The advocates of Pan-Africanism propounded the need for racial harmony, mutual existence coupled with absolute equality and respect for the dignity of Africans.

It further accepts the need for cooperation and unity among African states in the areas of economic, political and cultural spheres. It detests and rejects in totality all forms of colonial rule, control and domination of any African State.

Furthermore, this concept stands for the rights of Africans to self-determination and the need to be treated with dignity and respect. In addition, it tends to instill in Africans a sense of belief and self-confidence in themselves as a people or a race.

Originally, this movement began as a reaction of the Negro people to years of humiliation and domination of the black race by the white race.

The popular slogan of the proponents of this concept has been ‘Africa for the Africans’ and ‘African Personality’.

This movement developed outside Africa. It was formed by Africans in diaspora, e.g. in West Indies and U.S.A. They were constantly faced with discrimination and so they saw Africa as their real home. Some of the leading members were; Edward Blyden, a Liberian, Marcus Garvey, W.E. DuBois, an Afro-American and George Padmore, a West Indian. Different Pan-African conferences took place in Paris, 1918, Lisbon in 1923, New York in 1927 and Manchester in 1945. Most of the issues deliberated on at these conferences were mainly on the unity of all negro people and the 1945 Manchester conference deliberated mostly on strategy and realistic approach towards the decolonisation of African continent.


Achievements of Pan-Africanism

  1. Liberation of Africa: The movement worked and spoke against colonial rule.
  2. Articulation of demands: It helped African nationalists in articulating their demands and supported them in their struggle for independence.
  3. Creation of consciousness: It accelerated the tempo of national consciousness, especially after the Second World War.



  1. Atlantic Charter: Article 3 of the Charter states that the Allied Forces should “respect the rights of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live”. It was a welcome development to the West African nationalists, having the hope that, independence or self-government would be achieved at the end of the war.
  2. The Super Powers: U.S.A. and USSR. emerged as the two super powers at the end of the war. Both countries detested colonialism and imperialism and supported the demands of those oppressed for justice and fair play, equity and self-rule.
  3. Labour party: The British Labour party opposed vehemently the policies of the Conservative Party in government towards colonialism. The Labour Party favoured the right of self- determination of all people.
  4. West African students union: Formed in 1925, it agitated for political reforms and this was done through public lectures and lobbying of the British Parliament for a sympathetic hearing. They educated most of their members on their political rights, leadership training, etc, and many of them later became leading Statesmen in their various countries.
  5. Economic expansion: There was greater economic dependence on Africans by the Allied powers. They needed African raw materials for their industries. This new economic posture brought about a rapid development in export and import trade of Nigeria and West Africa. The people became rich anda well-to-do population grew. Urban centres multiplied and many went to school. This development helped in preparing the minds of the people towards the need to resist colonial rule and support the nationalist struggle.
  6. Return of the ex – servicemen: They came back with new ideas and exposed the wrong notion about the invincibility of the whites. It showed that whites were not different from blacks. This is because they (the whites) died like the blacks too, during the war. It encouraged the nationalist towards the struggle for self-rule.
  7. Trade Unions: Many trade unions came into existence during this period and they supported and became formidable instruments in the hands of nationalists.
  8. Political parties: Political parties e.g. NCNC, NPC and A.G. were formed and they pressed for participation in the government of their countries.
  9. Newspapers: West African Pilot, by Nnamdi Azikiwe, Lagos Daily News by Herbert Macaulay etc played vital role in educating the people in urban areas on their views about colonial rule.
  10. Improved communication: The construction of roads, railways, etc, by the Colonial authority to serve their own economic needs, now became an advantage to nationalist activities. Contacts and campaigns as measures for reaching out to people in other parts of the country were made possible through this improved communication.
  11. Constitutional revision: The constitutional revision gave Africans and Nigerians the opportunity to partake in issues of government. Nigeria first revised in 1946, 1951,1954 etc.
  12. Executive Council Seats: Some unofficial members of legislative council were given seats in the Executive Council. This development took place in 1942 in Nigeria and Gold Coast. The council was dominated by the British and all the white members were official. However, this action, did not impress the nationalists because those included in the executive council were few and could not conveniently influence
  13. Attainment of independence: Nationalist activities helped in the attainment of independence for some countries e.g. Ghana – March 6, 1957, Nigeria – October 1,1960, Sierra Leone – 27 April 1961, The Gambia – 18 February 1964.



