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The symbol of panafricanism. Four stylised arrows pointing to the center means that the African nations from all sides and all colonial powers should come together. The arrows form a tilted cross, allegedly symbolising the Christianity of Africa.

Panafricanism (called by its proponents African Liberation and by its opponents - Ethiopianism) was a very popular political idea in Africa in the interwar period and during the Second Great War.


The panafricanists demanded independence of the African nations from the European and Asian colonial powers. They believed that only if a single mighty state will be established in whole Africa the Africans will be able to withstand further colonisation and make their economy evolve. In the Second Great War Ethiopia attempted to establish such a state by conquering, directly or indirectly, most of Africa. At the time most of the panafricanists, seeing the Ethiopian initial success in the Ethiopian Liberation War, supported the Ethiopian goals, thus making it easier for Ethiopia to conquer new lands. Many panafricanists supported Ethiopia so much that they believed the new state encompassing the whole Africa should be created on the basis of Ethiopia, "the only major African state to withstand colonisation attempts" and the emperor of Ethiopia should become the emperor of whole Africa.

Rastafarianism - a religion that considers the Ethiopian emperor to be divine - appeared and was adhered by some panafricanists. Most panafricansts were however Christian or animist. Panafricanism was less popular among muslims, especially after the El Minya incident and the Somali Revolt.

Ethiopian propaganda used the situation well enough. Several movies about the future African state which was shown to be almost as the paradise on earth, were created.

Over the time the support for Ethiopia somewhat decreased but still remained strong. Some leaders of the newly-independent states that managed to liberate themselves instead of being liberated by Ethiopia, such as Olusegun Azikiwe of Ashanti, wanted more power for themselves and were not willing to become mere vassals of Ethiopia. In light of these developments, Ethiopia and other African countries established the African Alliance, a panafricanist organisation encompassing most of the independent African states (excluding the north African states - Kingdom of Egypt, Libya and Maghreb). This alliance, primarilly meant to coordinate the war efforts, was basically ruled by Ethiopia which was the most powerful member state of it. However, the establishment of African Alliance, the possibility to use African Alliance flags instead of the Ethiopian flags in some conquered territories, helped to achieve the Ethiopian goals of conquering the hearts of more Africans. The coordination efforts were good for other African nations at the time as well.

With the defeat of Ethiopia, Ashanti and other states of African Alliance in 1947-1948 the panafricanist ideas were defeated as well. Their popularity decreased further with the independence of many African states. Currently there are panafricanist political parties in most African states (legal or underground), but the support for them is ussually marginal.

The African state

The proposed African state would have consisted of whole subsaharran Africa and, according to other suggestions, of whole Africa. The Lybians, Scots and Arabs in the northern Africa were generally seen as colonist and non-African nations. Although some Christians envisioned the African state to be a Christian one, because of the ammount of non-Christians who supported the panafricanist ideas it was largely assumed that the state would be officially secular.

This page was created by Abdul-aziz.