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Pan-African History

The two key elements of Pan African philosophy or ideology: the common heritage of people of African descent all over the world; and the obligation of African people to work for the interests and the well-being of one another everywhere."
-Micere Mugo


Pan African World We Want

The Call for the 8th Pan African Congress has gone out under the banner of the “Pan African World We Want.” This theme builds on the African Union vision of “Peace, Prosperity and Unity.” The 8th Pan African Congress is being organized at a moment of global political, social and environmental challenges. This form of overt organizing has been present ever since Africans were conscious of themselves as agents of transformation. Cheikh Anta Diop sought to capture this self-awareness when he wrote on the cultural unity of Africa.

As Tajudeen Abdul Raheem observed in the book that came out after the 7th Pan African Congress, “while the years 1900-1919 can confidently be cited as important reference points for the Pan African movement, the movement stretches back further into the distant history of our people. Indeed, the roots of the Pan African movement can be traced right back to the ravages of the first European slave ships to touch the African coast, some five hundred years back.” In the midst of the great holocaust of the Atlantic slave trade, bonds of solidarity and unity were forged by the Africans who called themselves shipmates.

High Moments of the Global Pan African Liberation Struggles

Below is a list of the major Milestones of Global Africa that GPAM identifies as events which shaped the Pan African movement. We present this list in an attempt to keep with our effort to highlight the activities of the people rather than centralize conferences as the main platform of Pan Africanism.

After 1492

The cementing of the concept of shipmate and revolts on the slave ships. Popularized by the seizing of later slave ship, the Amistad.


Maroonage and the establishment of free communities all across the Americas, from Nanny and Tacky in Jamaica to Accabre in Guyana.


Quilombos – Pan African communities – fought against enslavement in Brazil and established free communities with three basic forms of active resistance by enslaved Africans. They fought constant battles with Portuguese enslavers, regularly attempted to seize power and conducted armed insurrections at plantations to gain freedom for all enslaved. Palmares was the Most Famous of these Pan African communities in what is now called Brazil.


Nzinga Ana de Sousa Mbande (c.1583 – 17 December 1663) fighting wars against European slave traders 


Berbice Revolution in what is now Guyana. Kofi and the struggle to develop a free and independent state in which they held power for more than a year and predated the Haitian revolution by decades. (see Blood on the River by Marjoleine Kars)


Makandal Revolt in Haiti: prelude to Haitian Revolution and pivotal moment in the Global Pan African Movement


Founding of Sierra Leone


Revolt in San Dominque: a Pan African revolt with statements


Richard Allen and the formation of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, the first independent Black-African denomination in the US


Victory of the revolution in the new Republic of Haiti, which overthrew slavery, colonialism and white supremacy. Revolutionary Haiti provided military and political support for Global Africans. Haiti provided assistance for freedom fighters in South America, especially Simon Bolivar. Any African landing in Haiti was also declared free.


“David Walker’s Appeal” – calling for enslaved persons to revolt against their masters – is published in Boston Massachusetts


Nat Turner revolt in the United States. The Christmas Rising/Baptist War in Jamaica was an uprising against slavery.


Driven by revolt, abolition of slavery in French and Danish Caribbean

1804- 1884

Anti-Slavery struggles in all parts of the Americas. Calls for Reparations and Repatriation growing with important examples of repatriation including figures like Edward Blyden and Martin Delaney. Delany is credited with the Pan-African slogan of “Africa for Africans.”


Intense struggles of fighting against enslavement leading to war between states in the United States of America 


Emancipation Proclamation is signed, abolishing slavery in the United States – Great moment for Pan Africanists everywhere

1868 – 1878

Ten Years War in Cuba, which resulted in emancipation of majority of the enslaved


Battle of Isandlwana, the defeat of the first major British invasion of the Zulu Kingdom


Wars of Pacification all over Africa and the meeting of Europeans to consolidate Imperialism at the Berlin Conference: regulation of European colonies; the emergence of Germany as an imperial power.


Driven by fear of enslaved uprising, abolition of slavery in Brazil.


Resistance to colonial rule with military struggles in all parts of Africa especially, the revolt of Menelik of Ethiopia in 1896, Yaa Asantewaa of Ghana in 1900, the Bambata Revolt in 1896, Queen Muhumusa of Nyabingi  and many others  such as  John Chilembwe in Nyassaland, Umar Al-Mukhtār in Libya

1897 – 1900

Henry Sylvester Williams and Charlotte Maxeke create the African Association in London, England in order to oppose imperial domination of Africa. 1900 The First Pan African Congress is convened and takes place in London in collaboration with Black intellectuals of different nations. Anna Julia Cooper the anti-lynching campaigner along with by Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois participated in this meeting.


The First Universal Races Conference is held in London.


