It will be come glaringly more clear to you as you read this article that, Africa needs its sons and daughters from the four corners of the earth to return home and engage themselves in the empowering and development of Africa and Africans. The African diaspora brings with it a wealth of information, labour, engineering and ideas on how the vision of a truly redeemed Africa can be accomplished.
Compiled from “Papers on the African Peoples Committee for African Unification”
Pan-Africanism was an emancipatory politics of African unity in the epoch of independence struggles-including the last struggle against Apartheid colonialism–; we need a new emancipatory politics of African unity along the lines of the Abahlali base Mjondolo’s “a person is a person everywhere.”
I want to argue that African unification, under the leadership of our governments is not going to be achieved. We need to bring the issue to the people themselves; after all, it concerns unity of African peoples internationally and not a sum or addition of states. For more than 50 years (1963-2015) African micro-states have been constructing African unity from the top down. This has followed closely, for example, the prescription of President Kwame Nkrumah: “Seek ye, first, the political kingdom, and everything shall be given unto ye.”
This lead to an elite separation from the masses of people and was reinforced by decolonization architects who granted independence through negotiations with would be intellectual elite leading the newly independent countries. That process facilitated, later on, the break between mass based independence movement and the leadership which became statist, state incarnate. This resulted into the Nation-building process, essentially from above. With time, the nation-building became a state self-building not responsive to the majority of people’s needs. With the rise of neo-liberalism, the states became partners of capital, in charge of the amelioration of business atmosphere, mostly in favor of multinational corporations.
Surely, most of the heads of State of Africa understood the necessity of the African unification. But, they seemed to lack the “vigour, commitment and sincerity” the objective of African unity required. This is understandable, as Mwalimu J. Nyerere also said in his speech in Accra. “Once you multiply national anthems, national flags and national passports, seats of the United Nations, individuals entitled to a 21-gun salute, not to speak of a host of ministers, prime ministers and envoys, you would have a whole army of powerful people with vested interests in keeping Africa balkanized.”
We can see that many micro-states did not even work out a real meaningful unity in their own respective “nation-states”. In the real sense, people, in those countries, in their cultural or ethnic diversity were not mobilized and organized to achieve real mutual understanding and mutual comprehension between the various communities composing the multicultural nation. More than 50 years of independence, the tribal factor still weights on people’s minds and actions. Enduring impacts of the colonial divide and rule practices were hardly positively reversed or healed. Institutions of interconnectedness were hardly elaborated and put in place by the people themselves. Hybridism seems to be the general rule of behavior. This explains the absence of a real popular democratic cultural tradition.
In many countries, the question of languages (their classification into a hierarchy, and handling) did not go beyond where colonialism left it. The indigenous languages (or those that the colonialists called dialects) have not yet received any serious development. Colonialist languages are still considered to be official languages through which to conduct official and national business (as medium of instruction, scientific research, literary work, and intercommunication, etc.) In other words, the “national or territorial identities” bestowed by colonialism were consolidated as the real consciousness of the former colonized African people.
In relation to Kwame N’Krumah, “the great crusader of the African unity” (Mwalimu J. Nyerere), we learn from Ali A. Mufuruki, in his very interesting discussion, that N’Krumah, despite his advocacy for African unity, hardly translated it into a practical realization of the African unification process—starting from within Ghana itself. At some point, his own government was among those which were expelling “foreign Africans” (from Ivory Coast for example). The fact that N’Krumah was overthrown, somewhat early on, by a coup d’etat, after his failed attempt (at the Accra OAU Summit, 1965) to create a United African Government, should be accorded a reasonable doubt—he would probably have attempted another try. We can, nevertheless, say that post-colonial African micro-states have not been acting as mechanisms of unification of Africa per se. Similarly, we can say that the successive Pan-Africanist Congresses, having fallen under the leadership of those states, have become less and less rooted in the masses of African peoples on the continent and in the Diaspora. The idea of “All African people’s conferences”, after 1958, vanished. Early creative sum-up, by F. Fanon for example, of early experiences of independence was not taken seriously.
Before his death (1999), Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere, in his Accra speech (1997), made again a strong plea for African unity as the only viable future for Africa. I quote him: “So this is my plea to the new generation of African leaders and African peoples: work for unity with the firm conviction that without unity, there is no future for Africa. That is, of course, assuming that we still want to have a place under the sun.”
Why is African unity necessary now?
There are many critical reasons why we need the unification of Africa. And we need now to bring to the African peoples themselves the question of that unification and not just leave it to the heads of the micro-states. The African people should also have a chance to assess the issue themselves. We shall discuss here some of the basic reasons. In a real sense, Pan-Africanism was a political subjectivity of the unity of African people and their emancipation. African states have become against this emancipation.
