Africa @50: tear drenched faces, hollow eyes everywhere

THIS month of May is marked by celebrations to mark 50 years since the Organisation for African Unity (now the African Union) was established. The theme is “Pan Africanism and African Renaissance.”

Viewpoint by Wisdom Mudzungairi

To mark the Golden Jubilee, the AU Commission’s Youth Division and the UN Economic Commission for Africa has organised a Youth forum whose main objective is to seize the 50th anniversary celebrations to provide a platform for dialogue among selected African Heads of States and young people on major policy initiatives. This is of particular significance in view of Africa Youth decade 2009-2018. More important, it is intended to promote a youth-focused policy priority and support the vision of youth development among the urgent actions by African leaders.

The golden jubilee is underpinned by the consciousness and principles of Pan-Africanism championed by Africa’s founders, which pointed towards the realisation of a democratic, prosperous and politically stable continent. It especially recognised political freedom, particularly sovereignty and liberation, as being central to its socio-economic transformation.

Indeed, the continent has come a long way from the struggle for political independence to the post-colonial struggles for economic progress, yet Pan-Africanism remains as relevant to Africa’s development project today as it did 50 years ago.

History offers this generation, a greater chance to reflect on the past 50 years and mobilise to determine a renewed consciousness for the upcoming 50 years in fulfilling a democratic and prosperous continent by creating organic strategies for deepening sustainable development and resilient economies.

As the new generation enamored with the idea and ideals of Pan-Africanism, young people can play a substantial role and serve as dynamic agents of structural transformation for the continent’s development.

Pan-Africanism, yes, is what really inspired the Africans to find their own expression, to fight for justice and equality, and also independence of the continent. It is what pushed the likes of Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere, Patrice Lumumba, Robert Mugabe, Samora Machel, Agostino Neto, the list is endless.

Sadly, Africa remains a battleground of rivalry. The biggest challenge remains peace and security. Is Africa getting on top of those challenges and taking responsibility in managing them, one wonders?

Lumumba, for instance, Congo’s first Prime Minister whose assassination more than 50 years ago made him a liberation symbol worldwide was without a doubt in a class of his own, a statesman par-excellence. In one of his last lettersreportedly written to his wife shortly before his eventual murderhe said all through his struggle for the independence of his country, he had never doubted for a single instant the final triumph of the sacred cause to which his companions and himself devoted all their lives.

He continued: “As to my children whom I leave and whom I may never see again, I should like them to be told that it is for them, as it is for every Congolese, to accomplish the sacred task of reconstructing our independence and our sovereignty: for without dignity there is no liberty, without justice there is no dignity, and without independence there are no free men.

Neither brutality, nor cruelty nor torture will ever bring me to ask for mercy, for I prefer to die with my head unbowed, my faith unshakable and with profound trust in the destiny of my country, rather than live under subjection and disregarding sacred principles. History will one day have its say, but it will not be the history that is taught in Brussels, Paris, Washington or in the United Nations, but the history which will be taught in the countries freed from imperialism and its puppets. Africa will write its own history, and to the north and south of the Sahara, it will be a glorious and dignified history.

Do not weep for me, my dear wife. I know that my country, which is suffering so much, will know how to defend its independence and its liberty.
Long live the Congo! Long live Africa!”

Have present day African leaders followed the same ideals? What has happened in Africa is momentous. The agony and anguish of the Africans at the hands of their former liberators is palpable. The heart-wrenching stories of loved ones beside themselves with grief fill our television screens as wars, poverty, hunger, civil strife continue.

Tear drenched faces and traumatised, hollow eyes everywhere.Don’t enough of us die on this continent in natural disasters? In senseless road accidents, because of violent crimes — both criminal and political violence during elections? How do we bear this again and again 50 years on?

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