By the end of the 18th century, a political movement developed across the Americas, Europe and Africa that sought to weld disparate African movements fighting slavery, racism, colonialism, and neo-colonialism into a network of solidarity.
This intellectual movement that aimed to encourage and strengthen bonds of solidarity between all people of African descent came to be known as Pan Africanism, an invaluable ideology premised on the belief that African people, both on the continent and in the diaspora, share not merely a common history, but a common destiny.
The fate of all African people is intertwined.
Modern day Africa- now fondly referred to as the continent of the future – owes its current fortunes to this movement first propagated by among others Trininadian barrister Henry Sylvester Williams, American civil rights activist W.E.B. Dubois and Jamaican orator Marcus Garvey.
It is through Pan Africanism that the black man was able to fight for his rightful place in the history of human race as well as attain physical & mental emancipation.
But perhaps, it is the decolonization of most African countries in the 60s and 70s that revolutionized the entire concept of Pan Africanism.
With new challenges arising – whose solutions African countries could no longer get from London, Paris or Rome – the time had finally come when solutions to African problems could only come from within.
We had to come together and fight our battles as a continent.
Luckily, back then, we still had a sufficient supply of passionate Pan Africanists who perceived trouble in any part of Africa as trouble for the entire continent.
Just take the example of Ghanaian nationalist Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.
From the onset, Nkrumah never regarded the struggle for the independence of the Ghana as an isolated objective, but always as a part of a general world historical pattern.
He therefore considered it the duty of all independent states to give all possible assistance to those currently waging battles.
No one could claim to have accomplished the task until the last vestiges of colonialism were eliminated from the African continent.
Today, the results of Nkrumah’s efforts are there for all to see.
The man even sacrificed his presidency to see more and more African countries attain independence!
With the current sorry state of South Sudan, I am therefore wondering; what happened to Pan Africanism?
Did Nkrumah die with the spirit?
Why is the entire continent watching as South Sudan burns?
Since attaining independence from the larger Sudan on 9th July 2011, South Sudan has known little if any peace.
On the evening of Sunday 13th December 2013, a political power struggle broke out between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar, as the president accused Mr. Machar and ten others of attempting a coup d’état. Fighting broke out, igniting the South Sudanese civil war with up to 300,000 people estimated to have been killed.
Two peace deals between Kiir and Machar signed thereafter, one in January 2015 and another in August 2015, did not last long enough to see the ink on paper dry. In both instances, renewed fighting ensued soon after.
The latest in South Sudan’s basket of woes is the eruption of violence two weeks ago after an attack outside of where President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar, the Vice President and leader of SPLM-IO, were meeting in Juba.
Thereafter, gunfire broke out throughout the city with over 300 people, both soldiers and civilians reported to have been killed.
Unfortunately, unlike when Pan Africanism was alive – when the entire African continent would be camping in Juba seeking to protect innocent citizens from being massacred unnecessarily – the African Union has decided to watch the entire debacle from the sidelines.
Even South Sudan’s immediate neighbours appear not bothered by the unfortunate happenings in the country except for Kenya which has put up some efforts to restore peace in the country.
To date, no African country appears ready to intervene despite media reports indicating that all is not well.
What happened to the Pan Africanist spirit?
Why does the entire continent seem so unconcerned when another Rwandese 1994 moment is just about to happen?
Do we ever learn or are we waiting to see mass graves to act?