What common experiences united the African diaspora? What events in Africa inspired Pan-Africanism? What were the goals of the First Pan-African Congress? What did Pan-Africans do to change opinions and to aid Africa?
Pan-Africanism is a movement devoted to the idea that people of African descent need and deserve political, social, and economic independence—not just from colonial rule, but also from (the less obvious) marginalization by external foreign powers (such as European nations). During colonial rule, whites in power easily and routinely had unrestrained access to public funds for personal use, and Africans (including white Afrikaaners) were a second-class citizens.
The Pan-African movement also assumes that the African diaspora (defined as “people of African descent living outside of continental Africa”) includes those born outside of Africa to be intrinsically a part of the movement. Pan-Africanism assumes and maintains a unity and solidarity of social, political, and economic thought and interests among these people. There were a total of five (5) Pan-African Congresses, between the early decades of the 1900s and 1945 (following WWII). In fact, the trajectory of the Pan-African movement’s genesis coincides with the World Wars. Its primary aims (at the first conference of 1900) were the decolonization of Africa and the West Indies, as well as home-rule for Africans. It also stipulated that representatives from the Allied powers be delegated to represent and organize Africans in Africa, as a means to affect their own best interests. The major aims of the movement were achieved after the fifth conference (in the politically liberal Manchester, England), at which point decolonization was effected permanently. This was in large part owing to the assertiveness of Africans in England who themselves had fought in WWII.
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