PAN AFRICANISM AND REPARATIONS

By Dr. Conrad W. Worrill (May 16, 2000)

Our great historian and departed ancestor, Dr. John Henrik Clarke, described in his classic book, Notes For An African World Revolution, that, "The idea of uniting all Africa had its greatest development early in this century."

Dr. Clarke wrote that, "In 1900, the Trinidadian lawyer, H. Sylvester Williams called together the first Pan African Conference in London. This meeting attracted attention and put the word Pan African in the dictionaries for the first time."

According to Dr. Clarke there were only thirty delegates to the conference that came mainly from England, the Caribbean, and the United States. Dr. W. E. B. DuBois led the small delegation from the United States. It is in this connection that the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations (ASCAC), at their International Conference in July, will be commemorating the 100th anniversary of the First Pan African Conference in London.

When we use the term Pan Africanism we must be very clear. Pan Africanism is the belief that people of African ancestry throughout the world have the same racial and cultural characteristics and the same social and economic conditions as a result of our African origin.

The Pan African component of the Reparations Movement launched its first international conference on Reparations in Lagos, Nigeria, in December of 1990. After that conference, the Organization of African Unity (OAU), set up a Group of Eminent Persons (GEP), in June 1992. Its aim was to work out the different ways in which to proceed, and to secure technical advisors, who would help solve some of the difficulties associated with the claim for reparations.

A second conference on Reparations was held in Abuja, Nigeria, in 1993, attended by representatives from throughout the Diaspora. That conference issued a declaration, called "The Abuja Proclamation," which called for a national reparations committee to be set up throughout Africa and the Diaspora. The African Reparations Movement (UK), was formed in 1993, as a result of this proclamation.

It is important that we understand that the growing Reparations Movement in America, led by the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N’COBRA) is connected to the growing Reparations Movement occurring throughout the African world.

A delegation from the United States, led by Dr. Jacob Carruthers and Dr. Ron Walters, participated in

Abuja’s First Pan African Conference and reported back to the leaders of the Reparations Movement, in this country, their observations and analysis of the conference.

As we commemorate the 75th anniversary of the birth of Malcolm X, we must remember his role in helping to stimulate the Pan African Movement that we stand on today as we fight for reparations for African people throughout the world.

In Malcolm’s last visit to Africa before his untimely departure from us, he visited the President of Ghana, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. Malcolm gave this account of the meeting in his autobiography. Malcolm said; "We discussed the unity of Africans and people of African descent. We agreed that Pan Africanism was the key also to the problems of those of African heritage… My time with him was up all too soon. I promised faithfully that when I returned to the United States, I would relay to Afro–Americans his personal warm regards."

There is no doubt that the spirit of Malcolm and other great Pan African leaders are helping to push the Reparations Movement forward.

The Abuja Proclamation should be the basis for our continued organizing the Reparations Movement throughout the world. The following area some of the key points presented in "The Abuja Proclamation" on April 27-29, 1993:

"Recalling the Organization of African Unity’s establishment of a machinery the Group of Eminent Persons for appraising the reparations in relation to the damage done to Africa and its Diaspora by enslavement, colonization, and neo–colonialism.

Convinced that the issue of reparations is an important question requiring the united action of Africa and its Diaspora and worth of the active support of the rest of the international community.

Fully persuaded that the damage sustained by the African peoples is not a thing of the past but is painfully manifest in the damaged lives of contemporary Africans from Harlem to Harare, in the damaged economies of the Black World from Guinea to Guyana, from Somalia to Surinam.

Cognizant of the fact that compensation for injustice need not necessarily be paid in capital transfer but could include service to the victims or other forms of restitution and readjustment of the relationship to both parties.

Convinced that the claim for Reparations is well grounded in International Law."

No matter who gets on the bandwagon of the growing Reparations Movement, we must always remember what Dr. Clarke taught us and that is, "powerful people never teach powerless people how to take power away from them!"


National Chairman
National Black United Front (NBUF)


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