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4. Liberation

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In this module, we think about liberation as a third key theme of Pan-Africanism and its historical development. We focus on: (i) the core idea within Pan-Africanism that the different struggles for freedom of people of African descent across the world are linked together; (ii) the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804) as a key moment in the development of this notion; (iii) its consolidation during the 1936 Italian invasion of Ethiopia, which saw an outpouring of support for Ethiopia across the African diaspora; (iv) its centrality to the African independence movements of the mid-twentieth century, such as on the part of Kwame Nkrumah; (v) the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests as a contemporary manifestation of this idea.


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).

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APA style

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

MLA style

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

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