Youth must be served and included in the movement
Youth represent an extremely valuable resource and talent pool when focused and channeled into positive activity.
There would not have been a successful civil rights struggle in this country without SNCC (Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee), the youth wings of CORE and SCLC, or other groups like them.
In recognition of that fact, the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus—the dominant African Diaspora group in the U.S. that is trying to link up the talent and energies of the African descendants of Canada, the USA, Central America and South America, to the 21st-century Pan African movement forward—has recently put forth the following proposal to create and build a series of Pan African Youth Corps chapters in different parts of the African Diaspora.
Just as action without thought is blind, and thought without action is impotent, all work done toward achieving the United States of Africa/Union of African States—the ultimate goal of 21st-century Pan Africanism—that does not include youth and women is ephemeral and short-lived.
It is youth and a critical mass of strong African women who will take the relevant policy decisions and implementable ideas to the operational stage and build on them until the entire edifice called the unification and integration of Africa has been achieved. Youth must be inspired, motivated and attracted to the Pan African project, and all three must be sustained.
Every significant first- and second-generation African leader in the post-independence period who sought real capacity-building, infrastructural sustainability, and the establishment of an environment conducive for African sovereignty and Africa-for-the-Africans, included one or several youth components.
Kwame Nkrumah famously had the Young Pioneers. Mwalimu Julius Nyerere had the Ministry of Youth and Culture in Tanzania. Nnamdi Azikiwe had his Nigerian Youth Movement as a genuine grass-roots anti-colonialist entity. Sekou Toure had his anti-imperialist youth patrols trying to establish cultural authenticity in Guinea-Conakry. Jomo Kenyatta had the Mungiki Movement, and Kenneth Kaunda had the Pathfinder Scouts even before Zambian independence.
Clearly, there were major variations in the success and longevity of these efforts, but there was a common recognition that the elder statesmen and political-economic veterans in each country could establish both the precedent and the momentum necessary for sustained change, independence and national development, but they could not carry the torch to its completion, nor should they be expected to do so.
This text is for and about Pan African youth within 21st-century Pan Africanism. It builds on the lessons of the past and present, while focusing unerringly on the future. There have been and will continue to be numerous African Union, UN, and other high-level conferences and gatherings to discuss youth and how important they are, but too little practical engagement on catalyzing youth into consistent, strategic action to accomplish specific Pan African goals.
Pan African youth inspired by this handbook are to commit themselves to the idea that there is important Pan African work to be done wherever African descendants reside, so Pan African youth can accomplish serious goals both on the continent and wherever else youth find themselves. Pan African work is wherever Pan African people are.
Pan African Youth Pledge (To be memorized by all members)
I AM a Pan Africanist. As such, I pledge to seek out relevant projects that will help African people and work to get those projects done, or else to acquire the necessary skills I will need to finish what I start, alone or in respectful partnership with allies who understand their role.
I AM a Pan Africanist. As such, I pledge to stay informed. I will stay the course that I begin. I will stay mutually respectful to all moving ahead, practice and master Ma’at in all that I do. I will not be deterred. I won’t be misdirected. I know I have the talents we need, and I will be successful. I am and will always be a Pan African beam lighting the path forward.
Pan African Youth Corps (PAYC) Oath
(To be memorized and recited by each incoming member)
On my honor, I will strive to do my best for as long as I can for as many Pan African people as I can, everywhere that I can, using everything I’ve got and everything that I acquire, to move us forward.
Pan African Youth Corps members are assertive, bold, brilliant, honorable, courteous, respectful, engaging, and mindful of spirit. We venerate our past, are clear-eyed of our present, and are strategic of our future. We stand on the shoulders of giants, and we are responsible to build legacies of our own.
We pledge to do no harm to the Pan African vision as we keep it fired up.
PAYC General Principles and Procedures
1. PAYC members are to be encouraged to succeed in disciplined, focused ways. Creativity and independent thinking are to be rewarded, but boorish behavior, bad manners and disrespect are not.
2. PAYC members are to be taught useful skills, provided intellectual stimulation, and taken through planned rites of passage from youth advocates and initiates to young skillful adults capable of helping their respective nations, territories and regions.
3. Based on the following criteria (which can be amended and expanded if deemed necessary), PAYC members will be awarded and/or rewarded annually for completing tasks. A standard set of projects or tasks are listed below. Every PAYC area chapter, as determined by an advisory board and group of mentors, can add relevant projects/tasks to the standard list as long as the additions are equivalent in substance and community support to those already listed.
A. Every PAYC member will begin with a membership card, a badge/pin and a PAYC T-shirt/uniform shirt, depending on whether it is part of a national government-sponsored program, or an NGO effort.
B. PAYC members will be known as Advocators (Negotiators), Initiators, Innovators, High Participators, and Project Terminators in sequential order. Within each category, PAYC members must complete a required number of projects, respectively—i.e., 5 (Advocators), 7 (Initiators), 9 (Innovators), 12 (High Participators) and 15 (Project Terminators)—individually or in collaboration, to advance to the next level and be acknowledged for that achievement. Each project will have its own symbol and PAYC members completing it will be awarded a token to proudly wear or display representing that symbol. The same projects can be completed no more than thrice and at different levels of expertise, so that the tokens of that symbol awarded to PAYC members will be in at least three color-combinations representing First-Level, Intermediate, and Advanced. For example, First-Level Advocators (Negotiators), Intermediate Advocators (Negotiators), and Advanced Advocators (Negotiators).