Formation of the African National Congress of South Africa (signaled its Pan African orientation by admitting members from all over Southern Africa) 


Marcus Garvey founds the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) in Jamaica. At its height the UNIA was the most vibrant Pan African organization on earth with over 4 million members in over 40 countries.


Chilembwe uprising in Malawi


Red summer


The first UNIA convention adopts The Declaration of Rights of the Negro People of the World. Harlem in New York, USA emerged as the Center of Pan African politics, literature art and music. 


The 2nd Pan African Congress takes place in several sessions, London, Paris and Brussels. (very small affairs compared to the UNIA mass outreach).


The 3rd Pan African Congress takes place in sessions in London and Lisbon.


1927 – In New York, a 4th Pan African Congress takes place with few representatives.


1920’s – Simon Kimbangu founded the Kimbanguist church. A major Pan African force in Central Africa 


1929 – Women’s revolt and uprising in Nigeria 


Emergence of the Rastafari as a major Pan African force internationally


Italian invasion of Abyssinia led to a global Pan African response with demonstrations, protests and petitions in all parts of Global Africa. Major Pan African writings from the International African Service Bureau (IASB) powered by George Padmore and C.L.R. James and the Council on African Affairs powered by Paul Robeson who served as the CAA’s chairman for most of its existence while W.E.B. Du Bois served as vice-chair and head of the Africa Aid Committee and Alphaeus Hunton, Jr as Executive Director.


The 5th Pan African Congress in Manchester England. Political representatives of Africa and the West Indies are in attendance and urge to end colonialism in Africa. Most important mobilization of ex-soldiers fighting against colonialism.


Pan African Uprisings and resistance of workers in all parts of Global Africa


In response to massive anti colonial upsurge the policy of Apartheid is adopted in South Africa (for the next forty years a major focus of the Global African struggles for freedom).


Kwame Nkrumah becomes Prime Minister of Ghana, and Ghana becomes independent by 1957

1950 – 1960

Mass opposition to colonial rule with the outbreak of armed struggles for independence in Algeria and Kenya 


Bandung Conference and a major platform for Pan African solidarity and Third World Solidarity


First International Congress of Black Writers and Artists was held at the Sorbonne, in Paris, from September 19 to 22, 1956


First Pan African Women’s Association is formulated


Clumsy and contradictory retreat of France from Africa 


All African peoples Conference held in Ghana. Patrice Lumumba introduced to the wider Pan African world.


Massive anti racist and anti-colonial struggles in all parts of Global Africa. Many countries accede to independent status. The Belgians launch the destabilization of the Congo and by 1961 Patrice Lumumba is killed in the Congo.


Creation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in Ethiopia with Pan African vision to promote unity and solidarity of African states.


The imperial inspired Coup d etat to overthrow Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana


First World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture in Dakar , Senegal


The launch of the Arusha Declaration in Tanzania 


Black Writers Conference in Montreal Canada


The African Liberation Support Committee (ALSC) in North America and the Caribbean coalesce to support liberation and struggles against racism globally.


April Overthrown of Portuguese fascist colonial rule in Africa (open possibilities for independence of Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau and Mozambique)


The 6th Pan African Congress is held in Tanzania and attended by 52 delegations from Africa, the West Indies, America, and the Pacific.


Major non-aligned meeting to support African Liberation


Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC) held in Nigeria


Intensified struggles against settler colonialism. Independence of Zimbabwe. Bob Marley’s dramatic intervention in the Independence celebrations in Zimbabwe in April 1980


OAU launches the Lagos Plan of Action to hasten African Unity. (World Bank responds with the Berg Report)


Revolts across the Caribbean after Walter Rodney is assassinated in Guyana.


Military defeat of the apartheid army at Cuito Cuanavale in Angola by the freedom fighters and Cuban internationalist forces.


Namibia becomes independent. Nelson Mandela is released from prison after 27 years. ANC and PAC unbanned.


Abuja Treaty was signed in Nigeria in order to achieve full continental economic development.


The 7th Pan African Congress takes place in Kampala, Uganda.


Nelson Mandela becomes president of South Africa.


Sirte Declaration with plans for the transition from the OAU to African Union


Third World Conference against Racism (WCAR) in Durban, South Africa. Major coming together of the Reparations Campaign of Global Africa.


African Union officially launches, in order to refocus attention on increased cooperation of African states to promote the development.


Celebration of 50th anniversary of Ghana independence and plans to accelerate the unification of Africa


NATO invasion of Libya and the assassination of President Muamar Gaddafi


African Union signs a Memorandum of Understanding with the Pan African Movement


Launch of the Black Lives Matter Movement internationally, before the lynching of George Floyd in 2020


Second Kwame Cultural and Intellectual Festival – Accra Ghana

The History of the Congresses

Below are the congresses which constitute the traditional view of Pan Africanism.