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.
The African diaspora to the present day (unsurprisingly) follows the slave trade and has left many members in Europe, the Americas, and West Indies.
The issue of Pan-Africanism is related to, but distinct from, the issue of apartheid (“separateness”) that plagued South Africa for the latter part of the 20th century. Apartheid lasted until the election of S. Africa’s liberator and champion of racial equality, Nelson Mandela, in 1994. While the first five Pan-African Congresses death with economic and political independence for post-colonial Africa, the liberation movement and the African National Congress (ANC) was devoted to racial equality among blacks, colored people, Afrikaaners, and whites within Africa itself.
There were in fact three final Pan-African Congresses (in 1974, 1994, and 2014), and these addressed themselves both to protection of refugees of African descent worldwide, the status (economically, politically, and socially) of members of the diaspora, and (chiefly) the South African independence movement.