Education for a New Reality in the African World

By John Henrik Clarke

Part 5 of 10

The African World Revolution

The 1950's marked a new era in African world relationships. The search for change was part of the African American agitation for equal pay for black teachers that was converted into a fight for equal education, which in turn became a part of the fight for equal citizenship rights on every level and laid the foundation for the civil rights movement. When segregated schools were outlawed by the Supreme Court in 1954, the fight against segregation on buses and separate eating facilities had already started. The Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955 and the murder of a black teenager, Emmett Till, later that same year, galvanized and consolidated the various civil rights efforts and made them into a movement of consequence. In the next decade, this movement would receive national and international attention. The fact that this movement rose concurrent with the Caribbean Federation Movement and the African Independence Movement made it a part of an international movement by African people for a place and voice in the political arena of the world. The Africans in Africa were agitating for independence and demanding the fulfillment of promises made to them after World War II. Many Africans who, prior to this war, would have been put to death for lifting their hands against a white person, now were looking at the world from a different vantage point. Some were returning soldiers who had been trained to fight white Europeans, other than their colonial masters. Some returned home with the idea of using their skills to fight against colonial oppression itself. Many missionary-trained Africans began to see the God that the missionaries had trained them to worship as no respecter of color. They began to question their status at home and abroad.

In the education of African people for a new reality, as the people of the African world face the twenty-first century, a history of the rise and fall of these movements is essential. African people throughout the world must be bold enough to ask the questions: What went right with this movement? and, What went wrong? In the final analysis: Who betrayed this movement, and Why? This was a part of an African World Revolution for dynamic social change.

Agitation against colonial rule in Ghana led to the establishment of facsimile political associations that would later be developed into political parties. The main political party in Ghana, the Convention Peoples Party (CPP), under the leadership of Kwame Nkrumah guided Ghana into independence in 1957. This spectacular action set Africa's political revolution in motion. After 1957 nations in Africa were coming into being almost weekly. By 1958 a conference of nine independent. states in Africa was called by Kwarne Nkumah. Some of the ideas that came out of the Pan-African Conference in Manchester, England, in 1945, were becoming realities. A small West African nation, Ghana, under the political leadership of Kwame Nkmmah, began to take all Africa for a political walk in the sun. The African Revolution was born and growing fast. Independence fever swept over Africa and reinforced the aspirations of the Africans living abroad. The new leaders of Africa were men of vision who had challenged the right of foreigners to rule their respective countries. By the mid-1960's coups and counter coups and paid agents of the former colonial powers had frustrated most of the countries in Africa and stymied their promise. In the closing years of the 1980's a generation of Africans, some missionary-trained, some educated abroad, had returned home, more Western than African. To put it crudely, most of these returning Africans were Europeans in black-faces who only superficially had Africa's interest at heart.

What is needed now is a clear agenda of what we must do in the future to save Africa for African people. The Africa of tomorrow will belong to those Africans who are prepared to sacrifice the time and energy to properly handle Africa and all its resources, and to protect Africa internally and externally. The guiding principle for African people, here and abroad, has to be a form of Pan-African Nationalism. Because we have been the victims of imperialism we should never contradict ourselves by becoming imperialistic in our relationship with other people. The following comment on Pan-Africanism is extracted from my book, Who Betrayed the African World Revolution? and Other Speeches.

Pan-Africanism and African Nationalism are too ofien misinterpreted as forms of Black Separatism, a move to organize blacks against whites. I think PanAfricanism might be understood if we also understood that for the last five hundred years the world has been ruled in the main by white nationalism. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, when Europe pulled out of the lethargy of the Middle Ages and began to expand into the broader world, no nation in Europe was against this move. If there was an argument among Europeans at all, it was an argument over the spoils of conquest. Europeans' conquest and dominance over the land and commerce of most of the world was achieved by a form of Pan-Europeanism. Pan-Africanism was created as a means of relieving Africans of the burden of European dominance in order to create, at least symbolically, the concept of "One God, One Aim, One Destiny," as advoeated by Marcus Garvey.


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