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
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
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
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
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
Since then, African leaders
have approached Pan-
Africanism as a rhetorical discipline
rather than a revolutionary
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
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,
"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
No country is inherently selfsustaining,
hence the need for
However, imperialist synergies
appear to be perpetually
slanted to our disadvantage. For
example, most African counties
gets less than 10 percent for
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
"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
"Africa must be real and understand
that it cannot survive
on the backing of other continents,"
Mahomva cites formers
commitment to inter-dependence
trading partnership with South
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
into the syllabi of all educational
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
from a mere movement to an instrumental
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,
We look forward." Anything
less than this on the level of
implementation is not Pan-