Defining Pan-Africanism

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.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s