September 18, 2021

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Are Africa Day Celebrations Still Relevant?

Chipinge Correspondent

May is dubbed Africa month, for almost sixty years, the Organization of African Unity has steadfastly held the celebrations of its birth on this day every other 25 May and Africans take pride at themselves for having successfully obtained their independence from the shackles of colonialism but can they say with a straight face.

This is the Africa we wanted and yearned for all these years.

Nkwame Nkrumah and his ilk had a vision of a United States of Africa made along the lines of the United States of America and Muammar Gadhafi had a similar vision with him travelling from Libya to Zimbabwe via the road but he, too, suffered the ignominy of being toppled by a so-called Western sponsored uprising dubbed the Arab Spring.

Africa has many despots who hide behind the Western interference mantra to trample upon their citizens’ rights with impunity but when they fall ill, they rush to the same Western capitals to get medical help. At the same time, their health delivery systems would have gone to the dogs and if their citizens become ill, they die ignoble deaths with their families failing to afford a pauper’s burial.

Of late, the Tigray crisis in Ethiopia is a huge dent on the democratic credentials of the African leaders.

Addis Ababa crushed the ‘insurgents’ no leaders in Africa uttered any word in support of the hapless region. It was hard being put to the sword by foreigners but when a fellow African uses heavy artillery to pound a region in his country ostensibly to forestall dissent and a break away, it speaks volumes of how far Agenda 63 resolutions are going to be met.

When will African leaders see their subjects as human beings who need to be consulted time and again before using brute and raw force to subdue them?

Apart from condemnation from the African Union, there hasn’t been talk of applying sanctions to the Malian junta which ‘imprisoned’ the President and the Prime Minister in a show of defiance although ECOWAS has sent former Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, to act as a mediator. African leaders claim sovereignty when their human rights record is put under the microscope.

    Picture by Shingirai Vambe, of a young Rusape resident trying to have a catch in Rusape dam

The Malian strongman, Assimi Golta, has the temerity to say the transitional leaders have been stripped of their powers yet only last year, he initiated a coup de tat which was met with muffled dissensions but no strong language to declare it illegal under international law. His failure to stick to the timelines he presented for the country to return to normalcy smacks of arrogance knowing that nothing, absolutely nothing, would be done against him.
Poor Africa!

It should not be business as usual if there is violence before an election and the incumbent governing party retains power by hook or crook. This is the bane of the African Union to act as a checkmate when citizens are subjected to state sponsored violence.

Malians and Africans at large wait with bated breath to see whether Goodluck Jonathan would bring back democracy in the West African country jaded by Jihadists fighters in the Sahel region.

One of the ideals of the founding fathers was economic development for every country in Africa. Today, looting by leaders occur on a grand scale and still the other leaders keep quiet and they accuse sanctions as the major reason for the economic malaise their country men and women face.

It has been long since the Democratic Republic of Congo found itself enmeshed in a war with four other countries namely Zimbabwe, Angola, Rwanda and Namibia and the economic impact, dire as it was, had been devastating more than two decades later.

Reports say US3 million was spent every month at a time Zimbabwe had just had its worst economic run since independence following the Black Friday when the dollar fell heavily against major currencies. At that time, the former President, Robert Mugabe, did not bother to inform parliament about his deployment of troops outside Zimbabwean borders when there was no clear or present danger to the security of the country.

Clearly, democratic values dictate that the rulers do so with the consent of the ruled. However, in most African countries, the reverse is true where any attempt by the electorate to assert its independence through demonstrations is met by brute force from the authorities.
Someone remarked snidely that these leaders ‘’died for their countries’’ and they must enjoy the full package until they literally leave mother earth.

It boggles the mind why the whole country must celebrate Africa Day when the greater number of African citizens suffer at the hands of fellow black leaders.

Africa is a resource rich continent. Its citizens are forced to be child soldiers and the blood bath that is synonymous with Africa is a humiliating indictment of the founding fathers of the OAU who had a dream of uniting Africans for the betterment of everyone who suffered from the Slave Trade and colonialism.
Africa is dithering as the Mozambicans in Cabo Delgado face beheading from the Islamic State aligned fighters who are wreaking havoc with the result that Total, a French oil giant, has abandoned a $US 20 billion investment. Who loses out between the leaders and the led?
The led are the losers.

While South Africa is the economic giant of Africa, it clearly has to answer questions on its ability to checkmate the violent in her midst who are hell-bent on xenophobic tendencies which include lynching fellow Africans who come from all over Africa as economic refugees.

Regional economic blocks have been established such as Southern African Development Community, COMESA, ECOWAS and others which were formed to foster economic development through cooperation. Nevertheless, the coming in of Chinese into the economic equation has seen many commentators complaining about a new form of colonialism.

Are Chinese colonialists? African leaders invited them with the hope of developing the African economic revolution as Agenda 63 beckons. Are they for the economic revival of Africa? The jury is still out on that.

As long as corruption is smiled at by the leadership, hopes of an African Rennaisance remain a pipe dream.
The democratic space is missing in many African countries with a growing trend of leaders changing the constitution to suit the leader’s whims. President Bongo of Gabon is too old to rule but he soldiers on and he may leave office when children who were born at the beginning of his reign turn 50.

Is Africa day relevant? Yes, it is.