Pan-Africanism needs Ethiopianism.

Author:Muchie, Mammo
Position:Pan-African Corner - Column

Welcome to my new column in which as a Pan-Africanist to the bone, I will intentionally try to provoke debate on many issues regarding why Africans must choose Pan-Africanism as the only highway towards unshackling lingering colonial mentalities and their offshoots. How better to begin than with a discussion on the precursor to Pan-Africanism--Ethiopianism.

How many of us know that Ethiopianism was a forebear of Pan-Africanism? In fact, that it is the foundation for both Pan-Africanism and the African Renaissance? It is imperative that in order to meet the challenges of the unfinished business of achieving African unity which in today's world are more subtle and insidious than the challenges that were faced during slavery, colonialism, and apartheid--Africa should look back and retrieve the ideals and ethos of Ethiopianism.

It is inarguable that as a result of a routine failure to prevent others from continuing to dominate and control Africa by various means, the continent is today still not fully removed from coloniality.

There cannot be any better moment than today's trying times to bring back the discursive arsenals developed during the early African struggles of resistance under the rubric of Ethiopianism. The powerful narratives that were evolved around Ethiopianism are of such significance that they continue to inform the debates on the current quest for African unity and renaissance.

The early signs of Ethiopianism date back to the 16th century, when slaves in America found solace in the promise of a homeland in the empire of Ethiopia in the Nile region. The references to Ethiopia in the Bible ("Ethiopia" occurs more than forty times) provided them with an ideology that they could use for their spiritual, political, and cultural uplifting. By far the most widely-quoted verse--"probably the most widely quoted verse in Afro-American religious history"--is Psalm 68:31: "Princes shall come out of Egypt; Ethiopia shall stretch her hands unto God". The verse was interpreted as pointing to the end of the "curse" on the black race--an end to the alienation of Africa from God. This was a European belief that was, to some extent, shared by Africans. Thus came into being the movement of Ethiopianism as a "method of winning Africa for Christ", and as a forerunner of the "Africa for Africans" movement and the subsequent African philosophies to develop African unity to confront imperialist power.

The verse gave rise to what scholars have termed "a...

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