It was a claim and struggle against something. It was an expression of a struggle against denial of humanity, denial of respect and dignity and denial of the African identity. It was the struggle to bring back African mind to Africa as well as a time to end the historical experience of racial humiliation, political oppression, economic exploitation and cultural domination under European slavery (Shivji, p6).
Three components characterized African nationalism and various emphases, accent and formulations occurred in all African nationalists’ thoughts and consciousness. Pan Africanism, Independence and Racial Equality dominated the continent in the 1950s. Each country’s actions were focused in opposition to imperial domination and this basic opposition effort is what constituted nationalism. The objective of the struggle varies across historical periods, but the struggle is the common principle. Therefore, it is not so much that nations were searching or struggling for dignity, identity and independence, but rather a people facing a common problem of domination and exploitation claiming their freedom. Nationalism can be summed up in to three elements namely Unity, Independence and Equality. The three cannot be separated and together they constitute and express African nationalism (Shivji, p32).
African leaders were in the front line in making sure that elements of African nationalism were instilled in the people. For example, Kwame Nkrumah, who studied in the United States and was heavily influenced by the books of African-American theorists such as C.L.R. James and George Padmore, played a major role in introducing Pan-Africanism and articulating the identity of the African people both on the continent and abroad. As early as 1963, Nyerere once admitted that basically, Pan-Africanism meant African unity.
Colonialism and imperialism led to the development of ‘African personality’ and ‘Negritude’ theories. At the centre of these