History of the Pan-African Congress, George Padmore (editor) 1947

Congress Resolutions.

West Africa.

1. Political.

(a) That since the advent of British, French, Belgian and other European nations in West Africa, there has been regression instead of progress as a result of systematic exploitation by these alien imperialist Powers. The claims of “partnership,” “trusteeship,” “guardianship,” and the “mandate system,” do not serve the political wishes of the people of West Africa.

(b) That the democratic nature of the indigenous institutions of the peoples of West Africa has been crushed by obnoxious and oppressive laws and regulations, and replaced by autocratic systems of Government which are inimical to the political wishes of the peoples of West Africa.

(c) That the introduction of pretentious constitutional reforms into the West African Territories are nothing but spurious attempts on the part of alien imperialist Powers to continue the political enslavement of the peoples.

(d) That the introduction of Indirect Rule is not only an instrument of oppression but also an encroachment oil the rights of the West African natural rulers.

(e) That the artificial divisions and territorial boundaries created by the Imperialist Powers are deliberate steps to obstruct the political unity of the West African peoples.

2. Economic.

(a) That there has been a systematic exploitation of the economic resources of the West African territories by imperialist Towers to the detriment of the inhabitants.

(b) That the industrialisation of West Africa by the indigines has been discouraged and obstructed by the imperialist rulers, with the result that the standard of living has fallen below subsistence level.

(c) That the land, the rightful property of West Africans is gradually passing into the hands of foreign governments and other agencies through various devices and ordinances.

(d) That the workers and farmers of West Africa have not been allowed independent trades unions and cooperative movements without official interference.

(e) That the mining industries are in the hands of foreign monopolies of finance capital, with the result that wherever a mining industry has developed there has been a tendency to deprive the people of their land holding (e.g. mineral rights in Nigeria and Sierra Leone are now the property, of the British Government).

(f) That the British Government in West Africa is virtually controlled by a merchants’ united front, whose main objective is the exploitation of the people, thus rendering the indigenous population economically helpless.

(g) That when a country is compelled to rely on one crop (e.g. cocoa) for a single monopolistic market, and is obliged to cultivate only for export while at the same time its farmers and workers find themselves in the grip of finance capital, then it is evident that the government of that country is incompetent to assume economic responsibility for it.

3. Social.

(a) That the democratic organisations and institutions of the West African peoples have been interfered with; that alien rule has not improved education, health or the nutrition of the West African peoples but on the contrary tolerates mass illiteracy, ill-health, malnutrition, prostitution, and many other social evils.

(b) That organised Christianity in West Africa is identified with the political and economic exploitation of the West African peoples by alien Powers.

In view of these conditions, the Congress unanimously supports the members of the West African delegation in declaring:

That complete and absolute Independence for the Peoples of West Africa is the only to solution to the existing problems.

The Congo and North Africa.

1. This Congress views with great concern the deplorable conditions imposed upon the Africans by French and Belgian Imperialisms in the Congo and Equatorial Africa, and demands that immediate steps be taken to remedy conditions in these territories.

2. That the demand of Egypt for the removal of British armed forces be conceded without delay, and that the Condominium over Sudan be abolished and the Sudanese granted complete independence from British and Egyptian rule.

3. That the demands of the indigenous peoples of Tunis, Algeria, Morocco and Libya for democratic rights and independence from French and Italian rule be recognised.

East Africa.

That this Congress of African peoples demands democratic rights and self-government for the people of Kenya, Uganda, Tanganyika, Nyasaland, Somaliland and Zanzibar.

That this Congress calls upon the Secretary of State for the Colonies to implement the following immediate demands of the people of East African territories.

