Pan-Africanism : Africa and Black America: How Differ and Why

Discussion in 'Pan-Africanism - African Diaspora' started by napress, Mar 7, 2005.

  1. napress

    napress Member MEMBER

    Mar 7, 2005
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    This is one African perspective on relations between Africa and Black America. They are not very good, let's just face it; although there are individuals from both sides who get along pretty well. But, collectively, as groups, relations are not very good. This discussion has gotten pretty hot on the internet because of a book written by Tanzanian author, Godfrey Mwakikagile, "Relations Between Africans and African Americans: Misconceptions, Myths and Realities" (Grand Rapids, Michigan: National Academic Press, January 2005), 302 pages, softcover edition.

    From: "tnygb" <[email protected]>
    Date: Sat Mar 5, 2005 11:59 pm
    Subject: Africa and Black America: How We Differ and Why


    I would like to add something right here at the beginning before you
    and others read the rest of this post.

    One of the biggest disappointments among African Americans comes from
    their distorted, romantic view or image of Africa. I think they
    sometimes expect too much from Africans, that they should
    automatically be embraced by them simply because they are fellow
    blacks and have a common origin: Africa. But it's deeper than that.

    Africa is a huge, diverse, and complex continent of more than 700
    million peoeple even after being ravaged by AIDS and other scourges
    including civil wars. Africans are NOT one people the way black
    Americans see us. We are all Africans, it's true. But we also belong
    to different ethnic groups, speak different languages, have different
    cultures and so forth. We even have different races. Just look at the
    Somalis, Ethiopians, for example. Look at their features. Do they
    look like the Bakongo in Congo, or like the Ewe in Ghana or the Bemba
    in Zambia? There are obvious racial differences. They are
    not "Negro." The same applies to the Fulani in West Africa who
    probably originated from Ethiopia, but obviously somewhere in the
    northeast of Africa because of linguistic evidence which ties them to
    the Ethiopian highlands, where the Somali also originated.

    The point I am trying to make here is that when African Americans
    lump all of us together, these African peoples (and NOT just people
    but PEOPLES) together, they assume that we are all just one people;
    which is simply not true. And we have conflicts among ourselves.

    Therefore don't expect Africans to automatically embrace African
    Americans when they don't even fully embrace each other over there in
    Africa. Just ask the Hutu and the Tutsi and others who have been at
    each other's throat for years. And ask the rest of the Africans about the
    devastating impact of tribalism. Ask the Igbos what happened to them
    in northern Nigeria during the civil war in the sixties, and why the
    Hausa and others slaughtered them; and why they still complain today
    about being marginalized in Nigeria just like many other people - the
    Ogonis and others - complain about the same thing.

    After we understand all that, we then begin to understand why these
    people, who are not united in their own countries let alone across
    the African continent, should not be expected to automatically
    embrace black Americans, especially when they visit Africa, the way
    American blacks expect to be embraced and welcomed. It also shows why
    Pan-Africanism, true Pan-Africanism in its concrete, practical form,
    is no more than a myth despite the hopes cherised by some of us.

    Now we can go ahead with the subject we addressed earlier, but always
    keeping in mind the background I have just provided for a better
    understanding of the issues we have already discussed and which I
    continue to discuss here, although for the last time. I have also
    added a few other things below.

    As I said earlier, adaoma, I really appreciate your response. I would
    also like to let you know that you don't have to wait to read in the
    library the book on relations between Africans and African Americans
    written by Godfrey Mwakikagile.

    The book is available free on the internet for anybody, and for
    everybody anywhere in the world, interested in the subject. So nobody
    really has to buy the book if he or she doesn't want to. I don't know
    how the author is going to make some money this way, but that's up to
    him and his publisher.

    The entire book has been posted on a Nigerian web site - an African
    site, really, but managed by Nigerians - and is accessible now, 24
    hours a day.

    If you, or others, want to read the book, go to:

    Now, concerning my opinion on the subject, as you asked me in your
    last post, I thought I explained myself well. Obviously I did not, to
    your satisfaction. So, I will try again, and put it this way:

    As an African born and raised in Africa, and as someone who has lived
    in the United States and in other African countries - including Ghana
    and Nigeria in the seventies during the liberation struggle in
    southern Africa where I come from - and who knows many Africans in
    Africa and in the US from many different African countries, I know
    that a very large number of Africans really don't care whether or not
    they associate with black Americans, or African Americans. And there
    are different reasons for this, mainly because Africans have their
    own group or groups, of fellow Africans and even fellow tribesmen whom
    they associate and mingle with; they don't accept black Americans as
    fellow Africans, at least not the way they accept each other from
    different countries on the continent as fellow Africans; they are
    concerned about making it life and not about what goes on in the
    lives of American blacks; they see black Americans as arrogant who
    look down upon Africa and make fun of us even if behind our backs;
    and the enslavement of Africans - whose descendants are you and other
    African Americans - is NOT on the minds of most Africans since it
    happened so long ago, and therefore they feel that they really have
    nothing to do with it, or with its legacy especially as it affects
    the lives of black Americans even today.

