(Re)presentation and (Re)positioning Pan-Africanism in the 21st Century

(Re)presentation and (Re)positioning Pan-Africanism in the 21st Century

Pan-Africanism is an ideology that purports Africans and people of African descent share a common past and destiny. This mutual understanding of the past and future portrays how Africans and people of African descent mobilize against colonialism, racial discrimination, and social, economic, political, and cultural exploitation. Pan-Africanism can be defined as an ideology of black people’s lived experiences or “essence” of human dignity that rises “above individualistic self-interest for the sake of enhancing threatened collective survival and the recognition of the masses as a vital force for purposes of liberation” (Mugo, 2002:252). It harmonizes these experiences into a movement that challenges capitalist socio-political constructs and stimulates activism that is organized in black communities globally for equality, self-development and freedom from oppressive forces.

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While the 1945 Pan-African Congress and the ones that preceded it are significant to understanding the history of Pan-Africanism, it is essential to move beyond these institutionalized male-centered events that erases the central agents of Pan Africanism – women, youths and the masses (Mugo, 2002). Against this backdrop, such heteropatriarchal theories of combating global black liberation struggles obscures the ideology of Pan-Africanism as a solidarity movement as it ignores contributions of the masses which includes black women and homosexuals. Hence, in order for Pan-Africanism to be of relevance in the 21st century, it needs to purge itself from this male-centeredness that was orchestrated by the West to bring division in the black community. This paper highlights how capitalism has virtually dismantled Pan-Africanism by segregating Africans through the social construct of race, class and gender inequality.

Western Enlightenment discourse of the 19th century led to the development and refinement of slavery and colonialism and systematized racial exploitation. During that time invention of the Black Other became essential for the creation of whiteness and white subjectivity (Wright, 2004:27-28). Enlightenment racists philosophers from Europe and North America, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Count Arthur de Gobineau and Thomas Jefferson, tied human phenotypic difference to varying possibilities of progress for mankind. This invention of whiteness, therefore complicated the hierarchical modes of social categorization as a result of racism and racialization (Martinot, 2003). Hence, human societies were ranked in relation to their possibility of attaining European civilization. Under these circumstances, Pan-Africanism as an ideology for solidarity emerged in the early 20th century by black male intellects to motivate black people to unite and fight against the common oppressive empire – the white imperialist.

Africans had been a target for disdain and exploitation for centuries. Steve Martinot (2006) Racialization and Class Structure demonstrates how slavery and colonization of indigenous Americans and African people essentially influenced the development of the contemporary concepts of whiteness, race, and white supremacy. This process of racialization according to Martinot (2006) led the creation of white U.S. class identities. This class structure is evident and has negatively impacted black communities during slavery, European imperialism, globalization and now neoliberalism. Since racial categories are socially constructed in the Caribbean as well, Puerto Ricans, for instance, has claimed a racial category different from negro, which is still widely stigmatized by being associated with slavery and seen as socially inferior. As an attempt to eliminate negative implications in expressing blackness, Puerto Ricans have practiced and adopted the ideology of blanqueamiento (Godreau, 2006). Since, lighter skin color and certain facial features and hair types are associated with social hierarchy based on racial class structure in Puerto Rico (Godreau, 2006). While recognizing that colonialization and the construction of pseudo-racist imagery of African’s, Fanon recognized that the process of decolonialization and retelling of new, positive identities and conceptions of “blackness” would take time to move beyond the colonized/colonizer binary.

These phases in capitalism have degraded African traditional institutions, which are deemed as worthless and incapable of contributing to knowledge, and overtime has been replaced by Eurocentric ones. This has led to Western values being well-established and enabled institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, to have monopoly control on explaining social phenomena and prescribing solutions to the problems plaguing most black societies. Presently, it is evident how the socio-economic environment of the black working class is one of total commodification, through a similar form labor control by the ruling class. The merger of white supremacy and ruling class control of socio-political processes signify an ongoing contemporary coloniality, in which they still own all means of production and modes of production. The necessity of Pan- Africanism has a driving force to unite the Black people against Westernized racism.

The Caribbean was the nucleus of the slave-trade system and as the Pan-African ideology developed they had the first successful slave revolts and revolution. Not only did the idea of Pan-Africanism travelled along the triangular slave trade – West Africa, the Caribbean, North America and Europe – but many important figures surfaced and journeyed with the movement (Geiss, 1967:721).  Several founding intellectual leaders emerged from the Caribbean and North America – E.W. Blyden, Marcus Garvey, Sylvester Williams, Marcus Garvey, George Padmore and W.E.B Du Bois – that played a key role in the history of Pan-Africanism and the organization of a series of meetings aimed at addressing the colonization of Africa and the African diaspora (Geiss, 1967). Pan-Africanism thus became a distinct political movement among Africans in global Africa. The first Pan African Congress, which was held in London in 1900, insisted on civil and political rights for Africans, raised concerns on racism against Africans in global Africa and called for the right to sovereignty and self-definition to be granted to African colonies (Geiss, 1967). Subsequent to the inaugural Congress (1900), several other congresses were held in Paris (1919), London in 1921 and 1923, New York City in 1927 and Manchester in 1945, to call for the elimination of colonial and imperial control.

