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Proto Pan-Africanism and Pre-OAU Pan-Africanism, 1441-1959
Excerpted with permission from “Pan-Africanism, 1441 to the 21 st Century”, Paper presented at the Dakar 2004 Conference of intellectuals of Africa and the Diaspora organized by the AU, copyright Tony Martin, Professor of Africana Studies, Wellesley College, USA.

The great tragedy of 1441 can be taken as a convenient point of departure on the road that led eventually to modern Pan-Africanism. In that year, sea-borne Portuguese marauders kidnapped a few Africans on the West African coast and set sail for Portugal. In 1502 some of the newly enslaved Africans were transported across the Atlantic from the Iberian Peninsula to the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, now shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Later arrivals came directly from Africa to the Americas.

These were the opening stages of our “maafa,” our holocaust of enslavement, the transatlantic slave trade. Despite the fact that slavery had existed since time immemorial in most societies, the transatlantic slave trade was qualitatively different from what had gone before. It was chattel slavery, in which a concerted effort was made to dehumanize its unfortunate victims. It was also the transatlantic slave trade, as opposed to similar trade to Asia or elsewhere, which produced the beginnings of the modern Pan-African movement.

The new slave trade wrought havoc on African societies. Millions of young people in their most productive years were wrenched from their native lands and sent far away to enrich Europe. Whole communities relocated in an effort to avoid capture. Collaborationist African leaders were enlisted in the pursuit and capture of their own kinsfolk. A new class of specialist “mulatto” slave traders developed along the West African coast. The jurisprudence of African societies was subverted, with sale into European slavery being substituted for more humane traditional punishments for criminal behavior. Where milder forms of servitude were once the results of war, now the capture of prisoners for sale to the Europeans often became a cause for war[1].

The captured Africans were transported in horrific conditions across the Atlantic Ocean. During this Middle Passage as many as one-third of the newly enslaved are thought to have died before arriving in the Americas. Those who survived the trip were subjected to four hundred years of the most sustained savagery that the world has ever known.

While most of the enslaved Africans were taken from the area between Senegal and Angola, the net was cast far and wide. Some Africans reached the Americas from hundreds of miles inland and as far away as Madagascar.

Four hundred years of this onslaught left Africa weak and unable to withstand the scramble for the continent unleashed by European imperialism in the 19th century. Europe in the same period had grown strong. Its industrial revolution, the first in history, gave it a world dominance, which it maintains to this day. This industrial revolution was built on the unprecedented super profits of the slave trade and slavery[2].

And as a final insult to the injury of the slave trade, Europeans turned history upside down and propagated the claims of pseudo-scientific racism. They argued that Africans were justifiably enslaved because they were less than human. Africans, the world’s first highly civilized people, were said never to have developed advanced societies. Christian and Jewish slave traders alike reached back to the thousand year old Talmudic myth of the curse of Ham to assert that God had decreed that Africans should be slaves for all eternity. European and American philosophers and statesmen accepted as orthodoxy the allegation that Africans were incapable of intellectual development.[3]

The newly scattered Africans meanwhile began the long and arduous struggle to regain their freedom and their humanity. Initial reactions to European kidnappings were so hostile that the European marauders were forced to avoid areas of earlier landings. They also moved increasingly to find collaborationist local leaders. Sometimes, as in the Bijagos Islands, resistance was fierce enough to force the Europeans to leave such people alone. Sometimes enlightened leaders like Queen Nzingha of Angola were able to resist European incursions for a while.[4]

In the Americas, the story was one of what, in his song “Buffalo Soldier,” Bob Marley described as:

The very first shipload of Africans to Hispaniola in 1502 took to the hills and began the maroon guerrilla resistance that became a permanent feature of slave societies wherever they existed[5]. Those few who became literate in spite of laws forbidding education to slaves, later used their learning to advance the cause of freedom. Phillis Wheatley, born in Senegal, snatched into slavery around the age of seven, and sold into servitude in Boston, exemplified the commitment of literate Africans in the diaspora.
She was the first African American to author a full-length book, her Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (1773). She lamented the horror of slavery in the following memorable lines –

Perhaps the most outstanding early example of literary struggle came from the 1829 polemic David Walker’s Appeal, also written in Boston. Walker, a free man, proved from biblical and ancient Greek and Roman history that no earlier form of servitude approached western hemisphere slavery in its brutality. He confronted the pseudo-scientific racists by showing that the world’s pioneer civilizations in the Nile Valley were built by Africans. He said that white people were the natural enemies of Africans and called upon the enslaved to rise up[7].

