Pan-Africanism, in simple terms, revolves around the concept that Africans in the diaspora and those on the continent should join forces to work towards the advancement of Africa.
The movement takes many forms and contains many different ideas and beliefs. The one that stands out to me the most is the calling of the diaspora to “come home” to Africa.
What happens when Africa is not seen as “home” for diaspora members?
Even the term “African-American” does not sit right with many.
It may be hard to believe that PanAfricanists expect people who, for some, have never stepped foot on the continent to pick a country, uproot their entire lives from what is most likely a Western world, for the sake of the unification of Africa. I get how crazy that sounds, but on the other hand, I don’t think Black people worldwide have tapped into our potential when it comes to Africa.
Black people’s influence on this world through our art, culture, and music alone is one thing. But, in Ghana, I can tell you the creative spirit here is infectious. The growth Ghana has seen since its Year of the Return campaign launched in 209, calling for the diaspora to return, has made a significant difference. Imagine taking even more of that talent, creativity, and income to the continent. Would the state of many African countries be the same today?
The biggest issue may be the privileges that come with an American or European nationality. As an American, I can tell you firsthand that once you start traveling the world, you get to see how countries like the U.S are placed on a pedestal. American privilege is real. I experience it every day living in Ghana.
Living in Ghana, I have met countless people who have moved from the U.S with their families. Some who have stayed and some who have returned right back because they couldn’t handle life on the continent.
That’s the catch: They came and knew if it didn’t work out for them, there was always the possibility of returning to the life they were used to. This causes people to be one foot in and one foot out. What if you immediately had to denounce your U.S citizenship when you came? Could you? Would you?
I have respect for those people because they were open to the possibility, but I think the PanAfricanist movement is one that truly has to be bigger than yourself because it’s not about you. It’s about Africa and our people as a collective.
Some feel that our existence as Black people on this earth stems from Africa, and getting in touch with our roots matters. Others understand this but do not feel connected enough to identify with the continent, leaving Pan-Africanism to be an untapped reality as far as reaching its fullest potential.
I often ask myself if I could give up my citizenship to integrate into life on the continent fully, and I would honestly have to think about it. Currently, as a graduate student in Ghana studying International Relations, preparing for a future I’m still not 100% sure about, I’m in a unique situation. I have an expiration date for my time here.
Thank you for exploring this topic with me.