This congress was the first in the Pan African Congress series and to be organized by Dr. William Edward Burdhgart Du Bois. It took place from 17th-21st, February 1919 in Paris, France.
This Congress represented Africa partially. Of the fifty seven delegates from fifteen countries, nine were African countries with twelve delegates. The other delegates came from the United States, which sent sixteen, and the West Indies with twenty one. Most of these delegates did not come to France for this meeting, but happened to be residing there, mainly for reasons connected with the war. America and all the colonial powers refused to issue special visas for Pan Africanists who wanted to attend from those countries.
The Congress was influential more so in the peace conference and The New York Evening Globe, February 22, 1919, described it as “the first assembly of the kind in history, and has for its object the drafting of an appeal to the peace conference to give the Negro race of Africa a chance to develop unhindered by other races. Seated at long green tables in the council room today were Negroes in the trim uniform of American army officers, other American coloured men in frock coats or business suits, polished French Negroes who hold public offices, Senegalese who sit in French chamber of deputies…”
Resolutions of the Congress
- That the allied and associated powers establish a code of law for the international protection of the natives of Africa, similar to the proposed international code of labour.
- That the League of Nations establishes a permanent bureau charged with the special duty of overseeing the application of these laws to the political, social and economic welfare of the natives.
- That the Negroes of the world demand thereafter the natives of Africa and the peoples of African descent are governed according to the following principals:
- The land and its natural resources shall be held in trust for the natives and at all times they shall have effective ownership of as much as they can profitably develop.
- Capital, the investment of capital and granting of concessions shall be regulated as to prevent the exploitation of the natives and the exhaustion of the natural wealth of the country. Concessions shall always be limited in time and subject to state control. The growing social needs of the natives must be regarded and the profits taxed for the social and material benefit of the natives.
- Labour, slavery and corporal punishments shall be abolished and forced labour except in punishment for crime; and general conditions of labour shall be prescribed and regulated by the state.
- Education shall be the right of every native child to learn to read and write his own language of the trustee nation, at public expense and to be given technical instruments in some branch of industry. The state shall also educate a large number of natives as possible in higher technical and cultural training and maintain a corps of native teachers…
- The state – the natives of Africa must have the right to participate in the government as far as the development permits in conformity with the principle that the government exists for the natives and not the natives for the government. They shall not once be allowed to participate in local and tribal government according to ancient usage, and this participation shall gradually extend, as education and experience proceeds, to the higher offices of the state b, to the end that, in time, Africa be ruled by the consent of the Africans………..Whenever it’s proven that African natives are not receiving just treatment at the hands of any State deliberately excluding its civilized citizens or subjects of Negro descent from its body politically and culturally, it shall be the duty of the League of Nations to bring the matter to the civilized world.