Africa Day: It is time to take stock

Friday, May 26, 2017

Yesterday, Africans in Africa and Diaspora Africans celebrated the 54th anniversary of the founding of the Organisation of African Unity that spearheaded decolonisation of the continent up to 2002, when it passed the baton to the African Union which was given the special brief of bringing holistic independence.

On May 25, 1963, leaders of 30 of the 32 independent African states signed the union’s founding charter in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  In 1991, the OAU established the African Economic Community, and in 2002 the OAU established its own successor, the African Union.

However, while the name and date of Africa Day has been retained as a celebration of continental unity, a cursory look at many a member states’ calendar will show that the day is officially observed in only eight out of 54 African countries.

Shocking but true. Only Ghana, Gambia, Mali, Namibia, Mauritania, Lesotho, Zambia and Zimbabwe officially designate Africa Day as an official holiday.

In other countries, including South Africa, home to the continent’s oldest liberation movement the ANC; and Ethiopia, which houses the AU headquarters Africa Day is informally observed as Africa Liberation Day: mainly a preserve of activists and scholars. That about sums up the state of the union of Africa and the seriousness with which the current crop of African leaders approach issues of continental unity.

In fact, Africa flunked the crucial test during the fourth EU-Africa Summit when the condescending Westerners gave themselves the role of deciding who could constitute African delegations, even though the two continents were supposed to meet as equals.

The African Union Peace and Security Council, the AU organ tasked with enforcing union decisions, recommended that African leaders boycott the Brussels indaba till Europeans treated African leaders as equals.

But when the Summit opened, 36 African countries were in attendance even though the EU had trashed African decisions and principles by inviting Egypt, which was suspended from the councils of the AU in the wake of a military coup that deposed the democratically elected Mohammed Morsi.

The Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, a full member of the African Union, was not invited, yet Morocco, which occupied the SADR and left the OAU in protest in 1986, was invited.

If ever there was a greater insult to the union it was this decision to disregard the AU’s own protocols and principles. And yet 36 African countries saw nothing wrong with that.

And yesterday, the African Union turned 54 with the erstwhile coloniser on the continent to look for over 200 girls abducted by the Nigerian Islamist militia, Boko Haram. If ever there was cause to self-flagellate, it is this.

How can we look to our historical violators to save our own daughters? Today should thus be a day of introspection when every African should take stock of what he/she has done over the past year to promote the realisation of the noble goals of the continent’s founding fathers whose vision, as articulated by Ghana’s founding president Dr Kwame Nkrumah, was of an independent African who was ever ready to fight his own battles and prove that, contrary to the white supremacist doctrine, the black man is capable of managing his own affairs.

Dr Nkrumah wanted us all to demonstrate to the world and other nations that young as we were, we were prepared to lay our own foundations for self-rule and development.

It is time to take stock.

Guest editorial

“Well done is better than well said. ”
Benjamin Franklin