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Upon this policy, which Africans are carrying out with arms in hand, the Sixth

Pan-African Congress must draw a line of steel against those, Africans included,

who hide behind the slogan and paraphernalia of National Independence while

allowing finance capital to dominate and direct their economic and social life.



Toward the Seventh PAC

The Pan-African Congress Past, Present and Future

By C.L. R. James


[James delivered this address at the First Congress of All African Writers in Dakar, Senegal, on 5 January 1976, and at Federal City College's Homecoming in Washington, 19 October 1976. It was published the same year in Ch'indaba (the successor to Transition, edited by Wole Soyinka) and in the pamphlet Not For Sale, following a speech by Michael Manley (of which James then said: "In fifty years of political activity and interest in all sorts of politics, I have never read a speech more defiant of oppression and in every political way more suitable to its purpose.")]

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Now, I am to speak tonight on Pan-African Congress. That is a very difficult subject. There are hostile opinions on one side and the other. I tell you what I am going to do. First of all I am going to give you the kind of attitude that we should have in thinking about such a subject at this time. We cannot look upon it with the ordinary mentality. But I cannot begin unless I tell you the method with which I think you should look upon the great events in the particular period in which we live. First of all, what should we think about the world in which we live?

I want to tell you something of my experience, which has been rather wide. After World War I, those who were in charge of society wanted to give people some ideas that the barbarism and degradation which World War I had stuck on Western civilisation should not be considered inevitable . . . there was some way out. And therefore they got one of their men, Mr H. G. Wells, to write a book that he called The Outline of History. There he said that what had happened was an historical event, but he sketched an outline of history and gave the impression that if we went along with good hearts and clear minds we could go some distance away from it. But unfortunately within twenty-five years there was a more dreadful war than the one which had taken place between 1914 and 1918. So once more the West was in trouble as to how to give some general idea of how people should look upon the civilisation in which they were living.

They got a man named Toynbee; some of you have been burdened with his long books. I went to England in 1932, trying to learn everything I could. Toynbee published his first volume, I bought it. I read half and I have never read anything by him since. I said whatever he has there is not for me. But Toynbee was the man they paid attention

to, and in America, where they like summation of important events, Toynbee did well indeed. But after a time, people began to feel that Toynbee's conception that history would develop because of some new doctrine, which would spring from some unknown or unimportant country as Christianity sprang from Palestine—well, that did not seem so satisfying after all.

So they went and got someone else, his name is Kenneth Clark. Now H.G. Wells wrote on The Outline of History, Toynbee wrote on The Study of History, now they got Kenneth Clark to write on Civilisation (and this shows you the confusion they were in). He gave twenty talks on television on "Civilisation". Not about history and where we are going and what is its origin—where are we this time. No, this was something else: we are supposed to be civilised but what is civilisation?

And Mr Clark told us what he thought. I will read one or two extracts for you. He says, "At this point I reveal myself in my true colours, as a stick-in-the-mud. I hold a number of beliefs that have been repudiated by the liveliest intellects of our time." He adds, "We have no idea where we are going. . . ." Now I could have told him that forty years ago, but nevertheless he is the man chosen to give the twenty lectures. The Queen made him a Lord after—he used to be Sir Kenneth Clark but after he gave these lectures he became Lord Kenneth Clark for saying, "We do not know where we are going. . . ."

Let us go to the end, to one of the most important pieces of exposition I have read anywhere. He, Clark, quotes W. B. Yeats in a poem which is famous: "Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold." All right, I agree their things are falling apart, their centre cannot hold. That's OK with me. Even when he goes on to say, "The trouble is there is still no centre," I agree. But then, "the moral and intellectual failure of marxism has left us with no alternative. . . ." Now isn't that something?

I am sure when he began the lectures the Queen knew that when he was finished she was going to make him a Lord. These lectures have been played all over the world. He is a man with great intelligence and great knowledge. I believe he is a wonderful figure of the nineteenth, not the twentieth century and he ends up with, "the moral and intellectual failure of marxism"! So that it is marxism which has failed to give them something to live by and develop: that's why they don't know where they are going, because marxism has not told them. Now, friends, I am not making jokes. I am telling you what is the opinion of the people who rule the world.

I will take one more example—President Valery Giscard d'Estaing. He gave a press conference in Paris on 24 October 1975, and this is what he said: "The world is unhappy. It is unhappy because it does not know where it is going." Very interesting. That is the President, or I don't know what they call him now since de Gaulle's constitution, but he rules in France. "The world is unhappy because it does not know where it is going, and because it senses that if it knew, it would discover that it was headed for disaster." Now I ask you, this from the Head of State in France? "The crisis the world knows today will be a long one, it is not a passing difficulty, it is actually the recognition of permanent difficulties . . .": it is not going to stop, it is going to go on.

"It is actually the recognition of permanent change. . . ."

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Now to go to the question of Pan-African congresses. My aim is to pose the Seventh Pan-African Congress, but that, I am sure, requires a steady view of the first six. The first Pan-African Congress took place in 1900. It was founded in London by a Trinidad lawyer called Sylvester Williams. Sylvester Williams was married to an English woman, and when I was a small boy he returned to Trinidad—about 1908.

And I remember my father saying: "There he is talking a lot about Africa and Pan-Africanism: all of us should be together, and he married a white woman." But I was a small boy, these things didn't matter to me so I didn't pay much attention. But Sylvester Williams began something and we have to look at when he began. It was 1900.