The lack of African unity has made it easier for the enemies of African People to divide them further and use some African sons and sisters against them. Wiki Leaks, at some point, revealed the fact that even certain heads of the micro-states were spying and reporting on others for the benefit of imperialist powers— for ‘the pride of being under the umbrella of the Empire!’ They betray their colleagues, as they betray their own people. Unity may not eliminate this, but it may reduce its impact. In a real sense, this rivalry, similar to that between field niggers and house niggers, has made it impossible for African micro-states to have a permanent member in the Security Council, despite the African states’ desire for it.
More than that, African presidents occupy a big place in the systematic theft of Africa’s wealth. It is becoming clearer and clearer that a “second scramble of Africa” is haunting Africa. Like the first one, it is motivated by the “hunger for natural resources and outside markets’ which the West (USA, Canada, EU) and the East (People’s Republic of China, India, etc.) are now feeling.
As is well known, the hunger for labor felt by Europe, after the invasion of the Americas and the near-extermination of their native populations, brought to Africa the devastating capitalist enslavement, called “slave trade” that lasted for more than 4 centuries. Some small kings and chiefs participated in this “trade”, at least early on, before they were overwhelmed.
Colonialism in Africa was justified by the “ending of slavery and the civilizing mission.” It is known that neo-liberalism is using the “democratizing mission” and the salvation of the victims of the violation of human rights by local “authoritarian powers” (often sponsored by imperial democrats), to justify itself.
Enduring colonial and neo-colonial structures are still serving as obstacles to African emancipation and modernization. Poor educational systems, the neglect of the development of masses of peoples-based ways of life, cultures, languages and traditions; infrastructures not favoring African Unity; rigid immigration procedures impairing African people’s movements around the continent– making it difficult for nationalities spreading over a number of micro-states to keep their interconnectedness. The need for African peoples, in their diversity to interconnect and know themselves well, suffers. Biases and prejudices towards each other between various nationalities, despite cases of inter tribal marriage, still prevail. The so-called ‘African desks’, in many micro-states’ foreign ministries, have very little, if at all, as entries on other African micro-states. Some countries have a big ministry of Francophonie and no ministry (big or small) for “national languages”.
The argument for transcending tribal formations notwithstanding, the methodology of conceiving and constructing the United States of Africa, from the top, is colonial. It is that of grafting a government, from above, on African communities which do not really know each other or have an institutional mutual interconnectedness enhancing mutual comprehension. Let alone these communities having a say on the issue. Was it surprising that the technical proposals, by Gaddafi, for African unification (through an African satellite, an African World Bank, one African currency, one African passport and a Constitutional frame) were refused? Those were, some say, the real reasons for his being overthrown and killed. The other heads of states were more interested in who proposed them than the value of those proposals for the peoples of Africa.
Africa is home to strategic resources that advanced countries will need, increasingly as they continue to advance. If Africa is not united to put those resources to a meaningful use for the benefit of African people, African micro-states will continue exporting raw materials and be stuck with small rent based economies unable to create the number of the needed jobs to give hope and occupation to the African youth, the future of Africa.
One of the motors of globalization is scientific and technological revolution. Africa is barely participating in it, but very marginally. No micro-state can put up the resources needed and above all the critical mass of intellectual workers required to fully participate. Africa is now running far behind. And because of the lack of the conditions enticing such participation, the few able intellectual workers are emigrating to the outside of the continent where they can be employed. We know, for example, that countries that are emerging have a critical mass of the intellectual workers. India, by 1996, was producing 100,000 engineers per year, the U.S.A. 275,000 engineers and China 600,000 engineers. Only a united Africa will put up with the necessary conditions for a leap-frog process of transformation. Of course, Africa should not embark on a blind catch-up with the West syndrome.
Tdka Kilimanjaro and colleagues wrote: “We are, as Africans, the poorest people in the world, yet Africa has the most resources in the world. They are not put to better optimal use for Africans. We occupy the lowest position in international affairs, yet we occupy the most significant geopolitical place in world geography… There is no unity of purpose, and no common mission for our lives. We live serving other peoples.” We face this situation, generally because “we do not know: what we were before the invaders tore apart our lives. What we are now as the result of the violation of our humanity by the invaders (enslavers, colonialists, imperialists, etc.) And what we must become in order to get out of this gutter existence and restore African Civilization.” We have to graduate from the colonial and dominant mindset.
