Pan Africanism in Namibia

Pan Africanism calls for the unity of Africans on the mainland and in the diaspora because of the shared experience of colonialism and slavery.

The call for unity is meant to foster political, economic, cultural and scientific progress.

In Namibia, the history of Pan Africanism dates back to the 1920s, and stems from the sensitisation of the ideology of Marcus Garvey’s Negro Improvement Association Movement.

It came to Africa and Namibia through activists and fishermen, and influenced movements such as the Herero Chiefs Council, Swanu, and Swapo.

In the late 1990s, the Pan African Student Society of the University of Namibia was formed.

Students associated with its formation include Punny Mathelemusa, Alfonso Hengari, Alfredo Hengari, Ben Uugwanga, Ndumba Kamwanyah, Chefe Muyenga-Muyenga, Kennedy Kandume, Joshua Kaumbi, Kons Karamata, John Pangech, and others.

The student society laid the ground for the formation of the Pan Afrikan Centre of Namibia (Pacon) through the active involvement of Sam Nujoma, Nahas Angula, Bankie F Bankie, Theo Ben Gurirab, Hage Geingob, Hidipo Hamutenya, Maureen Hinda, Nepeti Nicanor, Pohamba Shifeta, Uazuva Kaumbi, Nghidipo Nangolo, Mushita Mukwabi, Stanley Similo, and others.


Pacon was conceptualised as a Pan African think tank serving as a cultural, information, documentation, research centre.

However, Pan Africanism in Namibia has been overshadowed by nationalism and party political machinations.

During the late 1990s, it hinged on rebutting hegemonic class tendencies, state retrogression, minimalism, elitism, racism, tribalism, gender inequality, political instability, corruption, economic under-development, poverty, unemployment and inequality.

It seems as if Pacon’s vision is moribund and that the foot soldiers of the ideology have all but vanished.

Here and there, its vibrancy and relevance is narrated by those who still have a love affair with its vision.

In his ‘I Am an African’ speech, former South African president Thabo Meki stated “Gloria est consequenda”. This means glory should be sought.


Pan Africanism’s lenses are a paradigm or what is acknowledged as popular theory by thinkers.

Pan Africanism, which comprises a number of schools of thought, remains relevant to charting a vision for Africa.

I champion the African Renaissance Philosophy, which is anchored in placing the responsibility on Africans to overcome their challenges and achieve political, economic, cultural and scientific renewal.

The African Union outlined its Vision 2063 in terms of the ‘Africa We Want’.

Its objectives include the need to promote democracy, peace, security, good governance, regional integration, and international cooperation, and to mitigate the spread of HIV-AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

These are principles that need to be formalised as strategy by the relevant public institutions of African governments, supported by the fiscus, to deliver on the transformation of Africa through transformational policy strategy interventions.

Pan Africanism offers a partnership between the technically well established and the technically under-resourced by sharing resources and best practices through capacity building.

At the same time, huge economic investments should be made in human capital development and the transfer of technology to ensure that the public and private sector have the necessary human and technological capital resources to steer Africa’s transformation agenda.


Pan Africanism has many conceptual embodiments. Some are segregationist and others are integrationist.

The author advocates integrationism, co-existence, diversity management, human rights, democracy, technocracy, meritocracy, empowerment, servant leadership, and total quality management as the standard to foster the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation to countervail a lack of institutional and technical capacity.

Institutions need capacity. This should be generated through training, benchmarking and the transfer of technology.

Pan Africanism is based on universal values – that we are one family whose members need to be treated as equals deserving dignity, justice, human rights and empowerment. The end justifies the means.

Therefore, without any double talk, efforts to create the ‘Africa We Want’ through institutional capacity building, intersectoral collaboration, and the support of bilateral and multilateral partners are a modicum for our turn around.

Africa and Namibia should view Pan Africanism as a vehicle to foster economic, political, cultural and scientific renewal after we overcome our challenges through problem identification and mitigation, and pro-poor service delivery.

  • Ben Uugwanga is the founder/manager of Capstone Consultancy based at Walvis Bay. He is also a community activist
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