An elaboration of a public lecture given at Rhodes University.
In this short paper, I want to argue that African unification, under the leadership of the OAU/ AU is not going to be achieved. We need to bring the issue to the African people themselves; after all, it concerns unity of African peoples 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.”
The political kingdom was reduced to the State. And unity was seen principally as a United States of Africa (or one African united government) to erect. And heads of States of Africa have been meeting regularly to talk about that. In relation to the question of African unity, both the Casablanca and the Monrovia groups acted in similar way.
Some differences arose, basically in relation to personality incongruence and the momentum or the pace of the realization of that objective. Some favored a gradualist pace, taking inspiration from what was understood of the model of the European Union process —moving from economic emphasis, regional integration up to the political union. Others wanted to go as fast as possible to have the United States of Africa, by forming one government, and work out the details of the building of united Africa, led by that government—which would be more competent in handling basic problems faced by the present micro-states, much more so than by any loose collection of these states.
This was, in some sense, the outcome of the process and struggles within the Pan-Africanist Movement—which originated from the Americas, among the slave descendant Diaspora: it grew from a mass based tendency, as in the organization of Marcus Garvey, to an intellectualist elite based movement—making a break that almost led to the neglect of African masses of people. The role of these masses became seen as being less and less crucial. This break was, partly, doctrinally theorized in N’Krumah’s Consciencism. This was a sort of consciousness of African liberation to be introduced into the masses of African people from the outside, from the elite. It was with A. Cabral that the intellectualist elite was required to commit class suicide and return to the sources, that is to re-connect with the masses of people and their cultural resistance ways. Very few committed class suicide in that sense; many did it in the other sense of distancing themselves further from the masses of people and becoming closer to imperialists, they mostly served as the latter’s local ally, their reigning class.
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.” The singular events and their political prescriptions as well as their militants should be identified. The OAU/AU is no longer the site of such a politics in the epoch of neo-colonialism.
This tendency of separation from the masses of people 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 (3): “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.” This may explain why they failed to think of a mechanism of African unity, similar to the Dar-es-Salaam based Liberation Committee, to really focus on the actualization of the objective.
We can see that many micro-states did not even work out a real meaningful unity in their own respective Berlinist “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. The latter believed themselves that their languages are incapable to express scientific knowledge. The state use of the colonial language was seen as helping in creating unity at the cost of repressing indigenous languages, thus, excluding their speakers who did not know the colonial one.
Where creative attempts at creating national unity through the state took place, it was often done at the expense of many languages and cultural experiences almost forced into oblivion. The rich experiences accumulated through those languages and dialects, –supposedly as a way of transcending tribalism–, were almost left into decay. Is it not this criminal? Indeed, very few countries tried to install in people a consciousness of African-ness of cultural pluralism. Ante-colonial nations divided by colonialism, straddling between the colonial borders, were almost obliged to keep the ties between the parts in different countries, clandestinely. Those parts of nations should have been a kind of glue in the relationships of people to people as a solid basis for state to state relations. Instead, state to state relations have emphasized state security. People of the nationalities living around the borders do not recognize these in their daily activities.
Needless to say that with the proclamation of the sanctity of colonial borders (at the Cairo OAU Summit, 1964) the relatively short colonial historical period of the African long History was made to appear as the core of that History. Territorial “national History” was seen as the core of what was taught as History in schools. Not, even, that of enslavement which lasted for centuries was assigned that status. In many countries, even just a monument to a run-away slave does not exist. The long history of capitalist enslavement seems to have left a real amnesia in African people. Sufferings, tribulations and humiliations of their sold/or kidnapped sisters and brothers, the devastation of the remaining communities, etc., are hardly remembered. Let alone the need to reclaim their descendants. It was in Brazil, through former president Lula, that the crucial question was asked: ‘Despite all the sufferings, humiliations, tribulations, premature deaths, etc., Africans survived. What made them survive?’ He suggested to researcher historians to find it out and what will be found should be made the basis of education.
Although, people’s stories give an account of the brothers and sisters who were captured and taken away and their descendants were said, hopefully, to come back some day—this is true in the area of ex-Kongo kingdom. It is probably true in other traditions’ stories as well. The African people’s movement of the enfranchisement of African descendants of slaves has hardly taken momentum within the African people (4).
