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The Road to the Sixth Pan African Congress

The Road to the Sixth Pan African Congress

Many of the luminaries of the 5th Pan African Congress went home to join the decolonization struggles being borne by market women, students, workers, poor peasants, ex-soldiers and intellectuals. Kwame Nkrumah (Ghana), Jomo Kenyatta (Kenya), Hastings Banda (Malawi) Obafemi Awolowo was among the more famous of the activists of the Pan African Movement. In 1957, when Ghana became independent, Kwame Nkrumah sought to give Garveyism and Pan Africanism a base, and he proclaimed, “the independence of Ghana is meaningless if it is not linked to the total liberation and continental union of the whole of Africa.”

It was the expectation of W.E.B Dubois that once Ghana was independent the sixth Pan African congress would be called in Ghana. At that time DuBois could not travel because of the harassment and impounding of his passport by the US government. In April1958, Nkrumah along with George Padmore called the All African Peoples Conference in Accra, Ghana. Pan Africanism had finally returned home to Africa. At this meeting 62 nationalist and liberation movements were represented. It was at this meeting where Patrice Lumumba was introduced to the wider Pan African world by A.M. Babu and the delegation from East Africa that had organized the Pan-African Freedom Movement of East and Central Africa (PAFMECA).

Among the major Pan African forces and individuals to be represented at that meeting in April 1958 were Frantz Fanon and Ahmed Ben Bella (representing the Algerian liberation struggles), Tom Mboya and A.M Babu (representing East Africa and PAFMECA), T.B. Makonnen, Felix Moumie of the French Cameroons, Roberto Holden (Angola), Modibo Keita (Mali) Joshua Nkomo (Zimbabwe), Oliver Tambo (South Africa), Kenneth Kaunda (Zambia) and Sekou Toure (Guinea). Western imperial forces did not sit idly by as the Pan African forces deliberated on the full decolonization of Africa.

In the face of the independence of Ghana and the liberation struggles in Algeria and Kenya, France worked hard to break up the Rassemblement Democratique Africaine (RDA), which addressed itself to the whole of French West Africa. After the defeat of France in Vietnam in 1954, the leaders of France decided to make a stand in Africa in order to maintain the ‘prestige of France as a ‘world’ power.” Areas of West and Central Africa, which experienced French colonial rule as a unified bloc, witnessed the shameless dismantling of those colonial politics which had a large territorial base. Whereas the French had maintained unity for exploitation, the African petty bourgeoisie lacked the capacity to demand both unity and freedom.

This independence was granted on the condition that the societies would remain under French cultural, linguistic, military, commercial and monetary domination. From that time to today these former territories were not allowed monetary independence and their reserves were kept in France. The francophone leaders on the whole accepted French domination and they accepted the Balkanization which led to fragments called Ivory Coast, Upper Volta, Niger, Chad, and Central African Republic and so on. Since independence, little or no progress has been registered with respect to reversing this Balkanization. Leaders such as Felix Moumie and movements such as the UPC of the Cameroons were killed.