Tanzania and the Pan African quest for unity, freedom, and independence in East, Central, and Southern Africa: the case of the Pan African freedom movement for East and the Central Africa/Pan African freedom movement for East Central and South Africa.

Author:Mbughuni, Azaria

The Pan Africanist former President of Tanzania (then Tanganyika), Julius K. Nyerere argued in a paper entitled "United States of Africa," in 1963 that African unity already existed in one sense; he asserted that this unity existed in the "sentiment of 'African-ness'a feeling of mutual involvement, which pervades all the political and cultural life of the continent." (1) Nyerere would go on to make a strong case for African unity. He warned that "African nationalism is meaningless, is anachronistic, and dangerous, if it is not at the same time Pan-Africanism." Indeed, Nyerere was a committed Pan Africanist. And as such, he helped launch the Pan African Freedom Movement for East and Central Africa (PAFMECA) in 1958. The organization broadened its scope to include Southern Africa and changed the name to Pan African Freedom Movement for East Central and South Africa (PAFMECSA) in 1962. The founding members of the organization espoused a regional approach to coordinating independence struggle and building unity. Nyerere and Tom Mboya of Kenya came to the conclusion that regional unity was the building block for the establishment of a United States of Africa. Before such a goal could be established, Africans leaders in East and Central Africa had to come together to coordinate their activities to remove the yoke of colonialism and apartheid. PAFMECSA was the most powerful regional organization working to win freedom and independence in east, central, and southern Africa between 1958 and 1964. For the east African leaders like Nyerere and Mboya, the Pan-African movement and Pan-African nationalism were not mutually exclusive. As the Chairman of PAFMECA in 1960 and as the President of Tanganyika after December 9, 1961, Nyerere pushed for the idea of East African Federation; he wanted to establish a Federation made up of Tanganyika, Uganda, Kenya, Zanzibar, and Ruanda-Urundi (Rwanda and Burundi). Nyerere's strategy was to start with regional unity and eventually establish the "United States of Africa" as he argued eloquently in 1963. PAFMECA, therefore, helped advance the independence movements in the region and provided a platform for building regional unity with the ultimate goal of establishing continental unity.

Independence groups from east, central and southern Africa came together under the umbrella of PAFMECA for the first time in September of 1958. By linking up independence movements from neighboring territories, Nyerere hoped that the organization would provide leaders with a platform to begin to think about eventually uniting their territories. However, the first priority was to work towards winning independence. PAFMECSA was an organization established to provide nationalists with a platform to share ideas, resources, and assert political pressure to end colonialism and apartheid. The colonial regimes worked diligently to suppress this body; they saw it as a threat to their interests.

The British colonial administrators in Nyasaland (Malawi), Northern Rhodesia (Zambia), Uganda, Kenya, and Zanzibar cooperated to undermine the work of the organization. It was because of PAFMECA's program of unity, mutual support, and the commitment of its leaders to use Pan Africanism as a tool for liberation, that the organization became a formidable force in the fight for freedom and independence in the region. The organization helped bring together rival groups in Zanzibar, it pushed for a successful campaign to boycott South African goods, helped advance the struggle for independence in Northern Rhodesia (Zambia), and finally after 1960, pushed for regional federation. The organization provides an example of how the Pan Africanism helped bring together groups from different territories to fight for independence and unite.

PAFMECA was the most important regional organization in East, Central Africa, and southern Africa between 1958 and 1964. Scholars have not paid much attention to this organization. PAFMECA/PAFMECSA has been relegated to the footnotes and is mostly considered to have accomplished very little. The organization was started in Tanzania (then Tanganyika). Historians of southern Africa and Tanzania in particular, devote very little attention to this regional body. Two history books on Tanzania, one edited volume by I.N. Kimambo and A.J. Temu and another book by John Illife, mostly overlook PAFMECA/PAFMECSA. (2) Numerous writers studying the Organization of African Unity (OAU) examine PAFMECA/PAFMECSA briefly. Most of these studies tend to dismiss the organization as inconsequential. Mahmoud H. Fagal discuses PAFMECA in his thesis on the OAU's African Liberation Committee (ALC). He asserts that PAFMECA achieved very little. (3) Another author, A.F. Addona, argues that PAFMECSA was more "symbolic than substance, "he adds that "it initiated many resolutions but implemented very few." (4) More recently, Peter Ateh-Afac Fossungu briefly compared PAFMECA and Kamerun Idea from Cameroon. He argues that PAFMECA was built "only on a highly personalized coincidence of the personal visions and ambitions.." Fossungu adds that such organizations came as the result of the work of "a very small handful of leaders known for intriguing and twisting plain facts to serve their self-centeredness." (5) By focusing on the analysis of the motivations of the leaders, Fossungu fails to address the accomplishments of PAFMECA, even if one accepts the assertion that the leaders did it for selfish reasons.

