Pan-Africanism was a movement born in the 50’s, right around the independence movement of many African countries.
The ideology of “ pan-Africanism” is what gave “independence” to many African countries in the 60’s and 70’s.
African elders who came up with the ideology understood that Africa had to unite in order to achieve their true independence.
- They understood that;
- Europeans were not going to give “ independence” for free.
- Africans had to fight for their freedom together as one.
- They understood the difference between economic and political freedom. They stressed the urgency of economic and political freedom and what needed to be done to achieve their pan-Africanist dream.
- They believed in the unity of Africans to work together to achieve their desired goal of an independent free-Africa.
Somewhere in the 70’s and 80’s, many early elders were killed, murdered, and tortured by their corrupted fellow Africans. These corrupted leaders turned out to be the low IQ military members who later became the puppets of former colonial masters. From Patrice Lumumba in DRC to Thomas Sankara in Burkina Faso, etc, one by one, the elders of the pan-African movement died one by one.
By the 80’s, and 90’s, the vision of pan-Africanism had become a nightmare. Those puppets went on to lead their countries for 20–30 years and were nothing short of brutal dictators. In the early 00’s, the movement started to regain some significant traction again, but we are a long way to go.
Today, I have no idea if it is possible to revive the unity that existed among African in the 50s. From Algeria, Egypt, Mozambique, South Africa, Ghana, and other early influencers, I am afraid that we have crossed the Framers’ line of vision. Today, we can only pick up the pieces and move forward.
Did it Fail?
Pan-Africanism is actually quite successful in some of its goals. Certainly not all of them, but some of them; and the successes are significant enough to note.
For example: The Decolonization of Africa was a Pan-African effort, and it was wildly successful.
Don’t let sore loser imperial apologists fool you: Africans had to fight and die for independence, and they could often turn to African allies across the border for help.
Guinea aided Guinea-Bissau freedom fighters; Algerians got aid from across the Sahel; Mozambicans were allied with Zimbabwean fighters against Rhodesia; and the entirety of Southern Africa stood against apartheid South Africa as the Frontline States.
So the question is quite flawed.
Where Pan-Africanism has indeed failed, so far, is in increasing economic and political ties between African states. That is a totally valid critique. But that just means Pan-Africanism has a mixed record. As the existence of regional blocs and the African Union attest to, Pan-Africanism hasn’t yet failed, it’s simply still a work in progress.
In addition to fostering independence from the colonizing powers, Pan-African leaders (mainly Thomas Sankara and Kwame Nkrumah) held Communist political views. De Gaulle took Thomas Sankara’s fierce stance on African independence as a personal insult. I saw a documentary (sorry, no reference) where French ex-secret service agents declare having got rid of him, as well as of other political opponents in Francophone Africa.
Definitely, one of the reasons Pan-Africanism is somehow dead is because of its links to Communism and how the Western countries rather wanted to have pet allies and not politically independent nations in the continent.
I would say that the second most important reason is the lack of trust among African leaders. This includes the fact that whatever borders, ethnicities and resources ended up becoming a modern state under national African rule, country leaders have completely adapted to. As a result, African leadership today is as much about development as it is about self preservation and maintaining the status quo.
Because of the seemingly lack of unity, sabotage, and influence of colonial powers. While other countries was Independent others were still struggling to gain independence. You can’t fight on two fronts. During the height of Pan Africanism coup detat was happening here and there. So definitely the Pan African leaders like Nkrumah etc couldn’t continue in the struggle.