Africa Must Unite!
The January 2013 African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia ran under the theme “The African Renaissance and Pan Africanism”. This week, The Southern Times focuses on the issues hindering Africa’s Renaissance within the framework of Pan Africanism. In this article, ABAYOMI AZIKIWE, the editor of Pan-African News Wire, looks at the monumental challenges that continue to face post-colonial states and their peoples
This year represents the 50th anniversary of the formation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) which was initiated on May 25, 1963 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The OAU was transformed into the African Union in 2002 based upon the Sirte Declaration drafted in Libya on September 9, 1999 under the leadership of the now-martyred leader, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
The Sirte Declaration was a resolution adopted by the OAU which established the AU and sought to speed up the implementation of the Abuja Treaty that called for the establishment of an African Economic Community, an African Central Bank, Monetary Union, African Court of Justice and the Pan-African Parliament.
In addition to these measures, the Sirte Declaration gave President Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria and the-then Republic of South Africa President Thabo Mbeki a mandate to negotiate for the cancellation of African indebtedness.
Since the formation of the AU, the results of the Sirte Declaration have been mixed.
The Pan-African Parliament was formed and is currently sitting in Midrand, South Africa. The creation of an African Monetary Union, Central Bank and other objectives are yet to be accomplished.
Perhaps the most striking of changes that have occurred since the Sirte Declaration and the first AU meeting is the formation of the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM), which was established under the Bush administration in 2008.
AFRICOM has been reinforced and enhanced by President Barack Obama and the US-NATO war against Libya was the first full-blown campaign of this military command that is based in Stuttgart, Germany.
The war against Libya was totally unjustified and based on false information supplied by both NATO and the White House as a justification for the massive bombing campaign against this North African state and the toppling and brutal assassination of Gaddafi.
AFRICOM is also present in many other African states including Somalia, where it has co-ordinated a war of occupation involving 17 000 troops from western-allied governments on the continent who are supported by Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
At the conclusion of 2012, the Obama administration announced that it would be deploying additional troops to 35 different African countries.
These forces would be a part of a so-called “counter-terrorism” operation designed ostensibly to combat a growing threat of Islamic fundamentalism on the continent.
Nonetheless, the involvement of US military and intelligence forces in Africa has only created greater instability and political turmoil. In Libya, with the overthrow of the Jamahiriya (the system of people’s power under Gaddafi), the economic, social and diplomatic situation has deteriorated rapidly.
The puppets that have been installed in Libya have no grasp of African, Arab or international solidarity.
The putative “General National Congress” is deeply divided even within its own ranks and has persecuted thousands of Libyans and Africans from various parts of the continent who had lived and worked in Libya for many years.
Therefore, what are the challenges of the AU for the coming year? Can the continental organization under the Commission leadership of South African political figure Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma resolve the underlying contradictions facing the AU in order to move the organisation forward to meet the objectives outlined in the Sirte Declaration?
* AU Commission Chair Outlines Goals for 2013
In a recent article published by Dr Dlamini-Zuma, she takes a positive view of the present situation on the continent. She says that the situation in Somalia “has entered a post conflict reconstruction and development phase.”
Dlamini-Zuma goes on to commend the African mediation efforts of former South African President Thabo Mbeki in regard to the conflict between the Republic of Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan.
She mentions the role of the AU in the upcoming national elections in Kenya where “For the first time, the African Union Commission (AUC) will be sending a Long Term Observer (LTO) Expert Mission to the scheduled March 4, 2013 General Elections in the Republic of Kenya”.
Even more promising, Dlamini-Zuma announces that “On the programmatic front, we are making progress in science, as scientific advancement will heavily influence the tour development process.
We are about to launch the Pan-African University.”
She then mentions plans for the improvement of intra-African trade, agricultural productivity and projects to address the impact of climate change.
Healthcare improvements are also essential for African development and will be the focus of the Campaign for Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa (CARMMA) in addition to the ongoing fight against “the scourges of HIV, tuberculosis and malaria.”
The AU Commission Chair then states that “Women constitute more than 50 percent of the continent’s population and their engagement in all spheres of human endeavor is imperative.
Thus the Commission will continue to aim to achieve 50-50 parity in its employment structures, ensure that women attain decision making positions and to advocate for women’s development across the continent on the platform of the African Women’s Decade”.
In conclusion, the Commission Chair on behalf of the organisation extends to all “a happy and prosperous 2013. Let us advance the ideals of Pan-Africanism and the African Renaissance”.
* Challenges of Pan-Africanism in the 21st Century
Can these laudable goals outlined by Dr Dlamini-Zuma be realised without acknowledging and confronting the most serious impediments to African unity and development and that is the continuing central role of capitalism and imperialism on the continent?
Since 1999, when the Sirte Declaration was issued, the world imperialist system led by the US has intervened in numerous states including Afghanistan, Iraq, Haiti, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya and Somalia and the economic crisis has spread throughout the US, Europe and other regions of the globe.
The leading theoretical and political figure in the formation of the OAU in 1963 was undoubtedly Dr Kwame Nkrumah, the President of the First Republic of Ghana and a staunch proponent of continental unity and socialism. In 1963, at the founding meeting of the OAU in Ethiopia, Nkrumah issued his seminal work entitled “Africa Must Unite”.
Some 45 years prior to the US-NATO overthrow and assassination of Col Muammar Gaddafi, Nkrumah fell-victim to a neo-colonial and CIA-backed plot that resulted in the military and police coup against the Convention People’s Party (CPP) in Ghana.
Both African leaders were proponents of Pan-Africanism and their advocacy and activism drew the ire of imperialism committed to their liquidation and the consequent setting back of the African revolutionary struggle.
In the chapter entitled “Neo-Colonialism in Africa,” Nkrumah states: “What is at stake is not the destiny of a single country but the freedom and destiny of the African continent, the unalterable prelude to African Union and the fullest development of the many countries comprising the continent.
“Just as we are alive to the dangers of a world which is half-slave, half-free, so we are alert to the perils of an African continent split between states that are wholly sovereign and states that are only half-independent.”
In other words there cannot be any compromise with the forces of imperialism which continue to maintain their control over the development and consequent destiny of Africa.
If Africa is to be truly free then there must be a total break with the systems of exploitation and oppression that are continuing their existence on the continent.
Nkrumah continues by noting that, “The basic fallacy of these persuasions, dangerous to the independence of Africa in their shrewd exploitation of our pride and vanities, is the deliberate distortion of our vision of African Union.
“We do not intend a relationship of unequal partners. We envisage the African Union as a free merging together of peoples with a common history and a common destiny. “
In regard to the role of imperialist military forces in Africa, Nkrumah stresses that, “There will be no foreign military bases on African soil.
With a united foreign policy and a common defense plan, there would be no need for them.”
He then goes on to point out that; “In the concourse of African union, no African country would be left in a position of solitary weakness in which it could be bullied into allowing them.
Any kind of military pacts or alliances with outside powers would be unnecessary.
“Our united strength would be sufficient to deter any would-be aggressor, since an attack on any African country would be regarded as an attack on the Union.”
It is these important principles that will guide the future of Africa towards continental unity and socialism.
We must learn from and properly assess the lessons of post-colonial African history in regard to the role of imperialism and its nefarious aims of preventing the continent and its people from reaching their strategic objectives.
The overthrow and re-colonisation of any sovereign African state must be fought with rigor and fortitude. It is only this level of determination that will bring about the genuine liberation of the majority of the people throughout the continent and the world.