  1. The principles of the Four Freedoms and the Atlantic Charter be put into practice at once.
  2. The abolition of land laws which allow Europeans to take land from the Africans. Immediate cessation of any further settlement by Europeans in Kenya or in any other territory in East Africa. All available land to be distributed to the landless Africans.
  3. The right of Africans to develop the economic resources of their country without hindrance.
  4. The immediate abolition of all racial and other discriminatory laws at once (Kipandi system in particular), and the system of equal citizenship to be introduced forthwith.
  5. Freedom of speech, press, association and assembly.
  6. Revision of the system of taxation and of the civil and criminal code.
  7. Compulsory free arid uniform education for all children up to the age of 16, with free meals, free books and school equipment.
  8. Granting of the franchise, i.e., the right of every man and woman over the age of 21 to elect and be elected to Legislative Council, Provincial Council and all other Divisional and Municipal Councils.
  9. A state Medical Service, Health and Welfare Service to be made available to all.
  10. Abolition of forced labour, and the introduction of the principle of EQUAL PAY FOR EQUAL WORK.

Union of South Africa.

This Fifth Pan-African Congress, representing millions of Africans and peoples of African descent throughout the world, condemns with all its, power the policy towards Africans and other non-Europeans carried out by the Union of South Africa which, although representing itself abroad as a democracy with a system of parliamentary government, manifests essentially the same characteristics as Fascism:

(a) the Herrenvolk ideology which has transformed itself into a mania;

(b) the ruthless trampling underfoot of all human rights;

(c) the erection of one system of law and of morality for the “Aryans” and a different system of law and of morality for the non-white “non-Aryans.”

This Congress demands for the non-European citizens of South Africa the immediate practical application of the following ten fundamental democratic rights.

  1. The franchise, i.e.. the right of every man and woman over the age of 21 to elect and be elected to Parliament, Provincial Council, and all other Divisional and Municipal Councils.
  2. Compulsory free and uniform education for all children up to the age of 6, with free meals, free books and school equipment for the needy.
  3. Inviolability of person, of one’s house and privacy.
  4. Freedom of speech, press, meeting, and association.
  5. Freedom of movement and occupation.
  6. Full equality of rights for all citizens, without distinction of race, culture and sex.
  7. Revision of the land question in accordance with the needs of the Africans.
  8. Revision of the civil and criminal codes to accord with the foregoing demands.
  9. Revision of the system of taxation to bring it into line with the above.
  10. Revision of labour legislation and its application to (he mines and agriculture.

This Congress pledges itself to work unceasingly with and on behalf of its nun-European brothers in South Africa until they achieve the status of freedom and human dignity. This Congress regards the struggle of our brothers in South Africa as an integral part of the common struggle for national liberation throughout Africa.


The Protectorates of Bechuanaland, Basutoland, and Swaziland.

  1. Since the Union of South Africa became a Dominion there has been developed an insistent urge to gain possession of the Native Protectorates of Bechuanaland, Basutoland and Swaziland, covering a total area of 293,420 square miles, with a population of over 1,000,000. Control of these territories is desired in order to (1) exploit the mineral, (2) secure more land for agriculture and farming purposes, and (3) obtain additional supplies of cheap labour by taxing the natives.
  2. In recent years this desire for expansion has assumed an aggressive form and has created great alarm among the natives of the Protectorates for they are the last remaining Africans in the southern part of the continent who own land and enjoy a nominal independence.
  3. The Government of the Union of South Africa is demanding the immediate transfer of the Protectorates to the Union and is in correspondence with the Imperial Government on the subject. The Colonial Office has already set up a Joint Advisory Commission of South African and British officials to examine the question and propose ways and means of effecting transfer if and when Parliament agrees.
  4. The African people object bitterly to being used as pawns in bargains between different member states of the British Commonwealth as a means of settling imperialist adjustments. Africans are not chattels to be bartered like cattle in the markets of white nations, where statesmen and diplomats, like brokers, do their trade in the name of Democracy and Peace.
  5. The natives of the Protectorates look with horror upon such a proposal for they know of the slave conditions under which 8 million Africans in the Union live, who bear the brunt of taxation and other burdens but have no representation in Government. Eighty per cent of their lands have been taken away from them. They are denied the most elementary democratic rights – freedom of speech, press, assembly and movement. They are debarred from Trade Unions and excluded from skilled occupations by the Colour Bar. They are saddled with Pass Laws and other forms of repressive legislation. Recording their opposition to transfer, the Chiefs of Bechuanaland have adopted the following resolution: “This meeting of Chiefs and Councillors present on behalf of their respective tribes of Bechuanaland Protectorates records its protest and objection to the incorporation of the territory in the Union of South Africa.”
  6. The natives of the Protectorates demand that the British Labour Government honour the promise of Protection made to their Chiefs by Her Majesty Queen Victoria’s Government during the latter part of the last century in return for their allegiance to the British Crown.

