Yvette Carnell insists on speaking about Pan-Africanism, even though she knows relatively little about Pan-Africanism. No serious Pan-Africanist has ever called for African Americans to join with African leaders because we understand that most of those leaders are corrupt and serve only themselves and foreign interests. I doubt that Yvette herself can even name a single Pan-Africanists who advocates unity with the dictators who run Africa. This is the problem. As the caption above demonstrates, Yvette seems to feel the need to “sling mud” at Pan-Africanism to advance her ADOS agenda. She’s not the only one in the ADOS movement who does this. This is precisely why I have accused the ADOS movement of offering division with little direction.
The question is why is Pan-Africanism such a threat to those who support the ADOS movement that they constantly feel the need to attack Pan-Africanism? Why are ADOS supporters who are not Pan-Africanists and not even part of the Pan-African movement trying to derail the work that Pan-Africanists are doing? For example, this video below accuses Pan-Africanists of being dangerous. We are dangerous because we believe that people of African descendant should work together and support each other in our struggles?
Around the 11:20 minute mark in the video above, the speaker explains that Pan-Africanists and black immigrants don’t care about African Americans. To me that is dangerous because it makes an incorrect generalization of an entire group of people solely for the purpose of driving division between African Americans and other Africans. This claim is also blatantly false. I am a co-founder of the Federation of Afrikan Liberation, an organization which consists of African Americans, West Indians, and Africans who are working to advance the cause of all people of African descent, including African Americans. The problem is acknowledging that there are Africans and West Indians who are fighting for African Americans would completely destroy the false ADOS narrative that we don’t care about our African American brothers and sisters.
Why would Caribbean artists like Black Stalin compose a song denouncing the injustices inflicted against African Americans if people in the Caribbean didn’t care about African Americans? What about the fact that the Caribbean reparations movement has been closely connected to the African American reparations movement? The ADOS movement won’t highlight these things because it doesn’t help to advance their objective of creating division.
Like Yvette, the creator the of this “Dangers of the Pan-Africanist” video has a very shallow understanding of Pan-Africanism. At the 13:25 mark, he says that Pan-Africanists are suggesting that African Americans give their resources to Africans. Which Pan-Africanists are advocating this? He doesn’t say because he’s only speaking of Pan-Africanism in a very vague and generalized way. He’s not addressing specific Pan-Africanists (except for Umar Johnson, who is mentioned indirectly at the 10:40 mark in the video). Other than Umar, the creator of the video keeps referring to Pan-Africanists as “they.” Who is they? We Pan-Africanists are not a monolithic group and never have been, which is why Marcus Garvey and W.E.B. Du Bois had their differences.
Others in the ADOS movement are complaining that black immigrants are trying to “leech” the benefits from African Americans. You live in a country where your children are being shot down by the police, where your people are dying from air pollution, where Flint still does not have clean water, and where activists are being locked up for their political views. These are the challenges that African Americans are facing, but these people in the ADOS movement want to make Pan-Africanists and black immigrants the enemy?
In the meantime, Yvette Carnell is trying to promote this idea that ADOS are a “tribe.” As she explains in the video below, ADOS are a different tribe from Haitians, Jamaicans, Eritreans, and other Africans. Last year in Orlando, Florida, a Haitian man named James Bauduy was practically shot in by the police. The police left his entrails exposed for the community to see. The police don’t care who is African American, Caribbean or African. Ask Ousmane Zongo and Amadou Bailo Diallo about that. So what is the point of creating an imaginary tribal identity for African people who live in a country that treats all people of African descent the same?
I doubt that Yvette herself is even aware of the complexities of tribal identities in Africa. This is something that I point out often because how we think of “tribe” in Africa is largely a Eurocentric concept. In pre-colonial Africa tribal identities were never rigidly fixed. I will use the Asante people as an example. Asante is not a tribe, but a union of different ethnic groups that organized under the leadership of Osei Tutu to liberate themselves from the Denkyira kingdom. Keep in mind that the Asante and Denkyria are a related people; they are both Akan people.
