The Future of the Pan-African Art Movement

This new era of the Pan-African art movement continues the legacy of promoting a shared African identity and creativity.

In the spirit of Kwanzaa, artists and creators from around the world document and define pan-African liberation. From poets and filmmakers to sculptors and multimedia visionaries, the Pan-African art movement of the early 20th century inspired a new generation of artists exploring themes related to African culture and history.

Using the power of Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity) and Imani (Faith), the Pan-African Movement “seeks to unite African cultures and foster a sense of shared identity, history and creative expression,” according to MoMAA.

The era saw African art festivals, such as the first ever World Negro Arts Festival in Dakar, Senegal, in 1966 and the Second World Black and African Arts and Culture Festival in Lagos, Nigeria, in 1977. Notable key figures of the time include the Cuban artist Wifredo Lam, whose artistic style incorporated elements of Cubism, Surrealism, and African artistic traditions. Ghanaian artist El Anatsui, whose innovative sculptures from discarded materials have been exhibited worldwide, and Ethiopian artist Gebre Christos Desta, known for his abstract paintings that explore the history and culture of Ethiopia.

This era of the movement continued the legacy of promoting a shared African identity. Here are three artists who are perpetuating the successes of the past and building the modern Pan-Africanist movement.

NIA, Kwanzaa, purpose, essay, pan-african

Botswana-born artist Meleko Mokgosi is well-praised for his multi-media works from Botswana, which embody complex views of history and influential critiques of Pan-Africanism and the current post-colonial moment. in Pan African Pulpfor example, Mogosi explores the history of Pan-Africanism and the deep history of activism in Detroit, where organizations such as the Black Nation of Islam, the Republic of New Africa, the Shrine of the Black Madonna (black Christian nationalism), the Pan-African Congress, and the United Negro Improvement Association were organized.

Kadija George Sesay is a British scholar, literary activist, editor and publisher. She is the founder/publisher of SAND LitMag and SABLE LitFest, as well as Publications Manager for Peepal Tree Press’s Inscribe imprint, which publishes works by black British writers. Sesay is also the author of the poetry collection Irki, and her forthcoming collection is titled The Modern Pan-Africanist’s Journey. Her ambitious efforts to curate experiences are demonstrated in her creation of the Mboka Festival of Arts, Culture and Sports in The Gambia and founder of the ‘AfriPoeTree’ app. is on the board of the African Studies Association (UK) and chairman of Yaram Arts. Sesay is in high demand for judging writing competitions.

Akinsanya Kambon is a pan-African artist, activist, former Black Panther and co-owner of a pan-African art studio and gallery. Working with clay for almost four decades, Cambon creates ceramic sculptures in the form of vessels, figures and wall plaques. His works embody the voices of the black diaspora, including African stories and mythologies, as well as narratives of violence and revolution from across Africa and the Americas.

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