Independent micro-states are closer to their former colonialist States, more so than their immediate contiguous neighbors, formerly colonized by other colonialist countries. The same situation holds with the realm of knowledge. Former colonized people know more history and culture of their former colonialist countries than those of their contiguous neighbors colonized by different colonialist countries. This has hardly changed.
Despite the sanctity of colonial borders, border conflicts have not been lacking, especially when a resource running across the borders has been discovered. For example, conflicts arose between Nigeria and Cameroon with oil found on the border, Somalia and Kenya with oil, Angola/Democratic Republic of Congo with diamonds-(at Kahemba)—and oil, recently Tanzania and Malawi with gas in the lake Nyasa, etc. Some countries try, by use of violence, to loot the resources in the neighboring country (Rwanda, Uganda in relation to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.) No creative political imagination is witnessed: no proposals of joint ventures envisioned to exploit, by mutual cooperation, the common resources; no political ideas such as formation of federation or confederation with a rotating leadership contemplated. The colonialist conquest spirit has been internalized.
The need to take up the necessity of going beyond the consequences of the Berlin Conference (1884-1885) and related treaties consolidating the scramble of Africa, and work out and move on a different basis—resolving the “national questions”—has hardly been visualized. The colonial “fait accompli” has become the cement for the building of independent nation-states. Pre-colonial nationalities divided by the scramble, which found themselves in different micro-states, have been kept separated and often made subjects of suspicion in the respective micro-states. The colonial state is even viewed as the representative of the modern state, not as a yoke.
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 (5), 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.”(6) The whole Accra speech could be viewed as some sort of an important constructive self-criticism by one of the actors of the OAU/AU.
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, as Tom Burgis has shown in his The Looting Machine (7) African presidents occupy a big place in the systematic theft of Africa’s wealth. The rivalry does also take place through that machine.
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. The Sudan has already been balkanized. Boko Haram, in Nigeria, wants to create a Caliphate, Libya has two governments; the balkanization pressure is being exerted on the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mali.
Starting 1993, an opinion, according to which the never-ending crisis in the DRC is due to the fact that the country is too big, has been circulating in the USA. I discussed this question, in 2000, with the UN Security Council group that visited us in Kampala. I told the group which suggested that the DRC should be divided into 4 micro-states for peace to be achieved. I said that if the size was the motive force of peace or lack of it, then, smaller countries such as Somalia, Rwanda and Burundi should have been the most peaceful. Balkanizing the DRC into 4 micro-states would lead to more infighting, as some of those new states will be land locked and have less natural resource endowments. Still, the pressure lingers on though.
Through its under-Secretary and Secretary of State (George Moose in front of the Senate, 1993 and Ron Brown, in Dakar) the USA has made it clear that it wants to have direct access to the African natural resources without passing through Europe. Circumstances leading to genocides and enduring crises around the African Great Lakes has a lot to do with the implementation of that decision (8).
Through the alliance between the U.S.A., NATO and Israel, that a new remapping of Africa is taking place, at the expense, so it seems ironically, of France and Italy. The struggle to impose a “regime change” to Libya seems to have accelerated this process (9).
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.” We would not be surprised to see that the “struggle against terrorism” (its source of funding and weapons –and even training and instigation– needs to be investigated) may be an occasion to satisfy the hunger for natural resources and markets. 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”.
Defense budgets of micro-states keep rising. Despite that, Africa is proving to be unable to even handle the armed conflicts on the continent-without the outside help. This was seen with what happened in Mali, Ivory Coast, Libya, Central-African Republic, etc. Those arms are often used to intimidate, terrorize or repress the countries’ own people. Going to participate in UN sponsored military interventions for peace has become a way of making money more than for humanitarian concern.
The absence in Africa of the equivalent of NATO still perpetuates the state of siege Africa has been under for centuries. We note that the USA military presence (through Africom, secret operations and operatives, etc.) is rising (10) and that of the People’s Republic of China has begun. In the eventuality of clash between these powers over the access to strategic resources in Africa, Africa is not prepared to deal with it. NATO intervened in Libya to remove M.Gaddafi; Africa had nothing to counter it—notwithstanding her possible alignment to that removal. As neo-liberalism is a globalised laissez-faire, multinational corporations have become the dominant actors. Africa is not blessed with having the transnational corporations of her own. There are cases, like in the DRC, where the low intensity warfare is enhanced by the activities of those corporations—there are now 85 of them involved in exploiting the DRC.
