Book Review - The Pan-African Pantheon: Prophets, Poets and Philosophers

It may be argued that both advocates and critics alike of Pan-Africanism, stand to studiously benefit, from this latest offering concerning the theme of Pan-Africanism, which has meticulously been edited by Adekeye Adebajo. In a nutshell, this contemporary text which is preceded by amongst others, Hakim Adi’s Pan-Africanism: A History (2018), which Adebajo acknowledges, offers no less than thirty-six abridged biographies, about both pioneering and contemporary Pan-Africanists. The majority of the authors (if not all) whom addressed a Pan-Africanist of their choice, seemingly negotiated a form of balance, between recognition of contribution made, alongside their unfortunate shortcomings.

As should be expected from all texts, the figure of thirty-six Pan-Africanists featured, ought to be read, as part of limitations, in such demanding historical ventures, that ambitiously seek to ultimately recall, reconsider and review contributions of both well-known and less known Pan-Africanists. While mindful of the latter, grave omissions disappointingly stood out, in the categories of ‘pioneers’ (in Part 2) and ‘female’ Pan-Africanists (only seven are featured, why?). It is incredibly disappointing how this text, omitted chapters of Henry Sylvester Williams (only mentioned five times) and Alice Victoria Kinloch (who was also only addressed in passing, by Aldon Morris and Colin Grant respectively). The latter pair should have topped ‘Part 2’, as leading organizers of the founding conference in 1900. Besides its shortcomings, in this current period of decolonisation, both scholars and novices alike interested in the theme of ‘Africa’s contribution to International Relations’ should purchase and read this book.

*Dr Tshepo Mvulane Moloi is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Johannesburg Institute of Advanced Study.

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