The West Indies.

We, the accredited and recognised representatives of the people of the British West Indies and British Guiana in attendance at this Fifth Paul-African Congress, do hereby demand for our people:

  1. Federation of all British West Indian Islands on a voluntary and equal basis founded upon complete Self-Government.
  2. Self-Government based on universal Adult Suffrage for each island as a condition precedent to the establishment of such Federation, removal of all property and income qualifications for election to Public Offices.
  3. The establishment of new industries and the development of existing ones and adequate legal protection therefor.
  4. Opportunities for promotion and adequate facilities for native men and women to qualify for tie highest offices and positions in the Civil Se vice and private industry.
  5. Creation of a real Banking system to finance agricultural and industrial projects by presiding cheap long-term credit,
  6. Implementation of a Policy designed to make available, bring under useful cultivation and cure proper and efficient use of all arable land in order to obtain (a) production of food of sufficient quantity, quality and variety to secure good health for all the people; (b) the maintenance and extension of principal export crops and research for new crops as well as profitable markets; and (c) provision of the basis for industrial use and development, proper marketing facilities, guaranteed fair minimum prices, Extension Services.
  7. Immediate introduction of all forms of modern social legislation in existence in metropolitan areas, e.g., old age pensions, family allowances, national health and unemployment insurances, wages Courts of truly representative character, Employers’ Liability Acts, as well as improvement of existing Workmen’s Compensation Laws.
  8. Immediate implementation of slum clearance and Housing Schemes designed to provide a sufficient number of good houses at economic rentals for workpeople, especially in rural areas.
  9. Compulsory free education for all, both elementary and secondary, with provision of free books for all as well as free lunches for needy children. In any event, elementary school leaving age to be raised to 16. Vocational and Technical training to be provided. Compulsory training in domestic science in all elementary schools. Immediate establishment of proposed West Indian University.
  10. Immediate overhauling and bringing up to date of all health laws and services.
  11. Immediate establishment of Juvenile Courts and introduction of modern system of reformatory schools, orphanages and children’s homes with sociological treatment.
  12. Equal pay for equal work regardless of nationality, creed or sex.
  13. Removal of all disabilities affecting the employment of women, e.g., removal of “marriage bar” for women employed in government services.
  14. Modernisation of existing Bastardy Laws, with legal provision for registration of fathers with adequate safeguards.
  15. Raising of the Age of Consent to 16 (or 18).
  16. Abolition of school-girl system in domestic services.
  17. Legal enforcement for trades unions of all the rights and privileges enjoyed by trades unions in industrial countries including fair labour code and adequate and proper permanent machinery for the fair, speedy and effective settlement of all trades and industrial disputes.
  18. Creation of special departments for the development of all natural resources to provide (inter alia) regular employment at adequate living wages for all men and women able and willing to work-including establishment of organised water supplies in rural areas; irrigating and drainage schemes and provision of cheap electric light and power projects for agriculture and industry etc.
  19. Immediate geological surveys to determine natural resources of each territorial unit and of British West Indies and British Guiana as a whole.
  20. Nationalisation of all basic industries vital to life and welfare of the community and the de-casualising of Labour in Government as well as private undertakings.
  21. Public ownership of all public utilities, e.g., transportation.
  22. Proper and adequate system of gratuities and compensation for all demobilised service men and women and a comprehensive scheme for their re-absorption back into civilian life on equal basis with European service men and women.
  23. Development and encouragement of village and cultural life by provision of Community centres, playgrounds and libraries, etc.
  24. Increase of rate of taxes on higher income groups.

