Professor Horace Campbell
Professor Horace Campbell
source: www.blog.syracuse.com

When any scholar visits this country and speaks about Pan Africanism on a national radio or television and associates it with Nelson Mandela and the ANC but factors out Robert Sobukwe and the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC), one wonders if s/he should take the scholary input by such a scholar, on the history of this country’s struggle for liberation, seriously. This also raises the question of who sponsored such scholar’s visit to this country and who were his/her hosts. The conduct of such scholars is consistent with the official ANC government’s intention to expunge the name of Sobukwe from the annals of this country’s history and from the collective consciousness of the African people.

One such scholar is Professor Horace Campbell who was a guest on Tsepiso Makwetla’s SAfm radio show on 27 August 2013. He was introduced as Professor of African American Studies and Political Science at Syracuse University whose recent book is Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya. He is also author of the books Rasta and Resistance: From Marcus Garvey to Walter Rodney; Reclaiming Zimbabwe: The Exhaustion of the Patriarchal Model of Liberation; Pan Africanism, Pan Africanists and African Liberation in the 21st Century; and Barack Obama and 21st Century Politics.

Mandela and the ANC of 1957 cannot and should not be associated with Pan Africanism. Mandela was one of the ANC leaders who abandoned a Pan Africanist programme and adopted a charter of dubious origin which has now been revealed to have been written by a white Communist Party member, Rusty Bernstein. Mandela was one of those who physically chucked out Pan Africanists at the 1958 ANC conference and even punched one of the Pan Africanist leaders, Zeph Mothopeng. Perhaps Prof Campbell is oblivious of the fact that in his book Long Walk to Freedom published in 1994, Mandela describes one of the greatest Pan Africanists and freedom fighters Marcus Garvey as an ‘extremist’ and this year the ANC wanted to bestow one of this country’s national orders to the killer of yet another great Pan Africanist, Walter Rodney. He also describes his former colleague from the Congress Youth League Anton Lembede as a ‘racialist’. Associating the ANC and Mandela with Pan Africanism is the stuff of dilettantes. In religious lexicon it is blasphemous.

In an apparent manoeuvre to avoid displaying his ignorance on Sobukwe and the PAC or trying to evade discussing Sobukwe, Professor Campbell said Pan Africanism cannot be associated with a leader or leaders but he kept on associating some leaders with it. We cannot help associating Pan Africanism with Edward Wilmot Blyden. This writer proposes to quote from a discourse on the legacy of Blyden to dispute Professor Campbell’s assertion and to demonstrate that Pan Africanism can be associated with some leaders and that Mandela is not one of them. The discourse states in its introduction that, “Blyden’s ideas and speeches urging a return to Africa and the re-creation of an African Nation were to seed African consciousness movements all over the world. There is an unbroken line of black leaders that inherited his ideas, directly or indirectly. W.E.B. Du Bois and Marcus Garvey exploded them into the twentieth century, continuing to champion the theme of a return to Africa. Their political ideas in turn became a source for the leaders of African independence movements of the fifties and sixties- Nkrumah, Nyerere, Sekou Toure and Blyden’s own grandson, Edward W. Blyden III whose Sierra Leone Independence Movement (SLIM) played a key role in winning Sierra Leone’s independence from Great Britain.”

Professor Campbell mentioned the first President of Ghana and one of the foremost Pan Africanist, Kwame Nkrumah more than once during the interview and also conveyed the impression that Mandela was in Nkrumah’s league or that they saw eye to eye. Yet in 1961 during Mandela’s tour of Africa, Nkrumah refused to meet Mandela. Nkrumah recognized Sobukwe and the PAC. Almost all the leaders of countries Mandela visited in 1961to ask for support asked him about Sobukwe. One of those leaders told Mandela that he should wait until Sobukwe was released from jail.

