1 minute read

Pan-Africanism - Transnational Pan-africanism

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Overdamped to PeatPan-Africanism - Origins And Development Of Pan-africanism, Transnational Pan-africanism, Pan-africanism In The Early Twentieth Century

Transnational Pan-Africanism

Although the exact origins are disputed, the term Pan-African first appeared in the 1890s. P. O. Esedebe maintains that the Chicago Congress on Africa held in 1893 marks both the transition of Pan-Africanism from an idea to a recognizable movement and the first usage of the word itself. In their collection on Pan-African history, however, Adi and Sherwood point to the creation of the African Association in 1898 and the convening of the first Pan-African conference in 1900 in London, both organized by the Trinidadian lawyer Henry Sylvester Williams (1869–1911), with the objective of "bringing into closer touch with each other the Peoples of African descent throughout the world," as the beginning of the "organised Pan-African movement." Despite these differences, scholars agree on the important role that the African American intellectual W. E. B. DuBois played in developing the idea of Pan-Africanism and marshalling a transnational political movement around it. Indeed, DuBois contributed significant speeches to the proceedings of the Chicago Congress and the Pan-African 1900 conference. In his "Address to the Nations of the World" at the latter, DuBois declared:

the problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the colour line, the question as to how far differences of race … are going to be made, hereafter, the basis of denying to over half the world the right of sharing to their utmost ability the opportunities and privileges of modern civilization. (1995, p. 11)

Although Williams was unable to bring plans for a second conference to fruition, DuBois soon initiated his own movement, resulting in five Pan-African Congresses during the first half of the twentieth century (1919, Paris; 1921, London, Brussels, Paris; 1923, London and Lisbon; 1927, New York; 1945, Manchester, England). During this period the nature and tenor of Pan-Africanist cultural and political activities changed drastically.

Additional topics