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5. African Unity

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about a fourth key theme of Pan-Africanism – the idea that Africa should be a politically and economically unified entity. We focus on: (i) the idea of a federal United States of Africa, which emerged amongst leaders of newly independent African states in the 1950s, and was promoted particularly by Kwame Nkrumah; (ii) the formation of the Organisation of African Unity in 1963, which was intended to enable political and economic cooperation between African states; (iii) the extent to which African unity has been achieved and some barriers to its realisation, such as the desire of African nation states to retain their independence.


In this course, Dr William Ackah (Birkbeck, University of London) explores Pan-Africanism across four key themes. In the first module, we consider how we might define Pan-Africanism, outlining its different manifestations, historical development, and core concept that people of African descent across the world are united. In the second and third modules, we think about the first two key themes of Pan-Africanism – its emphasis on pride in Africa’s history, culture and achievements, and its notion of the continent as the homeland to which people of African descent will return. We then turn in the fourth and fifth modules to the themes of, firstly, liberation and unity of struggle amongst people of African descent, and secondly, African unity – that the continent should comprise a unified political and economic entity. We then conclude with a final module on Pan-Africanism today and how it might develop in the future.


Dr William Ackah is Senior Lecturer in Black and Community Geographies at Birkbeck, University of London. He has a broad range of expertise exploring culture, religion and politics in Africa and the African diaspora, including a particular emphasis on Pan-Africanist political activism. His recent publications include Religion, Culture and Spirituality in Africa and the African Diaspora (2017, co-editor), Pan-Africanism: Exploring the Contradictions (2016), and Churches, Blackness and Contested Multiculturalism: Europe, Africa and North America (2014, co-editor).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Ackah, W. (2022, May 30). Pan-Africanism - African Unity [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Ackah, W. "Pan-Africanism – African Unity." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 30 May 2022,

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