During that radio interview Campbell rightly condemned the West but he is a victim of Western propaganda. He is ignorant of South African history and some aspects of African history. He condemned the leadership of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and referred to what happened in Zimbabwe recently as a “travesty”. I wonder what he would refer to what happened in South Africa in April 1994 and what does he think of the beneficiaries of that gigantic fraud and daylight robbery. The beneficiaries of that April 1994 colossal fraud have turned this country into an egregious cesspool of corruption which exposed the head of the electoral commission a day before he was on radio as corrupt.

What has happened In Zimbabwe might have been a travesty but Zimbabweans have a sovereign state. They enjoy self-determination and decide their destiny. Zimbabwe is not a neo-colonial state that follows neo-liberal policies of the Washington Consensus. It is not a banana republic. President Mugabe does not pander to western bigotry and arrogance. If he describes the Zimbabwean elections as a travesty, what does Professor Campbell think is happening every four years in the US? Are the US voting machines not a charade? A computer science expert Rebecca Mercuri was quoted in the American Free Press.net article as having said that the voting equipment vendors and certifying authorities are allowed to keep the machines and the computer code that runs the machines secret. In many cases, company officials operate the machines on Election Day. In Chicago, Election Systems and Software (ES&S) programmed the “control cards” that ran the Precinct Ballot Counter machines at their company offices during the 2000 presidential election. Mercuri went on to say that “Democracy is down the tubes” if the trend to insecure electronic voting systems is not stopped. “The most vulnerable of these systems are the fully electronic touch-screen [Votronic] or Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) devices because of their lack of an independent, voter-verified audit trail,”. This sounds more like a travesty than what has happened in Zimbabwe.

Professor Campbell and the like minded academics who canonize Mandela should give themselves time to learn about the Pan Africanist Congress and its leaders and include them in their discourse on Pan Africanism. In South Africa Pan Africanism is associated with Robert Sobukwe and the PAC. We would not like to accuse Prof Campbell of intellectual dishonesty on South African matters and colluding with those who have a hidden agenda of expunging Sobukwe’s name from history books and from the collective consciousness of African people.

By Sam Ditshego
The writer is a Senior Researcher at the Pan Africanist Research Institute (PARI).


  1. Ok, in my book “I Speak My Mind” I clearly outline who the Pan-Africanist leaders were the world over. This “Professor” better read up or shut up, I must question his academic credentials because one of the cornerstones of Professorship is research, more research and referencing. I am not a Professor yet I know this. Mandela is a leader in his own right and has earned a place in the history of this country. To put him in the same league as Sobukwe is a travesty; the two are unevenly matched and the odds overwhelmingly favour Sobukwe. Case closed! Lastly, Pan-Africanism is being diminished and extinguished in much the same way that nationalism is being stamped out and undermined. It is that simple. So, what will all the Pan Africanists out there do against this onslaught is the big question?! Beware the revisionists, their writings are dripping with the influences of their sponsor masters who seek to perpetuate a distorted view of human history. I end here for now.

    1. Oh I forgot, I have also had the honour of meeting both Sobukwe and Mandela. Read about my impressions in my follow up book on the one I mention here titled “I Speak My Mind – Beyond the Threshold”. It will come out in the first half of next year. I will notify interested readers of its availability at the right time.

  2. I would also like to read Nakedi’s book. Let me point out that I sent this article to various local newspapers a day after Tsepiso Makwetla’s show to which I referred in this article but none published it.

