African-centered, Afrocentric, Africentric, Afrocentricity, Africentricity

Pan Africanism

Black Nationalism



 African-centered, Afrocentric, Africentric, Afrocentricity, Africentricity

Wade W. Nobles

"Afrocentric, Africentric, or African Centered" are interchangeable terms representing the concept which categorizes a quality of thought and practice which is rooted in the cultural image and interest of African people and which represents and reflects the life experiences, history and traditions of African people as the center of analyses. It is therein, the intellectual and philosophical foundation which African people should create their own scientific criterion for authenticating human reality."

Steve Biko (1978)

Obviously the African culture has had to sustain severe blows and many have been battered nearly out of shape by the belligerent cultures it collided with, yet in essence even today one can easily find the fundamental aspects of the pure African culture in the present day African One of the most fundamental aspects of our culture is the importance we attach to Man A man-centered society The capacity we have for talking to each other-not for the sake of arriving at a particular conclusion but merely to enjoy the communication for its own sake We regard our living together not as an unfortunate mishap warranting endless competition among us but as a deliberate act of God to make us a community of brothers and sisters jointly involved in the quest for a composite answer to the varied problems of life Any suffering we experience was made much more real by song and rhythm. There is no doubt that the so called 'Negro Spirituals' sung by black slaves in the States as they tiled under oppression were indicative of their African heritage African society had the village community as its basis This obviously was a requirement to suite the needs of a community-based and man-centered society. Africans do not recognize any cleavage between the natural and supernatural. They experience a situation rather than face a problem More as a response of the total personality to the situation that the result of some mental exercise We thanked God through our ancestors before we drank beer, married, worked etc. We would obviously find it artificial to create special occasions for worship. God was always in communication with us and therefore merited attention everywhere and anywhere ( p. 41-45)."

Molefi Asante (1987) []

Afrocentricity [African-centered] as the placing of African ideals at the center of any analysis that involves African culture and behavior. (p. 6)

I suggest three fundamental Afrocentric themes of transcendent discourse: (1) human relations, (2) humans' relationship to the supernatural, and (3) humans' relationships to their own being. (p. 168)

Paul Hill Jr.'s interpretations

Currently there are many misconceptions about the African Centered Paradigm. Most of its critics have not read the literature. It is primarily an orientation on how one views data, involving location, place and perspective (Asante, 1993). On a more personal level it provides the African American a window to view the world by becoming a transforming agent affording new attitudes, behaviors, beliefs and values. This transforming agent is the only reality for African people (Asante, 1989). African Centeredness is nothing more than what is congruent to the interpretive life of an African person. It is his richly "textured
standing place" (Asante, 1993).

African-centered study is not a matter of color. It looks at any information involving African people and raises questions that allows Africans to be subjects of historical experiences rather than objects on the fringes of another's experience. For example, an Afrocentric view of African conditions during enslavement would view the people not as "slaves" but as "Africans." This view assures a different mental orientation providing a new perspective and attitude closer to the reality of the people (Asante, 1993).

When we center each ethnic group in their own historical and cultural experiences, we expand our knowledge of and appreciation of the human experience. Afrocentric education and its advancement enrich and humanize our world. It is not about cultural separation or racial chauvinism. The African-centered scholar recognizes that an Afrocentric view is not the only view. This perspective seeks no advantage, no self-aggrandizement, no hegemony in its relation to others (Asante,1993), thus it humanizes our world by fostering mutual dignity and respect.

Maulana Karenga (1994)

Afrocentricity can be defined as a quality of thought and practice rooted in the cultural image and human interest of African people [and their descendants]. To be rooted in the cultural image of African people is to be anchored in the views and values of African people as well as in the practice which emanates from and gives rise to these views and values. (p. 36) ... Also see Kawaida

A. Wade Boykin (1986)

Traditional West African culture is centered around: 1) Spirituality, 2) Harmony, 3) Movement, 4) Energy, 5) Affect, 6) Communalism, 7) Expressive Individualism, 8) Oral Tradition, and 9) Social Time Perspective.

