BUILDING SUSTAINABLE BRIDGES FOR THE ACTUALISATION OF PAN-AFRICAN RENAISSANCE
September 16, 2019

Ezeugo Nnamdi

As a young entrepreneur I was gladdened by the successful signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) championed by the African Union (AU) as this has been a dream come true following the struggles of our heroes in the past. With its implementation, the continent of Africa shall see heightened mutual cooperation in trade and investments as well as in terms of development and  people to people connect. However, still one can equivocally say that actualisation of the vision of a United Africa remains far-fetched, given the current happenings in the continent’s Rainbow nation and committee of nations. We have not done much in promoting the spirit of “Ubuntu”.

During the days of Thabo Mbeki, South Africa’s foreign policy was in part driven by his vision of an African Renaissance. He encouraged South Africans to embrace a Pan-African identity and sought to promote the continent’s economic, political and socio-cultural integration. Mbeki also urged the entirety of Africa to adapt democracy to fit their own specific conditions without compromising its principles of representation and accountability to enable the discovery of a sense of self-confidence and trust.

Considering the challenges the people of Africa have faced and continue to experience internally and externally as well, one would strongly believe that by now an average African would have garnered the energy to work for a more progressive continent by harnessing the potential of demographic dividend we are blessed with. However the reality belies this notion. It is a fact that “The future of the world lies in Africa” and without coming to terms with each other, how then shall we lead humanity to her dream world?

One fact is the lack of history and continuity in established age-long bonds. Cheikh Anta Diop in his book Precolonial Black Africa said and I quote “The generation that followed did not have the same concerns; none of its members attempted to follow the example of the past generation. There was no longer anyone with the noble determination to get to know the great men of the world, or if there were some individuals consumed with this curiosity, they were few in number. From then on, there remained only vulgar minds given over to hatred, envy and discord, who took an interest only in things which did not concern them, gossip, slander, calumny of one’s neighbour, all those things which are the source of the worst of our troubles.” 

The Pan-African Renaissance did not naively assume, as some critics asserted, and cannot be actualised with the exclusion of any African nation. This is because Africa has always been One, and we cannot develop one part and leave the other in isolation. I have often stated that “a rich king in a kingdom of poverty cannot be said to be rich”. Thus if our development concept is driven by building big and beautiful cities and not building people for sustainability, or if our approach is self-centred in an era of so much inter-dependency and connectedness then we have still not accepted the realities of 21st century.

Listening to the condemnation of xenophobic attacks targeted towards foreigners and particularly fellow Africans in/by South Africans, former Ghanian president H.E John Mahama spoke on how historically Africa stood in solidarity with South Africa during apartheid, with frontline states offering safe havens to citizens of South Africa, financial donations and relief. Today, what is visible is the direct opposite, this is not just emergence of hate but a continuous proliferation, which has blinded people and formed a barricade in exploring opportunities within the continent. It is pathetic and laughable that Africans despite having similar experiences over the years, treat each other with so much hatred. My question is, can this be as a result of competition, identity crisis or a postcolonial hangover that needs a holistic approach in resolving; especially since the same is transferable and contagious.

As a young Pan-African who has always championed borderless African Unity and global repositioning, it is very discouraging for me to see that fellow young Africans could have so much hatred for each other, genesis of some of which lies in lack of proper representation, upbringing and proper parenting and politically due to poor leadership and diplomacy. From South Africa to Ghana, and Nigeria, you mention, and ponder on how much we have done as a people that crave for true growth. I once met a group of young Africans during a forum who after a dialogue mentioned that they were told from childhood to stay away from Africans from a particular place (wouldn’t like to mention)! They went further and shared that their own respective Country Ambassadors reiterated the same to them. This kind of generalisation has done more harm than good to the idea of One Africa. As future heads and leaders of the African continent, what hope lies in our union if seeds as these are planted and nurtured from early age? It becomes a herculean task to reinforce the Ubuntu will amongst youths of the continent, who are a large and strong force to bring positive change, and help in the actualisation of the Africa of our dreams.

In an address by H.E Ebyan Mahamed Salah (The Ambassador of The Federal Republic of Somalia to Switzerland, Austria and The United Nations of Human Rights in Geneva) during the 7th Bingu’s Graduation Ceremony 2019 themed “Year of Return” in New Delhi, she had emphasised on the need for young Africans to commit to the development of the world starting from Africa. In same spirit, I suggest that youth dialogue amongst African member countries be initiated by respective governments, NGO’s and the private sector. This way, people to people connect in the continent will be strengthened. Through such dialogues, cultural exchanges and shared history, entrepreneurial relations would be established and cemented. The AU Youth Commission has to initiate youth oriented and centric steps to proactively bring to fruition an Africa of the future – capable of leading the world in the coming years.

The world is looking up to Africa, and Africa has to take charge. It’s high time that all African young leaders, from Cape Town to Lusaka, from Nairobi to Mogadishu, from Cairo to Accra, and the rest of the world, awaken their consciousness and join hands in building newer bridges, strengthening older bonds, and actively cooperating for a prosperous shared future.

Cover Photo: African heads of states and governments during the African Union Summit in Kigali, Rwanda 2018 (Photo: au.int)

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