But the most profound development in the long fight back was the discovery of Pan-Africanism. It would be 1900 before the Pan-African movement would name itself, but it existed in essence from the beginning of the forced scattering of Africa’s children. Pan-Africanism brought the realization that Africa had become a global community. Millions of Africans were now dispersed over a wide portion of the globe. Africans from say, Ghana and Angola, who might previously have been unaware of each other’s existence, might now find themselves working side by side on somebody’s plantation. All were forced to make joint adjustments to the new reality. The Creole languages, religious practices and cultural manifestations emerging out of this new reality were truly Pan-African. The new lingua franca in a single place might contain words originating in diverse sections of the African homeland. Where a single African religion seemed to take precedence it might on close examination be seen to contain influences from other African religions and from European religions as well.
Even though ethnically identifiable communities existed in some places (e.g. Yoruba, Hausa, Mandingo and Congo villages in post-emancipation Trinidad), the more common reality became in time one of diaspora Africans who knew that they were African and therefore identified with Africa, but who could not pinpoint any one African ethnicity as their exclusive ancestry. This diffused African consciousness was coupled with a great yearning to establish contact with the motherland from which her children had been forcibly wrenched. This early sense of Africa as a single place to which people longed to return found various manifestations. Some tried to jump overboard from slave ships and swim back while still in sight of the continent. Some committed suicide in the expectation that their spirits would return home to the ancestors. Some camouflaged a desire to return home in the lyrics of their plantation songs. Some, such as the Pawpaw Daaga in Trinidad in 1837 and the Mandingo Cinqué in Cuba in 1839, led armed uprisings with the express aim of fighting their way back to Africa. [8]

Those who remained in the diaspora consciously or unconsciously recreated their African environment in many ways. Maroons brought African architecture, language, religion and music to their autonomous communities. African retentions were widespread in the wider community – in drumming, in the Yoruba-influenced calypsoes of Trinidad, in stick-fighting and carnival costuming, in traditional dances and religious practices, in folk-tales and numerous cultural practices[9]. In due course diaspora Africans would build on these African retentions to create new African-inspired forms of popular culture (among them jazz and blues, samba, meringue, tango, Afro-Cuban music and reggae). Out of these African retentions creatively applied in new surroundings came the Trinidad steelband, the African drum and metallic percussion in a new guise.

All of these tendencies were heightened with emancipation, which in the Americas came at various times, mostly in the 19th century. The simple desire to return to Africa assumed new dimensions. Mohammedu Sisei of Trinidad made it back to the Gambia shortly after emancipation[10]. Thousands of Brazilians returned to various parts of West Africa[11]. Eighteen thousand Congolese and their offspring in Cuba formed themselves into an organization. One thousand to fifteen hundred of them, actually born in the Congo, were trying to get back home as late as 1901[12]. Repatriation movements proliferated in 19 th century United States. African American Martin Delany and his Jamaican American colleague Robert Campbell journeyed to Abeokuta in 1859 to seek permission for the return to the motherland of a group of diaspora Africans. Their plans were halted by British opposition and the hopes aroused by the United States Civil War of 1861-1865. Campbell nevertheless settled permanently in Lagos. Over three hundred Barbadians emigrated to Liberia in 1865[13]. African America’s massive post-Civil War movement, the Liberia Exodus Association, had repatriation as its major objective.

Some whites even got into the act, taking advantage of Black Pan-African sentiments to rid themselves of unwelcome free African communities in their midst. Thus English philanthropists arranged the repatriation of recently freed Africans from England to Sierra Leone in 1787[14]. Thus also, white United States slaveholders organized the American Colonization Society in 1816 to repatriate African Americans to Liberia. Jamaican Maroons deported by the British to Nova Scotia, Canada in 1796 were later sent to Sierra Leone at their request[15].

Emancipation also made possible several more sophisticated dimensions to the proto-Pan-Africanism of earlier times. To the desire to remember Africa or simply return home was now added, first of all, a desire to advocate on behalf of Africa. The newly freed eagerly embraced whatever opportunities for education and capital accumulation came their way, despite the myriad obstacles placed in their path by the colonial authorities. There was a feeling that much of Africa was still in the throes of the slave trade, or suffering the devastation wrought by the trade, or about to be gobbled up by European imperialism. Africans in the diaspora felt an obligation to do whatever they could to alleviate this state of affairs.

African owned post-emancipation newspapers such as the Creole in Guyana and the Jamaica Advocate took a pro-Africa position and informed their readers of developments around the Pan-African world. Toussaint L’Ouverture thought of taking a Haitian army to West Africa to eradicate the slave trade at its source. Edward Wilmot Blyden of St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, emigrated to Liberia and Sierra Leone and encouraged others to do likewise[16].

This desire to help in some concrete fashion was expressed in various ways. Sometimes skills were provided to the homeland via an education for African students in African American institutions of higher learning. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries African students from South Africa, Malawi and elsewhere could be found in institutions such as Livingstone College in North Carolina and Wilberforce University in Ohio. A sojourn in African America could often be a radicalizing influence. Malawian John Chilembwe, for example, went back home from Livingstone to lead an uprising against British colonialism in 1916. James Thaele of South Africa went back home from Wilberforce University to become an influential leader in the African National Congress[17].