The Asante also fought wars against the Fante people. Joseph Casely Hayford, who was himself from the Fante ethnic group, wrote: “There is no tradition showing that the Fantis were ever a distinct and separate people from the Ashantis.” The only difference was a political one. The Asante and Fante belonged to different political unions, but they practiced the same culture, spoke the same language, and shared a common ancestral lineage. This narrow understanding of tribe simply does not apply to Africa and it makes even less sense to try to apply it to the diaspora.
The ethnic or “tribal” differences in pre-colonial Africa were not as sharp was many seem to believe, which is why Europeans had to work very hard to enforce tribal differences in parts of Africa. In Rwanda, for example, both the Germans and Belgians instituted a policy that was designed to divide the Hutu and Tutsi. The Hutu and Tutsi were so closely interconnected that during the genocide in Rwanda, the ID cards which the Europeans introduced were often used to determine who was from Hutu and who was Tutsi as the massacres were taking place. In South Africa, the Bantu Education Act of 1953 was passed in part to promote ethnic differences among the Africans in South Africa. Tribalism was something which Europeans deliberately created in Africa.
Tribe and nationality are not the same thing. For example, the Akan people in the Ivory Coast, Togo, and Ghana belong to the same “tribe,” but have different nationalities because of colonialism. Is Yvette prepared to take the position that Barbadians and the Gullah people belong to the same tribe, but have different nationalities? A large number of enslaved Africans from Barbados were brought to South Carolina , which explains why Gullah culture shares so much in common with Caribbean countries such as Barbados. The whole notion of tribes in the diaspora just becomes really nonsensical when you really try to make logical sense of it.
The Gullah people also share a connection with Sierra Leone, which Joseph Saidu Momoh, a former president of Sierra Leone, acknowledged when he pointed out that Krio and Gullah are similar languages.
If you want to talk about tribe and lineage then let’s talk about tribe and lineage. Let’s talk about the shared lineage that all of us in the diaspora have. Let’s talk about the fact that Devil at the Crossroads whom Robert Johnson and other blues artists are said to have sold their soul to is none other than Legba, the Youruba/Fon deity of West Africa. Thomas F. Marvin wrote an article titled “Children of Legba” which was about this very topic. Let’s talk about the fact that the Br’er Rabbit stories are just a variation of the trickster hare stories which are told in Central Africa or the fact that Aunt Nancy the spider is an American variation of the Anansi the spider stories from West Africa. Br’er Rabbit and Anansi stories are told in the Caribbean as well. Let’s talk about hoodoo and voodoo in African American culture.
Read “Cut-Eye and Suck-Teeth: African Words and Gestures in New World Guise”, which is a study conducted by Guyanese scholars who noticed that African Americans cut their eyes and sucked their teeth like Africans in Guyana do. The same scholars noticed that these non-verbal forms of communication meant very little to white people in America because cut-eye and suck-teeth are African survivals. Read The Myth of the Negro Past which also details African survivals in the United States and the West Indies. Contrary to what some who support the ADOS movement seem to believe, African Americans were never totally stripped of their African culture. Not only do African Americans and Caribbean Africans share the same lineage, but we share many critical aspects of the same culture, so to speak of us as being different tribes is ridiculous. We have different nationalities, but I’ve already demonstrated that nationality and tribe is not the same thing. So if we begin talking about “tribes” the conclusion that we will get to is that African Americans and West Indians belong to the same tribe. Our shared history and shared culture demonstrates this.
The problem with Yvette Carnell and others in the ADOS movement is that they don’t know what they are talking about regarding Pan-Africanism, but they insist on giving uninformed opinions in an attempt to derail Pan-Africanism. But as Kwame Ture reminded us, the job of the conscious is to make the unconscious conscious, so as long as the ADOS movement persists in trying to mis-educate people those of us who are conscious Pan-Africanists will continue to correct the misinformation.
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.