And we further declare that owing to the lack of travel facilities and the fact that West Indian Islands are over-populated, that West Indians domiciled in Europe and U.S.A. consider the formation of a West Indian Development and Welfare programme and the creation of a West Indian Development Fund for purposes of the education and industrialisation of the West Indies and to assist the progressive movements in the respective West Indian Territories is necessary.

Special Supplementary Resolutions presented by the delegation representing the Universal Negro Improvement Association of Jamaica.

1. Whereas racial discrimination has been meted out to the Negro race in every walk of life throughout the world, i.e., in the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, Universities and Colleges, hotel accommodation, employment, and in other economic and social respects:

BE IT RESOLVED that we, the members of the Universal Negro Improvement Association of Jamaica, respectfully ask this Congress to place before the Authorities concerned, our resentment at such discrimination against the Negro race and our desire for its elimination as unjust and uncivilised.

2. Whereas there are outstanding barriers connected with transportation, especially where African descendants are concerned; and whereas there are other signal impediments and restrictions to entering our Motherland, the Continent of Africa; and whereas it is the desire of African descendants, especially in the West Indies, to enter and domicile in Africa;

BE IT RESOLVED that we, the members of the U.N.I.A. of Jamaica, respectfully ask this Congress to place before the Authorities concerned our demand for immediate removal of ail such barriers and restrictions.

3. Whereas it is the desire of the Colonial Office and the inhabitants of the British West Indies that there should be a Federation of the British West Indies; and whereas there are overpopulated areas in some colonies while there are uninhabited areas in others; and whereas the development of intercommunication among the islands would create better understanding and relationship; and whereas there are many economic-benefits to be derived therefrom:

BE IT RESOLVED that we, the members of the U.N.I.A., request the Fifth Pan-African Congress to impress upon the Colonial Office the urgent necessity of bringing- into operation the proposed federation.

4. Whereas World War No. 2 was fought, as expressed in the Atlantic Charter, for the freedom of all peoples:

BE IT RESOLVED that this Congress impress upon the Governments concerned that independence to African peoples throughout the world be given great and urgent consideration at the Peace Conference.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that these Resolutions be placed before the proper Authorities for immediate consideration and action.

Ethiopia, Liberia, Haiti.

This Fifth Pan-African Congress sends fraternal greetings to the Governments and peoples of Ethiopia, Liberia and Haiti, and pledges its support in mobilising world public opinion among Africans and peoples of Africa descent in defence of their Sovereign independence. We assure the Governments and peoples of these States that we shall ever be vigilant against any manifestation of Imperial encroachment which may threaten their independence.

We take this opportunity to inform the Imperial powers that we look with jealous pride upon these nations and regard them as symbols of the realisation of the political hopes and aspirations of African peoples still under Imperialist domination.

Additional Resolution on Ethiopia.

This Fifth Pan-African Congress sends its warmest greetings to the Emperor and peoples of Ethiopia, one of the three free states in the world that are controlled by African people. It pledges itself to guard with jealousy the interests of Ethiopia.

  1. This Congress condemns the suggestion that parts of Massawa and Asmara should be put under international control. It further condemns most strongly the attempts of the European Powers to impose conditions of Trusteeship which suggest that Ethiopia cannot be fully trusted to look after her own affairs.
  2. In the interest of justice as well as of economic geography this Congress supports most heartily the claims of the Somalis and Eritreans to be returned to their Motherland instead of being parcelled out to foreign powers.
  3. This Congress demands the immediate withdrawal of the British Military Administration from Ethiopian soil.
  4. This Congress calls upon the United Nations Relief Organisation to extend to Ethiopia the same aid as being afforded to the other victims of aggression.

Coloured Seamen in Great Britain.

This Fifth Pan-African Congress views with horror the treatment of disabled ex-Seamen, both African and of African descent, and particularly the case of B Johnson of Manchester and others in Great Britain, and that a Committee be set up by the Colonial Office with the least possible delay, with a view to their repatriation to the homeland.

Colour Bar Problem in Great Britain.

To secure equal opportunities for all Colonial and Coloured people in Great Britain, this Congress demand that discrimination on account of race, creed or colour be made a criminal offence by law.

