By Linda Masarira
:2020 a prosperous Africa, based on inclusive growth and sustainable development.
Africa consists of 54/55 countries with different history determined by the colonial powers that presided over different nations. It is unfortunate that I address you fellow Africans three decades after the whole continent claimed independence yet we are still burdened by the colonial structure with very little if not none to write home about. Our continent continues to suffer in many ways regardless of the fact that even in May 1963 some of the founding fathers of Africa had a sense of urgency in prescribing what needed to be done to take Africa forward.
Over the past 50 years (1963-2013) Africa focused on decolonization, the struggle against apartheid and attainment of political independence for the continent. On the occasion of The Golden Jubilee headed by the African Union (AU) the continent re-dedicated herself to the attainment of the Pan African Vision. It is in light of this that the Agenda 2063 was founded under the Pan Africanist guidelines. Fifty years after the first thirty-three (33) independent African states took a landmark decision to form the Organization of African Unity, we are looking ahead towards the next fifty years. This is the most painful thing that Labour Economists and Afrikan Democrats (LEAD) finds nothing to celebrate about. The idea is good but the implementation worries as it proves lack of seriousness and the willingness to perform.
Dr. Kwame Nkrumah who became President of Ghana in 1957 and was overthrown in a coup d’état in 1966 actively contributed towards the liberation struggle and the need for African unity in speeches, statements and books mainly concentrating his on the need for Africa to take its own destiny. It is very ill-fated that his fellow leaders took his ideas for granted and several years later, his prophetic utterances on the effect of disunity are haunting younger generations. With the Chinese community taking part in the destruction and mass looting of African resources for no benefit to the continent and its citizens we need to act right now as Africa by uniting ourselves.
I urge my fellow African leaders from both ruling and opposition parties to stop being mere planners but rather start implementing the unity Agenda for the purpose of improving Africa. History demonstrated through the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland that unity is productive than anything else. The hallmark of foolishness is not merely the production of failed results but not learning anything from previous mistakes. Nkrumah in a speech to the Ghanaian National Assembly made his views loud and clear when he said, “This new Africa of ours is emerging into a world of great combinations – a world where the weak and the small are pushed aside unless they unite their forces” (Webster Boahen and Tidy, 1967:383).
We must unite for economic viability, first of all, and then to recover our mineral wealth in Southern Africa, so that our vast resources and capacity for development will bring prosperity for us and additional benefits for the rest of the world. That is why I have written elsewhere that the emancipation of Africa could be the emancipation of Man (Nkrumah, 1964). The war against exploitation and destruction of Africa was the pre-eminent in Nkrumah’s speeches and writings. He lamented about the division between African leaders and saw failure in division and success in unity for all African states and people. This clarion call for unity against imperialist and neo-colonialist interests fell on deaf ears and today, the IMF, EU, China, the United States of America and multinational corporations are wreaking havoc on Africa, without any regard for the peoples’ well-being.
Neo-colonialism is a monster that must be resisted if Africa is to make strides in its efforts to overcome its socio-cultural, economic and political predicaments. Many African leaders still strongly believe that the problems of Africa can solely be solved from outside Africa as epitomized by their reliance on former colonial masters thereby proving that they do not have an independent mind of their own. As LEAD we believe it’s high time that Africa seeks to harmonize her resources to move from being labelled as Third World.
We need to ask ourselves, “What have we contributed to the wellbeing of our countries and Mother Africa.” We need to remind ourselves that Africa is more important than us. When Africa is in shambles it discriminates not between Southern and Northern Africa or even individual countries as shown by the mass movement of people towards South Africa for better livelihoods thereby causing pressure on resources. We need to realize that we have an intergenerational duty to ensure that Africa is safe for generations to come and not only us so that those generations to come will not be forced to cry foul over our mismanagement of resources.
Today we remind ourselves that our voices will never be silent when our continent is under threat. We will not rest until Africa as a whole gains recognition of being an equal participant in the decisive boards determining the human agenda at international level. We need to rededicate ourselves particularly as young people to the African Agenda which our forefathers failed to achieve during their lifetime. History has demonstrated time and again that at critical moments in life it is the young men and women in every society who move societies. When the Ottoman Empire was under threat it is the young men and women who defended their society.
We need to remind ourselves as Africans that brothers should not rise against brothers, sisters should not rise against each other. Political conflicts should not be a matter of physical fights or wars but a battle of ideas that move society forward for the common good. We need to recognize that we can do something to save our continent. As Africans we seek social cohesion, political stability, economic emancipation just to mention but a few and to achieve these we need to introspect and realize that united we stand and divided we fall.
As Africans we need to be mentally de-colonized and take a firm stance by going back to our culture, which we inherited from our forefathers. It is a matter of fact that we should minimise eating the food that our colonial masters are exporting to us. We have to be mentally strong and refuse some of the food we are importing which may be unhealthy to us. Before the advent of colonialism, Africans were living much healthier and longer lives without suffering from most of the diseases that we are now faced with today. As Africans in particular we have a moral obligation, to reflect our minds on the dangers some of these food might have on our health. We have to maintain our culture, diets, and traditions to make the West know that we are no longer in the era of colonialism and can now live independently.
According to Walter Rodney (how Europe underdeveloped Afrika), the term ‘development’ is used in an exclusive economic sense – the justification being that the type of economy is itself an index of other social features. What then is economic development? A society develops economically as its members increase jointly their capacity for dealing with the environment. This capacity for dealing with the environment is dependent on the extent to which they understand the laws of nature (science), on the extent to which they put that understanding into practice by devising tools (technology), and on the manner in which work is organised. The crisis of Africa can be therefore summarised in this observation. The citizens of Africa are incapacitated, firstly, in their endeavours to try and deal with the environment and secondly, in their effort to try and understand nature and carve out developmental tools. This incapacity is premised on and compounded by Africa’s colonial legacy. Going forward there should be a deliberate effort towards mental realignment whose objective is meant to change mind-sets to inspire new self-determinist social, economic and political perceptions.
To say Afrika is incapable of economic development without the involvement of foreigners is an insult to the whole Afrikan race. Afrika is in the current position because of its colonial legacy. A number of issues need to addressed and corrected if Afrika has to move forward. The focus of anyone who purports to champion Afrikan progress should invariably be on mental decolonisation and realignment of our traditional value systems with modern political systems. Imperialism did not only alienate Afrikan resources but severely maimed the African thought process. It impacted on their perception of self and their ability to forge a sustainable, social, economic and political future. The assumed low self-esteem is the arch emery and prime impediment to Afrikan societal evolution. To extricate Afrika from this impounding situations there is need to address the issue of self-esteem and perception in relation to other races.
As I conclude, I would like to make this clarion call to the African youths that the best time to act is now and we need to act fast. We are not leaders of tomorrow as suggested by others but rather we are the leaders we have been waiting for and so we must start leading now.
May God bless Africa
God bless Zimbabwe
Linda Tsungirirai Masarira