2014-08-14 22:30

Following the much publicised US-Africa Summit last week, I wondered to myself if there will ever be a time when Africa will, out of political will and intuitive conviction, distance itself from global talk-shops. And that should such a time come, how will we go about constructing a path that will, beyond satisfying the West's expectations, transform the face of the continent and speak to the disturbing reality of terror, war, poverty and unemployment on the continent.

The notion that the innumerable challenges the African continent is confronted with stems from a lack of good governance is one of the many indisputable facts we have come to be familiar with over the years. Perhaps, we can even agree that some of these challenges arise as a result of poor socio-economic conditions, arguably, a legacy of former repressive colonial regimes. But beyond acknowledging the existence of these African problems, which in the words of President Thabo Mbeki require "African Solutions", one is confronted with a series of questions: Firstly, how long will we continue to go out into the world with a hat in our hands and a bucket-load of outstanding issues resulting from instability on the continent, be it as a result of poverty, war, terror and the like? Secondly, when will we deem it important to consolidate and formulate a detailed ordinance that will not only inform decisions, but prescribe a remedy to our African problems? Lastly, what will it take to realise peace and security on the continent?

Sad as it may be, the truth could be that we have not yet developed the courage to emphasise and advocate, emphatically, for an Africa that is independent. The independence one speaks of should, above everything else, be informed by Afrocentric ideals, which in all sense of possibilities must seek to advance the interests of the African continent regardless of the fact that some African states wish to embrace and exercise ideals of the West. Cliched as it may sound, ours should not be to promote competition between African states, but rather, to accept the challenges that have come to characterise the political and economic outlook of Africa since the independence of Ghana in 1957, and work endlessly towards liberating our people beyond the idea of democratic rule.

Whilst President Thabo Mbeki speaks of an African Renaissance, the late Libyan President, Muammar Gaddafi, imagined the possibility of a United States of Africa, and no matter how complex the intricacies of these concepts, they both seek to define Africa outside of the limitations of the West and to achieve an Africa that is joined together for a common purpose. Nevertheless, the assertion that there needs to be urgency in how African leaders respond to the clarion call by other progressive Africans to accelerate the development of the continent, as per the guidelines of the African Renaissance, does not suggest that Africa should not project itself as a role player in global politics, and perhaps most importantly, as a benefactor and beneficiary in the global economic arena.

In recognition of the fact that Africa ought to find expression in the saying "no man is an island", which is to appreciate the value of interdependent relationships, it carries upon itself the responsibility to protect and empower its own. There needs to be a deep sense of unity, so much that none would agree to engage in non-transformative talks with the West when thousands are suffering as a result of sanctions imposed on certain African countries. History has taught us that the burden of one country, if not removed, becomes the burden of another. Of great concern is the fact that at no point, prior to the US-Africa Summit, did our African leaders convene to consolidate and solidify their voice in defence of the people of Zimbabwe and other African countries suffering at the feet of imperialist forces on the continent.

So, as we celebrate our participation in talk-shops and forget that there are issues that require our full attention and commitment, supported by action. May we remember the words of Nimrod Mkele in his essay titled 'Trojan Horses of Apartheid' when he wrote that "His objective [the white man] was to break our political power and destroy our economies so that he could control us from his own economic ends". The context may differ slightly, but the message is clear: For Africa to prosper, it needs to create a path of its own.

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