That all employments and occupations shall be opened to all qualified Africans, and that to bar such applicants because of race, creed or colour shall be deemed an offence against the law.

That the Negro Welfare Centres, the League of Coloured Peoples, African Churches’ Mission of Liverpool and other African organisations (social and religious) which have been doing legitimate welfare work among coloured children, students, seamen and others, shall be given every encouragement and assistance by the responsible Authorities to continue the vital social work in which they are engaged.

Resolution to U.N.O. on South-West Africa.

In order to register their protest against South Africa’s demand for the abolition of the Mandate over South West Africa and the incorporation of the territory into the Union, the League of Coloured Peoples, the Pan-African Federation, the West African National Secretariat, and other coloured organisations in Britain, sent the following Resolution to the Trusteeship Committee of the United Nations:

(a) To reject categorically the claim of the Government of the Union of South Africa to incorporate the mandated territory of South-West Africa, (b) To request the surrender of the mandate of the territory of South-West Africa to the Trusteeship Council of the United Nations Organisation by the European peoples of the Union of South Africa, (c) To investigate the conditions of life and work, the political rights and civil liberties of the non-European peoples of the Union of South Africa, and (d) to require of the Union of South Africa an undertaking to respect and abide by the principles of the United Nations Charter in the treatment of all peoples within the jurisdiction on pain of expulsion from membership of the United Nations Organisation.

As is generally known, the policy pursued by the Government of South Africa towards its subjects of non-European race is a direct negation of the principles of racial tolerance, justice and freedom. Since the year 1920 when the mandated territory of South-West Africa was placed under the Trusteeship of the Union of South Africa the Native Policy of the Union Government has steadily deteriorated. As the native in South Africa has become, in spite of Legislative and Administrative restrictions, more efficient in the field of industrial labour and more advanced in knowledge, so have the repressive measures directed against him been extended and intensified. The whole purpose of these measures is to make of the African nothing more than an “indentured labourer,” a being in perpetual enslavement to the Mining and Agricultural enterprises of the country.

In 1936 the passing of the Native Franchise Act, the Native Land Act and the Urban Areas Act deprived the natives of the Cape Province of the right to buy, hire or occupy land wherever they chose and confined them to restricted areas; the right to be on the Common Voters Roll, their representation being limited to three appointed European members in a House of Assembly consisting of one hundred and fifty-three members; their right to sell their labour where they chose by restricting their movements. The Industrial Conciliation Act No. 36 of 1937 excludes from the definition of “Employee” over ninety per cent of the African workers merely because they are natives. The result of this Act is that the Minister of Labour refuses to recognize African Trade Unions or to implement any agreement negotiated between White employer and black employee under the terms of the Act. Under the covenant of the League of Nations the Mandatory Power was entitled to apply to the mandated territory the same law, as those in force in its own territory. Thus by means of proclamations some of the restrictive laws of the Union have been extended to South-West Africa. For instance, The Native Administration Proclamation No. 11 of 1924 and The Urban Areas Proclamation No. 34 of 1924 followed closely the lines of Urban Legislation and enforced segregation of the African peoples. In 1927 Proclamation No. 11 placed a restriction on the number of native squatters on farm and by the introduction of a system of “passes” restricted all movement including travel by rail.

There is little doubt that in its attitude to the territory of South-West Africa the Union Government has assumed a position which is not in keeping with that of a trustee but, on the contrary, in accord with that of a conqueror bent upon territorial aggrandisment and the spoliation and humiliation of the vanquished. The question arises whether the Union Government is one that should reasonably be entrusted with the care (if subject and helpless peoples. The racial policy of this Government is a direct affront to the express determination the United Nations “to re-affirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women of nations large and small.”

Africans are not the only victims of this racialism, for the Indians, who number a bare quarter of a million, suffer discrimination in a similar manner. Incidentally, the latest manifestation of anti-Indian Legislation, the Asiatic Land Tenure and Indian Representation Act forms the subject of a complaint to the United Nations Organisation by the Government of India.

We demand justice and social equality for the Indian community in South Africa.