We may wonder why the reduction to an extreme minimum of the state has been the core principle of neo-liberalism. (Of course, this hardly applies to the originators of that form of globalization. The USA has still to reduce its state.) With reduced states and no transnational corporations of their own—with the reduction to an extreme minimum of social program, i.e, the abandonment of their own large masses of people—African micro-states have no way to really compete in the globalised market.
We should say something about the current world conjuncture. From the U.S.A. point of view, the end of the Cold War was only the collapse or defeat of the Communist world and not an occasion of another peace treaty—which would probably have redefined a new role for the UNO (11). The U.S.A. proclamation of a New World Order signified that the U.S.A. intended to reorganize the world, with the allies or singlehandedly, for its growing interests. This led to the pursuit of the strategy of “The Globalization of war: America’s ‘Long war’ against Humanity”(12) and the re-empowerment of NATO—rather than dissolve it, as was the case with the Warsaw Pact organization. The September 11, 2001 reinforced the need for that “Long war” program, now justified by “the war against terrorism”—which, in general way, it generated.
Michel Chossudovsky writes: “While this renewed East-West confrontation has mistakenly been labeled a ‘New Cold War,’ none of the safeguards of The Cold War era prevail. International diplomacy has collapsed. Russia has been excluded from the Group of Eight (G-8), which has reverted to the G-7 (Group of Seven Nations). There is no ‘Cold War East-West dialogue’ between competing superpowers geared towards avoiding military confrontation. In turn, the United Nations Security Council has become a de facto mouthpiece of the U.S. State Department.” (13) There may be some exaggeration, but, it points to the gravity of the situation. Faced with this situation, Africa whose interests may not always be in line with those of the U.S.A. should see that it is in her interest to revitalize the international diplomacy. This will require, at the very minimum, a united African voice. Ironically, it is the U.S.A. remapping Africa away from the Berlin conference’s mapping (14)
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.
Let it be said that the African masses of people are hardly informed regularly about what is being accomplished in Addis-Ababa, nor are they actively invited to know, appreciate what the rulers are doing, nor asked for their peoples’ thoughts. As far as I know, not a single experience of referendum voting on the issue has taken place in any country. The question of the unification of Africa was never organizationally brought inside the African people. No real attempt, as far as I know, at a pro-people involvement in the unification process was ever made. We know that Africa is the continent which hardly has control over the media and the sources of information in the world. Some dictators, in Africa, make of misinformation as a policy of governance. This explains the banishing of journals and radios or TV channels providing sometime interesting information.
Massive and brutal expulsions, by African micro-states, of Africans from other micro-states as for example Congo/Brazzaville expelling brutally Congolese (from the DRC), Angola doing the same and the recent Xenophobic attacks with killings, by South Africa, brought to the fore the fact that African micro-states have become among the worst divisive forces of the African people. One should just listen to the stories the refugees tell. Quite a few countries have a lot of internally displaced people. Non-Africans are hardly so expelled.
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. The tragedy that shows its head at Lampedusa(15) is very shameful to Africa. Yet no serious attention has been given to that tragedy by African rulers. It is one of those issues that African unity would provide a basis for a definite solution.
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. We can see what this sort of motivation seems to be doing in China.
Being increasingly shaped by the short term market considerations, African universities, in the main, are declining. Quality is giving in to market project considerations and fundamental research is thus suffering. Intellectual workers (as those organized through CODESRIA) seem to be affected by positivism which is rising with globalization conservatism. This is so at a time when Africa needs to embark more and more on doing fundamental research.
In the general atmosphere of neo-liberalist globalization, dominated by multinational corporations and military superpowers, larger geopolitical units have a better chance for emergence. There is a lot of wishful talk about African micro-states becoming “emergent States’ by 2035. Without any critical mass of quality intellectual/technological workers, let alone clear vision and real commitment, emergence is not going to take place (16).
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.”(17) 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 (18).
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. No archaeological mission in Egypt, by most of the micro-states to really study that history, exists. There are 17 outside missions for that purpose (19). Most of African universities are not even teaching that history, concentrating on a History in which Africans are either humiliated or seen as victims. Nationalist history hardly went beyond colonial resistances. African people singular subjectivities have hardly retained the attention of teachers, etc. Very few among the African politicians have any significant knowledge of the history of Haiti, for example.
