Defining Pan-Africanism is a complex task due to the intricate nature of its being, but can best be described as a philosophy which advocates for the fellowship of Africans in culture, politics, and ideology. One of the founders of Pan-Africanism in its modern form is a man named Henry Sylvester-Williams. In 1897 he created what was called then called the African Association while in England in order to promulgate the interests of African people and the horrid injustices they were facing around the globe, and later organized the first Pan-African Conference. While Sylvester-Williams was an originator of Pan-Africanism, possibly its most prominent leader was Kwame Nkrumah, a teacher, politician, and activist who was vital in helping Gold Coast (now Ghana), secure its independence from the British empire. As the country’s Prime Minister, he held up Pan-African values by working to establish cultural and educational opportunities for men and women alike.Pan-Africanism was championed by men like Nkrumah, but the ideology has taken on other forms over time, including Afrocentrism, which in basic terms is an outlook that calls upon people of African heritage to appreciate and acknowledges traditional African values, which were thought to have been pushed to the side or outright ignored in the face of European slavery.Modern Afrocentrism is an intellectual and academic ideology which has its roots in the United States following the end of the Civil War and the new freedoms afforded to slaves, who worked to create their own communities and become educated. American civil rights activist W.E.B. Dubois is often credited with coining the phrase, but today, the individual most associated with Afrocentrism is Molefi Kete Asante, professor of African American studies at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.One of the often heard criticisms levied at Asante and Afrocentrism in general, is that it is a pseudoscience, which is defined as a system or claim that is supposedly scientific but does not adhere to the scientific method. Critics have said that Afrocentrism shouldn’t be rooted in academia because it promotes historical inaccuracies, vague generalizations, and racism, which are all counterproductive. Instead, the proper methodology should be used in order to understand fully and gain awareness of the history of African people. Despite, Afrocentrism continues to thrive as a sound practice which supports the scientific method, defined as a formula which develops an hypothesis, experimentation, gathering the data, and then examining it to form a conclusion. Pseudoscience, on the other hand, does none of this, and in fact, can be extremely dangerous. One need only looks at the denial of the link between H.I.V. and AIDS or the refusal of vaccines and medical treatment for children by their parents to see the truly deadly consequences of pseudoscience. These examples are a reminder that failing to maintain a proper academic standard and balanced approach to intellectual literacy has real consequences, even if they are not yet fully apparent. Rejecting pseudoscience and religious “spookism” will be important in redefining what it means to be conscious in the true legacy of Pan-Africanism and men like Sylvester-Williams and Nkrumah.
Pseudoscience is a burden on society that causes misinformation and hinders growth. In the pan-African community, we strive to shed light on the misled and disarm pseudoscience. The word pseudo is defined as “not genuine; a sham.” From just the name it’s easy to work out that pseudoscience is a fake science however different types of pseudo-sciences manage to brainwash people every day into trusting in potentially harmful myths.One of the worst myths affecting the pan-African community today comes from Nicholas Wade. Wade published “A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History” in 2014. In this book, Wade discusses how different races are genetically superior to be more gifted in certain areas and also have specific personality traits. For example, Wade believes that Europeans are forward thinking and successful while Africans are impulsive and quick to consume everything they have. By spreading misinformation to the masses, Wade stunts the growth of our communities by making them ignorant. You need to be able to think critically to develop, and pseudoscience thrives on black and white thinking.When creators of pseudo-sciences trick their followers into blindly following unsupported claims, the supporters begin to think about things in black and white. This concrete thinking style is closed off and prevents people from being open to change. By spreading black and white thinking amongst its followers, it severely dampens their potential to be innovative as they aren’t able to look outside their set beliefs. By striping people of some of their creative potential we rob society of potential innovations. Pseudoscience can often act like a cult; creators focus on trying to convince you that only they know the truth and anyone that doesn’t share their beliefs are dangerously ignorant. Creators of these false sciences want support for their beliefs. They want you to blindly follow them as they lack the proof to back their claims. This leads to a massive separation from a community as a wedge is split between them and pseudoscience followers to prevent their beliefs being challenged.Wade’s work is nothing short of scientific racism; it not only spreads ignorance but also promotes racial inequality. By promoting the idea that certain races are superior to others, he deprives people of opportunities. Once the belief of racial superiority begins to take root in people’s minds then discrimination rears its ugly head. Suddenly the color of your skin might give you a disadvantage at a job interview or from getting into the school you want. Even though pseudoscience can seem innocuous due to its ridiculous sounding beliefs and lack of scientific evidence, it is a dangerous threat lurking in the shadows. The lies and prejudices manage to worm their way into people’s heads through repetition and peer pressure come out subliminally through discriminative thoughts and actions. Don’t take my word for it, though, go out and research it; By questioning and researching everything and always keeping an open mind you can help fight pseudoscience.