Africa Liberation day is a time for reaffirming our commitment to pan-Africanism; a day of reflecting on the realisation of a united Africa envisioned by Kwame Nkrumah, who warned that, we either unite as Africans or perish. It is a day to reflect on how Africa can achieve continental unity and economic independence envisioned by Julius Nyerere, Africa’s greatest philosopher and theoretician.
It is a day that symbolises the determination of the people of Africa to free themselves from foreign domination and exploitation.
Leadership is a major problem in Africa.
Africans are experiencing human degradation, political instability, and economic exploitation which are perpetrated by incompetent leaders.
The youngest country in Africa, South Sudan for example, is experiencing a devastating armed conflict which witnessed the internal displacement of tens of thousands of people, extrajudicial killings, rape and other sexual abuse, enforced disappearances and hunger perpetrated by President Salva Kiir and his former vice president Dr Riek Machar due to their lust for power. The political crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country regarded as very wealthy in terms of natural resources, struggles to fund and update voter registers and other electoral activities which resulted to the unconstitutional extension of President Kabila’s presidency and thereby causing a lot of political disorder and the killing and displacement of many civilians.
The current political crisis in Cameroon in its English speaking region is caused by a historical tragedy of imperialism and the lack of an organised leadership in Cameroon to unify the country. These manifest the lack of good leadership in Africa. Africa needs leaders who are intellectually and ethically mature and can examine and address the political rights and wrongs of the political, economic, and social agenda that will lead to the prosperity and unity of Africa. Such leaders should possess the following qualities: transparency, wisdom, accountability, probity, selflessness and mercy.
Elections in Africa as Kofi Annan puts it in his BBC Hardtalk interview with Zainab Badawi (2018) which are meant to lead to peaceful and democratic rotation of leadership often cause violence. This manifests in Kenya’s 2007 election and the tribal rivalry between the Luos and the Kikuyu tribes, recent South Sudan conflict which turned into an ethnic conflict between the Dinkas and the Neur, the 2016 post-election disturbances in The Gambia etc . If the process that should lead to a democratic process is turned into violence then the realization of Africa united becomes a distant goal to achieve.
However, there should be a total transformation of the parochial political culture or tribal alignment to political parties and the use of tribe and tribalism as political mobilisation to win government power.
Sovereign Africans should realised that alignment to political parties should be based on ideological master plans to make sure we entrust people in our political offices who have the knowledge and wisdom to lead and ethically sound to fully represent our wishes and aspirations both nationally and internationally.
Neocolonialism is a strategy employed by our former colonial masters to continue controlling both our political and economic processes thereby undermining the Pan Africanist agenda of a united Africa and compelled our African leaders who lack ideas, policies, and programmes to utilise our human and natural resources for development to compete for foreign aid in the re-branded and enticed neocolonial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, The Commonwealth of Nations etc. The Gambian government under the stewardship of Adama Barrow had sleepless nights to make sure Gambia is readmitted into Britain’s neocolonial empire called the Commonwealth for possible aid and developmental assistance and recently flew to Brussels to beg for funds in a donor conference to fund the Gambia’s National Development Plan (2018-2021) and his counterpart Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe like president Barrow, is almost not sleeping to make sure his country is also readmitted to the Commonwealth in anticipation of aid to fund the forthcoming elections.
Another neocolonial institution that keeps interfering in our political and economic process is the IMF. The IMF as described by Nyerere (1985) in his interview with Anver Versi of The New African Magazine, “has become the substitute for a colonial empire controlling their economic. And will dawn upon the third world countries one day that they are not free” This neocolonial institution was established in (1944) to deal with problems of developed countries. It was never design to improve or deal with the problem of developing countries. The African leadership should take note of Kwame Nkrumah assertions in his book: ”neocolonialism the last stage of imperialism (1965)” that “the essence of neocolonialism is that state which is subjected to it, in theory, independent and has all trappings of international sovereignty. In reality, its economic system and political system is directed from outside.”
Africa should however, put more of her energies as a continent in the cooperation and unity of African states as per the AU objectives of rekindling the passion for pan Africanism, a sense of unity, self-reliant, integration, and solidarity . We should respect and work harder to the realisation of the (2018) Kigali protocol on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) , protocol on free movement of people, and AU’s commitment for a Single Africa Air Transport Market among others which have the potentials to promote African economies and create millions of employment opportunities for young people in Africa.
Finally, As Prof. Baba Galleh Jallow put it in his paper “the copycat state…” presented at the University of the Gambia (2017) “Africa’s crises are linked to the failure of Africa governments to transform in a creative manner the geopolitical , human and natural resources of the continent in respond to the challenges of independent nation statehood.” Until we have intellectually and ethically matured leadership and critical pan African citizenry , the challenges that is killing our energies as a continent for true liberation will triumph.
Sanna Badjie, Rohey Fofan
Political Science students,
University of The Gambia