Malcolm X - The Ultimate Pan-Afrikan

Jamaal Brewer

7/18/2022 3 min read

"In hating Africa and in hating the Africans, we ended up hating ourselves, without even realizing it. Because you can't hate the roots of a tree and not hate the tree. You can't hate your origin and not end up hating yourself. You can't hate Africa and not hate yourself. You show me one of these people over here who have been thoroughly brainwashed, who has a negative attitude toward Africa, and I'll show you one that has a negative attitude toward himself. You can't have a positive attitude toward yourself and a negative attitude toward Africa at the same time. To the same degree that your understanding of and attitude toward Africa becomes positive, you'll find that your understanding of and your attitude toward yourself will also become positive."

Those are words from the great Omowale aka Malcolm X. He received the name visiting Nigeria in 1964. Throughout the final year of his short life, Malcolm visited several African countries and met with their leaders. In March of that same year, he left the Nation of Islam. A religious based organization headed by Elijah Muhammad. Malcolm was the National spokesman of the N.O.I up until he was suspended by Muhammad in regards to comments he made about the assassination of United States' President John F. Kennedy. It was around that time in which Malcolm decided to broaden his horizon and take the struggle beyond the U.S. and then recognized how commonly people were oppressed globally.

If you study Malcolm in any capacity; whether through the 1992 Hollywood biopic film, in books, or documentaries, what is almost almost automatically discussed is his pilgrimage to Mecca once he officially left the N.O.I. El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz was the name given during the journey. We are reminded of it constantly when it comes to his final full year in 1964 up to his assassination in February of 1965. But why is it his visits to Africa around almost the exact time frame is seldom discussed? Let's dive into it.

Malcolm had already been to Africa during his tenure with the Nation of Islam in 1959. At that time he visited Muslim nations such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia on behalf of Elijah Muhammad who sent him so they could learn certain practices in which they possibly could implement in the N.O.I. But it wasn't until five years later when he became Independent of Muhammad in which he made his way throughout Sub Saharan Africa. In May of 1964, two months after leaving the N.O.I, Malcolm arrived in Nigeria and spent time in Lagos. He later would go to Ghana where he met the wife of W.E.B Dubois, Shirley Graham Dubois, and also sat down with their President Kwame Nkrumah. In July of 1964, Malcolm would return to Egypt for the annual Organization of African Unity (OAU) in which heads of states gathered. Inspired, Malcolm would use this ceremony and create an off-shoot called the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU) back in the U.S.

Months later, Malcolm X would expand to Eastern Africa. Starting with Nairobi, Kenya in October of 1964. There he met with Jomo Kenyetta would had led the country to Independence just a few years earlier. He proceeded to boarding Tanzania and had a meeting setup with President Julius K. Nyerere. Malcolm condemned American practices both to the Kenya and Tanzania press. And considering he was being followed by agents during his travels this posed as a great threat to the U.S.

From March 1964 through January of 1965, Malcolm met several heads of states of multiple African countries. Most if not all were anti-colonialists. Not to be forgotten he was a child of parents who was in the Marcus Garvey movement. Marcus Garvey was a Jamaican born African who created the Universal Negro Improvement Associated and African Communities League. The U.N.I.A-ACL stressed Pan-Africanism and advocated Blacks to return to Africa. His mother and father both were members in the organization. So Pan-Africanism was ingrained in him at an early age and remained up until his death.

Always remember the struggle is global. Pan-Africanism is a counter reaction to Pan-Europeanisn and White Supremacy. In his final year only, Malcolm achieved more arguably than most in our struggle probably have done in a life time in his travel to the motherland. Many believe this is the honest and real reason he was assassinated because the unity of that many African minded people can shift the world. When he stressed just Black Nationalism is one thing. But global nationalism (Pan-Africanism) is another. Omowale must be studied just as much as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. Next time you think Malcolm always remember Africa goes hand and hand with his name.