Many things were happening in 1900. To begin with they were preparing for the war that would break out in 1914. There were also many "Pan" things beginning. There was Pan-Slavism and Pan-Arabism and so on. In other words, people were dissatisfied with the existing structure and the development of society, and they were searching for new roads and new ways.

There was taking place in 1900 one of the first great wars for independence of a colonial people. It is astonishing but that was a war of white people, the Boer War, fought by the Boers against the British for freedom and independence: the first of the colonial peoples to fight an open war in order to maintain their independence. At the same time, the British Labour Parry showed its hostility to the Liberal Party and the Tory Party, and it formed a Labour Party which in twenty years was to become the largest party in Britain. So that all these events were moving towards a change in the general social structure, and Sylvester Williams with his Pan-African Movement was part of a world-wide movement. I want you to remember that. It was not that someone sat down one day and said, "Let me form a Pan-African Movement."

There was something going on. There were various changes in the world and many people were taking part. That is the first thing I want you to remember. These Pan-African congresses all have their particular place in a particular history.

Now, what is noteworthy about the First Pan-African Congress is this. The foundation of all that we are doing, the intellectual foundation, is the work, for the most part, of a distinguished American scholar, Dr W. E. B. Du Bois. Dr Du Bois happened to be in Paris in 1900 doing some activity of some kind or other, and Sylvester Williams was bright enough to ask him please to come to London to take part in this First Pan-African Conference. Dr Du Bois went, and was made Chairman of the committee which prepared the manifesto of the conference. And I tell you, you should read that document when you get a chance. Because even in those days, although they were making appeals to governments and persons in authority, asking them please to look at what was happening to Black people, and to use their influence in order to lift Black people from the low level at which they were being maintained, yet at the same time there was more than a spark of the Du Bois militancy, even defiance, which you will find in that document written in 1900. 

Well, that was the end of that. Things were quiet for a while, and then bourgeois society exploded in the first descent into barbarism. The war of 1914-1918. Please do not think that my experiences are records of abuse or records of anger. There is hostility in me, the world, everybody knows that, but when people get together for a war and kill ten million people, I don't believe that that is any mark of civilisation or progress.

I say that is a tendency towards barbarism! What they fought the war for, nobody knows exactly: they are still arguing about that now. About two or three years ago there was a heated debate in the British press as to how the British got into the war. There were certainly people who had signed for war, but some members of the British Cabinet said that they knew nothing at all about it. They were told they had to send an army to meet the Germans in France and they said OK, if you have agreed to that, well, let us send it. But they said they knew nothing about it from the beginning. They are debating it still.

Let them debate it, we are not concerned with that at all. But that was the first one: 1914-1918, the first descent of Western civilisation openly into barbarism for everybody to see, everybody, colonials and Europeans themselves. At that particular time, 1918, when the conference was taking place which was to settle what they have not settled up to today, Dr Du Bois went to France and asked permission to hold a conference, which would put before the Versailles Conference what Black people in the world at that time needed. I want you to note that in 1900 Sylvester Williams was part of a forward movement. In 1918, in the general disruption of society caused by World War I, Du Bois jumps into the situation and asks permission to hold another conference.

Well, permission was given him, he held it, there were conflicts. I don't think there is any need to go into that. We have enough conflicts of our own to be bothered about conflicts that took place in 1918. At any rate they held a conference in 1918. Between 1918 and 1929 (I want to go forward somewhat) Du Bois held four conferences. One was held in Britain, one was held in Belgium: he held them all over Europe. He wanted to hold one in the United States, he even wanted to hold one in Africa. But those conferences were not successful. For the most part they were conferences of people who were interested: intellectuals, people in the liberal spheres of society, and other people who were concerned with the development of civilisation. There were some people from various parts, but only a few people from Africa. All were essentially people who were viewing the African question from an intellectual point of view. Yet those conferences did a great deal. They formed the basis of what we were gong to do afterwards.

Nevertheless they were not particularly successful, and they were not particularly successful not only because of the composition of the people who formed them, but because when you read the documents of those conferences, and Dr Du Bois himself in his essay "Four Congresses" has told us what they were, they were not seeking control of their economic and social life, they were not seeking independence. Although they recounted many evils, what they insisted upon was the correction of those evils. At times they spoke about the economic question. Still, all through those conferences you can see that what they were doing was this: they were calling on well-meaning people, intellectual people in sympathy with the Blacks, to help to form an organisation of superior people who would lead the Black people out of the difficulties in which they were.

I personally believe that there was ground for a bolder Call. But it would be very wrong for us today to look upon what they were doing in 1918 and 1929 and say abstractly that they were mistaken. We can say that, but what we must not do is to give the impression that if we were there at that time we would have done differently. They did what they could and above all laid a foundation. But by 1929 Dr Du Bois could not go any further. There were two reasons for that. First, 1929 was the year or the tremendous degradation of the economic life of Western civilisation. World War I, 1914-1918, had shown that civilisation had no ethical or humanistic principles by which it could live. One thousand nine hundred and twenty-nine (1929) showed that the economic system by which it lived could not be controlled, and when it started to go all ways, they went all ways, because even then as today they did not know what they were doing.

Well, by 1929 Dr Du Bois states that he could not get any money to continue his conferences. But something else was happening. In Moscow, where the Third Communist International had been established, its leaders thought that with the degradation of society in 1929 the time had come for it to begin to work among Black people.

