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ALL AH WE IS ONE: Pan-African family

Tennyson Joseph, [email protected]

ALL AH WE IS ONE: Pan-African family

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FOR THREE DAYS in the New Year (Wednesday 13th to Friday 15th), the Cave Hill campus of the University of West Indies (UWI) hosted over 80 participants from Africa, Latin America, North America, Europe and the Caribbean in a discussion on the current state of the global Pan-African movement.

Dubbed the Inaugural Pan-African Colloquium, the discussions, organised with the Barbados Pan-African Commission and PANAFSTRAG Nigeria, ranged from the deeper spiritual and philosophical definitional issues of the meaning of Pan-Africanism and being African, to the more practical political, economic and organisational issues relevant to the present and future status of global Africa.

Among the critical practical issues which emerged from the conference were:

1. That the future of the Pan-African should be the work and responsibility of the African people at home and abroad rather than the responsibility of states. This was a dominant theme of the conference, given the awareness that after 50 to 60 years of state-led neo-colonial independence and neo-liberal development, coupled with the growth in consciousness of the people, as well as the global revolution, it was now time for the engine of Pan-Africanism to be located in the free creative impulse of the mass of the people.

2. That there was a need to dispense with the notion of an African diaspora, since this was rooted in a historical practice of Pan-Africanism in which Africans outside were seen as working for an Africa inside. This was the major theoretical offering of the opening keynote delivered by UWI vice chancellor Sir Hilary Beckles, who proposed instead that the notion of Global Africa would lead to a new consciousness in which the development of all Africans at home and abroad would lead to an understanding of the role of Africa in supporting the development of Africans everywhere. His reflections were reinforced by his recounting of the relatively lukewarm support given to Caribbean claims for reparations by the leading African states at the UN Durban Conference on racism.

3. That the UWI, given its regional nature as well as its academic mandate, should take responsibility for a regular global summit of the best African minds to examine the problems of Africa and to propose solutions. This charge came from General Ishola Williams of Nigeria, one of the key movers behind the conference.

4. That the future of Africa is bright, as suggested by Professor Horace Campbell, the mover of the closing primary. His claim was that, given the crisis of global capitalism, and given the demographic and material and intellectual resources of Africa, a moment existed for a new progressive phase of Pan-African development.

Quite apart from the actual content of the discussions, one of the most important intrinsic achievements of the conference was that Caribbean activists were able to commune with their African family on Caribbean soil. Priceless.

Tennyson Joseph is a political scientist at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, specialising in regional affairs. Email [email protected].


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