African people’s struggle against oppression, colonialism, zionism, and imperialism is commemorated each year with African Liberation Day (ALD). Founded on April 15th,1958 by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the First Conference of Independent States was held in Accra, Ghana, and attended by eight independent African states. It aimed to create awareness and amplify decolonization struggles and symbolize African nations’ determination to free themselves from foreign domination and exploitation. Within two years of the conference, 17 African nations gained independence. By 1963, the number of independent African countries had almost doubled.
On May 25th, 1963, thirty-one African leaders convened a summit meeting to establish the Organization of African Unity (OAU). The April 15th Africa Freedom Day commemoration was renamed “African Liberation Day” (ALD), and the date officially changed to May 25th.
ALD must be situated and understood within the context of the struggle for decolonization realized and the liberation of African people worldwide. Contributing to the raised political awareness among the masses of African people, ALD serves as a day of political education with countless organizations advancing Pan-Africanism— the total liberation and unification of Africa under scientific socialism.
While fighting colonialism on the continent, the focus of ALD was the anti-colonial struggle and the fight for national liberation. While fighting apartheid in Azania (South Africa) and other forms of colonialization in Southern Africa, the critical role ALD played inspired mass support of the efforts to liberate the land from European settlers. As the chokehold of sanctions and other neoliberal atrocities continues in Haiti, Zimbabwe, Cuba, and Venezuela, ALD has remained central in advancing the understanding that “Sanctions Kill.”
ALD stands as a reflection of the maturity of Pan-Africanism as the struggle for collective freedoms and the advancement of one scientific socialist Africa continues. The significance of ALD is the platform it provides African and other oppressed peoples to inform the masses about their struggles for liberation and building socialism. However, as a continued day of mass political collectivity, ALD also reflects that Africans worldwide have yet to obtain freedom and the many obstacles ahead of us.
In recent years, it’s become popular for some to challenge and outright reject Pan-Africanism, saying everything from “Pan-Africanism is dead” to “unity is unrealistic.” But at Hood Communist, we understand that Pan-Africanism is a political objective; therefore, it can only die with the very last African on earth. In this statement, we will discuss how African unity has always kept our people alive, the dangers we face if we do not understand the importance of achieving Pan-Africanism, and how our lives can change if we do!
Disunity has never been an option
The skepticism that Pan-Africanism is met with is the direct result of an intentional effort from our oppressors to propagate dysfunction, apathy, and despair among our people, to keep us from coming together and fighting back. The reality is that the history of our liberation struggles contains many, many historical examples of African people coming together across faiths, languages, territories, genders, and nations to fight side by side. Here are just a few.
One of the most little understood facts about African resistance to the trans-Atlantic Slave Trade is that it was conducted on a Pan-African basis. European colonizers kidnapped our ancestors and loaded them onto ships with no regard for national identity. Africans from many different nations and tribes who spoke many different languages and worshipped many different ways found themselves thrown together into the same dehumanizing and barbaric circumstance. Rather than allow these differences to keep them divided, these Africans recognized the common direness of their situation and united in uprising aboard ships and in the colonies to win their liberation. The history of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade is riddled with little-known stories of militant transnational African resistance to colonization. Fula fought beside Bantu, Ashanti fought beside Wolof, Lucumi fought beside Maroon. Throughout the Americas, our ancestors united behind a common objective of liberation and the overthrow of the slave system.
In the more recent past, the anti-colonial African revolutionary struggles of the mid to late 20th century tell a similar story of Africans uniting across all forms of borders to build a united front against imperialism. Though many of us may know Kwame Nkrumah, Thomas Sankara, Patrice Lumumba, Amilcar Cabral, Kwame Ture, Malcolm X, and Sekou Toure as individual revolutionary figures, how many of us know that these men learned from each other; building relationships across struggles and nations and oceans to help grow a global movement for African liberation? Thomas Sankara was a protege of Kwame Nkrumah and considered Sekou Toure a mentor. Patrice Lumumba and Kwame Nkrumah signed an agreement known as the “Union of African States” that called for a common currency, common economic planning, and common defense between the Congo and Ghana. Amilcar Cabral, Kwame Toure, and Sekou Toure were all part of the All African People’s Revolutionary Party’s very first work-study circle, whose task was to study and carry out the strategy called for in Nkrumah’s Handbook of Revolutionary Warfare. In 1961, revolutionary anti-colonial organizations representing African nations that had been colonized by the Portuguese (Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, Mozambique, Angola, San Tome, and Principe) united into a coalition known as the Conference of Nationalist Organizations of the Portuguese Colonies in order to fight Portuguese colonialism on the continent.
As we see in these examples, our revolutionary African ancestors understood unity clearly as a tactic that can be used to advance the struggle for the liberation of Africans, Africa, and all of humanity. As Kwame Ture says, Africa and African peoples were already progressing towards unity before colonialism and imperialism interrupted that process. If we were headed there before, we certainly can – with work, organization, and principled struggle to build a mass movement for our liberation – get there again.
We have to get it together… fast!