They needed a Black man of ability in order to do this work and they sent to the United States and called for a young man who went by the name of George Padmore. He went to Europe and he held a first conference, a Workers Conference, in Hamburg in 1930. Then he went on to Moscow. Between Hamburg and Moscow he was soon very well established. He became a very powerful person in the Communist International, having under his control and direction all the work that was being done for Africa and people of African descent.

In 1932 I went to Great Britain from the Caribbean, and in 1933 one day in London I heard that the famous George Padmore was coming to speak in Gray's Inn Road. So I found myself in Gray's Inn Road—in those days I went to see everything that was new—to see the famous George Padmore. I went to the hall and there were about seventy or eighty people, about half of them white, and about five minutes before the time in walked my boyhood friend Malcolm Nurse, and they told me that this was George Padmore! I did not argue. If Malcolm chose to call himself George Padmore that was OK with me. But we knew each other at once. He came and said, "Hello, how are you?" And I said, "We will talk afterwards." We went to my flat after and we talked till about four o'clock in the morning. He told me: "You were here in 1932 March, April, May?" I said yes. He said, "I was here in 1932, and I was looking for people to take to Moscow and train them for the understanding of the African development and the African revolution."

I told him: "Well, George, if you had met me here in 1932 and you had told me let us go to Moscow to be trained up, I would have gone with you at once." What would have happened to me there I do not know, but nevertheless that is the way things were, and ever after Padmore and I remained good friends. He used to come in and out of London and whenever he came he would come to see me. He was a Communist, a Stalinist, and I had joined the Trotskyist movement, but we never quarrelled because both of us had a political perspective, the revolutionary emancipation of the African people.

Furthermore, we had been friends from childhood: we had gone to bathe in the river in Arima, and had done a lot of things as young men together. I knew his father, his mother, his sister, and they knew all mine. His father and my father were teachers together. I always remembered that George Padmore the revolutionary was the son of Alfonso Nurse the teacher, and to him I was the son of Robert James the teacher, of Trinidad. We never quarreled, despite our differences in political orientation. We understood and trusted one another. More of that another time.

Well, one day in 1935, George Padmore appeared at my door. Now Padmore was a man whose trousers were always in order, his hair was always well combed, his clothes were always as they ought to be. He was a careful person—careful in politics, careful in organisation, careful in his person. I saw him looking somewhat disheveled and I said, "George, what's up?" He said, "I have left those people, you know." It was many months before I got the full significance of that.

For him the Communist International was "those people". He had been working with them because they wanted someone, and they would spend the money to help the organisation to develop. But he did not believe in them, and he told me why he left them. It is extremely important. They (the Communist leaders) told him, "Well, George, the situation is changing and we want you now to take it easy with the Democratic Imperialists: Britain, France and the United States, and lead the attack on the Fascist Imperialists Germany, Italy and Japan."

Padmore told them, "But how can I do that? Germany and Japan have no colonies in Africa, how am I going to attack them when it is Britain and France who have the colonies in Africa, and the United States is the most race-conscious country in the world? How do you expect me to tell those three in my African propaganda that they are the democratic imperialists?" So they told him, "Well, George, you know, that is the line." And in those days when the Communist said that that was the line, you followed the line or you got another line, you went out. They stood no nonsense. Harold Cruse does not understand that but at any rate let Mr Cruse stay where he is for the time being. So George said he told them that he was not going to do that and they said, "But, George, you understand, we must have discipline." He said, "You can have discipline but you are not going to discipline me to say that Britain and France and the United States are 'Democratic Imperialists' who are the friends of Communism. That is out." And he packed his bag and he came to London.

Well, in London he formed an organisation called the International African Service Bureau: in time he published a paper called International African Opinion. He asked me to edit the paper. I was at the same time the editor of the Trotskyist paper. You can therefore understand that when I hear people arguing about Marxism versus the nationalist or racialist struggle, I am very confused. Because in England I edited the Trotskyist paper and I edited the nationalist, pro-African paper of George Padmore, and nobody quarreled. The Trotskyists read and sold the African paper and the African nationalists attended each other's meetings and there were nationalists who read and sold the Trotskyist paper. I moved among them, we attended each other's meetings and there was no problem because we had the same aim in general: freedom by the revolution.

In 1938 I came to the United States. But I must warn you that we were all waiting for the crisis of World War II which everybody saw coming, and we expected the revolution to break out during or at the end of the war, in the same way that it had broken out in Europe during World War I. But 1945 came, and the revolution had not taken place.

But there was an event of some importance to us, a conference of the World Trade Union movement in Paris. That trade-union conference had a lot of funds to play about with and they invited a whole lot of people from Africa—journalists, politicians, writers and the rest—to come to Paris for the International Trade Union Conference. And then they came to London and Padmore said, "Now you all have come here to hear what they have to say, you come to Manchester and hear what we have to say." And that was the origin of the Manchester Conference.

Two things I have to draw to your attention. If those trade-union groups had not invited all the Africans, Padmore would never have been able to invite a hundred Africans from Africa, and pay their way to come to Europe, but unless Padmore had had his  organisation, ten years old, he would have never been able to make use of the fact that the Africans were there, and could call them to Manchester for the famous Manchester Conference.