The seventh Pan-African Congress in Kampala (1994), despite making efforts to engender and democratize participation of the masses, failed to unite global Africa because of the differences in vision between the black leaders and masses. Among the objectives of the Pan-African movement is to unite and embrace all category of African people both on the continent and global Africa.  However, the mobilization of the Pan-African nationalist vision that emerged during the era of colonial domination has been dormant for over six decades. Despite the central role black women, have played as major political thinkers and leaders in various contemporary black and liberation movements, their contributions continue to be overshadowed by the few African male leaders who occupied the position of power to influence change and make decisions. For this reason, Micere Mugo (2002), Michele Wallace, Angela Davis, Linda La Rue and other black feminist scholars (Guy-Sheftall, 1995) forged a brand of Pan-Africanism that utilize and calls for a structure of the mass movement as a vehicle that embraces the mobilization of all black people. More specifically they argue that silences associated with the difficulty of being black and female – sexism, classism and racism – requires urgent explosion, given their vulnerability under these institutionalized neo-colonialism systems of oppression.

Although fragmented, Pan-Africanism as a social movement has been active in small pockets across the globe.  The historical experience of Africans has been an experience of racialization, economic exploitation, political oppression, and cultural domination under European and American slavery, colonialism, and imperialism gave rise to the Rastafari Pan-African movement which stemmed from Graveyism and Ethiopianism. This patriarchal Pan-African movement is still practiced in some nations of the Caribbean and parts of Africa today. On the other hand Pan-Africanist women employed a more radical politics to the movement that sought to challenge patriarchy, issues of sexuality and strove for egalitarianism by contesting racist, sexist, and classist discrimination – the “triple jeopardy”.  Beverly Guy-Sheftall’s book Words of fire: An Anthology of African-American Feminist Thought captures how the erasure of black women’s lives, dilemmas, achievements and thought has been an essential realization of African-American feminist thought. Furthermore, it reveals that Pan-Africanist women have evolved from being nurturers of movements to being visionaries, leaders and knowledge producers in their own right. Guy-Sheftall’s (1995) book also portrayed several commonalities that is thematic throughout the book, such as, black women’s experience a unique kind of oppression – the triple jeopardy – because they are black and female and they have limited access to economic resources; therefore the concerns and desires of black women are different from both white women and black men; black women have two major fights to simultaneously contend with – black liberation andgender equality; and black women’s commitment to the liberation of blacks and women is profoundly rooted in their lived experiences.

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 Similarly, the #BlackLivesMatter movement was conceptualized by black women activists in reaction to anti-black racism and police brutality that distinctly persists in the United States and other parts of the global Africa. Nonetheless these women’s influences have largely been unnoticed by mainstream media outlets which have instead highlighted the political efforts of black men. Additionally, the #BlackLivesMatter movement have become mainly a platform black men’s oppression as opposed to its original intent to demand the rights and dignity of allmarginalized Africans and people of African descent, irrespective of their class, gender, sexual orientation, and immigration status.  This goes to show the complicity of the masses as non-actors in their own oppression. Taylor (2016) echoed the centrality of Pan-Africanism – to unite all black people and fight against the common oppressor – by highlighting that in order for black people to achieve black liberation, social transformation and human liberation is needed.

The need for the (re)presentation and the (re)positioning of the Pan-African movement in the 21st century is crucial not only to decolonize Western narratives of the dignity and humanity of Africans but also to counteract the institutionalized systems of oppression and materialism brought on by the West that is designed to divide black people. Capitalism promotes the eradication of the “lesser” race – the black race – and this is manifested in the high crime rate, poverty, HIV/AIDS incidences, racism, degradation of the environment, deformation in the lives of youth and reduction of the lives of women in black communities/countries.   As demonstrated thus far, it is evident that capitalism became the predominant institutional form of capital accumulation for empire building on the backs of black people and people of African descent from as early as the 19th century.

 To conclude, ‘each chain is as strong as its weakest link’. If the solidarity and unity of Pan-Africanism stimulated revolutions and revolts and ultimately the freedom of African slaves in the 19th century, then a renewal of Pan-Africanism, to include all black people in the 21st century can overthrow capitalism and end their oppression.

References

 

Geiss, I. (1967). Notes on the Development of Pan-Africanism. Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria, 3(4), p. 719-740.

