Connect with Us

AAPC Background

Several significant markers shaped the fight against colonial rule and the struggles for independence in Africa. For many in Africa, the independence of Ghana in March 1957 was a definitive moment, but with respect to the elaboration of global Pan-African goals, the year 1958 remains a defining highpoint. April of that year witnessed the First Conference of Independent African States, organized in Accra, Ghana, and attended by representatives from independent African states, namely, Egypt, Ethiopia, Liberia, Libya, Morocco, Sudan, and Tunisia. That was followed in December of the same year by an All-African Peoples' Conference (AAPC), organized by a preparatory committee consisting of members from the then independent states listed above, under the chairmanship of Tom Mboya, then General Secretary of the Kenya Federation of Labour. At that time, Kenya was in the midst of a protracted armed rebellion against British colonialism. There was also the armed rebellion in Algeria against French settler colonialism. In all parts of Africa the peoples were stirring against colonial rule and apartheid conditions.

The December 1958 AAPC, which was also held in Accra, was attended not only by representatives from the independent states, but also ordinary persons from 28 territories such as Angola, Benin (then Dahomey), Cameroon, Chad, the Congo (then still under colonial rule), Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Nyasaland, Rhodesia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanganyika, Togoland, Uganda and Zanzibar. There was a strong delegation from the Afro-Asian Peoples Solidarity Council (The name of this organization was changed to the Afro-Asian Peoples Solidarity Organization in 1960), based in Cairo, Egypt.

Over 300 participants drawn from political parties and trade union movements representing over 2 million Africans attended this AAPC. The conference also hosted delegations from Canada, China, Denmark, India, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States. One of the major driving forces for the conference was a desire to explore mechanisms through which the countries that have liberated themselves from colonial domination could support the anti-colonial struggle and liberation endeavours in other territories on the continent and in the Caribbean.

The specific objectives of the conference were to (i) encourage the nationalist leaders from the various territories still under colonial rule in their efforts to mobilize the masses or establish political movements for independence, and (ii) to develop and agree on an overarching strategy for executing an African revolution. The conference also tackled the thorny question of the forms of struggle for independence. On this, there were two broad tendencies within the anti-colonial movement. One, represented by George Padmore and Kwame Nkrumah, promoted ‘positive action’ (a variant of the Gandhian non-viole