As many African nations commemorate their independence anniversaries across the continent, African scholars as well as the Diasporas gathered on the city of Abuja singing one song: time for second wave of Pan-Africanism that will lead to political and economic self-reliance, Assistant Editor (Arts) OZOLUA UHAKHEME reports.
African scholars on the continent and in Diaspora have renewed calls for rekindling the spirit of Pan Africanism that brought political self-reliance to the continent in the 50s. Leading the pack of discussants at an international conference organised by the Centre of Black and African Arts and Civilisation (CBAAC), in collaboration with Pan African Strategic and Policy Research Group (PANAFSTRAG) in Abuja, was Ghanaian scholar and author Prof. Kwesi Kwaa Prah, who gave the keynote address on Global Africans, Pan-Africanism, Decolonization and Integration of Africa: Past, Present and Future.
Scholars and experts at the conference held in commemoration of Nigeria’s 50th independence anniversary rose from a four-day deliberation resolving that the place and role of Africa in the 21st century are inextricably linked to its culture. They however observed that Pan-Africanism has not been re-defined to recognize the ecological realities of the 21st century in order to advance the cause of global Africans in a globalizing age. But, in a ten-paragraph communiqué, the conference resolved that the peer-review mechanism of the African Union (AU) should be repositioned and strengthened to serve as a platform for the transformation of the African states through the active participation of the people as prelude to total integration of the continent and global Africa. It also stated that Pan-Africanism should look inwards in her search and fight for equality, justice, human dignity and integrity in order to confront racial differentiation, exploitation, domination, dependence and gross inequality.
It stressed that curriculum development at all levels of education in Africa be made functional, culturally relevant and purposefully designed to emphasise Pan Africanist vision/ideals. “There is the need for definitive Afrocentric language policy for Africans states because sustainable development can be achieved through indigenous languages… That to effectively grapple with the multi-farious problems facing Africa, NEPAD should be redefined, strengthened ad made independent. And that relevant agencies of government be re-awakened and re-positioned for the onerous task of preserving, conserving and documenting of Africa’s historical sits, monuments, and other rich intangible cultural heritage. These, no doubt, will boost tourism and facilitate integration of global Africa,” the statement added.
It also said that there should be the creation of a ministry of regional integration and cooperation by all member states of the AU, and such ministry should be adequately funded and run by credible experts. The communiqué, which urged African government and people to begin to use Pan Africanism as a functional instrument or mechanism to fight western ideas that Africa is the backyard of global development, stressed that African indigenous should be taught and spoken at home as way of decolonizing the mind and promoting values and norms embedded in the indigenous languages.
Earlier at the conference, Nigeria’s Tourism, Culture and National Orientation Minister, Alhaji Abubakar Sadiq Mohammed said African continent is capable of overcoming its present socio-political problems using the Pan-African ideology, which is capable of reducing poverty, re-engineering social development and various mindless wars and conflicts that continue to plague the continent. He said if employed objectively, it would provide Africans the avenues for peace-building which could promote democratic governance and respect for human rights. He added that Pan Africanism could also aid the continent’s quest at fostering integration and seeking beneficial partnership with the industrialised world.
Mohammed, who lamented that Africa’s share of the world market and the values of its exports are comparable to an average European country and the budget of an average African country is equivalent to the budget of an average European city, stressed that Africa bears half of the burden of world’s misery. “Life expectancy is rapidly declining while infant mortality is on the increase. At the political level, we are developing and improving on culture of violence. The continent is a hot bed of frightening inter-state confrontations, civil wars and genocide. In our country, the culture of accountability and peaceful conflict resolution is gradually paving way for recklessness, impunity and violence. These are not the dreams and desires of our founding leaders. The situation therefore demands that we retrace our steps by revisiting the ideology that drives the struggle for independence,” he said.
The Executive Secretary of PANAFSTRAG, General Ishola Williams, (rtd) urged the participants to use the platform to design a plan of action for youths, women and elders in the launch of the second wave of Pan-Africanism in line with 21st century needs of Africans. To achieve this, he said Africans must drop their personal and organisational egos and forge one united front. He however regretted that the second wave of Pan-Africanism ought to have started in the 1950s for political independence, building economic self-reliance founded on African history, culture and language. He observed that it was not to be because Pan-Africanists and Pan-African organisations were each doing their own thing rather than coming together under the Pan- Africanism umbrella.
CBAAC director-general, Prof. Tunde Babawale observed that Pan Africanism has moved beyond the spirit that led to its emergence noting that it should be made to bear on contemporary issues of development and human advancement on the continent. He said that government should promulgate laws that would accentuate all of the aspects of Nigerian culture like music, fine art, fashion design among others.
“We must take pride in what belongs to us. Once we do that, we have enough to define our identity and to define our humanity as well as sell to outsiders to promote tourism within our different countries.
On the economic benefits of Pan Africanism and if it can be sold at this time and age, Babawale said: “Yes, it can be sold. In the world now everything is about all disciplines working together, to embrace politics, social and economic. So, in discussing Pan Africanism and making it relevant, it must go beyond the political. It was true the late Kwame Nkrumah said seek ye first the political kingdom, and all others would be added onto it. But we have since realized now that you have to seek the economic kingdom because the political kingdom that we sought and we forgot the economic kingdom. Both of them have to go hand in hand.
“We must use the theory of Pan Africanism to develop the Pan African consciousness of the people and make them develop pride in who they are, and accept the way they were crated. If as a human being you feel you are not as handsome or beautiful as you should be, you remain perpetually distressed for life because you cant change your being.”
The four-day conference, which featured some African scholars on the continent and the Diaspora, among others examined how African leaders can launch the second wave of Pan Africanism that would lead to political and economic self-reliance.
The colloquium that attracted over 63 papers from scholars in Africa and the Diasporas was not all about speech making as a photo exhibition on living and dead Pan Africanists as well as some landmark heritage sites in the continent was mounted at the entrance of the executive hall of the conference centre. The exhibits included vintage photographs of the late Jamaican activist, Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Kenneth Kaunda, Julius Nyerere, Walter Carrington, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Wole Soyinka, Prof. Grace Alele-Williams, Barrack Obama, Prof. Bruce Onobrakpeya, Mariam Makeba, Martin Luther King and Chinua Achebe. Also complementing this were exhibits put on display by the National Commission for Museums and Monuments.