A Response to Tariq Nasheed Regarding ADOS and Pan-Africanism

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In the last article I briefly mentioned some of the issues with Tariq Nasheed’s video on Pan-Africanism. In this article I will address the points that Tariq made regarding Pan-Africanism. As I’ve said before, the ADOS movement is premised on attacking Pan-Africanism. Often times those attacks are misguided or outright false. More importantly, the attacks or criticisms come from people who aren’t even seriously involved in the Pan-African struggle. Tariq Nasheed is one of those people. As he demonstrates in this video, Tariq’s understanding of Pan-Africanism is very misguided.

Tariq speaks on Pan-Africanism at 56:00

Tariq complains that he has been in Africa asking for dual citizenship and hasn’t received it yet. Why would anyone expect governments which don’t care about their own citizens to care about the diaspora? This is why I have always stressed that Pan-Africanism has to be a grassroots movement. Pan-Africanism isn’t about Black Americans or others in the diaspora connecting with corrupt African regimes. That’s why I was so opposed to St. Kitts and Nevis’ decision to establish diplomatic ties with Togo. I also didn’t like the fact that the government of Trinidad and Tobago decided to invite Uganda’s dictator to celebrate Emancipation Day many years ago. It benefits neither the diaspora nor Africans for us to be trying to build ties with the present governments on the continent.

There are African activists and Pan-African organizations which are fighting for a better Africa and are willing to involve the diaspora in that process. They are also willing to support the struggles in the diaspora, but if you haven’t taken the effort to find these people then don’t complain about Pan-Africanism. Pan-Africanism isn’t simply about moving to Africa or gaining dual citizenship. Pan-Africanism has always been about building unity among African people around the world for our collective liberation, regardless of where we are in the world. The people who support ADOS don’t seem to understand this, so they criticize Pan-Africanism out of ignorance.

Tariq also repeats the misinformed line about Pan-Africanism being one-sided. It’s not one-sided. Just as Black Americans have been fed up with Black politicians who aren’t doing anything for Black Americans — which is why ADOS has been demanding tangibles — Africans too have been fed up with their leaders, which is why there has been so much unrest on the continent in recent years. Black Americans going to African governments for support is like African citizens reaching out the Black American politicians like Cory Booker for support. These are politicians that don’t serve the interests of their own citizens or constituencies, so why would we expect them to care about non-citizens.

I get the impression that Tariq is frustrated with Pan-Africanism because his vision of Pan-Africanism was never a grassroots vision. I personally know Black American business owners who import products from Africa. To me that’s real Pan-Africanism. Brothers and sisters living in a village in Togo making their living from creating and selling soaps to Black Americans business owners in the United States. There are no governments involved here. This is an exchange between a village and a small business owner. That’s the type of grassroots Pan-Africanism that I’ve been supporting for nearly ten years now. I don’t expect African governments to care about the diaspora anymore than I expect Black American political leaders to care about Africa.

Tariq mentions how Haiti was denied entry into the African Union. As I have pointed out in an article that I wrote for Africans Rising, the AU can barely even manage African affairs. So those of us who are serious about Pan-Africanism do not look to the AU for validation. We don’t look to any of these intergovernmental political institutions because they have all failed African citizens and they continue to fail the diaspora as well. I wrote prior article on this as well.

Africa does not have a Thomas Sankara in power at the moment. For those who do not know, Sankara was a former president of Burkina Faso. Sankara’s vision of Pan-Africanism was one that included the diaspora. He maintained a close friendship with Maurice Bishop (a former Prime Minister of Grenada who, like Sankara, was assassinated). At a United Nations meeting Sankara expressed his support for the proposals that were made by Antigua and Barbados to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the abolition of slavery by the British Empire. And Sankara also visited Harlem, where he gave this speech:

We don’t have any Sankaras in government today, but his spirit and his ideas are alive in many African citizens. So any Black American who thinks you will find Pan-Africanism among African governments will be disappointed with Pan-Africanism, which is why I don’t deal with African governments. All of the connections I form are with the grassroots activists who are fighting for change in Africa. I also don’t deal with the Africans who call us in the diaspora “akata.” Tariq has a lot of say about the type of Africans that we in the diaspora should avoid, but he has nothing to say about the ones that we need to work with. As I said, ADOS is about creating division, so people like Tariq will complain about how Africans call Black Americans akata, but he won’t use his platform to bring attention to the brothers and sisters on the continent who really care about building unity with the diaspora.

So if Tariq and others in the ADOS movement want to abandon Pan-Africanism because they are frustrated with it or because they weren’t very good at being Pan-African activists then that’s their prerogative, but Tariq shouldn’t present his personal opinion of Pan-Africanism as a general statement about modern Pan-Africanism. Tariq doesn’t know very much about modern Pan-Africanism. Most of the ADOS critics of Pan-Africanism don’t know much about it, but they criticize it anyway.

Dwayne is the author of several books on the history and experiences of African people, both on the continent and in the diaspora. His books are available through Amazon. You can also follow Dwayne on Facebook and Twitter.

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