    But it is also true, and abundantly clear to many of us from Africa,
    that many Black Americans in general are no more interested in Africa
    than Africans are in the lives and well-being of American blacks;
    although there is also a significant number of them who seem to be
    interested in Africa.

    The reasons for this are equally obvious: Black Americans ARE, first
    and foremost, AMERICANS, and NOT Africans, and THEY identify
    themselves as such; although they are also Africans genealogically.
    Black Americans also don't make a conscious effort to embrace African
    immigrants and students in their midst - so why should Africans rush
    to embrace them? In fact that's something which Africans really don't
    care about, since they have their own groups and identities they
    identify with, and from which they seek solace and spiritual

    African Americans in general also don't care about Africa because
    they are ashamed of their origin as a primitive place. They also
    think they are better than Africans. Another major reason is that
    they really believe that we DON'T want them over there, in Africa,
    and that we have nothing to with them. Whether this is true or not,
    it makes no difference to them. They do have this belief. And,
    unfortunately, it is also true in many cases - not in all but in many
    cases. Many Africans see black Americans just as that - black
    Americans, therefore simply as Americans and NOT Africans like them.
    Many of them don't even see them - let alone accept them - as distant
    cousins but just as another people, AMERICANS, over there, far away
    in the United States, or from the United States when they visit

    The record of African immigrants in the United States(more than 2
    million today according to census figures), as well as students, also
    has had negative consequences. Africans are on average very
    successful in the United States and are among the most successful
    immigrant groups. And they use that as a yardstick to measure the
    performance of black Americans.

    In general, African immigrants and students see black Americans as a
    people who don't take full advantage of the opportunities they have.
    And they don't see them as achievers, at least not in the same way
    they see themselves. Is it true or not? No, it's not. I don't believe
    that it's true. One of the reasons, besides arrogance among many
    Africans as better blacks than American blacks (and vice versa, of
    course), is that Africans come from a continent with very limited
    opportunities. So when they come to the United States, they see
    abundance everywhere in a way black Americans don't.

    I have dealt with black Americans for quite some time and, frankly
    speaking, many of them don't care about Africa, or about Africans,
    anymore than Africans care about them and Black America. The author
    contends otherwise, of course, and I disagree with him on this,
    especially when he says you find large numbers on both sides who care
    about each other. I don't know where he got that from. May be I'm
    wrong. But I think he should know better than that, especially as an
    African, although I agree with most of the things he says in his

    It's common knowledge among many Africans that they really don't care
    about American blacks and even blame them for "commtting all that
    crime," as the saying goes, and for complaining too much, way too
    much, about racism instead of working hard or going out there to look
    for a job, and keep on looking until you find something to do.

    That's the attitude of many Africans towards black Americans, the way
    I see it, from my own observation; which differs from the author's in
    significant ways. He seems to be too optimistic for me. Others, of
    course, will differ with me on that, as much as they will differ with

    So, where are we headed? I really don't know, although I would like
    to be optimistic as well. But I haven't seen any solid evidence of
    African immigrants, as a group or groups, working with African
    Americans anymore than I have seen that evidence from the other side,
    African American groups working with African immigrants and students.

    Where are these groups of Africans doing this in California, Georgia,
    New York, North Carolina, Texas, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, some
    of the states with a very large number of African immigrants; where
    are they and where is the evidence showing that they work with black
    Americans in terms of racial solidarity as one people? And where are
    these groups of black Americans doing this, working with African
    immigrants, inviting and welcoming them into their communities and
    churches and social organizations and civic groups in an organized
    way, not just randomly or just on an individual basis? Where are the
    black churches doing this, taking the initiative to do so especially
    as the most powerful institution in Black America, inviting African
    immigrants and students, to achieve this goal of working together and
    in pursuit of racial solidarity? A few individuals do that, now and
    then, in different parts of the country. But that's about it. Nothing
    on a sustained basis, in an organized way, and as a concerted effort.

