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Future of Pan Africanism

by Ruth Aine - 31 May 2014

PAWD2012-260pxPan Africanism can be described as a movement of people on the continent looking to create a strong union based on passion for the continent. Well that is how I understand it.

Pan Africanism dates as far back as the year 1776. At the time, it was created or built to fight the slave trade and all other forms of colonialism. In 1945, a Pan African Congress was held in Manchester, England. That meeting advanced the issues of the Africans and also went ahead to help in the decolonization of the continent politically.

The majority of young people may not know or understand what ‘Pan Africanism’ is all about but they will be quick to know the champions of the cause. The icons of Africa, even after they are long gone, are still looked up to as the fathers of nations in Africa. They all left legacies that are yet to be equaled. They fought the good fight for the deliberation of the continent and made history. They include, amongst others: Kwame Nkuruma, Patrice Lumumba and Jomo Kenyatta. They advocated for, among other things and also most importantly, the continents collective self-reliance. Their ideals are what keep them alive in the history books and hearts of many up to this day. They were young and radical in their beliefs, they withstood a lot of critics, but still pushed on.

Pan-Africanism demands that the riches of Africa be used for the benefit, upliftment, development and enjoyment of the African people. Pan-Africanism is a system of equitably sharing food, clothing, homes, education, healthcare, wealth, land, work, security of life and happiness. Pan-Africanism is the privilege of the African people to love themselves and to give themselves and their way of life respect and preference.1

Today much in the political systems and the social status of people have changed. Unlike in the past, Pan Africanism is looked at from a distance. It is being championed by people that have, in my opinion, let the continent down. Every speech made by the President of Zimbabwe, for example, alludes to the creation of a great Zimbabwe and a great Africa who is able to stand on her own, take charge of the affairs going and be proud of their heritage. But a look at the Zimbabwean economy and I begin to think that the Mugabe administration has taken the Pan Africanism spirit a little too far.

The cream of Africa’s thought leaders are currently gathered in Kigali, Rwanda where the African Development Bank is holding its annual general meeting. In the opening remarks, President Paul Kagame eloquently expressed himself on behalf of Africa:

“Africa has always had the attributes necessary to rise. So why have we fallen short? Long spells of instability in parts of Africa, high energy and transport costs, fragmented and non-integrated economies, and a high dependency on primary commodities are just some of the well-known obstacles.”

It is absurd that the cost of flying from Uganda to Dakar, Senegal is more expensive than flying to Europe. Currently, anyone travelling from East and South Africa to Tunisia has to travel through Doha, Dubai or Istanbul. For the latter, it is more about the inconvenience than it is about the cost.

Uganda still imports safety pins and until recently we were also importing matchboxes. The tales of our economies despite the ‘economic growth rates’ are still harrowing. I was talking to someone from Ghana last week who said that currently, for young girls wanting to get married, it is cheaper to save and pay for a trip to China to buy whatever they want and come back, than it is to have a wedding gown made back home. I found that rather strange. The day-to-day expenses in most of the countries on the continent are getting more expensive by the day. This is not what the forefathers of our continent and the champions of Pan Africanism wanted for us.

So what is the future of this force that was supposed to be uniting us? How can we, in the words of Kwame Nkurumah, “redeem our past glory renew and reinforce our strength for the realization of our destiny.”

In 1959 Kwame Nkurumah noted: “We are today the richest and yet the poorest of continents, but in unity our continent could smile in a new era of prosperity and power.” Years down the road, we are still saying the same thing.

The future of Pan Africanism lies with our leaders. They have the sole responsibility to build a continent that its people deserve.

“Yes, Africa is rising. But it is not enough to exceed the low expectations that others had of us, and which we, at times, even came to have about ourselves. We know what needs to be done. Our countries have smart policies that we have seen work elsewhere in the world. But the kind of rapid progress we all want will only be achieved by sound implementation.” These were the words of Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame. And for me, therein lies the future of the continent’s solidarity.



Ruth Aine Tindyebwa
Blogger/Online Communications

Read her personal blog; IN DEPTH which is at www.ruthaine.com

Read more about the author and her view on being a futurist.



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