Many of the diaspora Africans desirous of making a contribution did so via Christian missionary activity. These were devout Christians who believed that the Gospel, combined with the establishment of schools and the provision of social services, provided ideal means for realizing their desire to help. The West Indian Church Association sent missionaries from Barbados to the Rio Pongo in West Africa from the 1850s. African American denominations such as the African Methodist Episcopal Church sent missionaries to West Africa, South Africa and the Caribbean. Other African American and Caribbean missionaries went to Africa under the auspices of white denominations[18].

Despite their religious orientation several of these missionaries played a radicalizing role in the struggle against colonialism in Africa. Many represented African American denominations, which had broken away from white churches. In this sense they were nationalistic and unlikely to countenance white missionary racism in Africa anymore than they had countenanced it in the United States. Whereas white missionaries sometimes became agents of imperialist expansion, African diaspora missionaries sometimes stimulated resistance and self-determination both within the African church and in the wider society. In South Africa nationalist “Ethiopianist” churches invited in the African Methodist Episcopal Church of the United States.[19]

By the early 20 th century white denominations had become so alarmed at the Pan-African rapport between African diaspora missionaries and continental Africans that they moved to officially prevent Black missionaries from entering Africa. A joint conference of white missionaries and political functionaries of the imperialist nations met in Le Zoute, Belgium in 1926. The conferees recommended the banning of Black missionaries unless they came under the auspices of “approved” white denominations.[20]

As the nineteenth century wore on the Pan-African enterprise increasingly became a two-way exchange of persons and ideas. “Liberated Africans” rescued from slave ships were brought as free indentured laborers to such places as Guyana, Trinidad and Jamaica.

The British officered mercenary West India Regiment at times contained a majority of soldiers born in Africa[21]. French officered Senegalese soldiers served in France’s New World colonies. African leaders such as King Behanzin of Dahomey and King Jaja of Nigeria were exiled by the Europeans to the Caribbean. Prince Kofi Nti, son of the Asantehene of Ghana, was sent to Trinidad to be educated near the end of the 19 th century. Liberia, originally established in 1820 as a haven for returning diaspora Africans, continued to solicit new immigrants. Edward Wilmot Blyden returned to the United States several times from his West African adopted home. He urged African Americans and African Caribbeans to repatriate to Liberia[22].

All of these players were not necessarily positive forces all of the time. The West India Regiment, for example, was used to put down slave uprisings and the 1865 Jamaica Rebellion, as well as to help conquer British West Africa. Yet these varied people together helped keep awareness of Africa and African culture alive. Afro-Caribbeans, for example, demonstrated in support of King Jaja when he was exiled to the island of St. Vincent[23]. And even veterans of the West India Regiment sometimes lived long enough to regret their earlier roles and to become Pan-Africanists.

Blyden played an important role in encouraging the 346 Barbadians to repatriate to Liberia in 1865. (One of them, Arthur Barclay, later became president of Liberia). When the Ethiopian Emperor Menelik II defeated the Italian invaders in 1896 in the midst of the European scramble for the continent, he galvanized Pan-African support everywhere. The Haitian Pan-Africanist, Benito Sylvain, journeyed from Paris to Ethiopia to offer his congratulations[24].

Small numbers of African and Caribbean students were now finding their way to Paris, London and Edinburgh among other places. Exposure to metropolitan racism radicalized them. Exposure to fellow students from elsewhere in the African diaspora stimulated their Pan-African consciousness. Edinburgh University had an Afro-West Indian Literary Society in 1900[25]. Trinidad law student, Henry Sylvester Williams and others founded an African Association in London in 1897. Benito Sylvain ran a Black Youth Association in Paris around this time[26]. Sierra Leonean, J. Eldred Taylor headed the Society for People of African Origin in London around the First World War[27]. In 1924 in London, Amy Ashwood Garvey, divorced first wife of the great Pan-African leader Marcus Garvey, helped found a Nigerian Progress Union (NPU)[28]. Members were mostly West African students. The NPU evolved in 1925 into WASU, the famous West African Students Union, led for decades by London-based Ladipo Solanke of Nigeria.

Diasporan Africans from outside the continent participated in WASU. A culminating point for much of this Pan-African ferment of the late 19th and early 20th centuries was the Pan-African Conference of 1900 held in London. This conference gave the name “Pan-African” to a movement which had by now existed, unnamed, for over a hundred years. It established a precedent for the many Pan-African conferences which would follow in the 20th century. It consciously brought togetherleading men and women from the Caribbean, North America, Europe and West Africa. It set up an ongoing Pan-African Association which it hoped would become a provisional parliament of the race. It established a journal, The Pan-African, which it hoped would become the organ of the movement. It ushered in a new emphasis on Pan-Africanism as an effort at lobbying for African advancement everywhere. To this end the assembled delegates called upon Queen Victoria of England to safeguard the rights of Africans in South Africa at the conclusion of the Boer War, which was raging as the delegates met. The Pan-African conference also sought to enshrine the idea of political independence by naming the leaders of Pan-Africa’s only independent nations – Ethiopia, Liberia and Haiti – as grand protectors of the African race.