Natural resources on the continent are not well distributed. Some areas are short in basic resources such as water and fertile soil. The need for redistribution of resources, not only inside each country but also around the continent, must not be left to the market whose dynamics in the main is controlled by outside stronger forces. Instead of thinking in the perspective of African unity, some countries are aggressing neighbors to pillage their resources. In place of imagining possibilities of creation of confederations or federations as possible structures through which to collectively share resources; some want to redesign borders as a way of acquiring resources they do not have (20).
The world is faced with major dangers threatening the very existence of humanity if not life itself. These include a possibility of a nuclear war, a failure to address on time the climate change, an uncontrollable epidemic and the underlining facilitating factor, the poor quality of world leadership. An African unified voice in the “battle of ideas”(21) on these dangers would have more impact than in isolation.
Of course, as the African proverb says, one must clean one’s house before visiting others’ houses. We know that the question of leadership quality or just leadership per se, is a very serious issue. African rulers have increasingly failed to transform themselves into leaders. Many dream of becoming kings rather than responsible leaders of Republics. How African unity will be arrived at, especially if it is through African people movement and pressure, will make it possible to have a relatively good African leadership.
In the past, nuclear weapons, even tactical ones, were discarded as instruments of conventional warfare. It is said that in the “Long war” project, the U.S. Pentagon has reclassified them as possible tools to be used in conventional warfare. This is a grave step towards a possible nuclear war. We note that more and more, Russia, China and North Korea are being projected as enemies and being surrounded by the NATO’s deployment of forces in Ukraine and East Europe and the “U.S. Pivot to Asia” project aimed at “military encirclement” of China (22) . Both Russia and China have become capitalist countries; but, nevertheless, a first strike pre-emptive nuclear attack against both countries is contemplated.
It is in the interest of Africa to keep being a zone of no nuclear weapons. This cannot be guaranteed as long as the military presence in Africa of major powers is increasing. Africa has an important reserve of, among other things, uranium, needed in making those weapons. Atomic bombs, dropped on civilian populations at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, were made with minerals coming from Africa (from Belgian Congo). Africa should be alert to a use of her resources for the extermination of life on Earth. More and more micro-states with uranium are losing control over their mines.
Similarly, Africa has the second lung of humanity, in the person of the equatorial forest—the first one being the Amazonian forest in Brazil. Africa should, in conjunction with Brazil, have a strong voice on the question of climate change. She should also be in the vanguard in shifting towards the reliance on solar energy, for example. Here too, it would be easier to engage in this pursuit through African unity.
Last, but not least, the battle for drinking water will very soon move towards the center stage. Africa has major sources of fresh water. Within Africa, fresh water is not well distributed. African unity may help Africa take up this challenge as well.
Of course, there are more other reasons for African unity; the ones mentioned here may be sufficient enough.
African unification is possible. There are difficulties of African unification which will need to be overcome. There are historic difficulties, cultural difficulties, language difficulties, psycho-social/gender difficulties, educational difficulties, economic/technological difficulties and political, moral and martial difficulties. I follow here what the group around Tdka Kilimanjaro dealt with (23). I am not going to deal with all the difficulties as these need also to be researched systematically. We shall give some indications only.
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.
For centuries, African development was undermined. Outsiders engaging in invading Africa, seizing land, conquering Africans, enslaving the remnants of African civilization—hardly even now at the disposal of African people—and peoples and stealing cultures. There are more African pieces of cultural creation in the Western museums and private collections than in Africa today. Almost no effort has been made to reclaim those robbed creations.
Millions of Africans have been extracted from Africa; due to poor policies of African rulers/collaborators/dictators, Africans are still forced to leave Africa or lured into clandestine slavery. Africans have been robbed of their natural resources through naked force or commercial robbery. Enslavers and their descendants, colonialists and their descendants “progressed” at the expense of Africans; they became rich because they made Africans poor; and in fact, on the basis of the African blood. And they still come to Africa to teach Africans how to develop. Their historians went their way to prove that poverty was indigenous to Africa. Africans will survive only, it is claimed, on the basis of Western assistance (24). African self-reliance is, however, still the key to African progress.
