The End of Pan-Africanism: Post-Africanism and the Re-imagination of the African Myth

 Munshya wa Munshya

The era of pan-Africanism is over. Pan-Africanism has flopped. And it has flopped very miserably. It needs to be replaced, as it is no longer appropriate. Whatever is still alive in the beast of pan-Africanism should be exterminated. Africans must give up this dream and replace it with a vision that is more compatible with African realities. The ideology of pan-Africanism, as a template, has failed to help spur the imagination of Africans. It has also failed to realize even the most basic ideals of our people. In earnest, Africa must begin its transition from a pan-African view of society to that inspired by better ideals found in what I would call “post-Africanism”.

Pan-Africanism is that ideology attributed to Kwame Nkrumah (1909 – 1972), which basically states that Africa is one unit and must unite politically and economically to create a world powerhouse. This ideology has found itself recently in the ideals and tenets of the so-called African Union headquartered in Ethiopia. Interestingly, some of the leaders that promote this abstract idea have the worst human rights record. The capital of the African Union itself is host to one of the world’s worst repressive regimes imprisoning journalists and other activists.

Post-Africanism on the other hand is a reimagination of pan-Africanism. Through post-Africanism we question the major premises upon which pan-Africanism is founded. Post-Africanism deconstructs both “Africa” and “Pan-Africanism” to assert that these two concepts have the same colonial source. To realize the dreams of Africans, the individual, the African must form the basic unit of any hopes or ideals of the continent. Specifically, the following are some elements comprising post-Africanism.

First, post-Africanism assumes that the best gift that Africans have, is the gift of the African being – the reality of the African human. This is not to say that the African is different from other humans, but a mere recognition that the African is a human being. And as a human being, the African must be given the chance and opportunity to be just that – human. This assumption is important as it helps the African to be under no pressure to conceptualize herself as more or less than other human beings. This, in many ways delivers the African from the delusion of attempted superiority or inferiority. In this new conceptualization, the notion of Ubuntu expands from the emphasis of only the good virtues to a more realistic assessment embracing the whole compass of the African human – both the good and the bad. In our reassessment, we must not be guilty of the same mistakes committed by colonialists who held to their own version of racial superiority. The African should not overcompensate her emphasis on goodness in order to eradicate historical racial injustices.

Second, to be an African being should also entail a guarantee of basic “humanness.” Unless every power structure anywhere, in Africa and beyond, is able to guarantee basic human value, any collective vision of Africans will only remain but a pipedream, a daydream, or perhaps a fantasy. Recognizing the humanity of Africans means that the people should drive any political change within any African political organization. It is the individuals, the people, who should own the African processes of statehood and its antithesis. It also means that political leaders should desist from treating Africans like animals. You cannot preach independence from Britain in 1964, only to imprison innocents in 2013 for possessing Vermox. You cannot claim to be free from Britain in 1964 when in 2013 the don’t kubeba apparatus continues to intimidate Zambian journalists. In the same week Nelson Mandela died, the Zambian regime found it appropriate to intimidate journalists at the Daily Nation Newspaper for doing their job.

Third, in post-Africanism we claim that the current African tendency to promote a united Africa is disturbing. How did we even come to learn that for us to be a force to be reckoned with, we must transform this continent into a united country? The Pan-Africanist dream of a united Africa is itself a concept that was never born within the unique position of the African reality. When Nkrumah set out attempts to unite Africans as one people, he was merely mimicking the colonial dream. The first pan-Africanists were, in fact, never Africans themselves. And from the time that the colonialists dreamed of a united Africa, African political leaders have been trying to chase this dream that unfortunately should never have been theirs in the first place. The first person to want to unite Africa from Cape to Cairo was British businessman Cecil Rhodes (1853 – 1902). To Rhodes, the saying divide and rule quickly gave way to unite and rule. He knew that to colonize an expansive and massive land such as Africa, unity was far more appropriate to achieve this purpose than division. Hence, he initiated the Rhodesian dream of uniting this virgin continent into one big orchard for the amusement of European voyeuristic conquest. Cecil Rhodes’ royal colleague King Leopold II (1835 – 1909) of Belgium also subscribed to this same dream of a united Africa. Leopold wasted no time in uniting disparate tribes in Central Africa to create his personal massive plantation he bizarrely named the Congo Free State. To this day, in trying to live within the ghost of Leopold this massive Congolese orchard tries to cover-up some of its atrocities by hiding behind curried nomenclature. It is now called the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This is even if it is not democratic, not a republic and just which Congo it is nobody knows. African political leaders have carried on both the Leopoldian and the Rhodesian templates of a big and united Africa without asking themselves whether this dream is indeed worth the effort. What is even more worrying is that many ordinary Africans have bought into this hype. And I see views from imminent Africans recycling the Leopoldian ghost that Africa’s rise is deeply buried in its unity.

"The era of Pan-Africanism is over."

“The era of Pan-Africanism is over.”

