Africa Unite – Lets bury hatred and divisions
We commemorate Africa Day or Africa Unity Day each year on the 25th of May. It was on this day in 1963 that the Organisation of African Unity was formed to promote the unity and development of Africa. History shows us that African will remain poor, underdeveloped, and a sorrow case of Western charity if it remains divided and pay lip service to the vision of African unity and continental integration. African divisions and disunity are not accidental. They lie in the long history of violent colonial conquest, dispossession, and the plunder of African resources for the benefit of the West. Through the barrel of the gun, corruption, and Western hegemony, the people of Africa were successfully divided in order to facilitate their subjugation.
As the Africa’s iconic revolutionary, Patrice Lumumba, said in August 1960, “The colonialists care nothing for Africa for her own sake. They are attracted by African riches and their actions are guided by the desire to preserve their interests in Africa against the wishes of the African people. For the colonialists all means are good if they help them to possess these riches”
With the liberation of the continent, the imperial forces continued to frustrate the economic emancipation of our continent by collaborating with various African leaders who did the bidding on behalf of the erstwhile colonial masters. On Africa day we remember the caution from a pan-Africanist visionary par excellence, Dr Kwame Nkrumah who said on Africa Day in 1963in Addis Ababa, “So many blessings must flow from our unity; so many disasters must follow from our continued disunity, that our failure to unite today will not be attributed by posterity only to faulty reason and lack of courage, but our capitulation before the forces of imperialism.”
Through the African Union, Africa has crafted Agenda 2063. While we are confronted with a new invisible enemy, COVID-19, the people of the continent must fulfil the call to silence the guns by 2020. It is a known fact that many of the conflicts in Africa are facilitated and sponsored by greedy imperialist forces who are after Africa’s riches. We must all rally behind the implementation of Agenda 2063 which remains Africa’s blueprint for development. Agenda 2063 is a plan to attain:
- A prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development
- An integrated continent, politically united and based on the ideals of Pan-Africanism and the vision of Africa’s Renaissance
- An Africa of good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law
- A peaceful and secure Africa
- An Africa with a strong cultural identity, common heritage, shared values and ethics
- An Africa whose development is people-driven, relying on the potential of African people, especially its women and youth, and caring for children
- Africa as a strong, united and influential global player and partner
Addressing the Joint Sitting of Parliament in September 2019, President Cyril Ramaphosa and current Chairperson of the African Union reminded our country that,
“Our fortunes are linked to those of our fellow African nations. This country was built on the labour of not just South Africans, but migrants from India, from China, and from the entire Southern African region.”
And he cautioned us, saying, “Rather than retreating into a laager, we must embrace African integration and the benefits it will bring to our economy and those of our neighbours.”
Day by day, the people of Africa are fulfilling the vision of Patrice Lumumuba who stated during the All-Africa Conference in 1960 that, “African unity and solidarity are no longer dreams. They must be expressed in decisions”. One of the significant decision by the African Union was the adoption of the decision by the African Union in January 2012 to establish a free Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to boost intra—Africa trade. It is said that this will be the world’s largest free trade area with a potential to boost intra-African trade by 52.3%. COVID 19 has delayed trading under this AfCTA agreement which was meant to begin on the 1st of July this year.
Africa Day has a special place in the history of our country. It was on Africa Day in 1994 that our new national flag was flown at the OAU offices in Addis Ababa. On the same day in 1994, the UN Security Council met to remove remaining sanctions against our country. And we remember President Nelson Mandela’s iconic speech to the OAU meeting in Tunis, Libya, on the 13th of June 1994. Addressing the Heads of Government and State, Madiba said:
“Africa shed her blood and surrendered the lives of her children so that all her children could be free. She gave of her limited wealth and resources so that all of Africa should be liberated. She opened heart of hospitality and her head so full of wise counsel, so that we should emerge victorious.”
Madiba went to on speak to Dr Seme’s vision of the regeneration of Africa or the African Renaissance. He said: “Where South Africa appears on the agenda again, let it be because we want to discuss what its contribution shall be to the making of the new African renaissance. Let it be because we want to discuss what materials it will supply for the rebuilding of the African city of Carthage.”
President Ramaphosa made a clarion call in the State of the Nation in February that South Africa should use 2020 to “give effect to the dreams of the founding fathers of African unity”. This is befitting as we recall that the year 2020 marks sixty years since 17 African countries achieved independence from colonial rule. Historians referred to 1960 as “The Year of Africa”, a year which inspired great hope to Africans on our continent and those in the diaspora.
The time for divisions and conflict among African people must be proscribed to the dustbin of history. Nowhere in our continent should Africans grow in self-hate and promote Afrophobia. The children of Africa must grow up knowing our shared history and common destiny. Families, schools, universities, and the trade union movement should play a special role in teaching African history and to inculcate a Pan-African consciousness among our people.
No matter the challenges, our generation must never betray the sacred vision of our founding fathers on African unity. Side by side, we must be unrelenting in achieving a Better Africa and a Better World. As we combat the COVID-19 pandemic, Africa must continue to speak with one voice and together craft a common approach to ending this disease. We applaud African scientists and doctors at the AU’s African Centre for Disease Control and their global partners for their hard work on this new pandemic. African governments must continue to make Africa attractive for skilled workers to plough their trade on the continent - and so, we call on African professionals, doctors, engineers, and scientists to return to their ancestral land for the reconstruction and development of our continent. In a post Covid-19 world, Africa must ensure that by 2030, we attain the United Nation’s SDG goal of universal health coverage.
We hope that Africa Day will also propel all South Africans towards a common national identity. It must be a day for advancing the vision of a united, non-racial, non-sexist, equal and prosperous society. It must be a day to remind us of the need to build a people-centred society. And may we draw inspiration from President Mandela’s first State of the Nation Address (SONA) which he delivered on the eve of Africa Day on the 24th of May 1994. In the address, President Mandela reminded all South Africans who pledge full allegiance to our country and continent that they are African. Remembering the Afrikaner poet, Ingrid Jonker, who tragically committed suicide in 1965 in Cape Town, Madiba said:
“The time will come when our nation will honour the memory of all the sons, the daughters, the mothers, the fathers, the youth and the children who, by their thoughts and deeds, gave us the right to assert with pride that we are South Africans, that we are Africans and that we are citizens of the world.
The certainties that come with age tell me that among these we shall find an Afrikaner woman who transcended a particular experience and became a South African, an African and a citizen of the world.
Her name is Ingrid Jonker.
She was both a poet and a South African. She was both an Afrikaner and an African. She was both an artist and a human being.”
On Africa Day we remember too humanists and South African patriots like Braam Fischer, Beyers Naude, Trevor Huddleston, Ruth First, and Hellen Joseph.
We remember also Stanley Lolan, James La Guma, Cicie Gool, Phyllis Naidoo, Fatima Meer, Ciccie Gool, Yusuf Daidoo, Monty Naicker, Anton Lembede, Francis Baard, Harry Gwala, Steve Biko, Dorothy Nyembe and many more.
They fought for the vision of a united Africa which is at peace with itself and the world. They never spared themselves for the attainment of a Better Africa and a Better World.
Today, their vision finds clear articulation in National Development Plan vision statement which says:
Who are we?
We are Africans.
We are an African country.
We are part of our multi-national region.
We are an essential part of our continent…
We have learned a great deal from our
complex past; adding continuously to our
experience of being African.
On Africa Day, let us sing the AU anthem and make Africa the Tree of Life. And Let us give Africa the best we have. Africa Unite and make the 21st century a truly African century which honours human dignity, justice, peace, and development.