It was 15th October 1945, and Manchester was at the forefront of the battle against European colonialism. For six days, the city gathered together and empowered Africans worldwide, organising the 5th Pan African Congress to tackle the consequences of colonisation. In recognition of this momentous occasion, Manchester will be holding a commemorative conference this October to mark the 70th Anniversary of the congress.
This commemoration could not come at a more appropriate time. Last week, the Prime Minister David Cameron declared that issues with historic injustices, recent wars, poverty or hardship were merely a ‘grievance justification’. In a keynote speech aimed at tackling extremism and promoting integration, the Prime Minister disregarded key issues that affect ethnic minorities in Britain today.
In contrast, the original Pan African Congresses were a series of meetings intended to address issues facing Africa as a result of the European colonisation of the continent, rather than dismiss them. The 5th Pan African Congress was significant. Taking place directly after WWII, at a time when people sought to come together in the so-called spirit of ‘45, delegates convened in efforts to end racial discrimination and colonial rule. They set out demands for better human rights and equal economic opportunity for Africans across the globe. The event was the first to be organised by Africans themselves, and delegates included the only US representative W.E. Dubois, a perennial feature of the congress and the British representative Amy Ashwood Garvin, who opened the ceremony. The revolutionary figures Kwame Nkrumah and Jomo Kenyatta were also in attendance, using this influential convention to lay out their plans to achieve independence for their respective countries.
Considering the issues still surrounding ethnic minorities today; institutionalised racism, racial discrimination, deaths in police custody and high unemployment to name a few, surely it’s time to reflect on the heritage and ‘grievances’ of neo-colonialism, rather than forget? Such attitudes have limited progress within Britain as well as across the global diaspora. It is also time to remember the efforts of those that preceded us, including those that organised and attended the 1945 Pan African Congress and persevere to continue with their work.
The 2015 commemorative conference promises to uphold the spirit of 1945 and explore the issues that affect Africans on a global basis; economically, politically and socially. Organised by a Manchester based Planning Committee, the event will take place on Friday 16th October – Sunday 18th October. International keynote speakers will open up the celebrations, discussing 1945 and beyond.
The meeting will also comprise of activities, rallies and a youth conference. A full list of speakers and activities will be available soon. For further information or if you would like to get involved please email email@example.com.
TNT News Joanne Muigua
PRESS RELEASE October 12th 2015
PAC45 Young Roots Project wins Heritage Lottery Fund support
Today, First Cut Media, THE PAC45 Foundation and the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Education Trust have received £34,800 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting project, “PAC45 Young Roots” in Manchester. Led by young people from the local community, the project focuses on the heritage of the 1945 Pan African Congress held in Manchester and makes connections with world events today, as discussed at the PAC45 Conference in Manchester, 16-18 October 2015.
Between 15-20 young people will participate in the PAC45 Conference, conduct interviews and receive audio-visual production, post production and online publishing training. They will play a key role in producing a TV documentary programme, web pages and social media about Pan-Africanism in the world today. The young people will use the knowledge and skills they gain to become heritage advocates; making heritage more accessible and relevant to the needs and interests of other young people and huge online audiences. The project will culminate with a celebration screening event at the end of January 2016.
Decisions taken at the 1945 5th Pan African Congress ultimately led to the liberation of the African Nations (at the time only Ethiopia and Liberia were independent). The political consciousness in Manchester was very strong and people of African descent brought together delegates from all over the world to make resolutions for justice and equality. Working with heritage professionals from the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Education Trust, the PAC45 Young Roots participants will gain a deeper insight into the historic 5th Pan African Congress, as well as learning new digital media skills for their careers.
Commenting on the award, First Cut Media Chairperson Ian Johns said: “We give thanks for the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Young Roots project will be broadcasting the bigger picture: Cultural education promotes participation in our liberation. Manchester hosted the most significant 5th PAC in 1945 and now 70 years on this opportunity will help young people to raise their consciousness to be proud of their African heritage and to engage in reshaping the future of Pan-Africanism.”
Explaining the importance of the HLF support, the head of the HLF in the North West, Sara Hilton, said: “Thanks to National Lottery players we’re delighted to support this project which marks the 70th anniversary of an incredibly important international event as well as celebrating its regional links and exploring the lasting legacy it has had for our communities. This project is a wonderful opportunity for the young people of Manchester to gain skills, get creative with their new found knowledge and connect with their heritage.”