Our ancestors recognized the material conditions that made unity necessary for their survival. And like them, we need to be realistic about why the need for Pan-African unity continues to exist. Not only do we need unity, but we need it urgently. Today, there are 58 entities connected to the African continent. Approximately 1.5 billion Africans live throughout Africa, and another one billion Africans are living outside of Africa, primarily in Europe, the Americas, India, and Australia. In every place where we live, Africans register on the absolute bottom of each of those societies in every human index category of quality of life. Meanwhile, U.S. and European corporations continue to generate record profits based on exploiting Africa’s human and material resources.
African people do not have time to waste on fulfilling an unifying objective because we depend on the earth, and the earth depends on us. Capitalism cannot address the 13 years we have until we reach what climate scientists project as the phase of “irreversible damage.” As it has been stated on Hood Communist multiple times, the environment is an African issue, point blank period. Many of our people reside in the global south, a region that is already suffering the destabilizing effects of climate change and vaccine apartheid. The coasts of West and East Africa have already begun to flood. Our people who do find themselves captive in the colonial project known as the west are also already living in regions and locales where they are finding themselves flooded out, as well as had their water poisoned, and made victims of food apartheid. Climate change is going to fuck Africans up the worst.
Suppose we fail to unify around a common objective for our future as a people. In that case, we will continue to die at the will of the blood-thirsty, elite, European ruling class and their Pan-European projects of death. African women in the United States will continue to burden abysmal maternal health rates. Our elders will continue to be hospitalized disproportionately with ailments like diabetes and cancer. Cuba, an African nation leading the world socialist revolution, is holding down the world fort on humanistic approaches to medicine, but they can not do it alone, and certainly not under the continued sanctions against them.
Without Pan-African unity, we can not begin to address the various side effects of life under colonization. Hood Communist Editor Ahjamu Umi once said, “If you want a key to ending African poverty, patriarchal oppression against our women and non-men, exploitation of our children, ragged terrorism against us by state police and agencies, etc., the total liberation of Africa under scientific socialism is a must. We know that until Africa is free, united, and socialist, no African anywhere on earth will have freedom and self-determination.”
We can still win. Here’s how!
Without question, Africa is the world’s richest region in the world and equally without question, African people, everywhere we exist on earth, are the poorest while lacking the power to determine even the most basic elements of day-to-day life. How can such a paradox exist? The answer is we must realize what it means to think and act as Africans— not just Kenyans, Ghanaians, South Africans, African-Americans, Black Brits, Afro-Dominicans, Brazilians, Afro-Canadians, Aboriginals, etc. And in doing so, we must forge a worldwide fighting force for Pan-Africanism that will drive the exploitative capitalist classes out of business forever!
This type of African unity makes absolute sense for multiple reasons. First, the colonial borders created for us in Africa by colonialism benefit European capitalism, not the masses of Africans. This is proven by the dichotomy expressed previously regarding who’s in charge and who isn’t. No one is saying Wolof, Fulani, Kikuyu, Shona, Black-Brazilians, Afro-Puerto Ricans, etc., must abandon their tribal identities. What we are saying is that we must recognize that our political and economic interests require us to prioritize Africa above all else. So what if we all eat different foods and speak different languages? These are things we need to learn how to view as positives instead of obstacles. This is especially true since our history of having our families viciously kidnapped through slavery created the reality of biological relatives in all parts of the colonized world. This ill-refutable reality itself makes it senseless to base our identity strictly on where we are born or where we live.
This means that every African, everywhere in the world MUST JOIN AN ORGANIZATION that is fighting for justice. Our ability to unify around common political objectives is strengthened when we stop navigating the world as individuals and become serious bodies of people. Inside these organizations, we need to implement political education processes that help us see beyond our nationalistic worldviews and develop a revolutionary international perspective. This does not mean that we opt out of issues that affect the Africans most local to us by any means. What it means is that we can no longer afford to accept symbolic concessions intended to shut us up and only benefit the US, or France, or Britain or Canada. Africa must become our political center.
One unified socialist Africa, the definition of Pan-Africanism, will solve the problems Africans face worldwide. No more Toyota, Ford, Tesla, Mercedes Benz, etc. Just one Africa that is united in managing the vast wealth of Africa to meet the needs of its almost three billion children, scattered and suffering in 120 countries. Pan-Africanism means countries outside of Africa with dominant African populations like Haiti and Cuba could become part of our African nation. Countries with sizable populations of Africans like Brazil and the U.S. would see a complete change in how Africans are viewed and treated and how we view and treat one another because now Africa is finally respected.
We cannot expect to rise up anywhere while our Mother remains exploited and disrespected. Once Africa is united, we unleash the potential of the most beautiful and resourceful mass of land on this planet. You can elect all the firsts and pass all the legislation you’d like. Nothing will ever equal the benefits of a free, united, and socialist Africa. This year and every year on African Liberation Day (ALD), we imagine African people worldwide, collectively in control of what our home has to offer. We imagine an Africa able to negotiate and contribute on the world stage, protect her people abroad and offer her lifetime of wisdom to the struggle for world peace— the end of Pan-European, capitalist domination.