    1. Contact me on the email I have given Hulisani and let’s take it from there. I also read an old article of yours circa 2010 Nov titled “THE FOUNDING FATHERS OF THE PAC GAVE US A VIBRANT ORGANISATION”, and would like to pick up on one point you mention there Sam, the unfortunate incestuous destruction of the PAC. If people value, admire and uphold Sobukwe as a great South African, African and human being for that matter in my humble view, then this squabbling or what I call political immaturity and lack of emotional intelligence must stop forthwith within the PAC. The PAC is its own worst enemy, surely somebody must realise this by now and do something to correct it. The cause is bigger than the individual, when are people going to realise that?! You cannot talk about promoting a particular political position and ideology when your house is not in order. Fix your mess before going out there to win over hearts and minds. The PAC must get a HUGE wake up and begin to take itself seriously if it still wants to have any sustainable, credible and significant profile in the hearts and minds of the people it is preaching to. So while people are paddling the PAC cause, they must peddle the PAC message from a strong, unified and organised foundation and base. Remember the PAC is not anti-ANC, that is an artificial adverserialism that was created and perpetuated to split African nationalism, old divide and rule tactic and it worked! Lastly, the question of the name Azania, I would like to pick up on this topic through a colloquium I want to organise. Let us also take this up on my private email. Thank you for your thought provoking articles, keep it up mAfrica, or should I say old Alkebulan? Now I have started something nam!…peace out.

  3. @ Nakedi what u saying it’s true , PAC needs 2 re-shape itself!! All power 2 the people!

  4. M’Afrika Nakedi thanks for your kind words. I remember quite well the article you cited titled The Founding Fathers Gave Us a Vibrant Organisation. I am aware that in his books historian and Egyptologist Yosef ben Joccanen says the name Alkebulan means Africa. Another historian and Egyptologist Cheikh Anta Diop refers to Africa as Kemet or Kemit. If I read your mind correctly on your proposed discussion on Azania, you are trying to suggest that the name Azania should be substituted with the name Alkebulan. Did I read you correctly? I am keeping an open mind on any suggestion but you are going to climb an insurmountable mountain, if I read you correctly in what you are suggesting. I am saying this because invariably people have fixed positions on any issues. For example, ANC leaders did not accept the name Azania because it was not suggested by them. On the other hand PAC leaders are going to say that the name Azania is etched in blood on this country’s annals of history. The same may also be the case with Black Consciousness adherents. There were rumours making the rounds that the ANC and SACP preferred the name Maluti/Ulundi. But those were just rumours. Now why don’t they rename this country almost two decades after it came to power and abandon its colonial name? It is because the ANC does not have innovative ideas when it comes to history. They dabble with their past. The way they are simplistic and obsessed with Nelson Mandela, they might end up wanting to name this country after him. I take Nakedi’s point that the ANC are not the enemy of the PAC but they are rapidly turning themselves into enemies not only of the PAC but also of the African peoplein general. While I may agree that the PAC are their worst enemy, I am not oblivious of the fact that the ANC is using state organs to destroy the PAC. If these organisations are not enemies why does the ruling party use the state to destroy the PAC? For those doubting Thomases, I have this to say: I will be proved right one day when we can have a whistle blower or change of government.

    1. Hi Sam, I concur with you on the points you raise….I am trying to emphasise the need for the PAC to get its house in order now, there is no better time than now! As South Africans we need an alternate political narrative in our public space; what is out there is vacuous and inane. Cut the talk and get on with substantive politics that deliver on the real promises of our struggle, it is that simple. Do not fixate on the ANC, focus on what you can do for this country given the levels we have sunk to. Major surgery is needed and the PAC, together with the Black Consciousness organisations, should form an alliance to take us in the direction that people are crying out for. You have it at hand, just cut the squabbles and get on with the program ma-Africa please! As for the Azania topic, yes it is one of my pet subjects. I am taking up the issue with some, especially our learned colleagues in the US, and there are differing views out there. What strikes me is the new bogey man that is labelled as the “Afrocentrist” and is to be treated with great circumspection! Ha ha, that has been my reaction to those who hold this view, as I further point out that this is an old tactic, labelling people who take charge of and regain their own lives by casting away the labels bequeathed upon them by the very persons who are now labelling them again!! You see there is a great fear out there, the fear of truthful knowledge. In my latest book titled “The Absent Presence”, one of my characters is a mixture of Kemitic and Nubian peoples, source and progenitors of the Ancient Egyptians and early human civilisation. The word Alkebulan has Kemitic DNA all over it just like the12 month calendar you see in use today has its origins from there. There is a lot I can say about this, but like I say, we can talk about this through this online colloquium I am going to set up. So update us on how far the PAC is in getting itself ready to make its mark in the political landscape of our country. We want to see a stronger, lean and mean PAC election machinery in place, with all the infighting firmly put behind it. Now is the time! South Africans deserve a wide choice, and the PAC could be one of those better alternatives if it gets its house in order.

