Institutionalizing Pan Africanism at Adwa Pan African University 

Quartey addressing audience at the conference
Quartey addressing audience at the conference

Adwa Pan African University International conferees brainstorm on modalities for establishing a unique centre of excellence driven by pan Africanism

By Maureen Chigbo, reporting from Ethiopia

THE Adwa Pan African University took a major leap towards the realisation of its dream with the convening of an International Conference in the historic town of Adwa, Tigrai Regional State, Ethiopia on April 24.  The conference, attended by scholars and prominent sons and daughters of Africa from different walks of life was themed “Institutionalising Pan Africanism.”

Unsurprisingly, the setting in the historic city of Adwa evoked pan African victory with speakers at the plenary and the four panel sessions recalling the defeat of the Italian army at the battle of Adwa in 1896, which demystified the superiority of the European forces.

At the opening ceremony, Hailemariam Dessalegn, former Ethiopian prime minister, said that Adwa was where Europeans suffered humiliating defeat at the hands of black Africans. “We won because we were organized and had leaders who were disciplined…,” he said, but also emphasising the need for partnerships in building build a Pan African University as a center of excellence for a better tomorrow for Africa.

Echoing the same sentiments, Thomas Kwesi Quartey, deputy chairperson of the African Union Commission, AUC, noted that the Adwa defeat marked the beginning of the end of European superiority, adding: “Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom and  it is on this premise that AU welcomes Pan African University.”

Although the African Union has its own universities in the five regions of the continent, the consensus is that the Adwa Pan-African University is not a bad idea. Principally, what is unique about the Adwa Pan Africa University is the philosophy behind it. According to Wikipedia; “Pan-Africanism represents the aggregation of the historical, cultural, spiritual, artistic, scientific, and philosophical legacies of Africans from past times to the present.” It noted that Pan-Africanism as an ethical system traces its origins from ancient times, and promotes values that are the product of the African civilizations and the struggles against slavery, racism, colonialism and neo-colonialism.”


The Adwa Pan African University, APAU, also “represents a new opportunity for the continuation of the search for self-affirming relevant Africa-centric visions, ideas, models and strategies for arrival to total freedom,” declared Prof. Ehiedu Iweriebor, one of the scholars who attended the conference. Iweriebor, who is from the Department of Africana and Puerto Rican/Latino Studies, Hunter College, City University of New York, New York, United States of America, says “APAU is seen as a robust center for the dissemination of relevant knowledge for continental advancement and renaissance.”

The overall objective is to ensure that APAU programmes of study embrace and capture its origins particularly Adwa Victory-Ethiopian anti-Imperialist Resistance, its impact: Pan African resistance consciousness and liberation struggles and its global significance; Africans loudly proclaimed and practically demonstrated nationalist preference for liberation struggles for freedom and commitment against foreign invasions, domination and subordination.

“It is in the light of these principles that APAU’s programmes and curricula must be designed to represent an advanced African Center of Resistance, Liberation and Advancement Education/Studies,” Iweriebor said.

Many conferees agreed with the professor that the establishment of APAU is a laudable idea. However, some had reservations over whether the proposed fields of studies and the curricula are bankable. while some participants believe that the curricula discussed at the panel session are bankable yet others suggested curricula that are rooted in digitalisation as well as strategic military studies. Still, for others, the timing of the conference was more an effort by the government at winning the support at  the local audience,  dousing the political tension and burnishing the government’s image by announcing the establishment of the  Adwa Pan African University.


One of the participants, Sophia Thubauville of Frobenius-Institut for Kultur Anthropologie Forschung, Germany’s oldest anthropological research institute, suggested a re-think of fields of research and curriculum for APAU. “I am sceptical, especially about technical courses like information science. There are too many new technical colleges all over the country. APAU should think about unique fields of research. I am also sceptical about it becoming a Center of Excellence from the beginning. This needs time,” she added. It was also noted that the conference should have been better prepared and  too short to elicit the best from invited guests.

Nonetheless, the first international conference on the Adwa Pan African University was seen as a great success by the conferees who believe the cordinating committee must work hard to actualise its recommendations on APAU curricula, resource mobilisation, archives and architectural designs.

– May 6, 2018 @ 3:56 GMT |




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