Pan-Africanism today: what is missing?

We are the ones we have been waiting for,” Explo Nani Kofi.


This is an inspiring quote from my pan-africanist friend Explo Nani Kofi. In life, we very often look too far away from ourselves, for solutions to the problems we face or have identified. We focus on the so called legendary figures or role models, and forget the strength that lies within ourselves. We underestimate our possibilities. For example, at least that is my view, the only difference between those we look up for and us is that they realised early on that they were the solution, and nobody else.

Visionary pan-africanist leaders? African business philanthropists? Strong grassroot movements? That is the list of missing factors or elements I retained from a Press TV panel discussion led by Henri Bonzu on Tuesday September 9th 2014 on the reasons that the economic unity of AFRICA that the legendary forefathers of its independance preached in the 60s had failed until today. One of the panelists added that Africa gained political independence. I disagree even on this one because one can get baptized without becoming a true christian, or rule under a modern structure of government and values while deep down applying on their citizens oppressive mechanisms of a long gone era. This is for example happening in Rwanda.

Yes, all the elements the panelists mentioned and many others are missing for pan-africanism to take roots. However, what the participants including the presentator forgot to highlight in the broadcasted programme was their own contributions in different capacities towards that African economic unity. They behaved like doctors undertaking a diagnosis but incapable of stressing their specific role in curing the identified disease. They acted like referral agencies, pointing to others for solving the problems. Unless we take by both hands our personal responsibility, I mean every African wherever we are, in solving African issues, we should stop from complaining and or blaming others for our misery and numerous failures.

It took me personally many years and a very tortuous journey to understand that we were the ones we were waiting for. When I crossed that bridge of the Rusizi river between Cyangugu – Rwanda and Bukavu in the former Zaire back in July 1994, that my compatriot Marie Beatrice Umutesi has immortalized in Surviving the Slaughter – The Ordeal of a Rwandan refugee in Zaire – fleeing my home country for my own safety, I entered a different learning about Africa.

At school I had learnt about the continent’s past, its colonial period, the forefathers of its independence across its diverse countries, military coups here and there to remove so called dictators, but I had lacked the real pictures of those multi-faced realities on the lives of people. There were names that even today had remained as encrypted in my mind: Abdel Nasser, Haile Selassie, Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba, Sekou Toure, and Modibo Keita, among many that Africans should proudly remember. Later on we had Muammar Gaddafi and Thomas Sankara.

I was fleeing my country because Uganda forces of Joweri Museveni including Tutsi rebels from the Rwandan Patriotic Front had conquered Rwanda. The 7th Pan African Congress was organised in Kampala – Uganda under the auspices of president Yoweri Museveni. This was in May 1994. What many ignore and can easily not connect together is the fact that while the Ugandan president was busy running the show of being a Pan-Africanist in his capital, he was simultaneously sending Ugandan battalions across the Rwandan border at Kagitumba to assist his “boys” as he called them, namely the Tutsi rebels of the Rwandan Patriotic Front today ruling in Kigali. As recent history of the region tells us, his same “boys” after having perpetrated a genocide in Rwanda, they would continue in Zaire (today called Democratic Republic of Congo) and commit over the years another genocide in that country which would take the lives of more than 6 millions of Congolese and between 300,000 and 500,000 hutu refugees.

When Explo Nani Kofi explained on his facebook pages that Ghanaian authorities were preparing the 8th Pan-African Congress, meaning this would be happening 20 years after the last one held in Kampala, and there were presently three versions of Pan-Africanism, there were some reasons of feeling sad. The most depressing fact was however the news that Uganda headquartered the Global Pan African Movement, knowing what the Ugandan president has done to the rest of Africans and particularly the citizens of the Great Lakes region. In fact, in spite of his persistent Pan-Africanist rhetoric, the Ugandan president has sold out the continent unity to the Anglo/Saxons highest bidders.

Explo went on highlighting what should be done: “…the problem is in ourselves. If we can sacrifice a bit more and avoid government purse Pan Africanism things could become clearer.”
PAN-AFRICANISM : THE PROBLEM IS IN OURSELVES – On the Uganda headquartered Global Pan African Movement, Ambrose Nzeyimana says “What a sad news hearing that the movement is based in Uganda, a country where everything has been done to kill African unity? In fact, president Museveni of Uganda since the end of the 80s [as a reminder he is in power since 1986] has been instrumental in promoting Anglo/Saxon imperialist foreign policies on the continent with consequences of millions of dead Africans and continuing exploitation of mineral resources as before colonial times. AFRICOM operatives have a strong base in ENTEBBE Uganda pretending to pursue Kony and fighting terrorists. All foolish stories to fool AFRICANS on their real intentions. Can we hope some good from such framework for pan-Africanism? I doubt much.”

Explo Nani-Kofi replies : “My brother, Ambrose Nzeyimana, the problem is in ourselves. If we can sacrifice a bit more and avoid government purse Pan Africanism things could become clearer. Many people came to Tripoli, Libya, when Gaddafi was prepared to open his purse. Two months after that NATO bombed Libya. Only our sister, Cynthia McKinney, raised funds to gather a small group to go and observe and tell the world what NATO was doing in Libya. Where were all those people who were competing to go to Libya and even it became a competition as the Libyans pay even speakers at preparatory meetings so if you get a slot for the actual conference it was gargantuan. There was competition for various positions of coordinators. I wrote to all those who went to Tripoli from UK asking how could we organize post-NATO bombing of Libya and I know the very few who acknowledged receipt or responded. Now with the AU purse opened we’ll see a lot of Pan Africanists including all these people who have gone to bed after the NATO attack on Libya. I have kept my eyes open to watch the spectacle of government purse Pan-Africanism”

http://www.scribd.com/doc/216771827/President-Yoweri-Museveni-s-speech-at-the-20th-Genocide-Anniversary-in-Rwanda#fullscreen MUSEVENI SPEECH IN KIGALI ON APRIL 7TH 2014

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