The first exhibition showing John Deakin’s photographs of the Fifth Pan-African Congress as a body of work.
The Fifth Pan-African Congress took place in Manchester in October 1945, five months after the end of the Second World War. The Congress demanded that European powers liberate hundreds of millions of Africans living under colonial rule, and passed radical measures condemning imperialism, racial discrimination and capitalism.
A Pan-African Film Installation will accompany the exhibition, screening a programme of films exploring Pan-African history and ideals, guest-curated by June Givanni.
The fifth was the most influential of the seven Pan-African Congresses. It brought together key activists who would go on to shape liberation struggles, including Jomo Kenyatta, the first leader of Kenya after independence, and Kwame Nkrumah, who later led anti-colonial resistance in Ghana. Leading American civil rights activist W.E.B. Du Bois travelled from the USA to attend.
Although the British press scarcely covered the meeting, extraordinarily Picture Post sent celebrated Soho photographer John Deakin (1912-1972) to document the event, his only assignment for the magazine in his entire career. This exhibition is the first time these rarely seen photographs have been shown together as a body of work.
The delegates to the Fifth Pan-African Congress believe in peace. How could it be otherwise when for centuries the African peoples have been victims of violence and slavery. Yet if the Western world is still determined to rule mankind by force, then Africans, as a last resort, may have to appeal to force in the effort to achieve Freedom, even if force destroys them and the world.
– George Padmore, The Challenge to the Colonial Powers, 1947
This exhibition marks the 70th anniversary of the Congress.
Black Chronicles III: The Fifth Pan-African Congress represents the third exhibition in Autograph ABP’s Black Chronicles series dedicated to excavating archives to research black photographic history and reveal ‘missing chapters’.