My Thoughts: “Pan-Africanism: Issues And Origins”

On the birthday of W.E.B. Du Bois, there was a reason why I attended this lecture held by C.R. Gibbs entitled “Pan-Africanism: Issues and Origins” on February 23 at Deanwood Library in Washington, D.C., during the celebration of Black History Month. I had not known the definition of Pan-Africanism or so as much heard of the word until maybe my late teens. Now being almost 24 in April, being at Howard University has continued to stroke my curiosity of the word “Pan-Africanism.” Gibbs helped defined the meaning to the word during his lecture, as it is considered a movement. According to Gibbs, he defined Pan-Africanism as “principles sprung from an understanding that the history and destiny of African people, no matter where they are in the diaspora, is interconnected. There is one blood flowing through all of our veins and this is what you must come to understand.” He further explains that, “We are as immutably tied to the brothers and sisters in the motherland as we are to our uncles and cousins in other parts of the United States. That there is one blood flowing through all of our veins. This is what you must come to understand.” The introduction that he began the lecture stroked my mentality, as to me it helped define the movement more critically as a belief for all Africans, from wherever one exists on the many lands of the Earth, to come together in one unity. It encourages the solidarity of Africans worldwide. Gibbs also speaks about Pan-Africanism as a way to “help us understand where we are on the global stage and the things we need to do to knit ourselves together (such as economically, socially, and culturally).” He further extends this as to saying, “The recognition of our history and our destiny of all black people is interconnected and we rise and fall on the faith of the continent as well as each other.” Pan-Africanism is not a one person job, belief, or movement, but in this case, it all African people’s job, belief, and movement to come together. As the old saying goes “iron sharpens iron,” we must build strength from each other and bounce back from our weaknesses to become stronger, regardless of the blatant racism and prejudice in the world. This is not to say that we should be prejudice to others, but in order to recognize each other as Kings and Queens, we must treat each other as such…and that takes time and effort. Gibbs goes into other categories of why Pan-Africanism is so important and the history behind it in the United States, Africa, and the world as he showed examples of the origins that it evolved from, how African people named their earliest institutions such as churches after where they came from, Ethiopian-ism, and the many known, and more so, unknown men and women of the Pan-Africanism and Black Nationalist movement, to include Phillis Wheatley, John Henry Clark, Anna Julia Cooper, Mary McLeod Bethune, Marcus Garvey, Web D.U. Bois , Majesty Haile Selassie, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X. Keep in mind these are just a few of many that fought for these beliefs into how Gibbs is able to speak about it today. That is because there is a great importance to the movement as it helps the African memory stay alive. Gibbs says that Pan-Africanism “gives you a sense of how to complete the circle.” An outstanding quote he said to us was, “We are the anvil upon which is hammered out the destiny of freedom and justice and equality not only in the United States, but around the world.” As he continued, he greatly stated, “We are a part of a great family of African people, and we might not have been born in Africa, but the spirit of Africa was born inside us.” This belief is something larger than us as African-Americans and all over the rest of the world…it is the continuance of the African memory from our ancestors in which it is important to continue to pass down generation to generation so that we may keep this culture alive. He concludes with asking us to help complete the circle and do the work of the 21st century, and while I do not fully know everything about Pan-Africanism, Black Nationalist movement, and the African Diaspora, I hope to continue to gain knowledge to store in my studies, the way I live my life, and to leave in my legacy and later pass it on to my children, grandchildren, family, friends, strangers, and the next world changer that I can hope to do what the late-great Tupac Shakur stated wonderfully, “I’m not saying I’m gonna change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world.”



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