Africa Day: The Quest For Enduring Unity We Must Unite Or Perish!

While attempts have been made at both regional and continental level to unite Africa, the continent has somewhat remained politically, economically and socially fragmented.

As the continent commemorates Africa Day today, Africans need to reflect on the lingering unfinished quest for unity as was the dream of the founding fathers of the Organisation of African Unity (25 May 1963), now African Union.

In the post-colonial epoch, at many times individual countries have tended to focus more on domestic interests at the expense of the broader and more enduring interests.

If truth be said, enduring economic transformation can only be realised if Africans are to collectively harness their resources, promote intra-trade and speak with one voice on pertinent issues at international forums.

The lack of strategic political homogeneity is often reflected at the United Nations, where some African countries are often cajoled by powerful nations to go against a common continental position.

This is the reality of our post-colonial states and as we commemorate Africa Day, let’s also take time to rethink and collectively redesign our political futures.

We need to move away from the design of an Africa imposed on us by the old colonial powers. An Africa united is an Africa capable of solving the problems currently afflicting us.

A fragmented Africa has no chance of advancement.

And as we reflect on the challenges of achieving real unity, let’s also be conscious of the fact that unity is not an act.

It is a process which comes through a sustained fostering of communication, conversation, deliberation, dialogue, coordination and solidarity.

Our shared historical experiences, shared identity, our consciousness and interests irrespective of colour, creed, racial origin, nationality or region must be the basis upon which we can build a solid foundation of unity.

But for us to achieve this enduring unity, we must first defeat the feeling of being defeated.

Afro-pessimists often stress the enormity of the problems that divide us rather than the things that unite us. They begin with an assumption of self-defeat, allowing the African crisis to prey on their judgement and blight their imagination of a prosperous Africa.

On the other hand, we have Afro-optimists who say that despite the many differences and challenges, Africans have a lot in common to unite.

For Afro-optimists, there is a possibility of regeneration.

They call out to order Africans who are willing to espouse rhetoric on the need for African solidarity while totally unwilling to invest practically in bringing about that unity.

We have so much to learn from the founding fathers of African unity. Founding Ghanaian leader, President Kwame Nkrumah exhorts us to “unite or perish.

” In his seminal speech at the founding of the OAU in Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, Nkrumah said: “Just as our strength lies in a unified policy and action for progress and development, so the strength of imperialists lies in our disunity.

OAU in Ethiopia

We in Africa can only meet them effectively by presenting a unified front and a continental purpose. Our freedom stands open to danger just as long as the independent states of Africa remain apart.”

Nkrumah captured with amazing sagacity, the importance of the opportunity presented by political decolonisation and broke it down for easy understanding when he said, “the challenge which destiny has thrown to the leaders of Africa” was to grasp a golden opportunity to prove the genius of the African people in surmounting the separatist tendencies in sovereign nationhood by coming together speedily for the sake of Africa’s greater glory and infinite well-being into the Union of African states.

Had African leaders followed in letter and spirit Nkrumah’s foresight, Africa could be different today.

While Nkrumah’s record in handling Ghana’s economic and political affairs maybe contested and subject to debate, his Pan-African commitment was remarkably consistent and speaks to generations past, present and future with incisive clarity.
Africa Day: The Quest For Enduring Unity We Must Unite Or Perish!
Africa Day: The Quest For Enduring Unity We Must Unite Or Perish!
President Nkrumah saw clearly the historical importance of rejecting Africa’s humiliation through promotion of Africa unity.

Sadly, his was a lone voice of conscience.

The majority of African leaders felt satisfied in running their own individual country affairs.

It’s disheartening that in a post-colonial Africa we still have some countries still paying some kind of a “colonial tax” to France.

Until 2019, 14 Francophone countries – former colonies of France – were paying this tax for developments brought by colonialism. Now the countries are down to eight.

What an insult! No doubt this is a symbol of continued colonialism as the countries are forced to use the CFA franc.

Created in 1945 by the French provisional government, CFA franc originally stood for franc of the French colonies in Africa. It still circulates in eight countries in West Africa and six in Central Africa.

Many students of history will recall the pandemonium that followed a referendum in Guinea that voted against joining the CFA monetary union in 1958.

Following the 95 percent “no” vote, Charles de Gaulle’s government immediately pulled out more than 4 000 civil servants, judges, teachers, doctors and technicians- instructing them to sabotage everything they left behind.

The motive behind the sabotage was to send an example to 14 other newly independent French colonies that if you thumb your nose at Paris you risk losing everything.

Countries using the CFA Francs are required to store 50 percent of their currency reserves with the Banque de France, and the currencies are pegged to the euro.

This is nothing but a neo-colonial tax and an insult to the sovereignty of the 14 countries.

In a presentation titled: “The Pact for the Continuation of Colonisation” in June 2019, Madam Chihombori-Quao, former ambassador of the African Union (AU) to the United States, stated that France takes over $500 billion from Francophone African countries based on a pact they forced these countries to sign before they were granted independence.

Madam Chihombori- Quao was fired by the AU on November 1, 2019, for her criticism of France.

This is not the Africa we want. We need to revive the spirit of Pan-Africanism as envisaged by Kwame Nkrumah.

We have an opportunity to reframe it, rethink the ideological base not in terms of union of governments but through shared goals and as a vehicle for generating political, social, economic and cultural resources that will bring the people together.

Instead of looking to existing states to unite, let’s focus on the unity of the people, regions and economies. States must facilitate this process and not become barriers to this unity.

First steps; let’s have a common passport, common currency and popularise Swahili language across the continent.

The colonial dichotomies of Francophone this or Anglophone that perpetuates a debilitating neo-colonial hegemony.

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