The colonialist policy of divide and rule and that of civilizing mission have marked considerably the African personality. The psycho-cultural consciousness has been formatted through curricula of slavery and domination. Until now, educational systems still need being revamped and a new curriculum should be devised. Most African micro-states give very little budgetary attention to education.
There have been man-made disasters, wars and diseases. Forced economic disasters such as the WB/IMF ‘structural adjustment’, austerity measures, etc., benefiting only few collaborators, making millions suffer. No real interest in the health of Africans; while profiting from abundant mineral resources, multinational enterprises and their supporting States and organizations and local collaborators have been the real architects of poverty. Out of 23 poorest countries in the world, 19 are African (25). The first poorest country on the list is, of course, the Democratic Republic of Congo which is potentially one of the richest.
Briefly, historically, a lot of resources have been taken from Africa, more through commercial robbery than forced one, leaving Africans, in the majority, impoverished, starving, diseased and sick with curable diseases, without jobs—whole populations affected by malnutrition.
Despite long term exploitation of natural resources for economic and human development some development exists but nor sufficient. Economic growth and human development require a reasonable level of technology to produce enough needed goods and distribute them. The level of technology, with the destruction of the ancient basis, is very low to make a difference. In many countries, the old artisanal and craft basis (blacksmith, craftsmanship, etc.) have been destroyed with very little replacement. Africa has been, after the destruction of KMT civilization, faced for a long time with almost no continually evolving technology in society necessary to deliver more necessities.
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”.
Technology develops on the basis of the principle: different tools can be combined to get better tools, the more tools one has the more combinations possible and more better tools. All those historic difficulties may be easily overcome through African masses of people based African unity.
There are cultural difficulties which include language problems. There are hundreds of languages on the continent. But, these too are not insurmountable. European Union has 27 members and 23 languages are recognized as official. Europeans speak in their own languages. In the African Union, it is mostly foreign languages used. Important work on the relative unity of African languages has been done (26). The Bantu languages, for example, about 40% of the continent, have similar lexical, phonological and grammatical characteristics. Other languages have lexical similarity with Bantu languages. With the help of linguistic science through technical procedures, language difficulties could be reduced. Fewer languages could be developed as official languages for the whole continent. Work is still going on to the fact that all those hundreds or so languages may have common roots. The study of Ancient Egypt civilization is very important for this question as well. And the more Africans mix among themselves, the more the issue of language will be resolved.
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 (27).
In any case, there is a need for institutions of interconnectedness to enhance an inter-African mutual historical familiarization. This is necessary to remove the vast ignorance every African has of the other Africans, every African state has of the other African states, and every nation or nationality has of the other nations or nationalities. Preconditions to the popularization of inter-African knowledge and mutual comprehension have to be visualized and put in place. Very little has been done, by each country, to reduce African academic, educational, linguistic, cultural, artistic, intellectual and sociopolitical dependence on the colonial states of France, England, America, etc. We need ways of enhancing folklore interconnectedness and reciprocal knowledge; religious-spiritual interconnectedness and reciprocal knowledge, artistic interconnectedness and reciprocal knowledge, educational-academic interconnectedness and reciprocal knowledge, intellectual-philosophical interconnectedness and reciprocal knowledge, etc. (28)
There are psychological, social and gender difficulties. I referred to the colonially formatted psycho-cultural consciousness infused with alien behavior, thought patterns, habits, daily practices, routines and social patterns. The domination of women: these have carried the populations, the family and civilization during the whole time of Africa being dominated. Some Africans have been engaging in female mutilation. Those who have been spending millions to become whitish reveal psychological and cultural alienation. For a long time, Africa lost its power of naming, of symbolizing, of expressing, of imagining, etc. Explorers went around naming things, disregarding the local names. Lake Mwanza/Nyanza becomes lake Victoria, for example. Even naming and classifying people— “Bantu, Hamites, Pygmies, etc.,”_. Notions of “beauty”, of “grandeur”, of “heroic”, “politeness”, “fashions”, etc. have been tampered with. With the loss of the sense of shame, of fear, of sacredness; arbitrariness has taken over. The whole cultural expression of the relationship of unity with nature has been torn apart, in some sense. Totemic practice, a cultural expression of unity with nature, was treated as the clearest expression of savagery! Community palaver, an expression of governance, was seen as a waste of time. Food, dress, drinks, etc., have been re-adjusted without necessarily any way of telling what is best. Quite a few diseases have been aggravated or provoked by so-called modern eating.
