Garveyism and African Racial Reconstruction

by
Marcus Garvey, Jr.

Marcus Garvey first called upon the African people of the world to know themselves; then he called upon them to be proud of themselves. "Up You Mighty Race, you can accomplish what you will", thundered this unrepentant African Nationalist.

Universal African Nationalism is a nexus of the basic prescriptions for African nation building that Marcus Garvey, the great exponent of African Nationalism, stressed relentlessly during his life. The following basic concepts of Universal African Nationalism comprise the positive and dynamic agenda for African Racial Reconstruction and the building of African power in the world.

The first concept is AFRICAN IDENTITY. This implies that all persons of African ancestry and origin are essential and integral parts of the same Black African Nation. For the Garveyite, the race and the nation are coterminous. A people who where separated from their ancestral homeland by the barbarous actions of the Aryan and Arab slave traders cannot be expected to accept the nationalities imposed upon them by their enslavers. The African, in freedom, has the right to determine his own nation, to delimit that nationality, and to seek the greater ingathering of African people from all sectors of the African Diaspora. AFRICAN IDENTITY is a matter of common ethnicity, ancestry and origin,

The second concept, AFRICAN PRIDE, as invoked by Marcus Garvey, means two things: 1) appreciation and understanding of the achievements of our great race in the past, 2) African self-respect and self-worth in the present. The Black man had built many civilizations and cultures in the past, he could do so again. The Black man, created in the image and likeness of Almighty God, need not apologize for the color of his skin and the texture of his hair.

The third concept of Universal African Nationalist is AFRICAN SELF-RELIANCE. The work of African racial reconstruction will be accomplished by African organizations under African leadership with all-embracing African programmes. African institutions designed for racial upliftment and liberation, whether cultural, economic or political must be controlled by the race, financed, directed, organized and established by Africans with programmes dedicated exclusively to the solution of Africa's problems -- at home and in the diaspora.

The fourth concept of Universal African Nationalism is AFRICAN ECONOMIC POWER. The wealth of the African community and the African nation must be in the hands of the African people. Africans must control the means of production, distribution and exchange within their own boundaries. The economic exploitation of African people by alien races must be opposed by African development of commercial, industrial and financial enterprises. Marcus Garvey preached AFRICAN ECONOMIC POWER and tried to alter the situations that were common to all Black communities - alien ownership and exploitation. The UNIA-ACL in 1920 formed the Negro Factories Corporation with a mandate to establish and run commercial and industrial undertakings. The Black Star Line was formed to promote trade and commerce between West Africa, the Caribbean and the United States so that Black people could benefit economically from the carriage of their own trade in their own ships. Garveyism postulates that national independence without national and communitiy control of the economy of the African states is no independence at all. The final important question is who owns the wealth and the resources? Who controls the total economy? Garveyism requires that ownership mus unmistakeably be in the hands of the African people wherever the African forms a meaningful African community and majority. Flag or paper independence in which the African acquires the panoply and pomp of nationhood, but the alien races retain control of the meaningful heights of the economy, is no independence at all. True national freedom requires control of the economy at all meaningful levels.

The fifth concept of Garveyism or Universal African Nationalism is the requirement for AFRICAN UNITY BOTH IN THE NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL SENSE. Pan-Africanism, the coming together for the common good of all African people in the Diaspora and in the homeland, was a fundamental thesis of Garveyism. "I know no national boundary where the Negro is concerned: the whole world is my province until Africa is free."

In the wider international sense, the obvious political advantages that accrue from building blocks of African power are paralleled by the economic and trading advantage of the wider markets and increased productive efficiency. The ideals of African federations and confederations are always present in Garveyite thinking and philosophy. The fact that potential African Federations in East and West Africa, as well as the Caribbean, have floundered before coming to fruition does not imply the incorrectness of African Unity, but rather that the enormous pressures exerted by the enemies of our race are still capable of keeping us apart even when it is in our obvious interests to unite. The creation of operational unity between the various sections of the African people inside and outside the Motherland of Africa was an essential ingredient of Garveyite thinking and policy during the high noon of the movement from 1919-1927. This need for unity is even more obvious today if we are to achieve a meaningful and independent place in the modern world. If we African people cannot achieve operational unity and overcome our petty differences, we will neglect to use, optimally, our potential power and will remain as one of the backward, fragmented third rate nations of the world.

The idea that the Black man should create A GREAT AND POWERFUL CENTRAL NATION IN AFRICA that would be able to provide protection and aid to all African people wherever they were was a continuously recurring theme in the writings of Marcus Garvey. The programme of the UNIA and ACL was dedicated to the concept of a return to the Motherland by the Africans of the Diaspora to take part in the great task of nation building and racial reconstruction in the God-given homeland of the race. An african super-state capable of disposing power of every kind: economic, industrial, military, was a cardinal concept of Universal African Nationalism. In his prophetic poem, "Hail! The United States of Africa!" (written while in prison in Atlanta, Georgia, USA in 1927).

Marcus Garvey also stressed the importance of the application of Science and Technology to African nation building. In the Philosophy and Opinions, page 14 of Volume 1 he says - "The battles of the future, whether they be physical or mental, will be fought on scientific lines, and the race that is able to produce the highest scientific development is the race that will ultimately rule."

In his famous statement - African Fundamentalism - he says:

"There is not height to which we cannot climb by using the active intelligence of our own minds. Mind creates, and is as much as we desire in Nature we can have through the creation of our own minds. Being at present the scientifically weaker race, you shall treat others only as they treat you; but in your home and everywhere possible, you must teach the higher development of science to your children, and be sure to develop a race of scientists par excellence for in science and religion lie our only hope to withstand the evil designs of modern materialism."

The final concept of Universal African Nationalism is the AFRICAN IMAGE OF GOD and its concomitant theosophy.

This ideological concept of Marcus Garvey has evolved from the 1960's to the present time in the dialectis of Black Liberation Theology. Black Liberation Theology requires the active involvement of church and mosque in the instilling of Racial Identity, Racial Pride, Racial Self-reliance and African Unity in the minds of our people. This mental reshaping and mind liberation are necessary for Africans if we are to successfully deal with the general adversities by which we are confronted and if we are to effectively oppose our natural and inherent enemies who have physically enslaved us in the past and who continue to hold us in physical and mental subservience at the present time. The African Church and the African Mosque must provide purpose and direction to the struggles of African people.

The African image of God realizes that a religious structure (Christian Church, Islamic Mosque) can either be mind-liberating or mind domesticating (in the sense of the acceptance of the status quo and the current social order). Universal African Nationalism requires that all religious structures should be mind liberating and serve the purposes of African nationhood and liberation.


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Last revised: January 28, 2005

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