Godreau, I. P. Folkloric “Others:” Blanqueamiento and the Celebration of Blackness as an Exception in Puerto Rico. Eds. Clarke, K.M and Thomas,D. (2006). Globalization and Race: Transformations in the Cultural Production of Blackness. Durham: Duke University Press, p. 171-87. Print.

Guy-Sheftall, B. (1995). Words of fire: An Anthology of African-American Feminist Thought. New York: New Press.

Martinot, S. (2003). The Rule of Racialization: Class, Identity, Governance. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. p.28-128

Mugo, M (2002) “Re-Envisioning Pan Africanism: What Is the Role of Gender, Youth and the Masses,” in Pan Africanism and Integration in Africa, ed. Ibbo Mandaza and Dan Nabudere Harare: Sapes Books, p 239-260.

Rabaka, R., 1972. (2009). Africana critical theory: Reconstructing the black radical tradition, from W.E.B. Du Bois and C.L.R. James to Frantz Fanon and Amilcar Cabral. Lanham, Md: Lexington Books.

Taylor, Keeanga-Yanahtta. (2016).From #BlackLivesMatter to Black LiberationChicago: Haymarket, 2016

Wright, M. M., 1968. (2004). Becoming black: Creating identity in the African Diaspora. Durham: Duke University Press. p. 27-65

Pricing and Repositioning a Recalled Product

Nestle’s biggest challenge

 

The 2015 Maggi ban in India took a toll on the brand’s reputation and consumer’s trust in the brand. The ban came into force after samples of Maggi were found to have excess levels of lead and monosodium glutamate(MSG). India being the second largest market for Maggi had great potential to cost the company a fortune. Following the ban, consumer trust in the brand was obviously shaken. Not only did it affect the Indian market, but the ban spread to neighboring countries such as Singapore and Nepal as well. In a press release, Nestle stated that “the trust of our consumers and the safety of our products is our first priority” (Pandey and Singh, 2016). So, the biggest challenge for Nestle is to formulate a comeback strategy that repositions the brand in the market in a way that it is perceived as the most trusted brand by its stakeholders that completely overwrites the serious damage caused to the brand’s reputation and make sure this damage to the product line does not impact the sales of its entire portfolio. It is all the more challenging for Nestle to regain markets after a long absence.

Marketing environment

 

Nestle should be sensitive to the issues that constitute the macro-environment it operates in. This includes customer demographics, culture, social trends, political/legal environment, education, technology advances etc. Emerging economies like India contribute 43% of Nestle’s overall revenues and that is expected to further increase (Pandey and Singh, 2016). The changing consumer lifestyle has driven increased demand for packaged food in emerging economies like India. Hence, India should be on Nestle’s primary focus.

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The micro-environment i.e. the immediate environment that affects Nestle India comprises of suppliers, consumers, competitors and the company itself. Along with these, shareholders and employees also constitute the major stakeholders. Due to a halt in production, the 1500 permanent employees involved in production were temporarily shifted to training and trade building activities (Pandey and Singh, 2016). After the ban came into force, suppliers were left out high and dry because they had huge dependence on Nestle as a buyer of their spices of Maggi so they were seeking new customers and hoped to reduce future dependence on limited clients. The company experienced huge financial losses and lost faith and trust in the eyes of the customers. Maggi has a lot of competitors such as Patanjali Atta Noodles, Sunfeast YiPPee! Noodles, Top Ramen, and Knorr Soupy Noodles but it continues to hold 63% of the market share (Pandey and Singh, 2016). For enduring success and growth, Nestle should focus on mitigating these risks by making consumer centric decisions and focusing on competitor intelligence by keeping an eye on what the competitors are doing or what they are going to do and how that appeals to the customers. Nestle should also embark on becoming more socially responsible by engaging in fundraising and increasing involvement with charitable institutions to regain consumer’s trust and faith in the brand.

Brand Repositioning

 

Nestle should make appropriate use of positioning and come up with a creative yet practical promotional approach as a part of their repositioning strategy.

Positioning

Positioning refers to how consumers perceive the product or a service in the market relative to its competitors’ offerings. The main stakeholders are the customers and it is crucial for Nestle to make sure that post re-entry, consumers have a clear understanding of what Maggi offers. There is no need for Maggi to differentiate its product from its competitors owing to the fact that it already dominates the noodle market. While developing their positioning strategy, Nestle should go through the following six steps: First, they need to evaluate consumers’ perceptions of the product in relation to its competitors. Therefore, it needs to put more emphasis on regaining the perception of the brand as one of the safest brands. Second, it needs to identify the market’s ideal points and market sizes for the product. Re-iterating the fact that India being an emerging economy has great growth potential for packaged food. Third, it should identify the competitors’ positions. It’s biggest competitor, Patanjali claims to offer a price of 15 rupees in comparison to 25 rupees charged by Maggi for the same size of noodles (Pandey and Singh, 2016). This should be taken into account while making pricing decision for re-entry of the brand. Fourth is identifying consumer preferences which is reflected in the market share of Maggi. Fifth is selecting the position. Nestle could reposition its marketing approach by promoting the product as safe for consumption. The final step is to monitor the positioning strategy. Markets are dynamic i.e. consumer preferences are not stagnant and the competitors’ offerings change over time as well. Thus, Nestle should make the necessary adjustments to step three and four regularly.

