, and consistent, principled pressure and activism from community-based organizations and individuals. The task is too enormous and the stakes are too high not to recognize that relying on only one sector will be disastrous.
Government leaders will have to choose “short-term interest suicide” (i.e., voting against their short-term interests for immediate gain in favor of Africa’s long-term interests, redemption and security) several times during the journey towards the achievement of Pan Africanism, and discernible, situational self-sacrifice will be required of all NGOs and community activists to get this job done. An addiction to business-as-usual tactics will not bring Pan Africanism to fruition.
One’s Pan African commitment must be measured by one’s Pan African work. At the end of every day, a Pan Africanist must ask and answer, ‘Did I help or hinder the P.A. Movement today?’
It must be accepted and acknowledged that Pan Africanism is a viable, winnable movement with a common set of objectives and a common vision.
For the 21st century, whether one is Pan African in orientation and activity (or merely engaging in lip service and specious grandstanding) will be measured by one’s adherence to the 10 principles listed above. One’s Pan Africanism should only be measured by one’s consistent work as a Pan Africanist: It is what one does that determines one’s Pan Africanist commitment, not merely what one says.
So engaging in conversations with those who quickly espouse their Pan African credentials, ticking off the names and writings of Williams, Garvey, Du Bois, Nkrumah, Kenyatta, Nyerere, Danquah, Azikiwe, Bethune and others, and adding Fanon, Cabral, Toure, etc., for good measure, should no longer fill the bill. Question these espousers. Hold them accountable for what they claim to be. What have they done for Pan Africanism lately? What Pan African projects are they working on, or have recently helped to complete? How is whatever they are doing contributing to the achievement of a viable Pan Africanism in their own neighborhood, region, school, club, or the world? If they stutter, if they begin to duck and dodge rather than to provide an answer, then you are dealing with, at best, a Pan African wanna-be, and at worst a Mardi Gras Pan Africanist, a play-actor or masquerader. Pan Africanism is serious business that cannot be left to those looking for style points, or to those who only want to sound hip or cool in today’s political engagements.
Professor David L. Horne is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute, which is a new 501(c)(3) pending community-based organization or non-governmental organization (NGO). It is the stepparent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.
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