At that conference there was a person I want you to take particular note of. I had gone to the United States in 1938, and about 1941 somebody brought to me someone who called himself Francis Nkrumah. We became very friendly. Nkrumah was always a very capable man, very sophisticated, he danced very well, he spoke easily to everybody—he was an exceptional man. But he used to talk about Marxism, commodity production and so forth, and he used to talk a lot of nonsense. But I did not quarrel with him, because he used to talk a lot of sense about Africa and imperialism. But he told me that he was going to London to study Law, and I wrote a letter which is well known.

Let me quote it for you: "Dear George, this young man is coming to you," (there they have put some dots and left out what I said), "he is not very bright, but do what you can for him because he is determined to throw the Europeans out of Africa."

Now some people think that I believed that Nkrumah was stupid. Nobody who spent half an hour in Nkrumah's presence could think he was anything else than a highly intelligent, highly sophisticated young man, very sure of himself. But Padmore would understand what I meant. When I wrote to Padmore and said: "he is not very bright, but you, George, do what you can for him," George would know that in the political intricacies that the modern world demanded Nkrumah was not trained. And I asked George to do it for him because George Padmore was one of the most highly educated politicians of any kind in Europe. He met Nkrumah at Waterloo Station and they began that great combination of Padmore and Nkrumah, which ended in the explosion in the Gold Coast and the beginning of the development of Africa with Ghana. Now Ghana is very important.

I speak of Western Civilisation. 1914 to 1918, a step down. Crisis of 1929 to 1932, further step dawn. War from 1939 to 1945, further step down. And after that the steps down come with astonishing speed and I am disturbed that I speak to Black people and they don't seem to understand that this Western Civilisation that has dominated us for so long, for the last century, has been falling down, step after step, going down and down and down.

First of all, there was the Russian Revolution, which renounced them completely and said they had no right to exist. Next they lost India, some four or five hundred million people. Then they lost China, under Mao Tse-tung. And fourth they lost the Gold Coast under Kwame Nkrumah. Let us not forget the importance of what Nkrumah did.

Please take note: there were only five million people in the Gold Coast, but ten years after Nkrumah had won independence for the Gold Coast, there were some forty new African states, and a hundred million African people. I have never heard or read of any revolutionary movement of such tremendous force and power as that which followed Nkrumah after he had won the freedom of the Gold Coast. So those are the names: Lenin, Mao Tse-tung, Gandhi and Kwame Nkrumah, who have led the world in the situation where it is, and Western Civilisation goes falling down from step to step.

Now, these countries didn't do everything. They gained independence but in country after country they went to the military for safety. There are many people with great lack of knowledge of history who think that that is very revealing. I don't. The British, when they were making the change from a feudal type of society to a modern, they had to make it ultimately under the leadership of Oliver Cromwell, the soldier. The French, when it came to changing from the ancient regime to the modern, they did it under the leadership of Napoleon Bonaparte.

The United States when it made its change had to do it under the leadership of Abraham Lincoln, who found (and educated) the best generals. And when it happened in Russia, it ended under the leadership of someone who called himself Marshal Stalin. He took unto himself the military post which he was not entitled to but nevertheless he was head of state and he thought it best to call himself a Marshal. Mao Tse-tung of the Chinese revolution was a soldier. So that when the Africans turn to the military, it is not any particular African weakness; it is a natural development of people who are moving from one stage of social development to another.

But it does not necessarily mean that they have to follow that, because in Africa today there is one of the greatest politicians in the world at the present time, who is making the transition and not doing it in a military way or doing it with violence. I refer to Dr Nyerere, the head of state of Tanzania, who is attempting to make a new socialist state. That's what we have to remember. I will not say that he is the foremost political thinker of the day, that would be provocative. But I will say that I do not know any political thinker who has the clarity and has the firmness to carry through what he is thinking, as Dr Nyerere of Tanzania today. And Tanzania is one of the greatest and most important signs that Africa is on its way.

Now, my friends, we have watched these other countries. Many of the African states have gone their way, and during the last few months we have had Angola and Mozambique, which have put South Africa in a position where I can say, without fear of contradiction from this platform, that it would be a remarkable thing if in ten years' time the Africans are not ruling the whole of South Africa. If any of you doubt that, you please take the word not of James but of Dr Vorster, the President of South Africa, who says: "Let us talk, because if we do not talk the consequence would be too ghastly to contemplate." Now that is what Vorster is saying, and who would the consequences be disastrous for? For him and his people! Not anybody else. So that's where we are today.

Now I want to do something else. The Pan-African movement began with Nkrumah, but first it divided into two and then disintegrated. And once more in 1974, the Sixth Pan-African Congress posed a reunion and a regeneration of policy. I am going to spend  some time on that,  not too much, because I am not here to spend much time quarrelling.

But I am going to take The Call, that is to say, what we sent out—some of us here in the United States—to tell people about the conference.

Those who are fighting today in Africa make no distinction between political independence and complete economic control. In the 1945 congress, we emphasised political control, but we say those who are fighting today make no distinction. "Upon this policy, which Africans are carrying out with arms in hand, the Sixth Pan-African Congress must draw a line of steel against those, Africans included, who hide behind the slogan and paraphernalia of National Independence while allowing finance capital to dominate and direct their economic and social life.

Now that was The Call we sent out. And then I noticed the Editor of Black World devoted a whole issue of the magazine (March 1974) to the Sixth Pan-African Congress. To my astonishment this issue made me the leading theoretician. It made me, C. L. R. James, give what he called “An Overview”. He left a lot of space at the side so that no one could miss it. I was as astonished as anybody else, but I was able to say one or two things which I will read to you now: “I do not think that people as a whole who were around the Fifth Pan-African Congress were very much concerned about what the Fifth or any congress was going to do.”

