Many people tend to look at this dream or target of a United States of Africa as out of place, while some indeed see it as too late, our countries(colonial structures) have spent so much time as single entities, some see it as unrealistic owing to the several tribes and languages that exist on the continent and there exist some that see the move as unnecessary and like Tafawa Balewa suggest a loose unity with a good a good working relationship.
Africa has gone through over 400 years of combined suffering, from slave trade and labour(it might interest you to know that every black person on earth is originally African), to about 100 years of colonialism and now over 50 years of bad leadership in most nations of the continent. These factors have led to the loss of cultural concepts and has left most people frowning at the glorious and positive aspects of African culture looking to the West for solutions. It has led to a total breakdown, yes there is westernisation but that is accompanied by exploitation(we must have read of the activities of diamond companies and oil companies along with Apartheid and CIA sponsorship of coups etc) all aimed at keeping Africa dependent and subject to the imperialist nations of Europe and America. And yes they do this because Africa is important, it is the richest continent in terms of resources and with its large human populace too and fair weather if Africa realises its potential, it will automatically rule the world and several techniques have been adopted to achieve this. Through what we call civilisation we have through time been made to believe that progress comes from the West and very little good can originally come from Africa. And we are quick to say philosophy started in Greece, not Egypt and teach it in school and say governance did not exist before the whites came. We forget that medicine,Christianity, Islam all have their roots in Africa. So these factors have made us, who at times are smarter to have this inferiority complex, we see it even amongst some of our leaders. I must quote Malcolm X at this point:
“What makes the so-called negro unable to stand on his own two feet? He has no self-confidence. He has no pride in his own race. Because the white man destroyed your and mine past. Destroyed our knowledge of our culture. And by having destroyed it, now we don’t know if we have any achievements, any accomplishments. And as long as you can be convinced that you have never did anything you will never do anything. This is why the white man, his little children, he tells them about George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, all these white heroes. But, we are never taught about any black heroes. The only someone we are shown in history is my grandfather was picking cotton. Cotton picking don’t move me. No! But when it comes to teaching the black people something about great black men who stood their ground, who were scientists, who were civilizers, who were fathers of culture and civilizations, the white man has surely written that role out of the text books And today the effect it has on you and me, we don’t think we can stand on our own two feet.” –Malcolm X
Yes, this is where we still are today and in order to make life better for us we have to act. We have to amend, believe in us and not thinking of aid form outside all the time. We can do it. We can succeed. We may not speak our languages or wear our clothes but our spirit is still African.
Now, you may ask, if Africa is so important, why are we so poor? After all we are independent, why has the richest continent in terms of resources got the poorest people?
Now, we must realise that currency plays a vital role, America has the largest oil reserve but doeasnt have much crude oil originally but trade in oil is done in dollars, we in Nigeria export crude oil and import petroleum products, our resources are bought cheap but we buy things very expensive. African unity is important because the more we are economically divided the more we would be short changed, its a technique called balkanisation where several economically non-viable states exist. And of course since African nations are either modelled as Arab states or European psychologically we are almost at home with our loss. We do not dictate the prices of goods on our land. Economically its important we unite to make this happen, imagine the continent with the largest amount of resources with a single formidable currency, that will be a step. Quoting Kwame Nkrumah:
“A continent like Africa however much it increases its agricultural output will not benefit unless it is sufficiently politically & economically united to force the developed world to pay it a fair price for its cash crops…so long Africa remains divided it will therefore be the wealthy consumer countries that will dictate the prices of African cash crops” -KWAME NKRUMAH, 1965
Politically too, we have seen at times how we have betrayed each other in times of conflict, we have also seen how we have been insulted by the West when we make policies for us. For example Britain’s threat to withdraw aid from Nigeria if gay laws are passed. I don’t support the laws but that is disrespect for sovereignty. It is a crazy today in Africa. We can’t even fight our battles yet we claim independence.
And yes, Pan-Africanism is not aimed at racism, neglecting or rejecting the positive of the West but justice as we know there is no peace without justice. The United Nations for example shows how Africa is placed in world politics, world politics should be equitable.
We must realise that we should not tow the path of self pity by begging the imperialists for liberation, we know that Obama took an oath to protect and serve Americans, and not us for example, if Africa will progress its on us to unite, build our industry, be truthful, purposeful and do away with our fake leaders, we must think positive and act! Our tribes differ but we are united by the blood shed of our ancestors! Common suffering! We must look at the example set by the Viet Cong who fought in unity beyond tribal differences! Study! Teach! I conclude with a quote by Fela Anikulapo-Kuti:
“…all of the African leaders look up to Europe for progress, you cannot know the white man’s thing better than the white man, so therefore you cannot intend to progress at the same level with the white man. You see Africa has not been able to contribute its own knowledge to this universe but there is knowledge in Africa”
Atuchukwu Kamsi O.