The Pan-African Conference was organized by London’s newly formed African Association, led by law student Henry Sylvester Williams of Trinidad. Despite the new emphasis on lobbying, the old repatriationist impulses were still very much alive. At least two of the Caribbean delegates, both lawyers, later emigrated to Ghana. Williams emigrated for a while to South Africa, where he may have been the first African admitted to study law[29].

The intellectual expression of Pan-Africanism also accompanied the repatriation movements, conferences, organizations and other expressions of growing Pan-African activity. In 1852, African American Martin Delany’s The Condition, Elevation, Emigration and Destiny of the Colored People of the United States favored diasporic emigration to Africa as a means of forestalling European imperialism.African American Alexander Crummell, twenty-year resident in Liberia, published Africa and America; Addresses and Discourses in 1861, featuring the essay “The Relations and Duties of free Colored Men in America to Africa.” Naturalized Liberian, Edward Wilmot Blyden published Christianity, Islam and the Negro Race (1887) and many other works. Sierra Leonean, J. Africanus Horton published West African Countries and People...and a Vindication of the African Race (1868). J.E. Casely Hayford of Ghana published Ethiopia Unbound in 1911. African American scholar, W.E.B. DuBois published The Negro in 1915. Haitian Anténor Firmin published On the Equality of Human Races in 1885. Trinidadian J.J. Thomas published Froudacity in 1888 in response to a racist book by English historian, James Anthony Froude. These and other works provided an extensive and interlocking Pan-African community of ideas underpinning the intensifying Pan-African contacts. They provided an Afrocentric view of history, insisting that Africa had once been great, contrary to European claims. They saw the entire global African community as linked in the same struggle for freedom, dignity and regeneration[30].

Nowhere was the continental African involvement is this phase of the struggle more interestingly demonstrated than in the saga of Chief Alfred Sam of Ghana who led a spectacular mass movement in African America a few years before Marcus Garvey. Chief Sam operated an import-export business in the United States. A large African American following coalesced around him, attracted by his business acumen, his Pan-African sentiments and his African nativity. He bought a vessel, the good ship Liberia, and transported a shipload of sixty African Americans to Ghana via Barbados and Sierra Leone in 1915, four years before Marcus Garvey’s Black Star Line. The British colonialists impounded Sam’s ship in Sierra Leone, imposed unjust fines and generally forced the repatriates to deplete the funds they had accumulated to establish themselves in Ghana. Many were forced to return to the United States.[31]

In 1914, as Chief Sam was negotiating for his ship, Marcus Mosiah Garvey was launching his Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) in Kingston, Jamaica.

The UNIA represented the crowning achievement of non-governmental Pan-African expression. With approximately 1200 branches in over forty countries by the mid-1920s, Garvey had built a Pan-African organization like none other. Garvey was very aware of the Pan-African forerunners who had preceded him. He had direct or indirect ties to Bishop Henry McNeal Turner, Booker T. Washington and Edward Wilmot Blyden. He had worked, agitated and organized in Jamaica, Costa Rica, Panama and elsewhere. He had traveled through much of Europe. He had worked in London on the foremost Pan-African and Pan-Oriental journal of the day, the African Times and Orient Review. He had been moved to found his great organization after reflecting on his four years of work and travel in many lands. Garvey asked himself, he later recalled in his famous book The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey, or, Africa for the Africans, “Where is the Black man’s government? Where is his king and his kingdom? Where is his president, his country, and his ambassador, his army, his navy, his men of big affairs?” “I could not find them,” Garvey lamented, “and then I declared, “I will help to make them"[32]. The key to Pan-African regeneration lay, Garvey realized, in the power of organization.

Garvey journeyed from Kingston to Harlem in 1916 for a fundraising tour, which turned into a stay of eleven years. Within a few short years he built a Pan-African organization with branches in the Americas, Africa, Europe and Australia. His Negro World newspaper was the most widely circulated African publication in the world. His Negro Factories Corporation employed over a thousand persons in New York. His Black Star Line Steamship Corporation sailed the seas. It hoped to facilitate trade and travel within the African diaspora. “Negro producers, Negro distributors, Negro consumers!” Garvey exulted, “The world of Negroes can be self-contained. We desire earnestly to deal with the rest of the world, but if the rest of the world desire not, we seek not.”[33]

The UNIA attracted African nationalists from around the world. A young Nnamdi Azikiwe of Nigeria wrote an article for the Negro World. Kobina Sekyi of Ghana published a poem in the paper. The parents of Malcolm X were president and secretary respectively of local UNIA branches. Jomo Kenyatta said he considered himself a Garveyite in his youth. The West African Students Union (WASU) in London maintained a close relationship with Garvey. South Africa’s African National Congress had a strong Garveyite component. Kwame Nkrumah said that of all the books he read, Garvey’s Philosophy and Opinions was the one that influenced him most. Trinidad and Tobago’s major political formation, the Trinidad Workingmen’s Association, was dominated by Garveyites.

