Six decades have passed since the gathering of the First All-African People’s Seminar (AAPC) in Accra, Ghana during December 8-13, 1958.
At this time Ghana was the fountainhead of Pan-Africanism where the prior year the Convention People’s Party (CPP) and its founder Dr. Kwame Nkrumah gained independence from British colonialism.
Immediately after the announcement of liberation, Nkrumah declared in his inaugural speech on March 6, 1957 the independence of Ghana is meaningless unless it is linked with the entire independence of the African continent. Afterwards in mid-April 1958 the First Conference of Independent African States (CIAS) was held in Accra with eight free governments in attendance.
Nonetheless, the AAPC was much different in personality compared to the CIAS.
At the time there were nine independent African states and all of them sent representatives into the AAPC with the exclusion of Sudan which had only gotten a military coup on November 17. Leading members of the anti-racist movement in apartheid Union of South Africa weren’t current either because many were ensnarled in the racist legal system that had indicted over 150 Congress motion organizers for treason in 1956.
The African National Congress (ANC) had three official delegates at the conference, one of whom was from the USA. Writers Ezekiel Mphahlele and Alfred Hutchinson were the other ANC representatives while Rev. Guthrie Michael Scott was there from Southwest Africa (later Namibia).
All these delegates even from independent states came to Accra not as envoys of the governments. They have been present representing their political parties, labor organizations and mass battles.
There were leaders from Somalia, Uganda, Tanganyika and Zanzibar. The British colonies of Nyasaland (later Malawi), Northern and Southern Rhodesia (today Zambia and Zimbabwe), had significant representation.
Others from the Cameroons, divided between French and British colonialists, along with Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Togoland exist in Massive numbers. The language barriers between French and British outposts seemed to be defeat through dictionary and bi-lingual delegates illustrating the genuine pan-African character of this summit.
George Padmore, a longtime Communist and Pan-Africanist author and secretary in the Caribbean nation of Trinidad, served as the principle convener of the AAPC. During this period Padmore was Nkrumah’s main advisor on African affairs while he dwelt in Ghana.
Kenyan trade union organizer Tom Mboya chaired the daily convention. Other notables have been Patrice Lumumba of their newly-created Congolese National Movement (MNC) and Frantz Fanon of Martinique symbolizing the Algerian FLN.
Official observers attended by the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) where messages of solidarity were shipped by leaders Chou en-Lai and Nikita Khrushchev. The official position of the AAPC has been non-alignment and positive neutrality in regard to international affairs. However, both the U.S. and other western states were seriously criticized for their colonialist and imperialist policies.
The AAPC had a sizable multi-racial observer-delegation from the U.S. which comprised Congressman Charles Diggs, Jr. Of Detroit; Mary-Louise Hooper, a rich heiress and campaigner for civil rights and the struggle against apartheid, who represented the ANC in Accra; Dr. Marguerite Cartwright, a prominent African American sociologist and journalist whose columns appeared frequently in a variety of publications including the Pittsburgh Courier and Amsterdam News of New York; Claude A. Barnett,the founder of the Associated Negro Press (ANP) which promoted events from colonial and post-colonial Africa for decades; Etta Moten-Barnett, a well-known actress-artist along with the spouse of Claude A. Barnett; Eslanda Robeson, an anthropologist and author who was a co-founder of the Council on African Affairs (CAA) and the wife of African American celebrity and celebrity Paul Robeson; Shirley Graham-Du Bois, a composer, author and leading member of the U.S. Communist Party, who read an extensive address penned by her husband; amongst others.
All African People’s Conference American Committee on Africa (ACOA) delegation, Dec. 1958
This gathering was a landmark in the Pan-African struggle being the first global gathering on the continent that brought together various parties and non-governmental forces to map out a strategy for the total liberation of Africa. Nkrumah in his closing address called for the formation of a United States of Africa.
Pan-Africanism and National Liberation
Obviously the move towards liberation and equality among African American inhabitants was accelerating by the late 1950s in various areas of the continent and the Diaspora. The AAPC will hold two extra summits: in Tunis in January 1960 and Cairo in March 1961.
The Ghanaian leader’s address to the 1962 meeting identified imperialism as the primary enemy of African individuals fighting for their liberation.
By early 1963 there have been more than 30 independent African countries in the world. On the 25th of May that the Organization of African Unity (OAU) was formed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia which created a Liberation Committee designed to provide material aid to those fighting to overthrow colonialism.
But, Nkrumah in the founding OAU Summit spread his classic work entitled”Africa Must Unite” where he also dedicated an whole chapter to the political economy of neo-colonialism, the mechanism used to keep western imperialist domination over the property, resources, waterways and individuals of this continent.
Just two years later (1965), Nkrumah printed”Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism,” where the U.S. philosophical system was exposed because of its function as being the major impediment to genuine African liberation and unity. Nkrumah and the CPP were dedicated to constructing a socialist Ghana and Africa, noting that this was a necessity to the unity that’s necessary for the area to move beyond neo-colonialism.
Nonetheless, the anti-imperialist nations in Africa comprised a minority surrounded by pro-western client governments that were weak and fragile. The internal political and class contradictions in Ghana throughout the mid-1960s opened the way to the U.S. management of the-then President Lyndon B. Johnson to engineer the overthrow of Nkrumah while he was outside of the nation on a mission to end the Vietnam War. When Nkrumah came in Peking, People’s Republic of China on February 24, 1966, he had been informed by Premier Chou en-Lai the CPP was toppled by lower-ranking army officers and authorities.
Nkrumah shortly resettled in Guinea-Conakry in which the-then President Ahmed Sekou Toure announced the Ghanaian leader as co-president. Nkrumah remained in Guinea where he wrote prolifically on the emerging armed phase of the African Revolution and the burgeoning class struggle. By 1971 he had been sent to Romania for medical treatment where he died on April 27, 1972.
Revolutionary Pan-African Renewal Needed for the 21st Century
A number of the programs recommended by Nkrumah in the AAPC and the first three summits of the OAU (1963-1965) have been adopted, the most recent of which will be the invention of an African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) on March 21, 2018 at Rwanda. Nonetheless, these steps absent of a coordinated socialist radical program for the strengthening of the working class, farmers and youth won’t result in a United Africa depending upon the interests of the majority.
Military intervention from the U.S. and other NATO nations is ongoing to render the continent defenseless in the face of developing imperialist intrigue designed to ease the manipulation of the natural wealth and labor of the people. The coup against Nkrumah was a part and parcel of a series of maneuvers to prevent the consequent and economic politically independent presence of Africa.
The destruction of Libya by the Pentagon and NATO at 2011 illustrates the deadly dangers of the U.S. Africa Control (AFRICOM). Libya, the most innovative nation in Africa under the former martyred leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi, in 2018 is continuing as a significant source of uncertainty and response where Africans are marketed into human bondage, frequently facing death in the Mediterranean while trying an evasive”better life” in Europe, further institutionalizing the theft of federal sovereign wealth which has left the North African country destitute.
Pentagon bombs are being dropped on a weekly basis in the Horn of Africa nation of Somalia while AFRICOM army bases are utilized as spring boards to execute the genocidal war against neighboring Yemen, a Washington-led war which utilizes Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to carry out the imperialist biddings of Wall Street and the White House.
Pan-Africanism from the 21st century must be built from the positions of the proletariat and the popular stratums of the continent. The stability and protection of Africa will be procured when the masses require control of the labour and resources of the people, assuring socialism on a regional scale.