The Pan-African Congress was a series of five meetings in 1919, 1921, 1923, 1927, and 1945 that were intended to address the issues facing Africa due to the European colonization of much of the continent.
It gained the reputation of a peace maker for decolonization in Africa and in the West Indies. It made significant advance for the Pan African cause. One of the demands was to end the colonial rule and end to racial discrimination, against imperialism and it demanded human rights and equality of economic opportunity. The manifesto given by the Pan-African Congress included the political and economic demands of the Congress for a new world context of international cooperation.
Colonial powers in Africa wanted native Africans to wait patiently for limited political concessions and better career opportunities. Due to their exclusion in the negotiatons of the Treaty of Versailles, black ex-servicemen and educated urban classes became disillusioned. Because Colonialism had been built on the foundation of capitalism, Socialist ideas of equality and global collaboration appealed to these budding revolutionaries.
|“||They had been disillusioned with the European war, they kept on having frightful clashes with English and American soldiers, besides the fact the authorities treated them completely differently from the white soldiers... I was working at that time in London in a communist group. Our group provided the club of Negro soldiers with revolutionary newspapers and literature which had nothing.||”|
1st Pan-African Congress
In 1919, the first Pan-African Congress was organized by W. E. B. Du Bois. There were 57 delegates representing 15 countries, a smaller number than originally intended because British and American governments refused to issue passports for their citizens who planned on attending. Their main task was petitioning the Versailles Peace Conference which was held in Paris at that time. Among their demands were:
Amongst the delegates were:
2nd Pan-African Congress
In 1921, the Second Pan-African Congress met in several sessions in London, Paris and Brussels. There was an Indian Revolutionary who took part, Shapurji Saklatvala and a journalist from Ghana named W.F. Hutchinson who spoke. This session of the Congress was the most focused for change of all the meetings they had so far. At the London session, London Resolutions were adopted, later restated by W. E. B. Du Bois in his Manifesto To the League of Nations:
|“||England, with all her Pax Britannic, her courts of justice, established commerce, and a certain apparent recognition of Native laws and customs, has nevertheless systematically fostered ignorance among the Natives, has enslaved them, and is still enslaving them, has usually declined even to try to train black and brown men in real self-government, to recognise civilised black folk as civilised, or to grant to coloured colonies those rights of self government which it freely gives to white men.||”|
The only dissenting voice was that of Blaise Diagne who was a French politician of African origin. He represented Senegal in the French Chamber of Deputies. He soon abandoned the idea of Pan Africanism because he thought that the London Manifesto declaration was too dangerously extreme.
3rd Pan-African Congress
In 1923, the Third Pan-African Congress was held in London and in Lisbon. This meeting was totally unorganized. This meeting was also a repeat of the demands such as self-rule, the problems in Diaspora and the African-European relationship. The following was addressed at the meeting:
4th Pan-African Congress
In 1927, The Fourth Pan African Congress was held in New York and adopted resolutions which were similar to the Third Pan-African Congress meetings.
5th Pan-African Congress
The significance of the Pan-African movement and the fifth Congress
Pan-Africanism is aimed at the economic, intellectual and political cooperation of the African countries. It demands that the riches of the continent be used for the enlistment of its people. It calls for the financial and economic unification of markets and a new political landscape for the continent. Even though Pan-Africanism as a movement began in 1776, it was the fifth Pan-African congress that advanced Pan-Africanism and applied it to decolonize the African continent.
The people in Manchester were politically conscious and that was one of the reasons why it was selected as the venue for the fifth Pan-African congress. The fifth congress was organized by people of African origin living in Manchester. According to the Mancunian historian Simon Katzenellenboggen it has a great significance as it was an important step towards the end of those imperial powers in Africa. Unlike the four earlier congresses, the fifth one involved people from the African Diaspora including Afro-Caribbeans and Afro-Americans. Manchester had a significant part to play in helping the African countries to march forward in their fight to independence.
- Painter, Nell Irvin (2008). Standing at Armageddon: A Grassroots History of the Progressive Era. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. pp. 355. ISBN 9780393331929.
- The Worley Report on the Pan-African Congress of 1919 by H. F. Worley and C. G. Contee, reproduced in The Journal of Negro History, Vol. 55, No. 2 (Apr., 1970), pp. 140-143
- Lewis, David, W. E. B. Du Bois: A Biography, 2009, p 414-415.
- "The Pan-African Vision". The Story of Africa: Between World Wars (1914-1945). BBC News. http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/africa/features/storyofafrica/13chapter5.shtml. Retrieved 2008-04-15.
- 'George Padmore and the 1945 Manchester Pan-African Congress' by Hakim Adi in George Padmore: Pan-African Revolurionary ed Fotzroy Baptiste and Rupert Lewis, Ian Randle, Kingston JA 2009
- http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/30/index-fa.html 1945-Pan-African Congress and its Aftermath
- "Road to Pan-Africanism". Road to Pan-Africanism. The Sowetan. http://www.panafricanperspective.com/pheko.htm. Retrieved 1999-11-15.
- "Black History Month". It began in Manchester. BBC News. http://www.bbc.co.uk/manchester/content/articles/2005/10/14/151005_pan_african_congress_feature.shtml. Retrieved 2005-10-14.
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