Garvey’s ideology of African nationalism was the common denominator that unified his organization. It revolved around three simple concepts, namely:

  1. Race first. Africans should unapologetically put their racial self-interest first, whether in literary and cultural expression, the writing of history, the dissemination of their own propaganda or anything else.
  2. Self-reliance. African people must strive to “do for self,” especially in business and industry.
  3. Nationhood. Building of political power was a necessity. Africa must be reclaimed from alien exploiters and should assume its rightful role as anchor for the whole Pan-African universe. The African diaspora should be recognized as an integral part of the African community as expressed in Garvey’s slogan of “Africa for the Africans, those at home and those abroad.”

Garvey was persecuted by the imperialist nations and harassed by the Communists. He was deported from the United States to Jamaica in 1927 and died in London in 1940. Even in the midst of Garvey’s dominance other movements appeared. The African American scholar W.E.B. DuBois held Pan-African Congresses in Europe in 1919, 1921 and 1923 and in New York in 1927. His were small gatherings of Black and white intellectuals. DuBois had attended the 1900 Pan-African Conference and patterned his congresses on Henry Sylvester Williams’ meeting. In 1919 in Paris, he was assisted by Blaise Diagne, Senegalese deputy to the French parliament. His 1923 congress held some of its sessions in Lisbon, where it was hosted by the Liga Africana of Portugal. DuBois and Garvey maintained a very antagonistic relationship. DuBois’ interracial integrationism was opposed to Garvey’s race first African nationalism[34].

This period of the 1920s also saw the formation of the National Conference of British West Africa, an important early attempt at regional collaboration, which would point the way to an eventual African Union.
Communist inspired Pan-Africanism was also important in the 1920s and 1930s. George Padmore of Trinidad headed the Negro Bureau of the Communist International’s Profintern (Red International of Labor Unions). He edited the Negro Worker, the major Communist Pan-African journal, from Hamburg and elsewhere. He left the Communist International in 1934 and relocated to London, where he became a major figure in the Pan-Africanism of the 1930s to 1950s[35]. C.L.R. James of Trinidad played a similar role of Pan-African theoretician for the less important Fourth International of Leon Trotsky[36].

Students in the metropolis continued to be major players. Kwame Nkrumah headed the African Students’ Association in the US in the early 1940s. J.B. Danquah of Ghana, Sylvanus Olympio of Togo and Nkrumah were among the future political leaders who held office in London’s WASU. The Italian fascist invasion of Ethiopia in 1935 brought forth a Pan-African response that united all elements of Pan-African activity. Marcus Garvey, C.L.R. James and George Padmore were among the many condemning Italy and trying to help Ethiopia. Masses of African people in Africa, African America, the Caribbean and Europe expressed solidarity with Ethiopia.[37]

These Pan-African political initiatives of the 1920s and the 1930s had their counterparts in literary and cultural movements. The Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s was greatly facilitated by the poets and artistes of Garvey’s UNIA. Harlem writer Langston Hughes had a great impact all over Pan-Africa. African American poet Countee Cullen famously asked,

The Négritude movement of the 1930s was led by Paris based poets Léopold Sédar Senghor of Senegal, Léon Damas of French Guiana and Aimé Césaire of Martinique. From the pages of their Paris based magazine L’Etudiant Noir and elsewhere they expressed a love for blackness in opposition to European cultural imperialism. The Haitians Lorimer Denis and François Duvalier promoted similar ideas through their Griot movement.

Francophone Pan-Africanism had emanated from France for a long time. Benito Sylvain had collaborated with Henry Sylvester Williams at the Pan-African Conferenceof London in 1900. As Williams had done for the Anglophone world, Sylvain set precedents followed by later generations of Paris-based Pan-Africanists. Sylvain founded a journal, La Fraternité (Fraternity) in 1890 “to defend the interests of the Black race in Europe.” In 1898 he founded the Black Youth Association of Paris. He was a member of the Oriental and African Committee of the Ethnographic Society of Paris and represented Haiti at anti-slavery congresses in Paris and Brussels. He also collaborated closely with Anglophone Pan-Africanists. He met Booker T. Washington in 1897 after his return from Haiti and his famous trip to Ethiopia to meet Emperor Menelik II. He was also an early member of Williams’ English-based African Association. This was the body that organized the 1900 Pan-African Conference[38].

