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Africa: Not yet Uhuru

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“International solidarity is not an act of charity; it is an act of unity between allies fighting on different terrains toward the same objective.
“The foremost of these objectives is to aid the development of humanity to the highest level possible.” – Samora Machel
NOWADAYS it seems that Africa is hit with a new crisis every few months. Looking back on this year alone we have had the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the Boko Haram kidnappings in Nigeria, and increased Al-Shaabab terrorist activity in East Africa to name a few.
This is on top of the high poverty rate and a litany of other problems that have plagued the continent for over a century. Throughout all this we have constantly been in a reactive mode, scrambling to reach a state of normalcy. Constantly reacting to symptoms keeps us on a treadmill and it is time for this generation of Africans to deal with the root cause of our problems.
Malcolm X cited dependence on other groups and individuals as the cause of most problems in the African American community in his time, and our generation of Africans currently shares this flaw. Most people blame corrupt leadership and Western imperialism for the majority of our problems as if these evils are unique to the continent.
Granted there are powerful forces acting against us and corruption is a real problem – but knowing this, why do we remain so dependent on known imperialists and on individuals who can be corrupted? Too much emphasis is put on corruption among African leaders as though they are the ones who can bring us salvation. This is a sign that we are too dependent on them, which is dangerous because individuals will inevitably let us down. Leaders are necessary; however their personal ambition will always drive them to act primarily in self-interested ways.
The most successful movements are driven by ideology rather than by one clearly defined leader. For example the guerilla warfare that liberated us from the clutches of colonisation was not fought by a few individual leaders, but by the people as a collective unit with a common agenda. Yesterday we used liberation songs, slogans and word of mouth to promote our agenda, while leaders contributed by serving as representatives of the people’s interests, and those who produced results got to earn their keep. Today we must use the Internet as a new tool to promote our agenda more efficiently and reduce our dependence on individual leaders.Advertisement

Historically African leaders who have made the most noise about Pan-Africanism have been met with heavy opposition and most of them died controversial deaths. These leaders include Kwame Nkrumah, Ahmed Sékou Touré, Patrice Lumumba, Thomas Sankara and recently Mummar Kaddafi (who had aspirations of creating one currency for the entire continent).
Currently the leader who is at the forefront of Pan-Africanism is the contentious President Robert Mugabe, who recently became the vice chairperson of the African Union and is likely to chair of the Union in 2015. Mugabe has spoken out in support of one government for Africa, and supported Mummar Kaddafi’s plan for one currency in Africa.
Under Mugabe’s leadership Zimbabwe implemented a fast-track land reform policy that facilitated a dramatic resource ownership shift from white Zimbabweans, who had previously owned an estimated 70% of the country’s most fertile land, into the hands of indigenous Zimbabweans. Zimbabweans were penalised for this in the form of economic sanctions from Western countries, which were framed as being targeted at the country’s leadership as a consequence of human rights violations. In reality the sanctions were aimed at and affected the people of Zimbabwe.
Like many countries on the continent, after independence Zimbabweans inherited an economy that was dependent on foreign investment and trade with its former colonial masters rather than other African countries, leaving it vulnerable to foreign influence. Our dependence on foreign aid and investment supports the system of imperialism. No individual, NGO, corporation or country gives anything without any expectations of return on investment in one way or another. For this reason we must be especially wary of the motives of those who claim to act in our best interest in times of crisis.
The United States sent troops into Nigeria following the Boko Haram kidnappings, and more the recently US troops were deployed into Liberia to combat the Ebola outbreak. While this act may seem altruistic on a surface level, let us remember that before colonisation missionaries were sent into various parts of Africa to preach the gospel so as to save our souls from eternal damnation, and that did not pan out very well for us. To take this point further, take a look back at how events unfolded in Iraq following ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom’. Look at the state of Libya following the intervention of NATO forces in the Libyan civil war. It is paramount that Africans solve African problems with as little ‘help’ as possible from outside forces.
The fight for economic empowerment is the battle that today’s generation of Africans must engage in as a collective if we hope to truly achieve the goal of freedom which our ancestors died for. If Africans act together as a unit with a common agenda, there is no force that can stop us from achieving this goal. We are capable of cutting the ties of dependence by looking inward and practicing group economics within the continent.
This does not mean isolation from the rest of the world, but rather increased financial independence gives us leverage to establish mutually beneficial partnerships. Solidarity is the key ingredient to the new African renaissance. We must not wait for radical change to come from the top-down. The Pan-African mindset must be crystallized within this generation, and we must lobby our leaders to move towards dissolution of colonial borders, and forming one government, one army and one currency for the continent.
This article was written by Nhlanhla Tshuma. You can find more of his work at www.uhururepublic.com, www.facebook.com/uhururepublic.