Jan 15, 2014, 9:50 AM
Awakening the spirit of our Founding FathersIt is fifty-four years today since African leaders and political activists gathered at the first Conference of Independent African States in Accra, Ghana 1958, which among other things called for the formation of Africa Freedom Day, to mark the onward progress of the liberation movements, and to symbolize the determination of the Peoples of Africa to free themselves from foreign domination and imperialism.
This 49th anniversary of African Liberation Day is an achievement driven out of a gloomy history of Africa and its peoples, both within and outside the continent that has witnessed the three most deadly atrocities committed against any human civilization ever in the history of mankind.
Slavery, colonialism and racism have shaped the destiny of this continent for over a period of three to four centuries, thereby, slowly dragging us in to the adverse conditions that are experienced by majority of Africans today.
To honor the spirit of the actors in the match to freedom and independence, a day was set aside for 15th April each year to commemorate our success. Five years onwards, the liberation movement registered a monumental achievement through the creation of the O.A.U.
Consequently, Africa Freedom Day was renamed Africa Liberation Day. The establishment of this institution on 25th May 1963 marks another significant turning point in the history of the liberation movement.
Thus the movement did not only settle for mare achievement of freedom and independence but also for a complete political unification of the continent and its dear peoples. The transformation of the O.A.U into AU in 2002 endeavored to further the course of liberation movements by widening the scope from mare eradication of colonialism and apartheid to the promotion of integration of the 53 member states.
The principle of non interference as the core of the O.A.U was seen as a divisive force that counter the real aim of the organization which also prompted its transformation. However the challenges that plagued the continent at the establishment of the O.A.U still persist even after the creation of the AU.
These include new challenges to curtail the neocolonial forces that are embedded in the covert operations of the world powerbrokers and their transnational Agencies such as the IMF, World Bank, WTO, ICC and the UN.
These institutions are pass masters in covert operations that serve the interest of their financiers, often with the aid of certain buzzwords like; human rights, democracy, international justice, rule of law, freedom of speech; movement, association and all other freedom gazillions that are used to clad their socio-political and economic shenanigan.
However, the big challenge is not how best to strengthen our immune system against the whims and caprices of such agencies, but the extent to which we can recondition our development agenda with a more supranational orientation as oppose to nationalistic preferences.
With such a pending basic requirement for a brighter future, there remains even a bigger challenge of integrating the states of Africa, especially in the face of the ever increasing balkanization of the continent not only in terms of regions claiming autonomy from already existing states as in the case of Sudan, but also in terms of our sub-regional ideas, views and approaches towards the achievement of a viable union.
Such situations are happy hunting grounds for predator nations and multilaterals ready to pierce their venomous talons through our sorry flesh. The IMF, for instance, which was supposedly created to oversee a financial fair playing ground for all nations to fare therein, is seen by many Pan-Africanists as an agent for destroying African economies through its policies towards developing nations.
African nations pay substantial sums of their yearly budget to servicing interests on loans secured from IMF. Minister Farrakhan has warned that they (IMF…) are designed to give you money, tell you how to spend it and tear up your economy”
This is by no means an assault on the world body, but following the trend of IMF activities in Africa and other developing countries much is left to be said about the debilitating economic conditions of such nations engineered by the IMF.
IMF loans extended to African countries are mostly accompanied by such stringent conditions as; removal of subsidies, currency devaluation, market liberalizations, privatization, etc. in the name of so called ‘structural adjustment.
These conditions have resulted in poverty scenarios throughout the intervening countries. Among the latest victims of such internationally imposed economic mischief is Nigeria. After the visit in December 2011 of the Managing Director of IMF supposedly directing President Jonathan Goodluck to remove subsidies on fuel and gas, the calculated result of such a move as in the case of overnight hike in fuel price from 65 to 140 Nira per liter was apparent, consequently bringing it to about the same level with the prices in US.
Meanwhile, the value of naira against dollar is currently between 156 and 165 to a dollar. The same outcome awaits Guinea, Cameroon, Chad, and Ghana, etc. all of which underwent the same unfortunate economic surgery.
On the other end, Trade liberalization has presided over the protracted growth of infant industries in Africa, while promising industries remain targets under the piercing eyes of privatization pioneered by the World Bank and IMF. It’s a mathematical certainty that such liberalization is a latent source of fiscal instability for African countries because of their high dependence on trade taxes for public revenue.
Over the past two decades it has come as an impostor of WB/IMF’s so called ‘economic reform programme for developing countries which all must subscribed to or risk refusal of debt relief by the so called G8 countries. Meanwhile, all that it brought to Africa is economic losses.
According to Claire Melamed of NGO Christian Aid, TRADE liberalization has cost sub-Saharan Africa $272 billion over the past 20 years while actual debt stood at $204. The difference he claimed has dwarfed the $40 billion worth of debt relief agreed at the G8 summit in Gleneagles, while the excess could cater for the schooling and vaccination of every child in Africa.