C. Every PAYC member will early on identify at least two talents in himself/herself (or have them identified by advisers) that, through practice and mentoring, can be mastered, and he/she will become well known for using those talents in service to Pan African building and development.
D. Every PAYC member will recognize and be recognized as part of the necessary components in building an allegorical house. There are symbolic architects, carpenters, caulkers, masons, roofers, dry-wallers, electricians, pipefitters, painters, etc., each one singularly and collaboratively important in order to get the figurative house built through teamwork and everyone being responsible for completing his/her job.
E. Every PAYC member will practice until mastered mutual respect for others and civil, diplomatic engagement to resolve conflicts and/or disagreements rather than a quick resort to violence or physical confrontations.
PAYC Project One
In countries, both on the continent, in the Caribbean, and in Central and South America, where there are countries with African-African Diaspora governments capable of making the choice, PAYC members will be relentless advocates for governments to establish and maintain two-year Youth National Service programs. These will be non-military national youth work and training programs for those who have graduated from secondary school and who are between the ages of 15-30, that will organize combinations of youth training in digital communications and computer technologies, agricultural expertise, green and sustainable living techniques, clean water reclamation techniques, etc., and send youth to drill bore holes, pass out relevant general health and other community help literature, build sustainable homes in villages, build access roads, citizen centers and recreational facilities (basketball courts, soccer fields, etc.) where needed, etc. In essence, residential young would be government-sponsored youth engineers for community capacity-building and modernization, and such two-year post-public school training will prepare youth for real employment, entrepreneurial opportunities, technological inventiveness, and sustained assistance in helping their countries and territories move forward.
PAYC Project Two
PAYC members will visit colleges and universities in their respective areas, and advocate to students there to retire their BSUs and ASUs in favor of more 21st-century-oriented Pan African Youth Corps chapters, where regular dialogues between the modern and the historical Diaspora members can occur, where more accurate information on Africa and African descendant history and culture can be disseminated, where more African integrative cultural events can be planned and implemented on campuses, etc. PAYC members can remind BSUs that when Black Studies departments and programs were first implemented in the late ’60s and early ’70s, having a significant, sustained and high-level role for the African-African Diaspora relationship was part of the initial intent. Celebrating our African heritage and cultural roots was part and parcel of the fight to create conducive academic space on America’s campuses to study and discuss the African presence in the Western Hemisphere, including, but far beyond, slavery.
PAYC Project Three
Based on the principles and priorities promoted in the African Union’s 2009 African Youth Charter, PAYC members are to establish an up-to-date database of and maintain network contact with any and all positive African-oriented youth organizations and associations worldwide. Current examples include the Organization of African Youth (registered in South Africa, Cameroon, Zimbabwe and other countries), the annual East African Youth Forum, the African Union-Youth Volunteer Corps, the Pan African Youth Union (founded in 1963 and registered in the African Union), etc. In the future, there will be others. PAYC members are to promote the celebration and recognition of African Youth Day, November 1st every year, Africa Day on May 25, and any other broad Pan African holidays, such as the newly crafted Pan African Day of the Drum on July 3.
PAYC Project Four
Learn how to successfully farm at least two crops, from seed to harvest, and teach at least two other people, preferably youth, how to successfully repeat what was learned.
PAYC Project Five
Create a relatively large-scale culturally interactive visual display aimed at highlighting the commonalities and genius of Pan African cultural creativity. For example, a collection of coins and/or currency from each African country/federated state, Caribbean territory populated primarily by African descendants, North, Central and South America, Europe, Asia, Oceania, and the so-called Middle East. Or do a musical (dance, songs, drum patterns, etc.) exhibit, a theatrical or film display, or the like, aimed at the same objective.
PRETORIA, South Africa—Yesterday, I was provided a golden opportunity to address the Pan African Parliament, one of the permanent organs of the African Union, and the entity that will begin making enforceable legislation for all of Africa within the next four years. Currently, the PAP is an advisory, consultative body comprising representatives from virtually all 54 AU member countries. The PAP presents its findings, resolutions and recommended suggestions to the Executive Council and the Assembly Heads of State for AU action.
We’ve been invited to the table.
The African Union (AU), the linear descendant of the OAU (Organization of African Unity), and the spiritual descendant of governmental leaders who were also Pan Africanists, has called us to the negotiation and discussion table to engage the issue of Africa’s future. Historically, this is the first time we, the Diaspora as a whole, have been so honored.
In the middle of July, 2013 (specifically July 19-21), the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus will hold its annual conference in Los Angeles. This will be the first time it has returned to its origins since 2006.
The SRDC is one of the leading Diaspora civil society groups (nonprofit organizations) working on establishing 21st-century Pan Africanism, including the Diasporan relationship to the African Union.
What exactly is 21st-century Pan Africanism?
OK, here comes a little clarity. No, I’m not talking about President Barack Obama’s soulful elucidation about gay marriage. More than enough has already been said about that—essentially a lot of sound and fury signifying emotion but little substance.
In one of the largest Pan African/African American Studies departments in the country—at California State University, Northridge—I just had a conversation with three of my classes over whether African American History Month still had relevancy, or whether it had simply become obsolete.
Rather shockingly though, most students—Black, White, Latino and Asian—readily said Black History Month should continue, that there was real sociopolitical value in its continuation.