Kwame Ture first known as Stokely Carmichael was an influential organizer in the Civil Rights Movement and the global of Pan-African movement. He was a civil rights activist known for leading the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Black Panther Party in the 1960’s. Kwame was influenced by Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, but later then started his own tactic of promoting “Black Power”.
In Kwame Ture speech in which he defines Pan-Africanism, he gets into the overall depth of Pan-Africanism and he emphasizes colonialism, mass movement and socialism. Kwame Ture defines Pan-Africanism in a broader view, there is more to it than just it being an organization to unify all Africans and their descendants. Throughout the speech Kwame expresses that colonialism, socialism and mass movement is what also defines Pan-Africanism.
Europeans colonization in Africa essentially focused on the African slave trade, in particular the Atlantic slave trade. The Atlantic slave trade involved transportation of millions of slaves that were sold or traded. They were shipped to America because there was a labor shortage in the United States and slavery was the solution to that. Slavery resembled money, labor, power and ownership. When the Europeans colonized the Africans they were striped away of their life, family, religion and some were ripped away from their hierarchy.
They were given jobs such as a field worker, ironworker or house slave mostly working up to 14-16 hours a day. During the colonization period they were also forced a new religion upon them, Europeans did not want them praising anything else besides Christianity. They will continue to show resistance towards European political dominance until they see change for African.
It wasn’t until 1945, the first congress meeting to make a call for African unity was the Fifth Congress, which was held in Manchester. There were three co secretaries W.E.B Dubois, Kwame Nkrumah and George Padmore, with their help they can finally see the end of colonialism. This was a call for unity of all countries and peoples of the continent to fight against colonialism and imperialism. In the declaration of the Fifth Pan-African Congress, ⅔ of the African continent was independent.
Congress says the only solution to the final confrontation is mass organization. Colonialism ended in 1960, it did not last that long at most two generations were affected. Kwame first touches on colonialism, and reiterate that Pan-Africanism responded to colonialism but it is not colonialism that brought Pan-Africanism into being. The Pan-African movement was centred in America in which they wanted to unite the Africans and their descendants to fight against racialism and colonialism.
Capitalism can’t unite Africa, Africa can only be united by socialism. As many African countries were gaining their independence back, they threw out the idea of capitalism because if capitalism destroyed them why would they go back. It is only right to use a socialist system because they were a socialist society before the Europeans came and interrupted.
Before they were interrupted by the Europeans, Africa had their own hierarchy and throughout the 1800’s they were seen as one of the largest and most powerful empires in Sub Saharan Africa. They were living a great civilization, they exported ivory, brass, and copper. They had their own socialist society that prospered their kingdom. But because of capitalism they took everything from Africans. After colonization ended the only way that Africa can unite is through a revolutionary process aiming at a socialist economy.
Kwame Ture in his speech said, “Pan Africanism is socialism, it is an objective, an achievable, the total and liberation of Africa on the scientific socialism.” The idea of socialism has become more popular than any other in Africa today. Socialism has already set many countries on the road to happiness, freedom and justice. There were only two options capitalism and socialism, capitalism is the same as colonization and there was no need to go back to that after putting it to an end.
Mass movement is heavily emphasized in Kwame speech. The task of Pan-Africanism is to gather the masses of the people together in the same organization. Kwame quotes in his speech, “Pan Africanism can not be built from the top down, they must come from the bottom up from the masses of people up”. Here he is saying that mass movement can not start from the top because no African is at the top yet only, but only those that are at the bottom can. This is because the bottom masses of the people know the struggle and lived through the struggle of colonization.
So as they come together for a mass movement they all share the same determination on fighting for what’s right. Africa has been seen as a mass character based on their political movements. Pan-Africanism has this “mass” character and Africans have this “mass” character responding. Kwame speech underline mass movement, he says “Africans revolt in masses, if you take a look at the Independence struggle in Africa it was nothing less than mass, if you look at the struggle in the Caribbean for independence it was nothing less than mass. Even in the United States if you take a look at America the only movement they call a mass movement is our movement”.
Acknowledging the fact that Kwame is speaking the truth, every protest, organization or uprise Africans are always given that “mass movement” characteristic. When African community come together as a mass they achieve more because of as a community they have the strength, the voice and the support of one another to continue and fight for what’s right. At the Fifth Pan-African congress they call for a mass organization and immediately mass organizations sprang throughout the African world. To this day mass movement is being used throughout the world.
Pan-Africanism first started as a political movement but by the end of the nineteenth century it has grown more than that. Socialism, colonization and mass movement all define Pan-Africanism. Kwame Ture emphasized these elements because these are historical to Africans. Colonization striped Africans of everything they had, their life, money, and hierarchy. It wasn’t until the the Fifth Congress in 1945 that brought hope for them.
This was the most important decision for congress because this determined the future for Africans, either things will stay the same or they will end colonization and move forward. Fortunately in the 1960 colonization came to an end and this is where socialism comes into play. ⅔ of the African continent became independent and went back to a socialist society. Socialism is Pan-Africanism because Pan-Africanism can’t be Capitalist.
There is no way to unify a country if you go back to a capitalist society, that is just going back in time instead of moving forward. Now for mass movement, throughout the century protest, riots, or any uprise in a group or community is seen as a “mass movement”. At the Fifth Congress they call for a mass organization and immediately mass organizations sprang throughout the African world and this was revolutionary. Kwame Ture speech gets into depth and give a broad view on Pan-Africanism.
- AfricansArise. “Kwame Ture Defines Pan-Africanism (1 of 2).” YouTube, YouTube, 2 June 2010, www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7zeefSVvoM
- AfricansArise. “Kwame Ture Defines Pan-Africanism (2 of 2).” YouTube, YouTube, 2 June 2010, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGcDMKyT9Oc
- Pan-African Conferences, 1900-1953: What Did ‘Pan-Africanism’ Mean? , Marika Sherwood, Jan. 2012, www.jpanafrican.org/docs/vol4no10/4.10Pan-African.pdf.
- Smith, Candis Watts. Black Mosaic: the Politics of Black Pan-Ethnic Diversity. New York Univ. Press, 2014.