That famous congress in 1945 [Manchester Conference] did not have too many people around it, not many people knew what they were doing. “But today the African people in the world are very concerned, are very anxious, and have all sorts of organisations all of which aim at dragging the Black people from their subordinate places. That is the difference between the Fifth and the Sixth Congress. In the Fifth we were a vanguard [Manchester Conference], we were a body of people who had advanced some ideas—and advanced ideas they were. But a great mass of the population following us, that we did not have. Today, not only the Sixth Pan-African Congress, but all sorts of groups—get this please—“all sorts of groups in every part of the world—in many parts of Africa, in the United States, right through the Caribbean—are taking in hand and having in mind where we are going and what we are going to do.” That was a tremendous difference from the old conferences.

To prepare for the congress, I went around. God knows I went everywhere. I went to Nigeria, I went to Ghana, I went to somewhere else in Africa—I can't remember. I went to the Caribbean twice, I went to Guyana, I went to Trinidad, I went to Jamaica twice. I travelled all over the United States. I went to the west coast. I would have eight or ten meetings over the weekend between Sacramento, Los Angeles and San Francisco. I travelled thousands of miles and I said we would have a conference of the kind I have described in the "Overview". All was going well, very well.

Then, two weeks before the conference, I heard that people could not come from the Caribbean unless they were sent by the government. Now, I want to tell you I am suspicious of all governments. I listen with great sympathy to what happens in Tanzania. I listen with great sympathy to what is happening in Cuba and if there are difficulties I try to find out what they are. I believe that something of great importance to us is happening in China, but I don't know for certain. But I keep my mind away from condemning them because I believe a great attempt is being made there. With the rest of the world, when they say something they are entitled to say it, but I also am entitled not to believe. Where it is possible I say what I have to say, where it is not convenient, I keep my mouth shut but nevertheless I am generally very concerned.

So they said that we were not to have anybody from the Caribbean unless they were sent by the governments. I know those Caribbean governments as well as anybody else. And I was not going to be a representative of any one of them! And the people I knew in the Caribbean were getting ready to go—we were not going to be representatives of any government. Many people were getting ready to help us. But we did not go to the conference, and though specially invited I did not go.

And I am not here to attack the conference. All I will say is this—this is simple, but it is fact. The conference left no particular doctrine behind it. The Fifth Pan-African Congress in Manchester was the beginning of the struggle for political independence, with the power of the mass of the population behind it. The aim and the means, mass action.

But the Sixth Pan-African Congress—nobody can stand up here and tell me what it (the Sixth Pan African Congress) stood for. It stood for nothing in particular, that is why. Any time a congress takes place, there ought to come out of it some doctrine, some ideas of which people can say, "We know what that conference stands for, we are for, we are against, or we don't know." But what the Sixth Pan-African Congress stands for nobody is able to say, and I am not going to attempt it tonight.

Now the last thing I want to do this evening, having talked about the past, is to speak about what I believe is the next conference that we are going to have, that we must have: the Seventh Pan-African Congress. I am not here only to tell you about the history, about what happened. That you can find out for yourself if you are inclined, or you can talk to people. But my business, after having done that, is to outline for you what I believe should be the business of the next Pan-African congress, the Seventh. I am entitled to do that.

You can agree or disagree, but I want to make the perspective clear. I hope that this is going to be printed so that we can start the discussion at once. Whenever that conference may take place, we begin today with some definite programmes and policies on which a discussion can start. And I am going to say them with the utmost plainness because they are not difficult.

Number one: When you look at society today, you know that the national state, which began with the United States and the French revolution, is a total failure. The national state is no longer anything that can be looked upon as a political formation with any great significance. The bourgeoisie themselves are breaking up the national state. They have broken Germany into two and to break Germany into two is to break Europe into two. Germany is the centre of European civilisation.

They have divided it: they have taken half and the Russians have taken half. They have divided Korea: "You take up there and we take down here." They would have divided Nigeria if they had the chance, but the people said not a bit of it and they finished up with Ojukwu. Otherwise Nigeria would have been divided and some of them would have said, "This is ours and that is theirs." They did their best to divide Vietnam: "You take up there and we take down here." They couldn't manage it and the Vietnamese have all of it now. That means that the national state is no longer a viable political entity, and I am saying that when we are writing the documents for the Seventh Pan-African Congress we should go straight forward and say: for us no longer is the national state an ideal.

West Africa should be united as a West African federation. Southern Africa should be united, especially since Mozambique and Angola, as a Southern African organisation. Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania should be an East African organisation. And we go further to say that all those states to the north of Africa — Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya and all of them—should form one organisation. In other words, we are not going to hold a conference and hold up the national state as an ideal any more. That belongs to the last century. In a new conference we must speak about the shape that the world is taking before our eyes, and we put forward for Africa and people of African descent the new ideas: the abolition of the national state as a political entity—that's number one. Those who wish to debate it can do so. These federated units can integrate their economic development unimpeded by the old, outworn economic shibboleths, such as free enterprise.