Sylvain’s pattern of a journal, an organization and collaboration with Anglophone co-thinkers was replicated by his successors. Some, such as the founders of Négritude, Léopold Senghor and Aimé Césaire, also shared his interest in ethnography. Sylvains’s successors included Martiniquan born René Maran, winner of the prestigious French Goncourt Prize for literature in 1921. His prize-winning novel was Batouala, set in the Central African Republic and considered anti-colonial by many. It excited considerable interest among literary activists of the Harlem Renaissance generation. Marcus Garvey’s Negro World, in keeping with its great interest in literature, reviewed it many times[39].

Maran was associated with the Dahomey born Pan-Africanist Kojo Tovalou Houénou in the Ligue Universelle pour la Défense de la Race Noire (Universal League for the Defense of the Black Race), founded in Paris in 1924. They published the journal Les Continents. Tovalou Houénou attended Garvey’s 1924 convention in New York and suggested a formal alliance between the Universal Negro Improvement Association andhis Universal League[40]. The name of Houénou’s organization was apparently inspired by the UNIA.

Garvey was also closely associated with the Universal League’s successor, the Comité de Défense de la Race Nègre (CDRN), led by Senegalese Lamine Senghor, Garan Kouyauté of Mali and other Paris-based Africans and Antilleans. Garvey actually joined the CDRN.[41]

The CDRN became the Ligue de Défense de la Race Nègre (LDRN) in 1927. Lamine Senghor died later that year and the LDRN continued its close interaction with Anglophone Pan-Africanists into the 1930s. Such interaction was facilitated by its journal, La Race Nègre. Contact was maintained with Marcus Garvey, George Padmore and the West African Students Union (WASU) in London.[42]

Much of the rich Pan-African activity in 1930s Paris also centered around Martiniquan Paulette NarRandal. She presided over a literary salon and published the bi-lingual (French and English) La Revue du Monde Noir (The Review of the Black World), which went through six issues in 1931-32. Contributors to the journal included René Maran, Claude McKay of Jamaica, Harlem and Marseille, Alain Locke of Howard University in the U.S. and Langston Hughes, the most influential of the Harlem Renaissance writers. The list included Haitian Jean Price-Mars, probably the most influential Francophone Pan-Africanist of the period. Price-Mars was author of the seminal Ainsi Parla L’Oncle (1918), extolling Haiti’s African heritage. His unique Pan-African background included descent from African American immigrants to Haiti.

Léopold Senghor was a member of the literary circle grouped around La Revue du Monde Noir. The first issue carried a painting by Aaron Douglas, most famous artist of the Harlem Renaissance.
The Revue was completely bilingual with practically everything from cover to cover appearing in both languages. This included such Harlem Renaissance poetic masterpieces as Claude McKay’s “Spring in New Hampshire” and Langston Hughes’ “I, Too” –

La Revue du Monde Noir arguably surpassed all publications in its seamless integration of the Francophone and Anglophone Pan-African worlds. This, its Pan-African intent, was made clear in the magazine’s aims as expressed in the first issue –

The triple aim which LA REVUE DU MONDE NOIR will pursue, will be: to create among the Negroes of the entire world, regardless of nationality, an intellectual, and moral tie, which will permit them to better know each other, to love one another, to defend more effectively their collective interests and to glorify their race....

Thus, the two hundred million individuals which constitute the Negro race, even though scattered among the various nations, will form over and above the latter a great Brotherhood, the forerunner of universal Democracy.

The intense Pan-African activity in 1930s Paris included the journal La Légitime Défense published in 1932 by Martiniquan poet Etienne Léro and others. London’s WASU also had its Parisian counterpart in L’Association des Etudiants Ouest-Africains (West African Students Association) founded in 1934 and chaired by Léopold Senghor.

Senghor’s and Césaire’s magazine, L’Etudiant Noir, was therefore able to launch the Négritude movement as heirs to a rich Pan-African heritage.

