Africa Must Learn From its Past

African Leaders African Union Summit
African leaders gathered in Addis Ababa for the 50th anniversary of the African Union

AFRICANGLOBE – As Africans celebrate the golden jubilee of the African Union, which was launched as the Organisation of African Unity in Addis Ababa on 25 May 1963, it is pertinent that our leaders take an honest and conscientious retrospection of our past.

After all, to discern the future, one must closely study the past.

Great strides have been made on the political front where more than 50 countries from Cape Town to Cairo and Dakar to Dar es Salaam freed themselves from repressive and exploitative colonial rule.

In most states, liberation was achieved by dint of armed struggle by the Africans themselves like in Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

The last 50 years have seen the African Union achieving political liberation for the entire continent. It was a commendable achievement.

But much more remains to be done on the economic front and the eradication of illiteracy and its attendant poverty, hunger and disease.

In many parts of the continent, political independence has not translated to economic independence as millions still groan under  abject poverty while a  handful bask in the glory of  political and economic independence.

Many parts of the continent have been afflicted by destructive civil strife, often manipulated by foreign hands in London, Washington, Paris or Lisbon.

These troubled spots include Mali, Nigeria, the DRC, the Saharawi Republic and Mozambique.

The foreign hand manifested itself in the Congo where newly elected leader, Patrice Lumumba was assassinated, at the instigation of the Belgians, assisted by Africa’s biggest sell-out, Moise Tshombe and Mobutu, then a colonel in the army.

In Mozambique, Renamo rebels led by another sell-out, Afonso Dhlakama wreaked havoc, leaving hundreds of thousands dead and forcing many others to seek refuge in Zimbabwe and other neighbouring countries.

The West is determined to create political instability in rich African nations so as to impose political stooges and continue exploiting the continent’s rich mineral wealth, oil reserves and fertile soils.

To its credit, Zimbabwe blazed the trail in the quest for economic emancipation by its land reform programme. Under the leadership of President Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe has repossessed the fertile land that was confiscated  in 1890 by the White colonialists and gave  it back to its African owners.

The land reform programme has not endeared President Mugabe to the colonialists who hitherto had lined their pockets after grabbing large swathes of fertile land and exploiting African labour to produce maize, tobacco, wheat, cotton, apples, and citrus fruit which they sold to overseas markets.

African countries must work closely to ensure that the continent has enough food to feed its people all the time.

African leaders should take a leaf from Zimbabwe’s indigenisation policy as it is one way of correcting the economic ills brought about by colonialism.

The way forward for Africa should be ‘indigenisation now for Africa’s total economic emancipation.’

It is imperative for the political leadership to demonstrate a high degree of integrity and good governance as they implement economic policies that seek to promote  africans.

African leaders must ruthlessly fight and destroy corruption wherever it rears its ugly head. They must learn from their mistakes and remove retrogressive traits like nepotism, ethnic politics and regionalism.

They must come up with progressive economic programmes and implement them through regional groupings like SADC, COMESA, ECOWAS and the East African Community.

Such groupings must be vehicles for increasing trade among the African countries. There must be a deliberate, concerted continental effort to add value to products manufactured in Africa so as to create jobs and wealth.

Africans must process their cotton into cloth and cut and polish their rough diamonds so that they fetch high prices on the international market, which, for now is controlled by the conglomerates in Europe.

It is imperative for Africans to span colonial barriers erected by the British, the Portuguese, French, Belgians, the Dutch, the Americans the Italians and Spanish when they began their selfish scramble for Africa in 1884.

There should be a deliberate action plan by our leaders to bring down the barricades that have pigeon –holed Africans into Lusophones, Anglophones and  Francophones.

On the media turf, the Pan African News Agency must be revived to fight the negative reportage that Africa gets from the Western media.

The press and broadcast media should work closely together not only in the exchange of information, but in mapping out strategies to counter imperialist forces that seek to denigrate Africa at every turn.

In 1962 the great Pan Africanist, Kwame Nkrumah, the first President of Ghana declared that Africa must unite. That challenge must be taken up in all spheres, particularly in the field of security where there is an urgent need for a continental reserve military force to be used in trouble spots.

Africa must learn from its past, the brutal rule by Mobuto in Congo; the famine in Somalia and Ethiopia that left thousands dead and the needless massacre of nearly one million Tutsis by the Hutus in Rwanda in 1994.

African governments should invest more in national development and less in the military so that the majority of people have enough basics like food and shelter.

The African continent must realise that greed, corruption and abuse of power- the ingredients for dictatorship, breed civil strife and economic ruin. African leaders must revisit their education curricula so that they adopt new technologies and make it relevant to their national development goals.

After all, education is the pivot for national development and the type of education a country adopts determines its economic thrust.

The founding leaders of Africa, among them Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, Haile Selassie of Ethiopia and Julius Nyerere of Tanzania  achieved political  liberation.

The present and future leaders must strive for lasting unity and economic independence.


By: John Gambanga