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Five Gifts Marcus Mosiah Garvey Gave the African World – A Birthday Tribute

August 17, 2016 at 05:00 pm | History

Deidre Gantt

Deidre Gantt | Contributor

August 17, 2016 at 05:00 pm | History

“Africa for the Africans”
It was the title of both a poem and a speech by Marcus Garvey that grew into a slogan for his entire philosophy:

“It is hoped that when the time comes for the American and West Indian Negroes to settle in Africa, they will realize their responsibility and their duty. It will not be to go to Africa for the purpose of exercising an over-lordship over the natives, but it shall be the purpose of the Universal Negro Improvement Association to have established brotherly co-operation which will make the interests of the African native and the American and the West Indian Negro one and the same… to build up Africa in the interests of our race.”

Garvey struck hard against the intelligentsia of his time, who routinely dismissed appeals for “the colonization of Africa by the black race.” He considered the unification of African people to be both common sense and an inevitability. In an age ruled by European empires, Garvey argued that Blacks worldwide should pour their efforts into building a strong political and economic empire in Africa, run by and for Africans, and once remarked that he would never trade an island (referring to his birthplace, Jamaica), for an entire continent.

He was also an early champion of the concept of a unified Africa, even going so far as to give himself the honorary title “Provisional President of Africa.”

Garveyism was not potent only among the descendants of Africa in the west, however. “For continental Africans, Garveyism became a vehicle to express popular discontent with white rule, to animate and, in some cases, reinvigorate their political organizations, their trade unions, etc.,” notes History Professor Robert Vinson, adding that “future African leaders like … Nnamdi Azikiwe and Jomo Kenyatta … were influenced by Garvey and Garveyism in their respective youths.”

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