This Francophone tradition was continued in Alioune Diop’s Présence Africaine, published in Paris from 1947. This journal (again bilingual) brought together writers, politicians and thinkers across the language barrier. Unlike its short-lived predecessors, Présence Africaine has endured for decades. Its sponsors organized the important congresses of African writers and artists in Paris and Rome respectively in 1956 and 1959. The 1959 conference was on the eve of independence for a large number of African and Caribbean nations. Frantz Fanon, Eric Williams, Sékou Turé, Léopold Senghor, J. Price-Mars, Cheikh Anta Diop, Frantz Fanon, Jacques Rabemananjara of Madagascar, Aimé Césaire and St. Clair Drake of African America were among the presenters. Over the years they were joined by John Henrik Clarke, Eduardo Mondlane of Mozambique, Kofi Busia of Ghana, Nnamdi Azikiwe (writing on the future of Pan- Africanism), George Padmore, Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere, DeGraft Johnson of Ghana, George Lamming and Carlos Moore of Cuba, among others. Noteworthy among the 1956 presenters was the young Senegalese lawyer Abdoulaye Wade, now president of Senegal and one of the patrons of the current conference, which is clearly heir to the conferences of 1956 and 1959. Attorney Wade questioned the fairness of French law in an African context where it was culturally inappropriate. He addressed this question within the context of the conference theme of “the prospects of Negro culture.” He argued that culture could not flourish in the absence of liberty, and that the misapplication of French law in some circumstances tended to diminish the liberty of law-abiding but culturally different persons. He noted the positive activist role of law in the Civil Rights struggle in the United States and saw the African lawyer as having a special responsibility to correct legal injustice in Africa. For, he said, “if the role of an African lawyer has nothing to distinguish him from his European colleague, what real contribution is he making to Africa?” [Emphasis in original.] [44]

The magazine has also published a steady fare of white progressives over the years. Contributors and participants in the congresses were able to discuss and debate Négritude, African socialism, the role of culture and Afrocentric conceptions of history, among other things. Présence Africaine in the 1950s and ’60s has never been surpassed as a forum for Pan-African dialogue among academics, political leaders and creative writers.

Anglophone Pan-Africanists staged a landmark Fifth Pan-African Congress in Manchester, England in 1945. There, George Padmore and Kwame Nkrumah brought together older Pan-Africanists such as W.E.B. DuBois and Amy Ashwood Garvey (first wife of Marcus Garvey) with younger activists from Africa and its diaspora.[45] African independence was now clearly on the agenda and two of the conferees, Nkrumah and Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya, would eventually lead their countries to independence.