  1. Formation of political parties and associations: NNDP, NCNC, NPC, AG, etc , were some of the political parties formed.
  2. The print media (Newspapers): They used the newspapers to agitate for social, political and other reforms.
  3. They organised labour unions and meetings: The Railway Workers Union and other Unions became a force to reckon with, because, they supported the struggle for self-rule in Nigeria.
  4. Strikes and boycotts: They equally organised strikes and boycotts to back up their demands.
  5. Petitions: They wrote petitions to the Secretary of State for colonies in London on issues of pressing concern e.g. reforms, self-government and constitutional revisions.
  6. They sent a delegation to London and to the government: This is meant to pressure London to accede to their numerous demands.
  7. They organised rallies, symposia and lectures: This is done to educate the people on their political rights.
  8. They also used propaganda: This was seen in the activities of the West African Student Unions (WASU).
  9. Voting rights: In parliament, they voted in favour of motions and policies favourable to the attainment of self-rule.
  10. Constitutional conferences: Some of the conferences are the 1953 and 1957 London Constitutional Conferences.Most of them took part in these conferences.



  1. Political education: One of the effects of nationalism was the encouragement it gave to political education and training of future political leaders. People were also educated on their political rights.
  2. Formation of political parties: Nationalism led to the formation of political parties e.g. NNDP, NCNC,NPC,AG, etc, These parties played key roles in decolonisation process.
  3. The Press: Newspapers played effective role in awakening the minds of Nigerians towards the struggle for self-rule, e.g. West African Pilot and Lagos Daily News.
  4. Constitutional changes: Nationalism resulted in the reforms of most of the colonial constitutions. These changes were necessary in order to involve Nigerians in the affairs of their country.
  5. Independence: Nationalism or nationalist activities led to the independence of Nigeria on the 1 st October, 1960.
  6. Constitutional conferences: Nationalism also resulted in Nigerians taking part in some of the constitutional conferences both within and outside the country. In the process, reforms were brought into the political system.
  7. Emergence of militant trade unions: Nationalism gave inspiration to some trade unions,making them to become militant. They pressed and demanded for their rights and improved condition of service. They later found themselves in working alliance with nationalist movements in the country.
  8. Labour party in Britain: The activities of nationalist movements drew the support of Labour party in Britain. Labour supported the rights of self-determination for the people.


Achievements of nationalists in Nigeria between 1945 and 1960

  1. Development of political parties: Parties were formed with a growing desire on the part of Nigerians to control their own affairs.
  2. Training of leaders: Nigerians were trained as political leaders and to take up responsible posts in the government of the country.
  3. Political education: Political education was introduced to the masses by the nationalists.
  4. Constitutional developments: Constitutional developments contributed to the acceleration of political and constitutional development in Nigeria. For example, some of them attended the 1953 and 1957 London Constitutional conferences.
  5. Establishment of educational institutions: They were also engaged in the agitation for higher education, leading to the establishment of Yaba Higher College in 1934, University College, Ibadan 1948 etc.
  6. Economic development plans: Nigerians were encouraged to participate actively in drawing up of economic development plans.
  7. Independence for Nigeria: This was won by the nationalists by bringing to an end the British colonial administration.


Methods Used by Nationalist Leaders in Their Opposition to British Rule in West Africa

Some of the following methods were used by the Nationalists:

  1. The use of the press e.g. West African Pilot, Comet and Daily Express were used as vocal points of opposition to the British rule.
  2. Strikes, boycott, protests, etc. for example the 1945 nationwide strike in Nigeria and 1948 in Ghana (then Gold Coast).
  3. Constitutional conferences: For example, 1953 and 1957 London constitutional conferences. Most of the nationalists took part in these conferences aimed at injecting reforms into the political administration of some of these countries e.g. Nigeria.
  4. Organising seminars, Symposia: This is a way of bringing political awareness to the people.
  5. The use of political parties e.g. NNDP in Nigeria, CPP in Ghana, PPP in The Gambia, SLPP in Sierra – Leone.