The general accumulated alienation which marks Africans needs to be addressed. There must be a need for cleaning up, waking up and standing up. Healing of the African submissive consciousness, self-hatred, feeling of victimhood, self-destruction, self-lowering, self-blinding, lack of self-esteem, inferiority complex in front of Whites especially, in brief, that healing is needed to cleanse the African or to allow her/him to self-heal, to self-cleanse. Women who spend so much money to bleach their skin to look whitish will use their money more meaningfully.
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. Of course, within cultures as lived by the masses of people some clues for general healing do exist, one needs only to identify them by a study of singular subjective mass emergences. Community palaver practices or Community mass self-healing and cleansing practices (eg. ‘Lemba’ and ‘Munkukusa’ in Kongo area) are examples.
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.
Cases of epidemics (Ebola, HIV, etc.) in Africa have shown the difficulties of health care. The cumulated legacy of African suffering, the low life expectancy due to chronic problems such as poor nutrition, lack of safe drinking water, inappropriate sewage systems and lack of indigenous control of immunization systems—mostly in the hands of outsiders—and insufficient medical structures emphasizing prevention over cure, all these militate in weakening the health of Africans. Add to this malaria or paludism, a most debilitating disease on the continent that causes havoc especially on children below five years; all these constitute the elements of health difficulties. But, we should also say that invaders found Africans on the continent kicking and vibrant; there must have been ways of health care that need to be studied and re-activated. My great uncle used to say: “colonialists found us here alive; after they have taken over our land, they turn around and say that without them coming we would have died.”
To eradicate most of those elements require sufficient resources that united Africa could generate and a strong commitment (due to the pressure masses of people when organized exercise on their true leaders). Micro-states, in general, have been according to people’s health needs very little budget. Dependency on foreign philanthropy to deal with those problems has been showing its limits. Overpopulation scare is often a found pretext to prescribe measures which seem to be genocidal (29)
The ongoing Ebola epidemic has shown how Africa is unprepared to handle her own medical needs. Rulers and their friends and family members go abroad for their medical needs and thus neglect those of the majority of the people they claim to rule. Medical facilities are ill attended, medical personnel needs are not well satisfied, medical equipment and supplies are often not in line with the current level of the arts. It is shameful to see that little Cuba was most ready and effective in intervening promptly to help deal with the Ebola epidemic crisis. It took a long time before the AU could send a team to the affected areas. All that many countries of Africa did was to cut physical contacts with the affected areas. While this helps reduce the spray of the disease, people had still to tackle it. The increasing lack of consideration of the sacredness and respect of life translates also into the neglect of the health of African people. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, they have reached even to the practice of burying dead bodies of the poor people in a single mass grave as garbage. People’s general health (physical, mental, moral and spiritual) is the key for even development to be sustained. Physically our people are not well attended, morally our rulers are not showing example, mentally the curricula are not stimulating and spiritually dependence on foreign shepherds is emphasized.
Economic and technological difficulties frustrate the need to substantially increase the level of production and widespread distribution of necessities to Pan-Africanist citizens. Africans are about 17% of the world population but account only for 0.4% manufacturing capacity and insufficient agricultural and industrial production. The territorial nationalist ideologies and behaviors’ impact, on the people, have prevented rulers of micro-states to take up seriously this question; they can only handle questions which are of the magnitude of their micro-states. The celebration of “high level of rates of growth” with no meaning at the level of the majority of population reinforces that impact.
The market short term logic of immediate profit, especially when planning activities are placed in foreign institutions, makes the rulers become bogged down and are happy with the little rent they get through extractive industries which dominate their small economies. Some of them sacrifice the vital interests of the population by accepting small amounts of commissions (kick backs) and let the so-called investors leave the exploited environment ravaged and very little human capital formed.
All the attempts at continental planning level and vision of development, from the Lagos Plan to NEPAD have ended in disarray. Almost they ended the same way as the most creative popular experiences, such as Ujamaa socialist villages (30) ended: complete failure to primarily rely on one’s forces, human especially. Indeed, the rulers have willingly let themselves have their economies be mis-planned (almost disorganized), from the point of view of the majority of the people, by international institutions such as the IMF/WB.
