On February 19, 1919, the first Pan-African Congress took place in Paris. Under the leadership of W.E.B. Du Bois, the congress marked a turning point in the fight for Africa’s liberation from European colonialism.
Du Bois was one of the most influential intellectual writers and an anti-colonial socialist, who had a deep commitment to Pan-Africanism. He understood that the struggle for racial equality in America was interconnected with the struggle for African independence.
The congress brought together 57 delegates from across the African continent, Europe, and the Americas to address the challenges facing Africans worldwide. The delegates represented fifteen countries; including Senegal, Nigeria, South Africa, Haiti, and the United States.
Despite facing challenges such as denial of passports by the US and British governments, the delegates were able to make significant progress. The congress adopted several resolutions, including the demand for an end to colonial rule and discrimination against Africans. They also called for the recognition of African culture and history and the establishment of a permanent Pan-African organization.
The cost of liberty is less than the price of repressionW.E.B. Du Bois
The congress’s political and philosophical results were fundamental for the subsequent decolonization of Africa. They inspired anti-colonial and nationalist movements across the continent, and their call for self-determination and political autonomy for African nations laid the groundwork for the subsequent emergence of independent African states.
Moreover, the congress’s emphasis on Pan-African unity and solidarity played a crucial role in the emergence of Pan-African organizations such as the African Union, which continue to promote African unity and cooperation today.
The first Pan-African Congress was a significant moment in the history of Africa and the global struggle for racial and economic justice. The congress’s demand for the end of colonialism and discrimination against Africans was crucial for the subsequent decolonization of Africa. The Pan-African Congress stood openly against imperialism and for socialism.
Their emphasis on Pan-African unity and solidarity inspired generations of African leaders and anti-colonial movements and continues to shape African politics and culture today.