Africa, the sleeping giant must wake up

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I AM a firm believer in the concept of the African renaissance, that is African people and nations shall overcome the current challenges confronting the continent and achieve cultural, scientific, and economic renewal.

Indeed, Africa, the slumbering giant will one day wake up to become one of the greatest continents. Were it not for the renaissance movement in Europe which started in Italy and spread to the rest of Europe, Europe would not be what it is today.

The ideas and knowledge emanating from the renaissance period rapidly transformed Europe and ushered it into modernity, eclipsing China and the Islamic world.

The concept of African renaissance was articulated by Cheikh Anta Diop, but popularised by Thabo Mbeki, the second South African President. Mbeki anchored his Presidency on the concept of African renaissance and his foreign policy was driven by his vision of an African rebirth and renewal.

However, I am not naïve to think that the African renaissance will just happen. Like Kwame Nkrumah, I strongly believe that Africa’s greatness and emancipation is only possible through a political union. We need the United States of Africa now, than ever before. Nkrumah correctly diagnosed our problem and he wrote in his book I Speak Freedom “Divided we are weak: united, Africa could become one of the greatest forces for good in the world”. When we are united we can “find African solutions to our problems”.

United we think continentally, rather than nationally or territorially. Africa has abundance of natural and human resources. It boggles the mind that there is “poverty in the midst of plenty, and scarcity in the midst of abundance”.

As a continent years after Uhuru, we are still languishing in abject poverty. Our economies, health, and educational systems are in shambles and in some countries have collapsed. We focus on things which do not matter. It is only in Africa where “power is sought by all means and maintained by all means”.

Before we can think of building skyscrapers, run blue trains etc, our attention should be on building hospitals, clinics and schools (and houses as well) and upgrading existing ones, equipping them with the necessary materials, and ultimately providing jobs for our people. As separate nations, we are easily manipulated and bullied. Our strength is anchored in working together and creating a federation of African states.

Only then can we able to harness the abundance of our natural and human resources for our development. As the United States of Africa, we will speak with one voice on multilateral institutions like the IMF, UN, WB, etc. We can refuse exogenous economic development agendas imposed upon us by the IMF and WB. Our major challenge as Africans is the failure to implement endogenous economic blueprints because we do not have the means to do so.

Endogenous economic agendas like The Lagos Plan of Action the most “comprehensive and systematic statement of the vision” for Africa’s economic development was ignored and unfunded by the Bretton Woods Institutions. As the United States of Africa, we can leverage resources in our different countries to carry out economic projects that take into account our institutional frameworks, culture, and context. Each country can focus on what it can do best instead of doing everything with no results. Using the United States of America as our model, we can create our own United States of Africa which takes into account our historical, social, and political trajectories.

History has shown us that the gradual approach to the United States of Africa through regional economic integration advocated by Nyerere and others was a futile and strategic error. Nkrumah was right when he observed that “A loose confederation designed only for economic co-operation would not provide the necessary unity of purpose. Only a strong political union can bring about full and effective development of our natural resources for the benefit of our people”.

Regional economic groupings are at the mercy of international capital and their efforts are sabotaged by the IMF and WB who remotely control them. Most of our political, social and financial leaders are agents and representatives of international finance capital.

Therefore, leadership regeneration and renewal is an imperative. Africa needs a new generation of leadership that understands where we came from and where we are going. A leadership that is proud of the African identity, culture and values. Unfortunately, most of our youth despise themselves and have swallowed hook line and sinker decadent and moribund eurocentric values and world views.

To them, western modernity is the panacea to our problems. Nothing good can come out of Africa.

We must applaud the efforts of foundations that have been formed in dealing and addressing the challenges faced by Africa, particularly those focusing on developing a new breed of leadership.

The tragedy of Africa is the lack of visionary leadership across the age divide.

Our old leaders are still mourning the evils of colonialism and our youthful leadership has failed to grasp the relevance of the past on the present and wants to throw away the baby with the bath water. Within our youthful leadership, we do not have leaders like the late Thomas Sankara, Steve Biko, Tom Mboya, Wilfred Mhanda (popularly known as Dzino Machingura) etc.

As we continue to dream for the realisation of the United States of Africa, we will cherish the legacy of those who went before us notably Nkrumah and the indefatigable Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi of Libya.

Our prosperity and total emancipation as a continent depends entirely on the urgency and immediacy of establishing a United States of Africa. The longer we wait, the more difficult it will become.

Long live Africa.

 Lovemore Sibanda is a former lecturer at Solusi University, lives and works in the USA. He can be contacted on lkgsibanda@hotmail.com