Political, moral and martial difficulties frustrate African people while trying to systematically deal with their own problems. African rulers have stopped leading their own people and they are mostly responding towards the World powers that be and looting the resources needed to improve the conditions and welfare of the large majority of the people.
Some have engaged in liquidating adversaries, using either poison or fabricated accusations to get them imprisoned, let alone use of corruption. Some act as political comedians, excited for being rulers, but actually dwell in the preoccupations of the short term—money, woman, alcohol, etc. They give one the impression of having had no practice of having kept a statement of personal mission—functioning as a personal constitution. That is why they have such hatred of the national Constitution of which they claim to be the guarantor. Violation of the constitution is the greatest act of corruption. As the latter is a failure of fidelity to upholding principles.
Some surround themselves with sycophants and who hardly read anything that is pertinent and thus tragically hardly know what is going on around them, let alone the world. Here is the way a group of researchers summarizes it: “The self-serving ruling class in Africa today generally has a stranglehold on power in various nations. There are exceptions. The rule however is that governments are funded, trained, supported and armed by Whites, Arabs to defend the resources they are getting (for almost nothing) from fragmented African nations. In some instances, they terrorize their own people with weapons of their nation’s oppressors. They allocate over 18% of the nation’s GNP for their class defense and the defense of their private property, yet they only allocate approximately 1.8% on health care for the entire nation.”(31) The rulers are the first to ruin their own countries’ ‘national sovereignty’.
Another writer has described the situation of African countries as being dealt with, as we mentioned earlier, by “The Looting Machine” involving “warlords, tycoons, smugglers and systematic theft of Africa’s wealth.” A system in which “rapacious African presidents and warlords, rapacious and more demanding transnational corporations, and their bankers, advisers and customers far away from Africa in New York, London, Paris and Zurich”(32), swimming in “ global culture that values products of pillage”, constitutes “The Looting Machine.” We can probably say that it is the “rapacious presidents” who mostly help to make this machine possible. Maybe, we could also say that people deserve the rulers they get. Maybe we have failed to a great extend to uphold our responsibility, despite all the odds against us all the people, to give ourselves real leaders. We only celebrate ‘heroic leaders’ who were killed before actualizing their pro-people vision!
In some countries, rulers have looked at martial and sport activities in schools negatively. One minister in Tanzania removed sports altogether from schools. But, when it comes to games such as soccer competitions, they become excited and some find through them occasions for looting. Ancient Africans from KMT have always insisted on upholding the link between heart, mind and body (MAAT<-> DJUTY<->HERU). That connection provides good living. The U.S.A. is afraid of engaging Iran in a conventional warfare, according to Michel Chossudovsky, because Iranians are, almost all of them, trained militarily and in martial arts. African people, in the most part, are not so trained and are easily intimidated and terrorized. There are exceptions, of course.
Without going into details about all the difficulties and obstacles, let me end by saying that we need to study systematically to reveal those obstacles and thus find ways of removing them. I think that the creation of a mechanism for African unity will be a starting point.
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.
Within each conjuncture, the Committee will identify pro-African unification events and African forces, among the people, readily agitating for African unity or at least expressing a political subjectivity for such a unity. The idea is to aim at creating a political space for African unity, free from micro-state’s space of command. This is to try to find ways of relaxing, in the people, the micro-state fetishism and the belief that only the state can do anything concerning African unity. African people think African unification; we need to attend to their thinking.
When we look around us, on the streets, etc., all we mostly see are commercial publicity materials, emphasizing the fact that market short logic, consumerism, money are the only things that count. We need to embellish our social environment with African cultural, historical materials displayed everywhere. Names of heroes on the streets and public buildings are not enough. We need crucial historical images and figures, political environment images; we need images and figures of artists, musicians, etc. displayed. In brief, the Committee must help make the social environment where people live and interact be a learning environment conducive to an awakening to African renaissance.
The Committee shall encourage pan-African encounters/exchange/reciprocity/visits among intellectuals (especially organic intellectuals of the people), artists, musicians, women, youth, sportsmen, griots or folklore and story tellers, old people, medium people, scientists, etc. Encourage people to agitate against the sanctity of colonial borders and the rigidity of immigration procedures vis-à-vis African people.
Those are just few suggestions. I hope I provoked enough the reader’s thinking on this important issue. I do wish that each of us will continue dealing with it.
