The Shivji-Prah Debate that was circulated to the pages of the Nkrumaist Forum is exciting. So excited have we been with it that we have posted it here in its entirety . You see, sometimes one gets excited not about the positive but the negative. Reality is that when an issue is presumed to have long been settled but all of a sudden it is exhumed to be dealt with without reference to its history one can only get negatively excited about the intentions behind that resurrection.
Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the Foremost Pan-African Theoretician and Activist who ever traversed the African landscape, is constantly educating us on the central issues of Pan-Africanism that some compatriots were mixing up in the heat of the 1960s when the Black Power Movement was shaking the foundations of American society. His concerns are not only documented in The Conakry Years but also immortalized in The Spectre of Black Power. If memory serves us right, the central concepts of his Pan-African philosophy remain: territoriality, raciality and class struggle.
Osagyefo makes the African continent the arena of the Pan-African struggle. He insists that until and unless the continent is liberated from imperialism and neo-colonialism the Black person remains in chains everywhere. This resolves the controversy over territoriality that partly disturbed Marcus Garvey’s relationship with W.E.B. Du Bois. The respect and dignity that Du Bois sought for the Black person in America comes not through their repatriation to Africa, as Garvey sought to do, but through the all-round liberation of the Black person on the African continent, the home of all Blacks.
This dialectical definition of the concept of territoriality in the mind of Osagyefo at once satisfies the apparent divergent desires of Du Bois and Garvey as it incorporates them. The Black in America achieves racial equality there with the emancipation of the continental Black and this emancipation, which precedes the emancipation of Man, creates the condition for the American Black to feel free to return to the continent or enjoy the consequent respect and dignity accorded the African Personality in America. Why this concept of territoriality is not acknowledged in the Debate appears strange.
Osagyefo’s concept of raciality in his definition of Pan-Africanism is predicated on the historical fact of a whole race being suppressed into a single class of workers. In the Americas, the Black, whether they were ‘commoners’ or ‘royals’ while in Africa, were reduced to the same denominator of the working class. Consequently, the loss of respect and dignity of the worker in the perceptions of the capitalist class (the bourgeoisie) was extended to the race that had been so suppressed. In this profound conception of the question of race, Osagyefo viewed racism in the context of class struggle.
Thus, fundamental to Pan-Africanism is the concept and reality of the class struggle. The idea of Pan-Africanism being neither capitalist nor socialist or that it could go either way – and therefore without such an ideological direction – is not borne out by the process of its history. From the date of the 5th Pan-African Congress in 1945 through the All-African Peoples’ Conferences it was transformed from an initial struggle for racial equality to one against imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism and capitalism –the breeding grounds of racism. Scientific socialism directed and directs it.
Osagyefo now points out that the major obstacle to the realization of Pan-Africanism is the colonial heritage of a balkanized Africa with its arbitrarily engineered borders between and among African states. That balkanization disguises the reality of the African Nation. The following Debate between Prof. Issa G. Shivji and Prof. Kwesi K. Prah together with Lang T.K.A. Nubuor’s intervention sorts out the issues touched on above to defuse the current confusion in the African conscience. It is our hope that the heat of the Debate will compel the reconsideration of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s perspectives and conception of the Pan-African Project which the academicians appear to neglect. Read on at: