BY ZIFISO MASIYE
To the bone, a patriotic Zimbabwean, it always feels like an abdication of duty and a hypocritical betrayal to forgo commentary around internal abuse… the despicable human rights and governance collapse, the pitiable humanitarian crises and the spectacular economic somersaults and price lunacy that define my country week in and week out… and to speak instead of things Africa and matters global, over which, many may argue, we have faint relations and zero control.
Yet archaic tales of “tsvimbos”, skeletons of glorified dictators and statues of demented idolatry don’t quite inspire me. Though the grim buffoonery over scattered bones of my kith and kin may seem to be light Sunday sport that tingles the fancy of my tormentors, it deeply pains my heart and infuriates my pen dry.
Let me rather talk to the children of Mother Africa.
When the great warriors of the collective liberation struggle for Africa got adequately annoyed by the blatantly racist policies and practices of our ungrateful white guests in the 1960s, it became abundantly obvious to young Julius Nyerere, to young Nelson Mandela, to young Govan Mbeki, to young Joshua Nkomo as it did to young Nkwane Nkrumah, not only that the colonial administrations imposed in their countries were decidedly evil and designed to placate a few and to condemn masses of African citizens to perennial poverty and conditions of slavery, but also that the time for bargaining space with minority regimes was up: that a collective African clarion committing every African to the active pursuit of political independence, freedom, a just and equal society was necessary, urgent and compelling.
Without doubt they did a sterling job of uprooting apartheid and delivering political independence to Africa. That generation of proud Africans found their mission, defined it and set out to deliver it. Having delivered their countries from virtual racist slavery, whether or not they were suitable, fit-for-purpose and adequately equipped to govern and deliver the Africa we all dreamt of is a different question altogether.
Long after her red, gold and green flags shot into the skies, the African Promise fades ever so dimly! The pomp and ceremony that accompanied the celebration of independence across the continent has consummately deflated and turned into ruinous misery and despair for 1.2 billion of her citizens — and a “party-pungwe” for 55 presidents and their families. Africa reels in poverty, she bleeds in legendary graft and corruption and she leaks plane loads of unaccounted resources every day.
Even after an entire century of relentless plunder, siphoning and unrestrained rape of her seamless resources, just how ridiculous is it that a continent endowed still with the most extensive, the richest, the most beautiful and the most lucrative of the world’s natural resources — holds undisputed claim to the indignity of such accolades as cradle of poverty; the epicentre of disease, an endemic trap of humanitarian crises and the perennial recipient of pity, charity and global philanthropy? How is it we are arguing with zero laboratory evidence over which foreign vaccine may be less risky for our people? How is it for instance that Sadc countries still retain the ignoble distinction of being the only region in the world where a record highest proportion of human beings living in poverty has remained stagnant for decades, while the absolute number of inhabitants living in abject poverty has more than doubled everywhere since independence? The invariably shocking statistics of disrepair and poverty are in spite of the fact that sub-Saharan Africa remains the largest recipients for official development assistance.
Outside what are flimsy and impalpable dividends of the liberation wars waged across Africa (such as black pride, human dignity and some vague, oft inconsequential right to vote,) idle young Africans roam the desolate streets and villages of Africa asking themselves what practical, enduring development change in theirs and the lives of ordinary African citizens was so much African blood shed for.
There is evidence and increasing currency in the view, often purveyed by pan-Africanists that in their current form, structure, intrinsic character and persuasion, the liberation war governments that delivered political independence to black people across the continent are ill-suited, utterly incapable and frankly unwilling to effect good governance and unleash Africa’s true potency to compete favourably with the rest of the world.
This is and must be necessarily another generation’s fresh mission!
Invariably, our liberation governments are galvanised around the singular purpose of self-preservation, ring fencing governance and power by any means necessary, protecting “sovereignty” that uses means fair and foul to actually exclude the so-called sovereign.
The very architecture of the African Union is decidedly founded on a flawed basis of prior supremacy of fragmented national territories. It’s primary articles are crafted to underline and protect those limited gains of the liberation wars defined around the independence of member states: their territorial integrity: and/or national sovereignty… randomly determined, miniscule territories that bear no meaning to the African, but are the very anti-thesis of a unified, conquering Africa.
Invariably, today’s African governments present every appearance of glorified apartheid ethnic hegemonies, spitting mirror images of the very diabolic settler minorities that they so despised and violently deposed. Using multiple smokescreens of democracy, they have mastered governance deception… Many are simply old, war-weary and unwilling to question the utility and validity of their tiny borders and non-viable, fragmented economies.
By a mile, the greatest treason of the centuries happened in that Berlin Conference when a roomful of ravenous imperialists decided, on the basis only of the insatiable greed to split the continent of Africa into slices of pizza to share it amongst themselves!
Young Africans today cannot perpetuate that grand travesty and continue to mortgage their future and shortchange themselves, bargaining on a ruthless global table on the basis of ridiculously small populations, measly economies, and meaningless geographical territories.
The case for a United States of Africa is stronger today than it was 100 years back when Marcus Garvey championed it in the Negro World Weekly.
That hypothetical concept of a unified, colossal federation of 1.2 billion citizens from Cape to Cairo, banked against a collective GDP of +/– US2.5 trillion and seamless gold, platinum, diamonds, wildlife and all manner of natural deposits is the bare minimum absolutely necessary if Africa ever hopes to compete with China, America, India, Russian, name it on a nearly fair, respectful brother to brother global platform.
For Africa to begin to unlock her global potency and true value, the ideal of a United States of Africa, the idea of a singular official Afro-currency, one red, black and green flag, the idea of a single collective African government, one passport, one foreign policy and one warrior African army, as conceived in the 60s by Nkrumah is decades overdue!
The idea of a formidable continental sovereignty necessarily entails a radical commitment to abolish our cherished mini-sovereignties where 55 geriatric presidents happily preside over starving citizens! It is an idea that terrifies the world global powers in their pants. Neither the AU nor its 55 national presidents have any appetite for the United States of Africa.
- Zii Masiye (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes elsewhere on social media as Balancing Rocks.