The Sunday Mail
Date: April 6, 2014
To: [email protected]
From: [email protected]
Subject: African Unity
It is not every day that you receive direct correspondences in your private inbox from average Joes such as myself, but the overwhelming emotion deep within my heart compelled me onto this rather unorthodox route.What troubles me is what I perceive as an impending disaster for our great continent – Africa. I believe the observations I am humbly submitting also reflect similar opinions held by millions of my fellow brothers and sisters – children of this our grand motherland.
I have observed, with an aching heart, nay, anger, the recent geopolitical developments that have rocked our continent, threatening the very fabric of continental unity that yourself along with other Pan-African luminaries spent your entire life building.
Your Excellency, when you founded the Organisation of African Unity along with other Pan-African leaders back in 1963, your vision, I believe, was to liberate and foster unity and solidarity among African states.
The purpose of your assiduous exertions was to create an organisation that would co-ordinate and intensify co-operation as well as defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of African states.
In short, you desired to have Africa speak with one voice.
However, as I reflected on this epoch-defining vision last week, I came to the conclusion that this undertaking is under serious threat.
A few recent political events have led me to the depressing understanding that some among our current crop of leaders may be straying from the said noble vision of our founding fathers.
Today, I believe, Africa is facing an immense want for fearless and principled leaders in the ilk of yourself, Cdes Kwame Nkrumah, Samora Machel and our very own Robert Mugabe, among others.
My frustration stems from the blatant disregard of a collective African decision regarding last week’s EU-Africa Summit in Brussels, Belgium.
Not that you are unaware of these developments, but allow me the opportunity to offer a bit of background into the debacle that was the controversial indaba.
Every four years, Africa and Europe converge for a meeting that brings together high-level African and European leaders in the interest of fostering intercontinental co-operation.
This year, Brussels was the scene of the fourth of such a meeting.
Prior to the meeting, Europe, ostensibly suffering from a long-standing colonial hangover, intimated that it reserves the sole prerogative to decide who among the African nations could attend.
In response and commendably so, African heads of state and government attending the 22nd Ordinary Session of the AU General Assembly in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, earlier this year, resolved to cancel the summit if the Europeans persisted with this intransigence.
Your Excellency, knowing the Europeans’ stubbornness, as I believe you do, they dug in.
When the invites for the event came, many, myself included, were surprised to learn that full AU members Eritrea and the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic were not invited at all. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir was not invited and yet an “invite” was sent to his country.
Furthermore, I was also surprised to read that Egypt, despite currently serving suspension from the continental body, was invited along with Morocco, a virtual outsider, considering that it pulled out of the AU (then OAU) 30 years ago.
In light of these developments, the African Union’s Peace and Security Council advised all AU member states not to attend the EU-Africa summit to protest how Europe was holding the continent in contempt by seeking to determine who was eligible to attend the meeting.
But in spite of such a bold undertaking by the AU’s most powerful organ with the mandate to enforce union decisions, we witnessed 36 African heads of state out of the 54 travel to the meeting in what I see as an unbridled show of defiance and lack of respect for the union.
Who knows? Perhaps the Europeans threatened our leaders, forcing them to turn their backs against principle.
I will also bring to your attention the case of March 17, 2011 when two African countries joined a number of other permanent and non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council in adopting UNSC Resolution 1973.
The resolution authorised “all necessary measures” to “protect civilians” during the Libyan civil conflict. The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) carried out the resolution brutally, leading to the vile slaughter of innocent people and the subsequent assassination of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
The two African countries voted with the West in spite of the 15-member AUPSC having rejected any form of foreign intervention in Libya, saying, “The council reaffirms its firm commitment to the respect of the unity and territorial integrity of Libya, as well as its rejection of any form of foreign military intervention.”
Your Excellency, when we, as a continent, fail to respect our own positions and resolutions, this does not augur well for our shared vision of African unity.
When our leaders fail to stick to principle in the manner you and your counterparts did, we are doomed.
What pained me the most is that last week’s events came on the back of the momentous adoption of Agenda 2063, Africa’s guiding vision for the next 50 years. I gather Cde Nkrumah might have already shown you the e-mail he received from AU Commission Chair, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, concerning the subject.
In my opinion, this signals a very bad start to Agenda 2063, which hinges on oneness, collective decision-making and equality with the rest of the world. This is baffling: I thought the Foreign Ministers who met in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, in February this year advocated “strong, bold” leaders.
I thought they also identified control of natural resources, looking inwardly for funding and ensuring an audible African voice in international discourse among the key priorities towards achieving Agenda 2063.
Where is the “strong, bold” leadership in all this?
As we both know, the West are grandmasters at employing divide and conquer tactics.
When the outside world continues to manipulate our leaders with promises of aid, military support and investment, our shared vision of a united African Confederation will remain a pipe dream.
We have become a materialistic continent where principle no longer has a place in our decision-making.
This, I believe, is the reason the continent continues to haemorrhage.
Today, our homeland bleeds.
Our natural resources, human capital and all manner of resources are vanishing into the hands of the outside world.
Our people continue to suffer, grappling with the bane of hunger, disease and poverty, while the outside world prospers by means of our resources.
This is the reason why the French continue to call the shots in the so-called Francophone nations. This is why the British continue to demonise Zimbabwe.
This is why Nato has become a semi-permanent feature in Libya.
Your Excellency, I ask today where the freedom you fought for is when the children of this continent continue to suffer in poverty despite an overwhelming abundance of resources?
Indeed, where is the freedom when some of our leaders sway to the dictates of Western puppeteers and ventriloquists? Where is the freedom when Africa remains a junior partner at all inter-continental forums?
Your Excellency, where is that independence when our leaders blatantly refuse to stick to principle?
You promised my generation a better life, but today we remain bogged down by economic inadequacies.
Instead, our leaders elect to traverse halfway across the world for a summit, which, in all honesty, will not bring food onto our table.
I remember with fondness your historic speech on May 24 1963 at the founding conference of the OAU in Addis Ababa.
“There is no time to waste. We must unite now or perish. I am confident that by our concerned effort and determination, we shall lay here the foundations for a continental Union of African States,” you said in your address that defined the very essence of Pan-Africanism.
But 50 years on, our leaders still appear divided and all over the place.
Individual nations are jostling for the crumbs falling off the table of our former colonial masters.
It is a sad tale of each man for himself.
With such an attitude, the outsiders will continue trampling on our Africanhood.
How then would anyone expect the continent to unite and demand the much-coveted permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council?
How then can we leverage the abundant resource pool for the benefit of our peoples and address our common problems?
How then can we ensure our shared borders are no longer a source of conflict, that our resources are no longer an author of strife and war, but are a source of prosperity, betterment and boon?
Your Excellency, I fear if we do not unite now, we would have vindicated those who have wrongly christened us “the hopeless continent”.
Let me end by kindly asking you, Your Excellency, to deliver this message to your fellow statesman on my behalf.