  1. Participation in politics: It increased African participation in politics as it led to the inclusion of Africans into the executive and legislative councils.
  2. Elective principles: Their agitations led to the introduction and extension of franchise in West Africa
  3. Africanisation of the civil service: Their struggle led to the Africanisation of the civil service.
  4. Creation of awareness: They made Africans aware of the shortcomings of colonial rule and their political rights.
  5. Development of political parties: Activities of nationalist movements led to the development of political parties in West Africa.
  6. Institutions of learning: Higher institutions of learning were established.
  7. Element of check: Nationalist movements were able to check the excesses of the colonial government.
  8. Newspapers: There was the emergence of nationalist newspapers
  9. Independence: Most of the nationalist movements achieved independence for their respective countries
  10. Emergence of militant trade unions, pressure groups, interest groups, etc
  11. Constitutional reforms: Activities of nationalist movements brought about several constitutional reforms in British West Africa.



The following reasons were responsible for the late beginning of Nationalism in French West Africa.

  1. Policy of assimilation: Integration of educated African elite into French system was a great priviledge. They enjoyed equal rights as there was no discrimination in the civil service. Consequently, as civil servants, they could not revolt or agitate for anything since the system benefited them.
  2. People’s welfare: The policy of assimilation, instead of contributing to the people’s well being endangered it socially, economically and politically.
  3. Lack of fundamental human rights: There was the absence of fundamental human rights in most areas governed. The government did not recognise the rights of the people.
  4. No freedom of the press: This made it difficult for people to criticize government activities. The press, which was supposed to be the people’s mouthpiece was censored.
  5. Agitation for independence: People’s vision for freedom and independent states was strangulated and not until after the 2nd World War when other factors started adding impetus to the growth of nationalism, was agitation became more pronounced.
  6. Indigenat policy: The existence of this policy threatened the liberty of Africans. They were subjected to arbitrary arrests and imprisonment.
  7. Restriction on education: Education was restricted to only a few, and that which was seen as a tool for development was slow to be introduced. Missionaries were not allowed to build schools and it was not until 1943 that the first missionary school was built.
  8. Minor political offices: The election of Africans into the French Chamber as Deputies also reduced the urge for nationalist activities.
  9. Absence of political parties and association: This made it difficult for people to express their political views on government activities.
  10. Provision of amenities: There was no discrimination against Africans. They enjoyed same opportunity with their French counterparts in the area of amenities of modern life such as electricity, water supply, good roads, housing among others. This non-preferential treatment prevented the civil servants and the elites from agitating against the colonial government.



  1. Nationalist activities: The activities of nationalists British West Africa influenced the increase in nationalism in French West Africa after 2nd world war.
  2. Independence: The independence of Ghana and Algeria inspired the French colonies in West Africa.
  3. Survival of Guinea: The survival of Guinea as a nation-state after independence was also an inspiration. 21880
  4. Constitutional reforms: Another factor was also the willingness of President Charles de Gaulle to grant constitutional reforms to French colonies.
  5. The Atlantic Charter: This charter declared the right to self-determination by all the people of the world and it was signed by Britain, France and the U.S.A.
  6. Lifting of the ban: The lifting of the ban on political activities led to the formation of political parties, trade unions and Youth Movements in French West Africa.
  7. The Press: The emergence of the press especially in Senegal and Dahomey was an added factor to the increase in nationalism in French West Africa after the 2nd World War.
  8. Introduction of reforms: The Loi Cadre of 1956 which introduced reforms gave some degree of autonomy to the French colonies.
  9. Discrimination: Discriminatory and repressive French colonial policies like indigenat and corvee (forced labour) led to the increase in nationalism in French West Africa after the 2nd World War.
  10. The United Nations Organization (UNO): The influence and support of this organization gave the nationalist leaders the much needed encouragement.



  1. They were in search of new markets for legitimate trade.
  2. The French wanted to extend their self-acclaimed rich culture to Africa hence their policy of assimilation.
  3. They wanted to provide security for their traders, trade routes and workers.
  4. One of the reasons was to put an end to slave trade and slavery.
  5. There was an accumulation of surplus capital and so the need came up to find outlets.
  6. There was the growing need to search for raw materials for home industries.
  7. They acquired more colonies mainly for their glory and prestige.
  8. The burden was on them to find employment for displaced Europeans.

You may also like...