Miles Henderson, IUP
Pan-Africanism, the brain child of Marcus Garvey, is the philosophy that the only way black people will ever be free on this Earth is through uniting to become a global superpower. It more importantly means the unification of all African people and her descendants, including those residing in the Diaspora. This means the aligning of African Americans, Latin Africans, European Africans and Continental Africans to cultivate a collective mindset with the intention of building and developing the entire Continent as a powerbase.
How does one unify, with those one knows nothing about? One of the largest shortcomings of Pan-Africanism is that the cultures between these people are vastly different. However, with the advent of the internet- connection is finally possible. We can now determine the values and beliefs that are similar and through open dialogue begin to understand ourselves as reflections of another. All of our destinies are intimately tied together, the perception of the Black man is rooted in his global oppression. When that yok is removed from the eyes of the world, the respect and unity amongst Africans and her children will force the world to respect us- and perhaps for the first time a mutual respect amongst ourselves.
The digital age brings with it an era of connectivity that has never before been seen in the course of human history. I can post a status on Facebook while in the U.S. that will be seen by a friend in Ghana, who could then tweet the post to their followers in Kenya, who can consequently screenshot it and post it to be reposted by South African followers on Instagram- all in the course of a few minutes. This type of connectivity when readjusted through the lenses of Pan- Africanism reveals a powerful notion for Africans globally-we can finally connect. With mobile phones and internet access becoming more common throughout the African continent it paves the way for communication between not only continental Africans but Africans in the Diaspora as well.
One of the largest criticisms of Pan- Africanism is that the cultures and identities of Africans are so isolated and different from one another; not only from nation to nation but tribe to tribe- that the notion of leveraging ourselves as One, seems unrealistic and overly simplified without taking into consideration the challenges of unification that could possibly marginalize smaller populations. The first step to any sort of unity is identifying similarity- when we begin to see the similarities that individuals have, it is easier to begin to see ourselves in them. When we begin to see this, it makes the notion of collectivity feasible. Outside of our skin tone, at first appearance the similarities between the various cultures and ideologies may seem few and far between.
Locating these similarities has historically been a challenge for Africans, namely because of our lack of connectivity both on The Continent and in the Diaspora. Whether you are talking about Diaspora Africans or Continental Africans there’s a common thread that tends to separate us. This thread being the tendency to isolate ourselves in our individual experiences- creating the unsubstantiated belief that our perspectives are un-relatable. Universally, those born into a certain country tend to stay in that country and never expand upon their views of countries or populations outside of theirs- thus typically relying on biased Western media portrayals to form a conclusion of Africans outside their zone of travel. This gap in the ability to communicate directly about our various experiences, results in misconceptions furthering the idea that unification is impossible. One respects things they connect and fuse with, however the opposite is true for things we feel like we can’t. And that mutual respect is pivotal if Pan-Africanism will ever be realized.
Internet connectivity allows Africans to begin to control and dictate their own narratives to one another. Though we know this, few websites have actually taken the step to create a digital platform or bridge to connect. Truecultureuniversity.com is one the first sites that aims to do exactly that. The student created site aims to connect Black college students at different universities in the Diaspora to the African Continent. The site already boasts a campus connection with University of Ghana and has procured student written content from over 15 American Universities. These student written articles may very well be laying the foundation for Pan-Africanism. For the first time in history young eager Black students globally can share their perspective on Blackness and their various experiences as Africans. True Culture University is determined to create a bridge, it’s just up to you to cross it.