Promotion

Nestle could use integrated marketing communications (IMC) by using a mix of interactive online and passive offline approaches to enhance the impact of brand’s communications with its customers.

Marketing-Growth Relationship

Nestle was able to anticipate changes in consumer spending and increased demand for packaged products in emerging economies. It created the idea of its noodles being a source of happiness in its 2012 advertisement by linking its old functional message of being a convenient “2 minute” product to one of emotional significance (Pandey and Singh, 2016). In doing so, Nestle has been able to concentrate its marketing efforts towards establishing emotional ties between its products and the consumers by bringing up positive emotions like joy and happiness. These initiatives have made it possible for Nestle to influence the decision-making process of the consumers by placing themselves in consumer’s product evoked set (Grewal et al, 2015). It is evident from this case study that Nestle’s 2009 television campaign used India’s passion for personalised stories to celebrate Maggi’s 25th anniversary. It capitalised on brand loyalty and encouraged consumer participation through content creation and successfully came up with genuine, emotional and personalised appeal for its products. The surprising response that it achieved through this helped Nestle create more new flavours to extend its product line which further allowed capitalising on marketing to connect to consumer emotions followed by a spur in sales. Moreover, due to incline of consumer preferences towards healthier products and identifying potential growth in healthier food segments, it launched “Oats Noodles” starring a famous Bollywood actress in its advertisement once again extending its product line and value proposition towards health focused consumers (Pandey and Singh, 2016). All of these initiatives have enabled Maggi to gain a market share of 63% in the noodle market.

Pricing

Pricing is of critical concern to Nestle because it is related to product value that is perceived by the consumer to which Nestle is supposed to make a reasonable return (Grewal et al.,2015). Nestle has always marketed and priced its product as a premium product compared to its competitors by focusing regressively on brand reputation and promising higher quality products by providing healthier and tastier products providing better consumer value. Since pricing directly “influences consumer purchase behaviour” (Pandey and Singh, 2016), Nestle decided to maintain prices at pre-ban levels and stuck to same premium pricing strategy even after suffering massive financial and reputation losses. Instead, it decided to increase “tangible and intangible value” of Maggi by making the product safe for consumption by complying to national labelling legislation and by promoting awareness through effective labelling (Pandey and Singh, 2016) and by putting more emphasis on other marketing mix components such as product and places, therefore, impacting how Nestle creates, delivers and captures value.

Value Based Approach

Value Based Approach pricing focuses on setting prices that covers overall value of the product offering as perceived by the consumer (Grewal et al., 2015). It has two methods: improvement value method and cost of ownership method. Post ban, Nestle suffered from a drastic decrease in consumer trust regardless of the fact that it had been declared as one of the five most trusted brands in a customer survey (Pandey and Singh, 2016). This resulted in both tangible and intangible losses for the company. Improvement value method could be used to reinvigorate brand value by Nestle as the products could now be priced on the basis of estimated improvement value the consumers would be willing to pay relative to competitors. If Nestle continues to use appropriate promotional strategies to market their product, it is probable that consumers once again assume trust in the brand over time. Nestle’s response to the crisis comprised of their comeback on pricing and making sure that the price reflected a definite trade-off between costs and benefits and how this trade off was perceived by consumers. This demanded Nestle to map the perceived value of Maggie against its competitors like SunFeast and Bambino (Pandey and Singh, 2016). Being one of the leading companies in the world, it could not have decreased the price because a decreased price would have come across as an expression of inferior quality which would have lost consumer trust. It could also not have increased the price because the consumer would have no incentive to pay more after the loss of confidence in the product. So, keeping the prices same at pre-ban levels helped it maintain its position as a premium product.

REFERENCES

Grewal, D. and Levy, M. (2015). Marketing.

Pandey, N. and Singh, G. (2016). NESTLÉ’S MAGGI: PRICING AND REPOSITIONING A RECALLED PRODUCT. [online] Ivey Publishing. Available at: https://services.hbsp.harvard.edu/api/courses/578299/items/W16344-PDF-ENG/sclinks/4b7614955de491bac675eec923bb4f33 [Accessed 27 Oct. 2018].

Thibodeaux, W. (2017). [online] What is value based pricing and Marketing?. Available at: 

http://smallbusiness.chron.com/valuebased-pricing-marketing-23141.html [Accessed 27 Oct. 2018].