    So, we remain divided. And that is why Africa also is still divided.
    Each to his own. Nkrumah tried to unite Africa back in the sixties.
    He was ignored. Malcolm X also tried to forge links between Africa
    and Black America probably more than any other black American leader
    did in the sixties. He was also ignored. And both are still ignored

    We hear, for example, of a dream of a united West Africa under one
    government some time in the future. It's just that, a dream. And just
    recently we have even heard of a specific time table on consummation
    of an East African federation, that Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania are
    going to start uniting next year, in 2006, and by 2010 will form a
    political federation under one government with one president. Well,
    we will see. I am a realist. I don't believe it is going to happen.
    And if it does, the three countries would be better off to start with
    a confederation, which is a loose federation, than with a federation.

    It seems to me that Pan-Africanism will remain just that, an ideal,
    for generations to come; no more than empty rhetoric besides a few
    achievements in terms of cooperation among African countries, and
    between Africans and African Americans, as has been the case all the
    time. And I am not going to lose sleep over it.

    I also rest my case and will go on to something else. Let others
    continue this discussion if they want to. I think both of us, you and
    I, have raised a lot important issues which can be addressed by
    others as well.

    Best wishes,

  2. Ralfa'il

    Ralfa'il Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Mar 25, 2005
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    There is enough blame to go around.

    One problem is there is no single "African culture" for AfroAmericans to learn and latch on to. Africa probably has the most diverse culture of any continent on this planet.

    The culture of West Africa is different from that of South Africa.

    And while some of us are trying to be back to Africa and regain the ways of our ancestors, most Africans are trying to get into the best of Western institutions and adopt an educated upper-class Western lifestyle.

    So we're like to ships passing in the night.

    In my opinion, we as black people around the world need to develop a new universal culture that we can ALL agree with and embrace.
  3. Oba Iparankanru

    Oba Iparankanru Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Sep 17, 2003
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    Good idea, it's too bad everyone who has tried has been ignored or had their works sabotaged.


    United States
    Jun 10, 2004
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    I just don't believe in separating us. Aren't we separated enough?

    North vs. South
    Light-skinned vs. Dark-skinned
    African vs. African in America

  5. Ralfa'il

    Ralfa'il Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Mar 25, 2005
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    I just don't believe in separating us. Aren't we separated enough?

    North vs. South
    Light-skinned vs. Dark-skinned
    African vs. African in America

    A dirty little secret not talked about much is many Africans voluntarily separate themselves from AfroAmericans when they come here.

    They look at our behavior and values (or lack there of) and choose to either keep to themselves or hang with whites.
  6. Lloyd

    Lloyd Well-Known Member MEMBER

    May 29, 2004
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    In my point of view,when i see black americans and africans,i think that for the first they didn't really appreciate the others because they feel...betrayed;they have been sold by our ancestors as slaves and now they haven't forget about!But they are a bit envious;africans THEIR land,they feel secured!Black americans are in USA,that's true that the land belongs to them also in the papers,but what is the reality?
  7. Oba Iparankanru

    Oba Iparankanru Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Sep 17, 2003
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    Jealous of what exactly?
  8. Isaiah

    Isaiah Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Jun 8, 2004
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    Whew, the truth hurts, man - 'deed it do - but it tis what tis... Very Powerful post, indeed... Very revealing about the value systems of both Africans and African Americans, as well... Man, have we all been SAXON-ized...

  9. wildchild510

    wildchild510 Member MEMBER

    Apr 18, 2005
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    I feel the only seperation that has tooken place has alot to do with colonization and the Europeans empliment of inferior ideas on the Black masses. I see the situation in africa no diffrent than the one here. Blacks in America are divided between this notion of "dark skin" and "mulatto" just like Blacks are divided amoungst color in the mother continent.i could sit here and literally type for hours about the americanization or europeanization of the cotinent of Africa, but we must make it clear. we must first address these ailemets. I feel in order to BREAK these divides Blacks in both hemispheres must first address these problems and the origin of their oppression and then secondly work to end it. We cannot just say " Oh Fawk it" cause some brotha in Africa feels that u are not of his kin or etc. His psyche of brotherhood is great tainted just like the black man in america. All i saying is that we must first embrace each other and work out the demons that effect us in order to stregthen each other as a race globaly.
  10. Oba Iparankanru

    Oba Iparankanru Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Sep 17, 2003
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    The black mulatto thing is a delicate issue because in most countries especially latin america, mulattos and blacks view themselves as 2 separate groups