The Words of the Gray Family

Third PWPA Pan-African Conference: "The Second Scramble for Africa"

Doris H. Gray
May 6, 1990

Participants in the Third PWPA Pan-African Conference

More than 75 scholars from 12 African counties as well as several European nations and the United States, gathered in the first week of May in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi to deliberate under the theme: "The Second Scramble for Africa." This was the third pan-African conference, drawing together academics from West, East and Southern Africa. This type of continental activity is unique to PWPA in Africa. Consequently, PWPA Africa has developed into a well-respected academic institution. Thus, the conference was opened by Kenya's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Wilson Ndolo Ayah. Four conference organizers appeared on a popular live TV talk show, explaining about PWPA, its vision, aim and purpose. Newspapers reported every day in detail about the meetings and even two weeks after the conference ended, papers presented at the PWPA gathering were still being discussed at length in the weekend editions of major newspapers in this East African nation. Particularly those academics who had come all the way from the United States and Europe were impressed with the academic standard, the precision of the organization and the overall quality of this third African gathering of scholars. In the final plenary address, the chairmen publicly thanked the founder of PWPA, Rev. Sun Myung Moon and PWPA Chairman, Rev. C. H. Kwak, for having created a scholarly forum such as PWPA, where issues vital to the nation-building process can be discussed in such frankness. Considering the religious nature of the founder of PWPA, a public prayer of gratitude was offered by one professor at the final gathering.

One session was dedicated to reports from the World Media Conference in Moscow. Academics from Africa clearly saw the historic significance of the events that took place in Moscow last April and pointed to the fact that Rev. Moon had said as far back as 1976 that he was soon going to go to Moscow to embrace communist leaders and advise them. This, one professor acknowledged, had seemed like a preposterous statement at the time. The fact that it took place much sooner than expected pointed to the prophetic nature of Rev. Moon and his vision for a unified world.

The title of the conference, "The Second Scramble for Africa" was rather provocative and may not mean much to non-Africans, but for Africans and black people in the diaspora it was precisely because of this title that so much public attention was focused on the conference. Conference co-chairman, Dr. Munyua Waiyaki, explained the theme:

This PWPA conference faces a challenge: Is it true that the scramble for Africa has assumed an independent dimension? Or has the first scramble (which many assume to be the stage of colonialism) merely continued through neo-colonialism to a second phase, primarily economy is in nature, which qualifies to be called the "Second Scramble for Africa"? If on the other hand slavery was the First Scramble, as some might constrained to assert, then would we be witnessing the "Third Scramble" at this time?

Whichever it is, Africans have felt they have had a raw deal throughout some centuries. Presently they do not always see eye to eye in many pertinent and significant areas with industrialized countries, many of which fattened on the sweat, toil, and resources of Africa.

Painful, but important African concerns such as terms of trade, balance of payment, IMF and World Bank conditionalities on structural adjustments, arrogant and denigrating racial attitudes and overtones, and debts often receive less attention than the basic needs of Africa. IMF programs, for instance, are accused of having less than a human face, and that they lead to hardships for the African people. Running concurrently with the physical, religious, financial and psychological facets of the scramble are damages to the environment, serious planetary ones being the fault of the industrialized nations of the North. Destruction of the ozone layer, CFC use, climatic changes, acidification, and the dumping of dangerous toxic waste did not originate throughout African activities. And neither did AIDS. However, Africa is a sufferer the same as the North all the same. Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, and toxic ships prowling the seas in search of poor counties to bribe so as to dump toxic, including nuclear waste, are African problems just as they are the rest of the world's problems. The spread of nuclear contamination knows no territorial or continental boundaries.

From the above, you may say that Africa's professors are meeting at a very propitious, appropriate but crisis-laden time in the history of Africa. Kenya is happy and proud to host such distinguished and learned professors, thanks to the PWPA, at this crucial moment in African history.

The three days were so intense that participants did not even take the opportunity to go on a planned safari to one of the spectacular game parks for which Kenya is famous.

The success of this conference was largely due to the close co-operation between the Kenyan PWPA secretary general, Kenneth R. Gray, the secretary generals from other African nations, and the academic planning committee. Through the two years of planning and organizing for this conference, toiling and sweating together in overcoming all the various obstacles, PWPA members in East Africa have grown together like a family. Particularly participants from Europe noted that apart from academic interactions, PWPA scholars on this continent relate to each other like members of one family -- which means that the vision of the founder is beginning to become a reality. 

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