The 1945 Pan-African Congress (PAC) in Manchester was a major international event which had an enormous influence on African liberation from colonialism. First Cut worked with young people to develop their education and understanding not only of the Pan African Congress in 1945 but also how it relates to their lives today.
Young people developed knowledge and skills in how to document and express their reflections using video and online media, using a range of talks, discussions, visits to museums and other heritage agencies, workshops, and creative media. It began with strong involvement by both the young people and First Cut in an incredible 70th anniversary commemoration conference which took place in October 2015.
The 1945 conference – a brief introduction
It is a little known fact that in 1945, just a few months after the end of the Second World War, the 5th Pan-African Congress (PAC) met in Manchester, UK. There were ninety delegates, twenty six from all over Africa. These included Peter Abrahams for the ANC, and a number of men who were to become political leaders in their countries, such as Hastings Banda, Kwame Nkrumah, Obafemi Awolowo and Jomo Kenyatta. Amy Jacques Garvey (Marcus Garvey’s 2nd wife) attended. There were thirty three delegates from the West Indies and thirty five from various British organizations including the West African Students Union. The presence of 77-year-old W.E.B. Du Bois was historic, as he had organized the First Pan-African Congress in 1919. Decisions taken at this Congress ultimately led to the liberation of several African Nations (Ghana, Kenya, Malawi and Nigeria) but despite the turnout, this conference scarcely got a mention in British press.
George Padmore (International African Service Bureau) was instrumental in bringing the Congress to Manchester, as his close friend, TR Makonnen, Treasurer of the Pan-African Federation, had business interests in the city. The political consciousness in Manchester was very strong at the time and people in Manchester of African descent brought together delegates from all over the world.
The resolutions passed by the Congress addressed various forms of racial discrimination, and forced labour and called for trade union rights and the granting of universal franchise in South Africa and the colonies. (At the time the only independent nations in Africa were Ethiopa and Liberia).