By Mzwandile Mrabe
A social commentator, Advocate, pastor, freelance columnist and an aspirant writer
This month of May, Africans in Africa and in its diaspora celebrates the Africa Month with many celebrating it by wearing African traditional clothes/attire, eating African food, drinking African beer and learning other African national anthems and languages.
The Africa Month emanates from the Africa Day celebrations which came about when the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the precursor to the African Union, was formed in May the 25th, 1963.
It is traced back as far as after World War II when Africa started the process of self-decolonization with the end result to achieve political rights, total emancipation and independence.
At the time of the formation of the OAU, only 32 African countries were independent and they took a decision to meet to craft a way forward for their self-determination, hence the founding Charter of the OAU was signed in Addis Ababa.
This process led to some African countries attaining independence, with Ghana being the first one in the South of the Sahara to attain independence in 1957. It was not an easy road though, as the imperialists reluctantly and recalcitrantly relinquished power.
Ghana’s independence served as a motivation to other African countries struggling against colonial rule and as a result it occupied a central role in the struggle against colonial rule. Just a year later, Ghana, under the stewardship of Kwame Nkrumah convened the first Conference of Independent African States in 1958, driven by the fact that most of the African states were still colonies and were struggling for independence.
This conference was an unequivocal assertion of Africa’s rejection of colonial domination of Africa. It became the first Pan African conference to be held on the continent bringing together various African countries and became a common platform from which African countries sought to cooperate in the struggle against colonialism and social ills such as poverty, unemployment and inequality.
Based on this mission, the conference called for the annual observance of African Freedom Day to mark “the onward progress of the liberation movement, and to symbolize the determination of the People of Africa to free themselves from foreign domination and exploitation” and this was the birth of what would later be known as Africa Day which is surprisingly not recognized as a public holiday by most of African countries including South Africa.
Africa Month acknowledges the progress that Africa has made while reflecting upon the common challenges it faces globally. It presents an opportunity for all Africans to reconnect and recommit themselves in support of all forms of interventions to develop a better Africa which Nkrumah would be proud of.
This year’s Africa Month message is a clarion call and a declaration that we must never cease to engage in discussions and embark on outreach programs that seek to benefit the African people.
As compared to other developing and least-developing nations, hunger and poverty in Africa forges forward at terrifying levels. This is as a result of power mongering, lack of good governance, human rights abusers and many other sins that are committed by Africans, foreign forces and agencies using Africans.
More than fifty-six years of independence later, Africa is yet to break with their past colonial master-servant syndrome. It remains a liability to other countries that still regard Africans as inferior and second class citizens of this world. It is therefore high time that Africa begin to be the master of its own destiny.
Some of the many things that Africans do, that have earned Africa the disrespect of all races, have turned it from being equal to other continents of the world to being a passive subject that lives on hand-outs though it is the richest continent when it comes to mineral resources.
To me, independence means to be free from poverty and disempowering conditions that limit one’s ability to make choices consistent with free beings. Africa is made to believe that, in spite of its sufferings and second class citizen status, it is independent when it is really not.
It is only when Africa knows the truth that it will be able to emancipate itself. As long as Africans live under conditions of poverty and squalor, it is not yet independent from the likes of USA, UK, and France. As long as the impact of foreign control still defines its fate, it is not yet independent.
Be that as it may, we must always be informed by the acknowledgement of the progress Africans have made so far, in order to reflect on the common challenges we face as a continent. We must take a second to mirror on how far we, as a continent, have come and how much further we must march whilst doing an autopsy of ourselves and on what we have become in lieu of the core founding values of the OAU.