Fourth, in post-Africanism we seek to deconstruct the modern African nation-state. This deconstruction does not mean that these states should be dismantled, but rather that the African must redefine the birth defects that prevailed at the founding of these states. The African, must desist from looking at the nation-state as the cause of the African being, but rather that it is the African being that creates the nation-state. The African must also deal with the possibility that we need new myths to create cohesion within these nations. We must acknowledge the flawed logic upon which nation-states were formed in Africa. Once this is done, it will become far much easier for Africans to then replace these flawed myths with newer myths. I have listened to many of my people who praise the Zambian nation, and yet have never paused to ask themselves just how we became Zambia and for whom? To answer this question, we might need to be invited on a journey beyond pan-Africanism to post-Africanism.

(c) Elias Munshya & Munshya wa Munshya, 2013






  • The author of the article is obviously influenced by Denis Ekpo…whose self hatred is masked by his pseudo concept of post africanism.


  • I hardly drop remarks, but i did a few searching and wound up here The
    End of Pan-Africanism: Post-Africanism and the Re-imagination of
    the African Myth | Elias Munshya LLB (Hons)., MA., M.Div..
    And I actually do have 2 questions for you if it’s allright.

    Could it be just me or does it look like some of the comments appear like they are coming from brain dead individuals?
    😛 And, if you are writing at other online sites, I would like to follow everything new you have to post.
    Could you make a list of the complete urls of all
    your shared sites like your twitter feed, Facebook page or linkedin profile?


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  • I usually do not comment, however I looked at a great deal of
    remarks on The End of Pan-Africanism: Post-Africanism and the Re-imagination of the African Myth | Elias Munshya
    LLB (Hons)., MA., M.Div.. I do have 2 questions
    for you if it’s allright. Is it only me or does
    it give the impression like some of these remarks appear as if they are left by brain dead people?
    😛 And, if you are writing at other online sites, I would like to
    keep up with you. Would you list of every one of all your social pages
    like your Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile?


  • The author of the article makes many distortions like the false claim that pan Africanism was created by cecil john rhodes.

    This pseudo concept of “post africanism” is just plain stupid, seriiusly, no serious thinking African in their right mind can take this non sense seriously.


  • Thank you. It makes sense to me and resonates with both my journey with the Europe/Africa Reconciliation Partnership and my research into the history of the genealogy of sovereign power. We need a new politics for Europe as well as Africa. Hopefully we can learn together.


  • Hi! I know this is kinda off topic but I was wondering if you knew where I could get a captcha plugin for my comment form?
    I’m using the same blog platform as yours and I’m having trouble finding one?
    Thanks a lot!


  • I agree with Moses.Pan-africanism will uplift Africans and other african-descents in the americas and carribean.United,we shall be very strong& this is why there’s strong opposition.Most African leaders consider it necessary but are hesitant to take the risks.Most people are ignorant of how powerful a large group of people with common vision are.It is Possible if we unite as one.


  • Pan africanism was a very good idea which should be revived. Imagine united Africa. They can be sharing of vast resource, both human and natural resources. Africa has all it requires if it unity and can be a force to recon with.


  • I totally disagree, Pan-Africanism like any political ideology, religion etc etc goes through phases and seasons. Pan-Africanism of Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah the great African fore-father was never begun by Cecil Rhodes, it was born out of the many slave rebellions, rebellions by Africans such as the rebellion in Haiti (1791-1804) in this revolt the French Army of Napoleon was defeated. From this period onwards the African world always had a spirit of unity and rebellion against imperial forces. And then came Marcus Garvey who greatly infused the ideas of African unity, enterprise and dignity in the early 1900’s. Kwame Nkrumah while on his sojourn in the US around 1930’s was tutored by the descendants of Africans in that country, he further came in touch with many other Africans such as those of the Caribbean, giants like George Padmore and CLR James… these encounters culminated in the establishment of the PAN-AFRICAN CONGRESS, i think this congress sat more than 5 times, with the prominent one at Manchester in 1945, without these meetings it would not have been easy for you and ,me to enjoy the “political” independence that we now enjoy. In its formative years Pan-Africanism was a mechanism of bringing all the various characters on the African continent, the Kenyattas, Tom Mboya, Amilcar Cabral, Albert Luthuli of South Africa etc etc. It was essential for all of Africa to unite against a common foe- imperialism and white supremacy(which still exist). In the present Pan-Africanism has waned mostly because we do not understand it, we don’t understand its central role in establishing all the modern states on the continent…. Pan-Africanism still has a place in bringing African states to work together, SADC, COMESA GREAT LAKES all these are attempts at Pan-Africanism. Its more viable for our nations to unite their developmental agendas across the sectors- banking, Infrastructure, agriculture, economic planning- everyone else does it or has started to do it in earnest such as the E.U. One African country cannot successfully attempt to deal or trade fairly with China, Brazil, E.U, Australia etc all on its own without expecting imbalances and exploitation politically, socially and economically. But a united African front can.


  • I agree completely… Pan-Africanism is indeed untenable… dead and burried. let its ghosts lie in peace.

    We must perhaps try African Nationalism…


    • Pan-africanism is not dead.It only needs a new social construct.A redefinition.Problems of pan-africanism are two:external and internal.Internal because most leaders at Nkrumah’s era disagreed with him and other black descents in america and west indies.And those made a mistake as they did worse.External,because the whites saw pan-africanism as a threat since it was africa they exploited their resources from.Believe it or not union of africans is a threat to the powers who seek to exploit us.However,we’re in a new youthful generation and we can african awareness and change the way we see things.We must be willing to sacrifice.


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