Asa Hilliard III

African communities have been identified by a shared belief in several key elements:
1. The belief that the cosmos is alive.
2. The belief that spirituality is at the center of our being.
3. The belief that human society is a living spiritual part of the cosmos, not alien to it.
4. The belief that our people have a divine purpose and destiny.
5. The belief that each child is a “Living Sun,” a Divine gift of the creator.
6. The belief that, properly socialized, our children will experience stages of transformation, moving toward perfection, that is to be more like the creator (“mi Re” or like Ra, in the KMT language, meaning to try to live like God).

Lathardus Goggins II (1996)

To be African-centered is to construct and use frames of reference, cultural filters and behaviors that are consistent with the philosophies and heritage of African cultures in order to advance the interest of people of African descent. (p. 18)

Kean College Africana Studies

The African-centered perspective rests on the premise that it is valid to position Africa as a geographical and cultural starting base in the study of peoples of African descent (Keto 1989). The objective therefore is to view the world from the perspective of the people studied. The Afro-centric comprehensive model for the teaching and learning of knowledge about African peoples makes possible an understanding of, and appreciation for the social, institutional, cultural and intellectual patterns of African people.

Some things to consider:

"African-centered" is a thought (philosophy) not "just"content or appearance.

African-centered is a "how process."

Cultural heritage provides the resources to construct the lenses by which we view and the foundation on which we interpret the world.

African Worldview



Pan Africanism

A movement for cooperation between all people of African descent and for the political union of an independent Africa.

Kwame Anthony Appiah

In its most straightforward version, Pan-Africanism is the political project calling for the unification of all Africans into a single African state, to which those in the African diaspora can return. In its vaguer, more cultural forms, Pan-Africanism has pursued literary and artistic projects that bring together people in Africa and her diaspora.

Kwmae Nkrumah

All people of African descent, whether they live in North or South America, the Caribbean, or in any part of the world are Africans and belong to the "African nation."

Black Nationalism

James Clyde Sellman

Black Nationalism, also known as black separatism, is a complex set of beliefs emphasizing the need for the cultural, political, and economic separation of African Americans from white society. Comparatively few African Americans have embraced thoroughgoing separatist philosophies. In his classic study Negro Thought in America, 1880-1915, August Meier noted that the general black attitude has been one of "essential ambivalence." On the other hand, nationalist assumptions inform the daily actions and choices of many African Americans.

Over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries, Black Nationalists have agreed upon two defining principles: black pride and racial separatism. Black Nationalism calls for black pride and seeks a unity that is racially based rather than one grounded in a specific African culture or ethnicity. Those espousing nationalist or separatist philosophies have envisioned nationalism in quite different ways. For some, Black Nationalism demanded a territorial base; for others, it required only separate institutions within American society. Some have perceived nationalism in strictly secular terms; others, as an extension of their religious beliefs. Black Nationalists also differ in the degree to which they identify with Africa and African culture.

political and social movement prominent in the 1960s and early '70s in the United States among some African Americans. The movement, which can be traced back to Marcus Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association of the 1920s, sought to acquire economic power and to infuse among blacks a sense of community and group feeling. Many adherents to black nationalism assumed the eventual creation of a separate black nation by African Americans. As an alternative to being assimilated by the American nation, which is predominantly white, black nationalists sought to maintain and promote their separate identity as a people of black ancestry. With such slogans as "black power" and "black is beautiful," they also sought to inculcate a sense of pride among blacks.


Kawaida - an ongoing synthesis of the best of African thought and practice in constant exchange with the world. One of its central tenets is that culture is the fundamental source of a people's identity, purpose and direction. Thus, Kawaida is, in fact, a continuous dialog with African culture, asking questions and seeking answers to central and enduring concerns of the African and human community. At the heart of this project is the continuing quest to define and become the best of what it means to be both African and human in the fullest sense. This involves an ongoing search for models of excellence and paradigms of possibilities in every area of human life, but especially in the seven core areas of culture: history; spirituality and ethics; social organization; political organization; economic organization; creative production (art, music, literature, dance, etc.) and ethos. It also involves creating a language and logic of liberation, one of opposition and affirmation, and a corresponding liberational practice to create a just and good society and pose an effective paradigm of mutually beneficial human relations and human possibility.