Number two: What is Dr Nyerere doing?  Dr Nyerere is very much concerned with the destruction and the prevention of the development of the African elite. You go to an African country, you go to the capital. There is a fine hospital, there is the church, there are two or three banks and so on. Take a motor car or walk five miles away from that centre where Western civilisation is flourishing and you will find people living as their ancestors "lived five hundred years ago. And Nyerere is concerned that what does not happen is that the African peasant is exploited by the African elite. That is the trouble. He not only has to deal with the imperialists who keep on doing what they can to maintain domination. There is an African elite in every African territory which had adopted the ways and ideas of Western civilisation and is living at the expense of the African peasant. And we, in talking about a Seventh Pan-African Congress, must make it clear that the African elite is what we have to deal with, and that the African peasant must be our main concern. 

Point number three: If we are talking about the elite, then we have to be concerned with the masses of the population. The masses of the population today matter in a way that they did not matter twenty-five years ago. Who in the name of heaven could have predicted that Vietnamese peasants, living on rice for the most part, would have been able to defeat the most powerful country that the world has ever known! I am telling you that they were able to do that only because the whole population was involved. That was why they could do it and I am drawing a conclusion from that.

When we look at Cuba, when we look at Vietnam, we can see that in the old days we used to think that it would take one hundred years for a peasant population to rise to the standard of a fully developed modern state. Vietnam has shown that that is absolutely untrue, that if modern civilisation is able to give them what they need, in ten or fifteen years there is no peasant population which would not bring itself forward and be able to rank, it not in the vanguard, but as a modem state. That is what Vietnam has proved, and that is what a Pan-African conference must say: We of this conference are looking forward to a new relation of leaders and masses of population in Africa and in countries of African descent. That is what we must look forward to in the future.

Now, the first point then: the national state. Good. The second point: the elite we are after. The third point I want to take is our consideration for the mass of the population. And here I want to move a bit. I have here a book called Child of the Dark. It is a book written by Carolina Maria de Jesus of Brazil. She had three children by three different men. I am not criticising her for that, that is her business. She lived in a Brazilian ghetto, and on the whole she was very generous in her appreciation of members of the opposite sex — which was to her credit. But despite the fact that she had only two years of school, she was a natural-born writer. And she sat down every night and wrote a diary about the kind of life she was living in the Brazilian ghetto. It got into the hands of a Brazilian reporter, he went through it and published it. When the book appeared in Sao Paulo, in less than six months, 90,000 copies were sold.

It has sold more than any other Brazilian book since the beginning of Brazil centuries ago. Let me repeat. The book that has had the widest circulation in that huge area is the book by this woman with two years of schooling. That is an example of what can be done by the mass of the population when it is given the opportunity to express its natural ability. Lenin was very much concerned about that. He always said, give the common people the chance, they have the energy, they have the ability, they have the desire to change. But the ordinary society suppresses them and keeps them down. If you free them you get energy, you get initiative, you get forward-looking policy, etc., which can be a tremendous advance in the economic and social development of any country.

I believe that in a Seventh Pan-African Congress we ought to be able to say that the initiative and suppressed powers of the people must take its place. We not only want the attack against the elite, we want the educated to recognise the suppressed initiative of the African peasant, of the people in the formerly colonial African countries. Now,   recent years have shown that they have in them the capacity to lead their country forward, if only they are given the opportunity. A Seventh Pan-African Congress must insist that the educated do not stand in the way of their opportunity to express the powers which they have already displayed.

I think I have only two more points to bring to you, and they are both from a Caribbean writer, George Lamming. And it is very fitting that I end with a Caribbean writer because, as you know, the Caribbean people have done as much as anyone else to advance the cause of African emancipation. I am going to give you two examples from the writings of that distinguished writer George Lamming of the kind of mentality which we should bring to the Seventh Pan-African Congress, and the discussion that I hope would begin at once, immediately after these ideas get a start.

Lamming is writing about a West Indian rank-and-filer, Powell. He is a thief, he is a murderer, he is a rapist. And Lamming writes in Season of Adventure:

Until the age of ten, Powell and I had lived together, equal in the affection of two mothers. Powell had made my dreams and I lived his passions. Identical in years and stage by stage, Powell and I were taught in the same primary school. And then the division came. I got a public scholarship which started my migration into another world, the world of the educated, the world of the elite. A world whose roots were the same, but whose style of living was entirely different from what my childhood knew. It earned me a privilege which now shut Powell and the whole village right out of my future. I have lived as near to Powell as my skin to the hand it darkens, and yet I forgot the village as men forget a war, and attached myself to that new world which was so recent, and so slight, beside the weight of what had gone before. Instinctively, 1 attached myself to that new privilege and to this day despite all my efforts, I am not free from its embrace.

In other words, he left the ordinary society, and by means of the scholarship, he went up among the elite. I believe deep in my bones, that the mad impulse which drove Powell to his criminal defeat was largely my doing. I would not have this explained away by talk about environment, nor can I allow my own moral infirmity to be transferred to a foreign conscience labelled imperialism. I shall go beyond my grave, in the knowledge that I am responsible for what happened to my brothers.

We, the educated, are responsible for what happens to the people below. He goes on:

Powell still resides somewhere in my heart, with a dubious love, some strange nameless shadow of regret, and yet with the deepest, deepest nostalgia, for I have never felt myself to be an honest part of anything since the world of his childhood deserted me.

I don't know anywhere, where any intellectual, any member of the intellectual elite, has taken upon himself the complete responsibility for what has happened to the people he has left behind him. The people will make their way. We who have had the advantages must recognize our responsibility. That is a Caribbean pronouncement and I am very proud of it. I know Lamming very well, and there are not many intellectuals who realise what they are doing and the social crimes they commit, who say: "I won a scholarship, I joined the elite and left my people behind, and I feel that that action on my part is responsible for what is happening to them."