Africa needs to have a sound educational system that would eradicate all the structures and prejudices of the “civilizing mission” which resulted in some enduring educational structures and accumulated “knowledge”, we need to revamp. This requires a critical mass of quality intellectual workers. So far, we have not succeeded sufficiently critiquing Western Africanism (historiography, etc.). Our schools have just adopted, in the main, Western conceptions of the continent’s geography, the periods of its history, its agencies, even the assigned status to African people as victims whose survival depends on Western assistance . If we accept that KMT (Ancient Egypt) is our equivalent of the Western Ancient Greece and Rome, our micro-states have not paid much attention to that crucial point. The ultimate origins of our people seem to dwell only on what the West says of them.
Africa is the richest continent in untapped natural resources. It has been under-populated due to the consequences of invasions, pillages, thefts, slave raids, parasitic colonialism, chronic diseases due to malnutrition, bad drinking water, insufficient sewage systems, immunization system in foreign hands, etc.
As a victim of slavery in modern times, Africa lost up to 650 million murdered, maimed, kidnapped people. Africa has sufficient sources of natural energy, arable land capable to sustain a policy of food sufficiency and thus to correct the relative demographic emptiness. As of 2014, there have been more than 1 million Chinese settlers on the continent. This number will rise continuously; while Africans are emigrating. One may wonder what Africa will look like in the future. Certainly, Africa will become more and more multinational and multicultural.
The articulation between artisans, scientists, engineers and captains of finance responsible for the technological taking off elsewhere, has hardly taken place in our micro-states. Reduced to a mentality of “prêt a porter”(use-of-ready-made) African consciousness suffers from insufficient creativity, innovation and spirit of discovery. Even “foreign aid or assistance” as well as the reliance on donors have a considerable impact on consciousness. More and more, Africans see nothing wrong with the practice of depending on foreign aid for electing one’s “leaders”
The study of Ancient Egypt civilization is very important. The need to align overall ways of life: meaning of life, value of human life, conceptions of death, methods for acquiring resources for survival and the problems of cultural and technical integration beyond inter-ethnic marriage, etc. are not insurmountable. Maat, the KMT world view of justice/truth/balance incarnate, to the extent that similar values are scattered in other African traditions, constitutes an important unifying cultural basis. The recent translation into African languages of some important Ancient Egyptian texts gives a sense of the underlining African cultural continuity.
Inspiration can be drawn from the KMT ethos of MAAT which emphasized solidarity, truth, justice and balance, science, planning, reciprocity, merit, judgment based on works, collectivism, cooperation, mutual assistance and mutual benefits; balance between men and women, different cultures and different generations. ‘Make anger be oriented towards rescuing, reclaiming, restoring, reconstructing and rebuilding African Civilization. Right now, most Africans have no clarity of their ultimate objective in life.
Educational difficulties refer to the need to revamp educational systems now prevailing in Africa. Many of them are still marked by the corricula of enslavement and domination by invaders, conquerors, colonialists and their organic intellectuals serving as civilizers and saviors or contributors to the imperialist ideologies of continuous domination to produce slaves (now mostly spiritual ones), catechists of all categories (spreading those ideologies as ‘knowledge’), docile people, cowards, brutes, illiterates, dependent, self-hating, lovers of enslavers and colonialists, non-scientific, mystical, defeated, amnesiac, stupid, self-congratulating, ignorance loving, mechanical imitator, etc. A new curriculum is called for and new types of educational structures (liberating and not intimidating and disciplinarian). The curriculum must impart true liberation of mind, spirit, soul and body; it must provoke renaissance and should be weaved with an ideology to supplant the present colonially inherited micro-national identities with a renewed Pan-Africanist aspiration for development
India became independent almost around roughly the same decade as some African countries. India is now launching satellites into space, Africa does not yet dream of that. Africa is not even mastering to harness solar energy it naturally has plenty of. Because of too much distraction and irresponsibility, failing even to maintain infrastructures left by colonialists, Africans spend time and resources to rehabilitate roads and railways that have been left to ruin. Addressing the educational difficulties is probably the strategic key; it will make Africans to be reborn. Ultimately, it is capitalism as a “criminal civilization” that needs to be uprooted. Africans have been among the most mistreated casualties and it is strange that they still reclaim it; this may be the core of the alienation.
In line with Mwalimu J. Nyerere’s suggestion, an African Committee should be created. This could start in one country, but it could later on have branches in all willing micro-states of Africa. This committee will be the instrument for getting inside the people themselves the question of the unification of Africa. The committee will write its own Manifesto. What I can say here is that it will gather and spread widely among the people necessary information concerning the necessity for African unification. With and inside the people it will try to discover new forms of organizations, not modeled after state forms and conducive to creating people’s interconnectedness and mutual comprehension—among African nations within each country and between countries.