  5. Nakedi and I agree on almost every thing. There is no question that the PAC must get its house in order and that the it must come together with the Black Consciousness formations. We assume that everybody in the leadership of all the former liberation movements, including the ANC, is altuistic. Are the current crop of leaders imbued by altruism to lead these former liberation movements? Are the whole caboodle of leaders of opposition political parties imbued by altruism to lead their contraptions? Polittics is about control of resources and how to allocate those resources through patronage. If salaries of MP’s, MPL’s and councillors can be done away with, the Nation Assembly, Provincial Legislatures and Council Chambers would be empty the next day. I am not impugning the motives of a few well meaning people in the PAC and Black Consciousness formations. But many are motivated by egoism to be in the leadership of these organisations, that is why unity will always elude them. Nakedi says we should not be fixated on the ANC we should focus on what we can do for this country. We are not fixated on the ANC per se, but on the havoc the ANC has wreaked on this country through colluding with our former oppressors by not redressing past economic injustices, mismanagement and corruption that by the time we are going to start focusing on what we can do for this country there will be no country to focus on because it will have been destroyed by the ANC. I think we are aware of the adage that goes like this: Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown,

    “You must not abandon discussion out of tact… There should be no concessions where there is a question of establishing a scientific truth… Remember we are focused on a quest for truth and not on a sacrosanct idol whom we must avoid debasing”, C.A. Diop.

    I am aware from Dr Cheikh Anta Diop’s books that the calendar we are using today, with slight modifications, was invented by the ancient Egyptians, the original inhabitants of Egypt and not the Arabs who now inhabit that country. According to Diop, in 4236 B.C., the Egyptians had already invented a calendar based on the heliacal rising of Sothis or Sirius (the brightest star in the sky) which appeared every 1,460 years.

    I once wrote about Diop in this web magazine. Readers who are seeing his name for the first time or those who want to learn more about Diop can go to back issues of this publication.

    1. Tyaphu Sam, again in my book “I Speak My Mind” I dedicate about 5 pages to Diop, giving a concise history of the person and his works. I can speak at length about his findings and of those who were his contemporaries. Du Bois weighs in also on the subject of “Africana”, but I digress. I want to galvanise the PAC into action. The PAC is a minimal and marginal player in our current politics because:

      1. It is busy caught up in internal squabbles and is not unified. This hugely disadvantages it.
      2. I do acknowledge and am aware of some of the dirty tricks played on the PAC. This does not mean it should sit back and accept defeat. It needs to stand up and get back in the race!
      3. Pan Africanism is a relevant, topical and broadly appealing narrative in this country. So why no enthusiasm to resuscitate it? Maybe because of some of the factors you mention above. If so, therein lies the problem, lack of committed dedication to the cause!
      4. You will be surprised the amount of currency Pan Africanism carries among the youth. Who is speaking to these youngsters beyond the dogma and politicking within the PAC? Remember I said the cause is bigger than the individual.

      These are some simple points which I think can be used as a point of departure among many others for a renewed effort to bring back discourse of Pan African issues. The challenge you see is to speak loudly beyond the din of the current globalisation agenda. If you are not organised and unified in this effort, might as well pack up and no longer speak about Pan African [viz-a-viz Pan-European agenda?] opinions and views anymore in this country. Then the “One World/Civilisation” advocates have succeeded in imposing their super-culture structure. As I say in my other book “The Absent Presence”, we are indeed living outside the true self, we are living on a borrowed identity (hence we should feel privileged!! Pah!); and the carpetbaggers will have won! Ndibeka ingca kulo ndawo.

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