Now I must end in about five or six lines. Lamming has written a book called Natives of My Person, and it has two interesting passages. The longest part of the book is called the Middle Passage, and when you hear talk about the Middle Passage you at once think about Blacks being transported. In Lamming's pages about the Middle Passage there isn't one Black man. What Lamming is doing is analysing the white men who made the Middle Passage, and the critics, white and black, are very confused about it. They can say what they like, but for me this is one of the finest contemporary books I have read.

This Black writer is examining those who made the Middle Passage—we have enough of Black suffering and how they were treated on the trip, etc. Lamming says: "What about those men who were doing it?" And he gives examples of who and what they were, and why. Then at the end of the book, he describes a discussion among the wives of these men. The wives went out to meet them: they were the surgeon's wife, the steward's wife, the woman who was the leader. The surgeon's wife asks: "Why did we follow them here? These men are no good and yet we have followed them out here, why did we do that?" The steward's wife says: "Yes, why follow them here?" And the lady of the house, who was in charge, says: "Because we are a future."

Because women are a future. The steward's wife says: "A future, you say?" And the last lines of the book are from the lady of the house, "A future, I repeat: we are a future they must learn." We the women are a future the men must learn. Not what the women will win by Women's Lib. Not what will happen to them in twenty years when they win the privileges of which today they are deprived. Today, Lamming says, today women represent something, are something, they are a future that men must know something about. In other words, what he is saying here is what he has been saying in all his books: that men constitute an elite in relation to women, and women have got a capacity, which men have got to learn.

I believe that all these matters (and many more) could be the material for a Seventh Pan-African Congress. And I believe that it is not only Africans who would be able to understand that tremendous move forward there posed, but people all over the world and in the advanced countries would understand, with our repudiation of the national state, our repudiation of the elite, our respect for the great mass of the population and the dominant role that it would play in the reconstruction of society, our recognition that our elitism is morally responsible for what is happening to the ordinary man, our recognition of the capacity they have in them, our recognition of the need to release the enormous energies of the mass of people, in particular in women and the peasants, such a congress could be the Seventh for Pan-Africanism but, for that very reason, the First of a new world-wide social advance.


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Another major event of this period was the sixth Pan-African Congress, held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in June 1974 and headed by Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere. The meeting drew an international delegation of more than 5,000 Africans and people of African descent, including 100 from the United States. However, it revealed a growing schism within the movement between Marxist and non-Marxist political alliances and approaches to issues. Thus, the achievements of this meeting were few.—Ron Walters on the 6th PAC

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Pan African Conference in 1900

Pan-Africanism (Minkah Makalani; Rutgers University) / The Pan-African Congresses 1900-1945

*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
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#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
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#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

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#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

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#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

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#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

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#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
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#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

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#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
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Day of Tears

By Julius Lester

This powerful and engaging historical novel is told in dialogue and through monologues. It also moves around in time, from the period when the story takes place to "interludes," in which the various characters look back on these events years later. It begins with a factual event—the largest slave auction in United States history that took place in 1859 on Pierce Butler's plantation in Georgia. The book introduces Butler, his abolitionist ex-wife Fanny Kemble, their two daughters, the auctioneer, and a number of slaves sold to pay off Butler's gambling debts. Emma, a fictional house slave, is the centerpiece of the novel. She cares for the master's daughters and has been promised that she will never be sold. On the last day of the auction, Butler impulsively sells her to a woman from Kentucky. There she marries, runs away, and eventually gains her freedom in Canada. Lester has done an admirable job of portraying the simmering anger and aching sadness that the slaves must have felt. Each character is well drawn and believable.

Both blacks and whites liberally use the word "nigger," which will be jarring to modern-day students. The text itself is easy to read and flows nicely. Different typefaces distinguish the characters' monologues, their dialogues with one another, and their memories.School Library Journal

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How Europe Underdeveloped Africa

By Walter Rodney

The late Guyanese writer, Walter Rodney had left us his great insights regarding the reasons for the underdevelopment of the African continent. His work finds equal footing with those of Frantz Fanon and to an extent that of the late Brazilian author and social activist, Paulo Freire in attempting to provide a critical insight, and a gainful analysis to the situation and reasons for the poverty on the African continent. This analysis, whether one agrees with its conclusions or not provides a means towards looking at the stalk realities of African underdevelopment. Rodney thesis that the trans-atlantic slave trade diminished the African manpower to attain development cannot be easily pushed under the carpet. Development is how a people within the means available to them, within their eco-context utilize their knowledge for the good of the totality. When their people is afflicted with disease or mass uprooting there is bound to be both biological and social ripple effects that would affect both the pace and nature of development. It is here that we realize that Rodney's proposition underlines a crucial factor in explaining the reasons for the African state.

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Natives of My Person

By George Lamming

Natives of My Person focuses on slave traders of the sixteenth century. The novel reconstructs the voyage of the ship Reconnaissance, which is led by a character known as the Commandant. To atone for his past cruelties and barbarism, the Commandant plans to establish a Utopian society on the island of San Cristobal. The enterprise fails for many reasons: fighting amongst the crew, loss of interest, greed, and an inability to erase the past. The novel argues that an ideal society cannot be built by those who have committed moral atrocities and unnecessary bloodshed in their past. . . . Although Natives of My Person has a historical setting and deals with the voyage of the Reconnaissance, a vessel ostensibly engaged in the slave trade, a specific historical phenomenon, it is only partly accurate to describe it as a work of historical realism. Its realist component is not to be found in its fidelity to period costume, living conditions, or similar revealing detail. Instead of the veneer of verisimilitude that such usages provide, the novel locates its realism in the way in which it elaborately recapitulates an outlook.