This is just a glimpse of the extent of economic exploitation that continued to shroud the continent. You may therefore ask, whose interest the IMF is serving?’’ Michael Manley of Jamaica said. “Ask--who set it up?’’ We are told by ROGER EBERT that IMF policies can be changed only by an 80 percent vote.
The United States, Japan, Germany, England, Canada and Italy control more than 80 percent of the votes. US alone controls 18 per cent of such voting rights such that when 85 percent majority is required for a decision to be passed, that percentage is enough for a veto power. Where is the African vote to save the continent from the perils of neocolonialism?
Africa has zero votes in the United Nations Security Council, the only continent that is blatantly denied a voting right in the world body’s most important seat. Africa is continually and systematically disenfranchised even as the continent covers 30.2 million km², 20.4% of the total land area of the earth.
As such, more than 1.0 billion people are denied a voting right to take part in deciding their destiny even as the world preach the gospel of global democracy, justice and equality of the races. However, the scenario above is meant to accord us the opportunity to reflect on the role that is ascribed to us as a continent and a people in the world economic stage.
This is not in anyway leveraging us to feel entirely innocent of these unfortunate circumstances both historical and current that plunge our continent and its peoples into. We instead have a bigger stake by failing to take charge and follow the fervent spirit that saw 32 African states march out of bondage into freedom by 1958.
That is why the AU is committed to fostering a stringent and lasting economic development and integration among nations of the African continent. It is a long and strenuous way to go with so many huddles to overcome in our walk to self determination.
But Minister Farrakhan has warned again that political independence is baseless if it is not supported by economic and educational and spiritual independence. We have no choice but to endeavour to conquer ignorance and forge economic unions and free trade zones amongst African nations, create a continental university, army high command, single currency, media house, single citizenry, etc. as prerequisite to advancement and sustainable progress.
Many Africans have been pessimistic about such possibility and thereby leaving the destiny of the continent to be decided by circumstances created by outside forces. However, in order to make it happen, I suggest we go back to the fundamentals outlined by our founding fathers.
Hence As we celebrate yet another Africa Day this year, my endeavour is not only to recount and treasure the diabolical efforts towards the attainment of freedom and independence, but also the extent to which we have gone in consolidating that freedom and independence.
On the occasion of the commemoration of this day, I therefore hope to recollect and recount on the creed of our founding fathers; liberation and unity, freedom and independence, altruism and sacrifice, who, on this day could choose to turn over in their graves with the sensation that we are upholding to their dreams, or remain still and stiff, in shrouded disillusion as we lament on our plights or disinclination to espouse those priceless ideals.
It is therefore a remainder of the efforts by those players who have sacrificed their blood sweat and tears in order to let us have the joy of living today. It is a remainder of our responsibilities as political leaders, states men and women, religious leaders, mothers, fathers, teachers, economists, business leaders, media practitioners, doctors, writers, skilled workers and the general citizenry of the continent, in really taking charge and directing our destiny instead of living them to chances or in the hands of our enemies.
Hence there is a need or if you like, an obligation on us to immortalize our founding fathers by safeguarding the most cherished values of those great sons and daughters, such as self-worthiness, sacrifice, unity and service to our dear continent and its peoples.
It is no news to Africans that those three atrocities of a holocaust magnitude account for Africa’s underdevelopment, ‘but’, and this is a big ‘BUT’, that was in the past, and I don’t mean to disguise the past, for it helps us in forecasting the future. But truly speaking we cannot perpetually remain indifferent to our responsibilities; to the fact that our fate as individuals and as a people rest entirely with us.
For Fifty-four years today all the fifty-three nations in Africa cannot still afford to be pointing fingers to the West, or South or East or North, for especially our lack of development in this generation. Otherwise it will continue to give room for us and our leaders to hide behind that pretext for failing to develop our dear continent.
Instead we must blame ourselves more for our lack of WILL and initiative, our reluctance to be true to ourselves; that we have our destinies in our hands collectively and as individuals and that we bear full responsibility to our progress or lack of it. It is common to blame our problems on every other person but ourselves, such that we don’t always see the part we play towards that effect, as a result we don’t readily see ourselves as part of the solutions. I therefore charge every African to start looking inward as individuals.
It was an individual before the group, hence it is our individual values, attitudes, actions and reactions that eventually shape actions and results. As individual Africans, those within and those in the Diaspora, we must begin to reorient and reconstruct ourselves.
In the words of James Allen, “As a being of Power, Intelligence, and Love, and the lord of his own thoughts, man holds the key to every situation, and contains within himself that transforming and regenerative agency by which he may make himself what he wills”.
If we truly ‘will’ for a lasting positive change for ourselves and Africa, we must definitely take charge of our destiny. I hence seek for a reconstruction of self for every African in order to finally marshal our forces towards a sustainable progress in a united Africa.