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Seminar on Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance: Moving the rhetoric to reality
Date: 17 January 2013
Venue: Hilton Hotel, Addis Ababa

Joint seminar presented by ISS, Oxfam International, International Alert, Open Society Initiative for East African (OSIEA) and the Centre for Citizen`s Participation on the African Union (CCP-AU)

The African Union (AU) Assembly of Heads of State and Government have declared 2013 as the Year of Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance. This declaration reflects a purported determination of AU member states to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), which despite its shortcomings has continued to represent a symbol of the struggles by Africans against colonialism and apartheid rule. The primary driver of the celebration of year of pan-Africanism and African Renaissance however is to “enhance the awareness of the new generation of Africans about the ideals of Pan-Africanism” (Assembly/AU/Dec.412(XVIII).

The conception, practice and aspirations of Pan-Africanism ideals are rooted in the emergence of the post-colonial state in Africa. Yet, the notion of pan-Africanism has been repeatedly misconceived, sometimes upheld to insulate recalcitrant dictatorships in some African states from criticisms by either their peers or possible interventions from powerful external actors. This does not discount the underlying tenets of Pan-Africanism as both a philosophy and, as quest for concrete leadership and institutional processes from within Africa to effectively address insecurity and underdevelopment. The transition from the OAU to the African Union was therefore to further advance the Pan-African vision. The question however remains about whether there have been concrete achievements of Pan-Africanism especially since the establishment of the AU?

Uncritical and reductionist label of Africa as “wretched of the earth” has been rapidly overshadowed by rising economic performance and political progress evidenced in the numerical increase of democratic transitions. Unfortunately, the marked economic improvements have continued to remain precarious because of the persistence of violent conflicts in some states. Democratic transitions have not necessarily led to democratic consolidation beyond the holding of elections. The mirco-economic performance of most rising economic powers have been betrayed by the North African revolutions, “Occupy Nigeria” protests and the horrific media images of the ”Marikana Massacre”.

As the AU reflects on Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance, it is pertinent to revisit what these dual concepts actually mean to the “new generation of Africans” that it is intended to educate. Is the pursuit of Pan-Africanism an illusion or a reality? In view of the current peace and security challenges in Africa, how can the Pan-African vision be articulated and advanced? How can Africa states claim to have collective ‘shared values’ when there are still gaps in democracy and governance? Is African Solidarity synonymous with African repudiation of external influences? If so, how to we reconcile Africa’s solidarity with the external resource dependence? Are there renewed thinking about pan-Africanism from African civil society? How can African rid itself of the historical structural imbalances especially in its pattern of incorporation into the global political economy in order to transcend its problems of insecurity and underdevelopment?

This seminar will seek to answer these questions. It will do so through leading experts in the policy, diplomatic and civil society sectors. The intended outcome of this seminar is to generate innovative thoughts on how to promote contemporary pan-Africanism and African Renaissance through frank, open and provocative interactions between experts and participants. It is hoped that this seminar will inform the 20th AU Summit in January 2013 and the 21st Summit AU Summit scheduled from 20 May 2013 to 27 May 2013.



  • Lulsegged Abebe, International Alert- Senior Adviser AU.


Key Speakers

  • H.E. Prof. Dr. Joram M. Biswaro, Ambassador of the United Republic of Tanzania to Ethiopia and Permanent Representative of Tanzania to the Africa Union and United Nations Economic Comission for Africa (UNECA)
  • Professor Mammo Munchie, Senior Research Associate, University of Oxford, UK
  • Mr. Desire Assogbavi,  Head, Oxfam Liaison Office to the African Union
  • Ms Achieng Akena, Open Society for East Africa (OSIEA)
  • Ms Janah Ncube, Executive Director, Centre for Citizens Participation on the African Union  (CCP-AU) 
  •  Mr. Brian Kagoro, United Nations Development Programme

Please Note: All ISS Events occur under the ISS Rules, which means no attribution without specific permission, unless indicated otherwise.

The work of the ISS is made possible through the support of the following core partners: the governments of Norway, Sweden, Australia and Denmark.
Hilton Hotel
Addis Ababa
Mrs. Beakal Bisrat
Phone: +251 11 515 6320
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