George Lamming: Contemporary Criticism

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Season of Adventure

By George Lamming

First published in 1960, Season of Adventure details the story of Fola, a light-skinned middle-class girl who has been tipped out of her easy hammock of social privilege into the complex political and cultural world of her recently independent homeland, the Caribbean island of San Cristobal. After attending a ceremony of the souls to raise the dead, she is carried off by the unrelenting accompaniment of steel drums onto a mysterious journey in search of her past and of her identity. Gradually, she is caught in the crossfire of a struggle between people who have "pawned their future to possessions" and those "condemned by lack of learning to a deeper truth." The music of the drums sounds throughout the novel, "loud as gospel to a believer's ears," and at the end stands alone as witness to the tradition which is slowly being destroyed in the name of European values. Whether through literary production or public pronouncements, George Lamming has explored the phenomena of colonialism and imperialism and their impact on the psyche of Caribbean people.

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The Last Holiday: A Memoir

By Gil Scott Heron

Shortly after we republished The Vulture and The Nigger Factory, Gil started to tell me about The Last Holiday, an account he was writing of a multi-city tour that he ended up doing with Stevie Wonder in late 1980 and early 1981. Originally Bob Marley was meant to be playing the tour that Stevie Wonder had conceived as a way of trying to force legislation to make Martin Luther King's birthday a national holiday. At the time, Marley was dying of cancer, so Gil was asked to do the first six dates. He ended up doing all 41. And Dr King's birthday ended up becoming a national holiday ("The Last Holiday because America can't afford to have another national holiday"), but Gil always felt that Stevie never got the recognition he deserved and that his story needed to be told. The first chapters of this book were given to me in New York when Gil was living in the Chelsea Hotel.

Among the pages was a chapter called Deadline that recounts the night they played Oakland, California, 8 December; it was also the night that John Lennon was murdered. Gil uses Lennon's violent end as a brilliant parallel to Dr King's assassination and as a biting commentary on the constraints that sometimes lead to newspapers getting things wrong.Jamie Byng, Guardian / Gil_reads_"Deadline" (audio)

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Ghosts in Our Blood

With Malcolm X in Africa, England, and the Caribbean

By Jan R. Carew

Carew, an activist, scholar, and journalist, met Malcolm X during his last trip abroad only a few weeks before he was killed in 1965. It made such an impression on Carew that he felt compelled to search out Malcolm's family and friends in order to flesh out the family history. He interviewed Wilfred (Malcolm's older brother) and a Grenadian friend of Malcolm's mother named Tanta Bess. Comparing his family's experiences with that of Malcolm X, he gives the most complete picture yet of Malcolm's mother. Carew also offers a tantalizing glimpse of Malcolm X's transforming himself into El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, a man less blinded by his own racial prejudices yet as committed to the betterment of his race as ever. Just before his death, Malcolm X became convinced that a U.S. agency was involved with those trying to kill him, and Carew here reveals the evidence Malcolm X gave him to support these beliefs. The mystery of Malcolm's death remains unresolved, and we are once again filled with regret that he was cut down before he could fulfill the promise of his later days. While this book will not replace The Autobiography of Malcolm X (LJ 1/1/66), it is an important supplement. All libraries that own the autobiography should also purchase this one.—Library Journal

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Malcolm X

A Life of Reinvention

By Manning Marable

Years in the making-the definitive biography of the legendary black activist.

Of the great figure in twentieth-century American history perhaps none is more complex and controversial than Malcolm X. Constantly rewriting his own story, he became a criminal, a minister, a leader, and an icon, all before being felled by assassins' bullets at age thirty-nine. Through his tireless work and countless speeches he empowered hundreds of thousands of black Americans to create better lives and stronger communities while establishing the template for the self-actualized, independent African American man. In death he became a broad symbol of both resistance and reconciliation for millions around the world.

Manning Marable's new biography of Malcolm is a stunning achievement. Filled with new information and shocking revelations that go beyond the Autobiography, Malcolm X unfolds a sweeping story of race and class in America, from the rise of Marcus Garvey and the Ku Klux Klan to the struggles of the civil rights movement in the fifties and sixties.

Reaching into Malcolm's troubled youth, it traces a path from his parents' activism through his own engagement with the Nation of Islam, charting his astronomical rise in the world of Black Nationalism and culminating in the never-before-told true story of his assassination. Malcolm X will stand as the definitive work on one of the most singular forces for social change, capturing with revelatory clarity a man who constantly strove, in the great American tradition, to remake himself anew.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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posted 6 August 2012




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Related files: MAWA 2003  West Indian Narrative-- Part One  Part Two   Part Three  Part Four  Experiment in Haiti      Jan Carew  On Learning of Walter Rodney's Death

Eric Roach and Flowering Rock  Kam Williams Interviews Colin Roach  George Lamming and New World Imagination   Shake Keane  Filmmaker Molefi K. Asante, Jr.

From Atlanta to East Africa   From Tanzania to Kansas and Back  Sylvia Hill Post 6th PAC