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Saturday, September 19, 2020

(editorial)The quest for African unity and the Diaspora

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The ideological foundation for the political and economic unification of the African continent which was laid by the likes of Ghana’s first president Dr Kwame Nkrumah remains a critical factor that has been shaping the debate on the issue of unity. The pan Africanist movement on the one hand vehemently supports that programme, and on the other hand conservative Africans brush most of it aside as nothing but a rigid and monolithic programme that would land us nowhere nearer  the  desired progress. With this debate  shaping the geopolitical landscape of African politics, we however remind our leaders and by extension the entire African citizenry, of the need to put into serious consideration the need for unity despite the aforementioned  schisms.  Africa has more pertinent matters to deal with than the endless rhetorical debate which although relevant have done little to bring about the much craved unity. 

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People of African descent are one group that cannot be neglected in this effort of the lack of unity when dealing with such issues. In our Monday 12 May edition we published the comments  of one of the most outspoken artistes from the Caribbean. Mutabaruka complained of the problem facing the African diaspora when it comes to having a visa to visit the motherland. He lamented  the fact that westerners do not need to have visas to come to The Gambia, while people of African descent are required to have visas  despite the fact that their ancestors are from the African continent. Now this is supposed to be a shame for any African who is concerned with African unity and pan Africanism as a programme for unification.

 

Even we find it hard to ever give back to our kindred in the western  hemisphere the privilege to travel easily between the two continents; we should at least be able to afford them opportunities to acquire citizenship or permanent residency. It could be remembered that the movement for the liberation of Africa from colonialism and imperialism started out in the African Diaspora with the likes of Henry Sylvester Williams, who organised the first pan African conference, which became a precursor to the much bigger and intense congresses by the erudite scholar Dr WEB du Bois. Their contribution to the  drive to stamp out colonialism was largely felt in 1945 in Manchester with the culmination of all the pan African congresses in the fifth pan-African congress. Inviting the leaders of the various movements fighting for independence, Dr Du Bois, George Padmore and others pumped a renewed vigour and zeal within all those in attendance. Shortly after this congress, the independence of our dear motherland started becoming a reality. 

 

Recalling also the speech of the great Malcolm X at the OAU, wherein he beseeched African leaders to treat People of African descent as their own brothers and sisters. He said as a matter of fact: “Your problems will never be fully solved until and unless ours are solved. You will never be fully respected until and unless we are also respected. You will never be recognised as free human beings until and unless we are also recognised and treated as human beings.”  Malcolm said this in the 60s but it still resonates as a mighty truth. Unless we see each other as kith and kin and work together with that spirit then we are being heedless to the words uttered by Malcolm.

 

Unity or no unity on a political and economic level, we should make all efforts to put aside our differences when it comes to uniting and working harmoniously with each other. In the fullness of time what would matter is how we handled our differences, not how we fought to be united.

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