HomeOpinion & AnalysisAfrica Day: Reflections on the past and future freedoms

Africa Day: Reflections on the past and future freedoms

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By Hon Monica Mutsvangwa
In 1963 on this day in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the African liberation doyens adopted the lifelong resolution which gave birth to multilateral institutionalisation of African independence under the banner of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU).

Today, the OAU has morphed into the African Union (AU) formed 21 years ago. Put together, the existence of the OAU and the AU gives us a shy six-decade youthful anti-colonial solidarity of African nations. The intensification of this solidarity continues to be influenced by the changing character of colonialism.

From the outset, the OAU as a strategic diplomatic alliance for Africa’s independence was formed to collectively enforce the fall of the colonial empire. To this day, the OAU is hailed for its role in rehumanising politics following the curse of imperialism which evaded the sanity of our institutions of power in pre-colonial Africa.

The rehumanisation of power is best explained by the fundamental theme of the philosophy of decolonisation as a means of humanising the dehumanised. Initially, colonialism made Africa a zone of non-being and the reversal of this process had a rehumanising effect to every institution and facet of the African society.

Therefore, it cannot be overstated that the formation of the OAU coincided with the fight for Zimbabwe’s independence. And that marked a crucial phase of the rehumanisation of the colonially disenfranchised majority.

To this end, history reminds us all that the Zimbabwe African National Union (Zanu) was formed in 1963. Prior to that, the Zimbabwe People’s Union (Zapu) had played a crucial role in the radicalisation of the anti-colonial movement since the late 50s.

This experience was not unique to Zimbabwe considering the fast spiralling effects of anti-colonial resistance across Africa. Clearly, the birth of the OAU was hyped by a continental demand for freedom and the restoration of human dignity of the African people. African nationalism became the transformative agent from the politics of looting and exploitation to the aspired politics of pro-people policy delivery.

It is these ideas that make Africa Day commemorations important to us as a people. The 25th of May awakens that self-consciousness of a people arising from the dehumanising consequence of colonialism towards total emancipation.

Therefore, Africa Day is a celebration of a people’s victory against the toxic legacy of imperialism. Africa Day collectively propels us towards the goal of unity in confronting the modern manifestation of colonialism. On this day, we are reminded that decolonisation was and is still unfinished business. Alluta continua!

On this important day, organisations that delivered independence to the rest of Africa must be celebrated. Zanu PF is one such organisation alongside its revolutionary sister parties across the entire African continent. At the same time, we must be able to take stock of the gains of the sacrifices of all our sung and unsung heroes of African liberation. Instructively, we stand bold on the shoulders of such luminaries’ lifelong sacrifices from Cape to Cairo.

On that note, it is worth maintaining that Zimbabwe’s independence could not have been won without the support of nations that had got their independence earlier than us. To those of us who were in the trenches in the fight for Zimbabwe, it is hard to forget the role played by the late general Hashim Mbita of Tanzania in organising support for guerrillas which later made the enemy bow to our demand for independence.

In 1972 Mbita was appointed executive secretary of the OAU Liberation Committee. He focused on expediting support for the armed struggle, resulting in cracks appearing in Lisbon, which would eventually see a coup against the Caetano fascist regime leading to the liberation of Mozambique, Angola, Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde in 1975.

Mbita retired as executive secretary to the continent’s unitary body in 1994 when the liberation of the subcontinent was completed with democratic elections in South Africa leading to majority rule.

General Mbita’s cross-cutting multilateral task in ensuring the unification and decolonisation agenda epitomises the defining moment of pan-Africanism as a cause for integration and cohesion of Africans at home and abroad. My contemporaries  and I would not dare forget the training we received in Zambia, Angola and Tanzania — not forgetting that brave Zipra and South Africa’s Umkhonto weSizwe’s collaboration in collapsing the rogue Rhodesian forces to surrender at the Wankie and Sipolilo battles, respectively? That was the power of neighbourly collaboration and fraternal determination for freedom shared on both sides of the Limpopo.

Therefore, the celebration of Africa Day profoundly articulates how the preceding independent African States sacrificed their sovereign autonomy to cater for the interests of fellow African libaration movements that were fighting colonialism in their respective jurisdictions. A case in point is that of the material and ideological support which our own then Zanu and the PF-Zapu received from the Frontline States.

Through that anti-colonial diplomatic pact of former liberation movements, our liberation struggle was waged from Zambia, Tanzania, Angola and Mozambique among many nations that supported our anti-colonial cause.

As a nation we are grateful that our independence was a product of the collective sacrifices of many other nations within the region and the continent at large.

Based on that profound historical connection we share with our neighbours, Africa Day is an essential occasion for cherishing the importance of solidarity, unity, and ideological clarity that characterised the earliest liberation struggles that framed the redemptive discourse of the continent and propelled the class struggles of the African peasantry and proletariat ultimately leading to the fall of colonialism.

In the modern world the continent is finding itself subjected to neo-colonial domination in all aspects. This has been manifest in  illegal sanctions, illicit financial flows and many forms of organised crime through multinational corporations. Meanwhile, preferential trade conditions have led to the undervaluing of the continent’s intellectual property, goods and services.

Africa is presently threatened with waning solidarity and unity as defined by Haille Selasie, Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere and other African leaders that formed OAU. It is being relaced by xenophobia, wars and hostile intra-African competition to be satellites for cheap labour and resources.

As a result, Africa Day should provide a launchpad for patriotic Africans and African movements to introspect in a bid to produce true class consciousness, social patriotism and prosperity. The continental leadership in present-day Africa has the competence to achieve the Africa we all want.

That said, it is important to emphasise that the second republic under President Emmerson Mnangagwa has played a crucial role in the consolidation of African liberation values. Having been born out of a people-driven transition in November 2017, the new dispensation was conceived to reclaim the legacy of democracy, constitutionalism, investment attraction and many other tenets defining a modern State whose development trajectory had nosedived due to the incompetency of G40 factional elements in Zanu PF. Therefore, the implementation of operation Restore Legacy came as panacea to deliver Zimbabwe from a looming political-economy explosion. Therefore, it is not surprising that the recalibration of constitutionalism since November 2017 has brought with it a plethora of media freedoms.

President Mnangagwa has deployed pragmatic measures to implement media reforms that have culminated in the accelerated licensing of new media houses, mainstreaming of broadcast services to erstwhile marginalised communities, ease of accreditation for Zimbabweans and visiting media players. The President’s passion for an open society has seen journalism being allowed to thrive in a free space as prescribed by the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

This broadly epitomises the foundational spirit of liberation as espoused by those key values which define our being as Africans on this important day, when we cherish the continent’s freedom.

  •  Hon Senator Monica Mutsvangwa is Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services minister

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