1. I have been thinking on this issue with some friends, for sometime now.
2. The lecture was delivered on May 27th, 2015 at Rhodes University in Gramstown, RSA. I am grateful to Mike Neocosmos and colleagues of the university for having invited me.
3. “Without unity, Africa has no future” a speech Mwalimu J. Nyerere delivered in Accra on the 6th of March 1997 to mark the occasion of Ghana’s 40th independence anniversary.
4. In 2005, on the initiative of a Congolese woman-medium, a group of Congolese created a “Movement for African Enfranchisement.” One ceremony took place to enfranchise a slave descendant from Antigua who returned to the land of his ancestors. I was a member of the group.
5. Ali Mufuriki, “Reflections on Late President Kwame Nkrumah’s Pan-Africanism Legacy.” A Keynote address. Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa, delivered in Bahar Dar, Ethiopia on !8th April 2015.
6. Mwalimu J. Nyerere, op cit. p.5.
7. Tom Burgis, The Looting Machine. London: Williams Collins, 2015.
8. The literature on this issue is already very rich. One could read: Robin Philpot, Rwanda and the New Scramble for Africa. From Tragedy to Useful Imperial Fiction. Montreal, Canada: Baraka Books, 2013. And by Patrick Mbeko and Honore Ngbanda-Nzaambo,Strategie du Chaos et du Mensonge. Poker Menteur en Afrique des Grands Lacs. Quebec, Canada : Editions de l’Erabliere, 2014
9. Michel Chossudovsky,The Glabalization of War. America’s “Long War against Humanity. Montreal, Canada: Global Research Publishers, 2015. Especially chap. VIII.
10. Nick Turse, Tomorrow’s Battlefield: US Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa. A Dispatch Books Project. Chicago, Il.: Haymarket Books, 2015.
11. Vladmir Putin’s speech. See. http://cluborlov.blogspot.fi/2014/10/putin-t0-western-elites-play-time-is.html?m=1
12. Michel Chossudovsky, op.cit.
13. Nick Turse, op cit. especially, chap. 9.
14. Michel Chossudovsky, op. cit.
15. Hundreds of African people, trying to reach Europe in search for green pastures, are continuously being swindled by pirates drowning in the sea nd being buried at Lampedusa, Italy.
16. Therese F. Azeng has recently studied this issue in her “Cinquante ans de planification du developpement en Afrique: Regard retrospectif sur quelques experiences continentales. » Journal of African Transformation. Vol.1, No.1, 2015, pp. 101-117.
17. Tdka Kilimanjaro et al. Survival Organization. Build African Institutions of a New Type. Detroit, Mi.: University of KMT Press, 2014, chap. 2.
18. Mueni wa Mutu and Guy Martin, A New Paradigm of The African State: Fundi wa Africa. New York, NY.: Palgrave MacMillan, 2009, pp.195-196.
19. Muhammad Shamsaddin Megalommatis, “Afrocentrism & the African Renaissance Movement.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAdb6dNYdfs
20. Both Rwanda and Uganda have been agitating for the redrawing of their borders with the Democratic Republic of Congo.
21. Fidel Castro Cruz’s interview in Michel Chossudovsky, op cit. chap II, pp.45-71.
22. Michel Chossudovsky, op cit.
24. Mueni wa Mutu and Guy Martin, op.cit.
25. IMF 2015 Report.
26. Theophile Obenga, Origine commune de l’egyptien ancien, du copte et des langues negro-africaines modernes. Introduction a la linguistique historique africaine. Paris : L’Harmattan, 1993. And Felix F. Chami makes certain interesting observations in his: The Unity of African Ancient History: 3000BC to AD 500. Dar-as-Salaam, Tza, E&D Limited, 2006.
27. A group of researchers, of which I am a member, have been translating some Ancient Egyptian texts into African languages.
28. Muhammad Shamsaddin Megalommatis, op.cit.
29. Mueni Mutu and Guy Martin, op.cit.
30. Tdka Kilimnjaro et al. op. cit. p.
31. See for example, Ralph Ibbott, Ujamaa: The Hidden Story of Tanzania’s Socialist villages. London: Crossroards Books, 2014.
32. Tom Burgis, The Looting Machine, op.cit. And also see Howard French,” The Plunder of Africa: How Everybody Holds the Continent Back.” A Review of the book in Foreign Affairs, June/August 2015 issue.