Contrary to the view that Africa is populated by many ethnic groups whose cultures and languages have no relation to one another, scientific research, as opposed to impressionistic arguments, points to the fact that African languages are connected, and by extension, demonstrate African cultural connectivity and unity. By making reference to both African and European scholars, this article demonstrates pan-African linguistic and cultural unity, and echoes pan-Africanist scholars’ call for African linguistic and cultural unity as a basis for pan-Africanism and the African Renaissance.
A Basis for Pan-Africanism and the African Renaissance
Contradicting pan-Africanism and the African Renaissance?
In his nine years as South Africa’s president, Thabo Mbeki was known as a leading pan-Africanist and an advocate of the African Renaissance. Pan-Africanism is an ideology aimed at uniting Africans into a strong force for total liberation. The African Renaissance is a project aimed at restoring Africans’ self-esteem damaged by colonialism and slavery. During and after his presidency Mbeki was criticised by the local and international media for putting at risk hundreds of thousands of South African lives by questioning the link between HIV and AIDS, and blocking drugs that could have saved many lives. If true, this would suggest that there is a contradiction between Mbeki’s pan-Africanism and the African Renaissance, which are supposed to be life-affirming on one hand, and exposing Africans to the perils of a fatal disease, on the other. This article examines Mbeki’s opponents’ arguments, and Mbeki’s stance in the context of pan-Africanism and the African Renaissance.