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New bearings on Pan-Africanist thought

By Stanely Mushava
African leaders have approached Pan-Africanism as a rhetorical discipline... There is a hesitancy, a recoiling from mandate, even treachery, which typifies the successive committees which have been at the helm of the African Union and its predecessor organisation in the post-colonial dispensation Book: Pan-Africanism - From the Cradle, the Present and the Future Author: Richard Mahomva Publisher: Richard Mahomva (2014).

Pan-Africanism, chiefly the advocacy for the worldwide solidarity of Africans, is the orbit around which visions for Africa revolve.

It is, at once, the dreamscape of our brightest promises and the dumpsite of our darkest perils. It is the template for the Africa we want, yet stricken through by the rift between the real and the ideal. We, therefore, repeat as perpetual manifestos what we must have been celebrating as historical accomplishments.

To hash-tag Charles Dickens, our lot signifies the best of times and the worst of times, the age of wisdom and the age of foolishness, the epoch of belief and the epoch of incredulity, the season of light and season of darkness, the spring of hope and winter of despair. Pan-Africanism is either the proverbial dentist's torch which locates the decayed tooth without being able to extract it or we have not heeded Kwame Nkrumah's charge for us to think as men of action and act as men of thought.

Whatever the case might be, the template for our dream Africa defers our best prospects to the future. We hear fraternity but see inequality; we see ubiquity but feel scarcity. We must find the powder keg to enter our blueprint into force. We must fast-track ourselves to the better days on the horizon. What has been heard must be seen; what has been seen must be handled. The Africa born in us must rise out of the rabble of the Africa we were born in.

To this end, young scholar and former student leader Richard Mahomva has themed his debut book on the subject. "Pan-Africanism: From the Cradle, the Present and the Future" not only provides scholarly clarifications on the often cited but vaguely understood world ideology but also demonstrates its current deficits and proposes re-inventions. Mahomva takes issue with the bi-polar geopolitical structure where everything must either sway to the West or to the East and urges Africa to wean itself from the swaddling bands of perpetual subservience and be a force apart.

There is need to touch base and summon power from within for non-conformism, the principal import essence of Pan- Africanism, has been overtaken and watered down by the challenges of the day. As Ian Campbell puts it, "With independence, however, the concept of a politically united Africa was soon replaced by the assertion-within colonial frontiers-of competing national interests." Since then, African leaders have approached Pan- Africanism as a rhetorical discipline rather than a revolutionary ideology.

There is a hesitancy, a recoiling from mandate, even treachery, which typifies the successive committees which have been at the helm of the African Union and its predecessor organisation in the post-colonial dispensation. Else, how do we explain leaders deliberating the same problems which were topical upon the inception of the organisation 51 years ago, deferring their resolution even further? I have referenced before then AU chairperson Hailmariam Desalegn's words on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee celebrations, ironically tag-lined "Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance," last year as unequivocal admission of the lack of political will for a better Africa by our leaders.

Said the AU chairperson, "We all recognise that Africa's aspirations of lasting peace and prosperity still remain to be realised and the vision of our founding fathers is yet to be fulfilled. It is my earnest hope that by 2063, we will have a continent free from the scourge from conflicts and abject poverty."

Clearly, as long as we continue to accommodate imperialist tentacles, Western or Eastern, we will continue to falter below the bar of self-actualisation. Only when we gather around common identity and interests as a people, will Pan-Africanism command new strength, graduate from rhetoric to reality and forfeit our subjugation. The unity we strayed from after liberation is the foundation which we must revert to.

Unity is powerful, disunity is negatively powerful and the devil knows that, says the preacher. The negative power of our disunity is the cause of imperialists' perpetual domination over us. The story is told of two captives who escape, hands fastened to logs, horizontally inclined in front of each of them. When they reach a near-by village, tired and starved, the villagers can neither unbind nor accommodate them but attach bread on their logs. Selfishness gets the better of them and no man allows the other to eat his bread. As a result both starve to death with bread on their hands. No country is inherently selfsustaining, hence the need for synergies.

However, imperialist synergies appear to be perpetually slanted to our disadvantage. For example, most African counties gets less than 10 percent for their resources. To get around the problem, Mahomva suggests moving from the ceremonial political unity to the economic development of Africa as a single bloc. "The continent requires leaders who are able to sacrifice the economic sovereignty of their respective states for the benefit of the continent and their home countries," Mahomva says.

He observes that while this is apparently impossible, most African countries have been, ironically, able to cede a greater degree of their sovereignty to the Western governments and finance organisations like the International Monetary Fund. He also decries the continued accommodation of developed states in our territories for unfair resource extraction deals. These deals have made us a surrogate continent, perpetually squeezed to fatten Europe, China and America. Mahomva suggests that African leaders need to go against their selfish economic policies and create a central African economic pool.

"If these same countries can fragment their economic sovereignty to bigger states outside the continent what is stopping them from coming together now and rebuild Africa's economic ruins?" he queries. The writer advocates the detachment of African states from their illegitimate vassalage former colonisers just as Zimbabwe which broke away from the Commonwealth.

"Africa must be real and understand that it cannot survive on the backing of other continents," he argues.

Mahomva cites formers commitment to inter-dependence particularly the Rhodesia's sanctions-busting trading partnership with South Africa.

On the level of orientation, Mahomva urges the need for the new African generation to "repel from the Western political smoke-screen and look at Africa as an independent political force and not an extended image of European politics." He advocated for the incorporating of Pan-Africanism into the syllabi of all educational institutions.

"Again Pan-Africanism must be made part of the academic initiatives that form the youth socialisation process and be given an equal rating with other co-curricular activities within the school vicinity. He calls on African scholars in disciplines related to Pan- Africanism to generate discourses that are relevant in building a Pan-African socialisation process, envisaging a wide-scale ferment of the ideology as a result thereof. "Moreover such research must be rich enough to enable Pan-Africanism to find its residence in the states' political ideology and culture and, hence, be the drive for change in terms of the existing fragmented political identity that Africa has as a continent," he says.

He sees this educational reconfiguration as a feat towards Pan-Africanism's graduation from a mere movement to an instrumental academic precedent in the study of politics in the continent and thus in forming the political culture of all Africans. Mahomva acknowledges the legitimate sovereign interests of states as the impediment for the creation of a single African republic, the United States of Africa. Instead of a totalitarian political model which supplants individual nationhood, he suggests a situation whereby African states become more functional satellites of the African Union and its policies. On the whole, let the Africa of our day say with Kwame Nkrumah, "We look neither East, nor West.

We look forward." Anything less than this on the level of implementation is not Pan- Africanism.


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