There are numerous authors who view PAFMECA/PAFMECSA as an organization that made important contributions. Colin Legum argued that PAFMECA was the only effective political organization as a co-ordinating body in the continent before OAU was established. (6) Alfred T. Moleah argued that PAFMECA provided positive influence towards greater African unity through their political program. He asserts that the organization allowed liberation groups to be active participants in determining the agenda. (7) More recently, Issa G. Shivji examined PAFMECA as it mostly relates to campaigns in Zanzibar. He analyzes PAFMECA's involvement in the tension between Zanzibar Nationalist Party (ZNP) and Afro-Shirazi Party (ASP). (8)

Shivji also contributes to our understanding of Nyerere's East African Federation project. Lastly, he provides an insightful analysis on the differences between Nyerere and Nkrumah on achieving "United States of Africa." Shivji does not examine the administrative makeup of the organization or the success it had in advancing the struggle outside of Tanganyika and Zanzibar. None of the authors pay attention to the overall impact of the organization in the region. The only exception to this is the books by Richard Cox and Joseph S. Nye, Jr. Cox is the only study that has focused solely on PAFMECA/PAFMECSA; his book Pan Africanism in Practice: An East African Study; PAFMECSA, 1958-1964 was published fifty years ago in 1964. (9) This seminal book provides useful details of the organization and documents both the success and failure of the organization. This book is informative, but it is now outdated. Nye argues that PAFMECA was important, but did have limitations. For Nye, the organization was a important because it provided an avenue for leaders to discuss ideas and strategize. (10) The lacuna left on the role of PAFMECSA has led many writers to the erroneous conclusion that the organization did very little to advance the independence struggle and the quest for unity.

Pan African Freedom Movement for East and Central Africa

Pan Africanism had ardent followers in east Africa in the 1940s and 1950s. The Tanganyika African Association (TAA) started adopting a Pan African orientation during the second half of the 1940s in Tanganyika. TAA defined itself as an 'African Association for the whole of Africa,' whose mission was "to safeguard the interests, not only in this territory, but in the whole of Africa." (11) The party reached out to Pan African leaders in Europe to establish linkages. The Association made contact with George Padmore in Britain in 1946. (12) It was with the leadership of Julius K. Nyerere that TAA would be transformed into a nationwide nationalist organization in 1954 and took steps to help launch and support a Pan African organization.

Nyerere was elected the President of TAA in 1953; the name of the organization was changed to Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) in 1954. Nyerere earned his Masters of Arts degree from Edinburg University in Scotland in 1952. He became interested in the developments in Ghana and was influenced by George Padmore while still in Europe. Nyerere drew from Padmore's book The Ghana Revolution when he set down to rewrite TANU constitution in 1954. TANU focused its efforts on building a nationalist movement and gaining support of the Tanganyika people between 1954 and 1958. The efforts of TANU paid off when in 1958, the party won all the seats they contested in the Legislative Council. The victory was a turning point for the drive towards independence. This victory empowered Tanganyika leaders to launch a Pan African organization.

Independence groups from east and central Africa converged into Mwanza, Tanganyika to discuss their plight and find ways to assist each other on September of 1958. Delegates from Malawi, Zanzibar, Uganda, Kenya, and Tanganyika, travelled to the northern district of Tanganyika with one goal in mind: to look for ways to collaborate in their common struggle to get rid of colonialism and foreign tyranny. The delegates came from difference background, they spoke different languages, and belonged to different religions; yet there was something they had in common: they were all under the colonial yoke and wanted to build unity and end colonial rule. The outcome of the meeting was the formation of PAFMECA on September 18, 1958. (13) The main goal of the new organization was to coordinate their activities to end colonialism and imperialism. While the initial focus...

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