Monday, July 27, 2015

Erna Brodber at ZIFF 2015: Is Pan-Africanism Dead?

"To know if something is dead, you have to know what it looked like when it was alive. And so it is with an idea such as pan Africanism and so I propose to begin this exercise by looking at Pan Africanism when it was undoubtedly alive" - Erna Brodber

"Is Pan Africanism dead? The real question is, do we need it. Pan Africanism thought did not begin with those labelled Pan Africanists. From at least the late eighteenth century, we have been falling back on the mantra “Ethiopia shall stretch forth her hands unto God”, meaning that despite our earthly troubles, blacks everywhere are meant to be the special. All have used this as a bonding agent given us by our exposure to Christianity. We have seen each other as brothers and sisters and have sought and given help as needed; we have in fact been pulling a Pan Africanism into being as we feel the need. How we wept at the death of Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X! Do we now need to pull Pan African sentiment once more into being in the twenty first century? What has the Pan Africanism of Marcus Garvey, George Padmore, CLR James to do with us today? One of the major impetus towards Pan Africanism in its heyday was the way white power installed all over the world, perceived and treated black people. Does a world which has seen and accepted the genius of jazz, the reggae, the god-blest skill of the black athletes , the diplomatic skills of Kofi Annan and Condoleezza Rice and the dignity of Barack Obama and Nelson Mandela, still have a conception of blacks which could call forth a strategy by which Africans and Africans of the diaspora cooperate to counter these perceptions? Do we care? Ought we to care what the white world says? What benefits are there in our getting together?" - Erna Brodber
"I don’t think Pan Africanism is dead. Its theoreticians and 'actionists' have moved away and the new intellectual elite don’t seem interested but there are spaces in what they would call the masses that it is thriving – the song writers, the young people looking for a spiritual tradition and of course Rastafarians. These are mostly people who see in Europe’s practice of Christianity a double edged sword which defined us as cursed and designed programmes to treat us as such" - Erna Brodber


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