  1. See Walter Rodney, A History of the Upper Guinea Coast (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1970).
  2. This is definitively documented in Eric Williams, Capitalism and Slavery (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1944).
  3. On these pseudo-scientific ideas see, among many others, Eric Williams, British Historians and the West Indies (Port of Spain: PNM Publishing Company, 1964). For a forthright articulation of these ideas by a U.S. founding father see Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia (New York: Norton, 1972, first published ca 1781). On the Talmudic origin of the Hamitic Myth see Harold D. Brackman, The Ebb and Flow of Conflict: A History of Black-Jewish Relations through 1900 (Ph.D. dissertation, UCLA, 1977); Tony Martin, The Jewish Onslaught (Dover, MA: The Majority Press, 1993).
  4. For a brief biography of Nzingha see Ibrahima Baba Kaké, Anne Zingha (Dakar: NEA, 1975).
  5. For the first enslaved Africans in the Caribbean see Eric Williams, Documents of West Indian History: Vol. I, 1492-1655 (Port of Spain: PNM Publishing Company, 1963) and Eric Williams, From Columbus to Castro (New York: Harper and Row, 1971).
  6. Phillis Wheatley, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (London: 1773).
  7. David Walker’s Appeal (Baltimore: Black Classic Press, 1993, first pub. 1829).
  8. Tony Martin, The Pan-African Connection (Dover, MA: The Majority Press, 1984, first pub. 1983).
  9. See, e.g., Maureen Warner Lewis, Guinea’s Other Suns: The African Dynamic in Trinidad Culture (Dover, MA: The Majority Press, 1991); S. Allen Counter and David L. Evans, I Sought My Brother
  10. Carl Campbell, “Mohammedu Sisei of Gambia and Trinidad, ca 1788-1838,” African Studies Association of the West Indies Bulletin, No. 7, December 1974.
  11. S.Y. Boadi-Siaw, “Brazilian Returnees of West Africa,” in Joseph E. Harris, Ed., Global Dimensions of the African Diaspora (Washington, DC: Howard University Press, 1993).
  12. Martin, The Pan-African Connection, pp. 211-215.
  13. Hollis R. Lynch, “Pan-Negro Nationalism in the New World before 1862,” in Okon E. Uya, Ed., Black Brotherhood: Afro-Americans and Africa (Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath and Co., 1971).
  14. Edward Scobie, Black Britannia (Chicago: Johnson Pub. Co., 1972).
  15. Lynch, “Pan-Negro Nationalism,” op. cit.
  16. Paloma Mohamed’s study of The Creole is forthcoming in Tony Martin, Ed., Afro-Caribbean Progress in the 19 th Century (Dover, MA: The Majority Press, forthcoming). Joy Lumsden, “Joseph Robert Love,” Afro-Americans in New York Life and History, VII, 1 and “Robert Love and Jamaican Politics, 1889- 1914,” unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of the West Indies, Mona, 1988. Rupert Lewis, “Robert Love,” Jamaica Journal, XI, 1 and 2, August 1977.
  17. See, e.g., George Shepperson and Thomas Price, Independent African (Edinburgh: University Press, 1958) and Kenneth J. King, “African Students in Negro American Colleges: Notes on the Good African,” Phylon, XXXI, 1, Spring 1970.
  18. A. Barrow, Fifty Years in Western Africa: being a record of the West Indian Church on the Banks of Rio Pongo (London: 1900); Tony Martin, “Some Reflections on Evangelical Pan-Africanism,” in Martin, Pan- African Connection, op. cit.
  19. Carol Page, “Colonial Reaction to AME Missionaries in South Africa, 1898-1910,” in Sylvia M. Jacobs, Ed., Black Americans and the Missionary Movement in Africa (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1982).
  20. Martin, “Evangelical Pan-Africanism,” op. cit.
  21. Roger N. Buckley, Slaves in Redcoats: The British West India Regiments, 1795-1815 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979); Alfred B. Ellis, The History of the First West India Regiment (London: Chapman and Hall, 1885).
  22. Martin, Pan-African Connection, op. cit.; Lynch, “Pan-Negro Nationalism,” op. cit.
  23. Edward L. Cox "Rekindling the Ancestral Memory: King Ja Ja of Opobo in St. Vincent and Barbados,1888-1891”, Elsa Goveia Lecture delivered at the University of the West Indies, Barbados, Oct. 8, 1996; Sylvanus Cookey, King Jaja of the Niger Delta (New York: Nok, 1974).
  24. Martin, Pan-African Connection, p. 206.
  25. Ibid, p. 207.
  26. Ibid, p. 206.
  27. W.F. Elkins, “Hercules and The Society of Peoples of African Origin,” Caribbean Studies, XI, 4, January 1972.
  28. Ladipo Solanke, “The Why of the Nigerian Progress Union,” The Spokesman, I, 5-6, April-May 1925. This will be discussed further in my forthcoming book, Amy Ashwood Garvey: Feminist, Pan-Africanist and Wife No. 1 (Dover, MA: The Majority Press, expected 2005).
  29. Owen Mathurin, Henry Sylvester Williams and the Origins of the Pan-African Movement (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1976); James R. Hooker, Henry Sylvester Williams: Imperial Pan-Africanist (London: Rex Collings, 1975)
  30. Portions of several of these books and others of similar theme are anthologized in J. Ayo Langley, Ideologies of Liberation in Black Africa, 1856-1970 (London: Rex Collings, 1979).
  31. J. Ayo Langley, Pan-Africanism and Nationalism in West Africa (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1973).
  32. Amy Jacques Garvey, Ed., The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey, or, Africa for the Africans (Dover, MA: The Majority Press, 1986, first pub. in two volumes in 1923 ad 1925), Vol. II, p. 126.
  33. Tony Martin, Race First: The Ideological and Organizational Struggles of Marcus Garvey and the Universal Negro Improvement Association (Dover, MA: The Majority Press, 1986, first pub. 1976), p. 35, quoting Blackman (Jamaica), April 10, 1929.
  34. See Martin, Race First, pp. 273-343.
  35. James R. Hooker, Black Revolutionary: George Padmore’s Path from Communism to Pan-Africanism (London: Pall Mall, 1967).
  36. C.L.R. James, A History of Negro Revolt (Chicago: Research Associates School Times Publications, 1994, first pub. 1938. See James’ work and the introduction to this edition – Tony Martin, “C.L.R. James, Race and Pan-African Revolt.”
  37. See, e.g., William R. Scott, The Sons of Sheba's Race : African-Americans and the Italo-Ethiopian War, 1935-1941 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993); Joseph E. Harris, African-American Reactions to War in Ethiopia, 1936-1941 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1994).
  38. Benito Sylvain, Du Sort des Indigènes dans les Colonies d’Exploitation (Paris: L. Boyer, 1901). This is partly translated into English in Martin, Pan-African Connection, op. cit.
  39. These reviews are reproduced in Tony Martin, Compiler, African Fundamentalism: A Literary and Cultural Anthology of Garvey’s Harlem Renaissance (Dover, MA: The Majority Press, 1991).
  40. Ibid, p. 116.
  41. Martin, Race First, p. 115.
  42. This and some of the other material on Francophone Pan-Africanism is taken from Immanuel Geiss, The Pan-African Movement (New York: Africana Publishing Company, 1974).
  43. La Revue du Monde Noir, No. 3 (precise date not given on reprint copy), p. 166.
  44. A. Wade, “Should Africa Develop its Own Positive Law?” Présence Africaine, Nos. 8-9-10, June- November 1956, pp. 307-323. The quotation is at p. 322.
  45. George Padmore, Ed., History of the Pan-African Congress (London: Hammersmith Bookshop, ca. 1945).