AFRICANGLOBE – African Nationalism was a response of Africans to the conquest, enslavement, the subjugation, plunder, and exploitation, of Africa by the powerful nations of Europe.
Many other countries and peoples have had that similar experience in history.
There is, however, something singular, unique, about the African experience.
Because Africans had black skin colour, the peoples of the entire African continent, one of the largest continents in the world, were demoted, degraded.
As the German scholar Frobenius put it, the “African was turned into a semi-animal”.
It entered the mind and consciousness of all other civilisations and peoples, across generations and centuries, to regard Africans as inferior beings.
Their cultures, their physiological features, their languages, their art and religions, were all considered inferior.
This was the case for all Africans on the continent, as well as outside the continent.
It was taken for granted that Africans were not entitled to any human, civil, or political rights that any other person, particularly the White or European person, was obligated to respect.
That is the basis of African Nationalism. African Nationalism is the response of Africans to the treatment they have received in the world that has been controlled by Whites or Europeans.
It is important to stress that as the denigration of Africans has been a universal phenomenon in modern history, so African Nationalism has a universal aspect – it is Pan Africanism; it is a struggle for the entire Africa, and for all people of African descent.
Having suffered so much from racism, from being regarded and treated as a “semi-animal”, the first reaction of African Nationalism was a total rejection of racism in all its forms: the first axiom of Pan Africanism is, in Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe’s formulation: there is only one race, the human race.
The second principle is the desire and demand of Africans to rule over their own land, and to rule over themselves.
This means political independence and self-determination.
A major issue and factor in political independence and self-determination is the LAND QUESTION.
The issue of the land must be resolved.
President Robert Mugabe and his government dealt with that issue directly; the South African government has lately proposed a new way of transforming land ownership.
Of course, there must be an effective policy for the development of the land and of the countryside.
The many different nations of contemporary Africa, which were created and carved by colonial powers, must combine and form a United Africa, as in the United States of America, as the EU is a step towards the Unification of Europe.
No other African Nationalist leader left a more cogent, more realistic, still valid, proposal and plan for the Unification of Africa than Kwame Nkrumah:
“We therefore need a common basis for the integration of our policies in economic planning, defence, foreign and diplomatic relations. That basis for political action need not infringe the essential sovereignty of the separate African States. These states would continue to exercise independent authority, except in the fields defined and reserved for common action in the interests of the security and orderly development of the whole continent.
“In my view, therefore, a unified Africa – that is, political and economic unification of the African continent – should seek three objectives:
“Firstly, we should have overall economic planning on a continental basis. This would increase the industrial and economic power of Africa… The resources of Africa can be used to the best advantage and the maximum benefit of all, only if they are set within an overall framework of a continentally planned development. An overall economic plan, covering an Africa united on a continental basis, would increase our total industrial and economic power…
“Secondly, we should aim at the establishment of a unified military and defence strategy. I do not see much virtue or wisdom in our separate efforts to build up or maintain vast military forces for self-defence which, in any case, would be ineffective in any major attack upon our separate states…
“The third objective, which we should have in Africa, stems from the first two which I have just described. If we in Africa set up a unified economic planning organisation and a unified military and defence strategy, it will be necessary for us to adopt a unified foreign policy and diplomacy to give political direction to our joint efforts for the protection and economic development of our continent.
“The burden of separate diplomatic representation by each state on the continent of Africa alone would be crushing, not to mention representation outside Africa. The desirability of a common foreign policy, which will enable us to speak with one voice in the councils of the world, is so obvious, vital and imperative that comment is hardly necessary.” (Nkrumah, Kwame, Revolutionary Path, London, PANAF Books, 1973, pp. 224-226)
Intimately tied up with the need to solve the land question, that is, to end the exclusion of African people from ownership of the land, which was forcefully taken out of their hands, is the need to end the exclusion of African people from ownership of the immense natural resources of Africa, that is, the mineral resources, and the “commanding heights” of the economy, such as big banks and big industries.
This emphatically does not exclude a transitional arrangement of the leasing of these industries to private companies during the transitional period.
(Keep in mind that as a result of the 2007 economic collapse in the US and certain European countries, the US and British governments, for example, intervened with massive “bailouts” of the corporations threatened with collapse, and some of these industries, such as big banks, insurance companies and General Motors, were, in fact “nationalised”; some of these are being handed back to private owners!)
The next major facet of independence and self-determination is in the sphere of culture, thought and speech: the right of Africans to think their own thoughts; to freely speak their own thoughts in their own languages; to have African culture, African thought, African languages, African philosophies, African values, as equal independent factors, as over-riding factors, in the construction of the new South Africa and the new Africa.