Tomorrow, 25th May, is African Unity Day. Back in the days when Africa had anti colonial political parties fresh from acquiring independence, the whole of May would be a month spent thinking and doing things about Africa’s history, reliving its struggles against slavery and colonialism and applying our minds to the question of how Africa could escape neo-colonialism and free itself from the poverty and general backwardness its relationship especially with the US and Europe, had engineered in Africa.
It is a mark of how much things have changed, radical progressive Pan Africanism dissipated and how weak the struggle to decolonise Africa has become that in the country of Kenneth Buchizya David Kaunda, in Africa Month, its newly elected president has just celebrated “the first ever Zambia -EU Economic Forum” held last week on the 18th and 19th, in Lusaka!
Apart from a pathetically weak and apologetic reference to the fact that Europe and Africa once traded in slaves, there was no adequate, comprehensive contextualisation of the historical colonial, economic, political and imperialist relationships between Europe and Africa in general, and Zambia in particular, coming from the mouth of the president of Zambia, Hakainde Hichilema, to assist all the participants in the Zambia -EU Economic Forum last week to appreciate why the US and Europe are the main causers of our backwardness and poverty and therefore both have a historical responsibility to reverse the flow of economic value which has for several centuries been from Africa to the US and Europe.
The Zambia – EU Economic Forum should not have been a begging session for Zambia for European finances, technologies, business know-how and especially “green” economic support of any kind. Europe owes Africa trillions of Euros in reparations for slavery, colonialism, racism, plunder and theft of our lands and natural resources, environmental destruction, cultural and religious genocide, and today, continued economic and political domination and strangulation.
Tomorrow, May 25this Africa’s Day. Africans across the continent who are conscious of their history and understand their political responsibilities will rededicate themselves to continue to fight to uproot the continuing legacy of slavery and colonialism in Africa and to unite all its lands and peoples into one democratic country; Africa. It was exactly 59 years ago when the Organisation for African Unity was born, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Enriched by the Pan Africanism of the 19th Century African Americans’ desires for the birth and flourishing of African civilisation free from United States White Supremacist domination, oppression and exploitation and the philosophies, ideologies and political practices and goals common to the struggles against colonialism in Africa, the OAU was founded to advance the cause for decolonising Africa and uniting its peoples, among other things. Fresh from the brutalities and savagery of the colonial experience, the 32 heads of state and presidents who gathered in Addis Abba, Ethiopia, on the 25th of May 1963 were faced with the impossibly difficulty task of determining how Africa could advance the struggles against colonial domination and simultaneously develop and unite Africa’s peoples. Today, 55 African countries comprise the African Union, the successor of the OAU.
Political independence and the right to vote may have been secured in almost all of Africa. But all-round poverty and consciously engineered underdevelopment by the US and Europe combined with the prevalence on the African continent of a mean, selfish, lying, thieving, corrupt African leadership has meant that neither the dreams of fully shaking off colonialism nor uniting and developing the continent have materialised. Africa today has come full circle: a new crop of African political leaders cloned by imperialism, are fast taking control of the African continent and its countries. Hakainde Hichilema perhaps should best be understood in this light, the period of the temporary defeat of the anti-colonial and anti-imperialist project by neo-liberalism.
Imagine if Kwame Nkrumah was present at the two-day Zambia-EU Economic Forum meeting in Lusaka last week. Nkrumah would have repeated what he said at the founding of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in 1963, on the 25th of May, saying:
“It is said, of course, that we have no capital, no industrial skill, no communications and no internal markets, and that we cannot even agree among ourselves how best to utilise our resources. Yet all the stock exchanges in the world are preoccupied with Africa’s gold, diamonds, uranium, platinum, copper and iron ores. Our capital flows out in streams to irrigate the whole system of Western economy.
Fifty-two percent of the gold in Fort Knox at this moment, where the USA stores its bullion, is believed to have originated from our shores. Africa provides more than 60 percent of the world’s gold. A great deal of the uranium for nuclear power, of copper for electronics,
of titanium for supersonic projectiles, of iron and steel for heavy industries, of other minerals and raw materials for lighter industries – the basic economic might of the foreign Powers – come from our continent. Experts have estimated that the Congo basin alone can produce enough food crops to satisfy the requirements of nearly half the population of the whole world. For centuries Africa has been the milk cow of the Western world. It was our continent that helped the Western world to build up its accumulated wealth.
For centuries Africa has been the milk cow of the Western world. It was our continent that helped the Western world to build up its accumulated wealth.”
Nkrumah said this 59 years ago, on that day, when the possibility of a United States of Africa was within grasp. Apart from tweaking the figures a bit, nothing much has changed since then, in the relationship between the USA, EU and Africa: Africa’s wealth continues to be plundered and shipped off to the USA and Europe, and now also to China, to feed into their manufacturing processes. The manufactured goods are then imported back into Africa using expensive loans Africa begs from the USA, EU and China!
Nkrumah would have been completely flabbergasted that Hakainde Hichilema, without any trace of shame at all could say “I am not a puppet of imperialism” when he was actually at the very same time in a meeting with junior imperialist masters from Europe, begging these Europeans to use some of the loot they have plundered in Africa and elsewhere to come and plunder Zambia! These looters, our former enslavers and colonisers, are today called, politely, “investors”. How little has changed since 1963, about the inferior quality and political character of Africa’s leaders who actually prevented the dream of a United States of Africa from becoming a reality!
No people have ever been enslaved for ever. The dream and struggle for emancipation from poverty and colonial domination always beats in the hearts of the oppressed and exploited. Africans are no exception to this rule. Politically conscious and liberty loving Africans know that the US and Europe mean no good to Africa. They understand that Africa’s underdevelopment and poverty are perfect mirror images and are caused by White US and European advancement and wealth. Such Africans understand their historical responsibilities to Africa and its peoples.
These politically conscious Africans never forget Africa’s historical and current experience of the brutal and totalizing nature of colonialism and how Africans have historically been dispossessed, oppressed, dominated and racially marginalized by US and European white Supremacism in Africa and everywhere in the world.
Tomorrow, all such politically conscious and progressive Africans will reignite the dream of African freedom, rebirth of African civilisation, and invigorate the struggles of Africans of all races everywhere in the world against domination, oppression and exploitation of Africans; everywhere in the world. Tomorrow these kinds of Africans will be sharing ideas about how best to advance the struggle for the emancipation of all Africans and the liberation of the African continent from White US and Western European and all other colonial powers.
Tomorrow Africa will dance, once more, in the beautiful African sun and enjoy the African moon, and nourish the trees of genuine freedom and African Unity which were planted on the 25th of May in 1963, in Ethiopia.
One day Africa and its people will be free from colonial and imperialist domination, suppression, oppression and exploitation. That day must come soon.
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