A reflection on SA and Africa on the 55th anniversary of Africa Liberation Day

By Sam Ditshego

The African States that formed the OAU

An anniversary is a time not only to celebrate but also to honestly take stock, introspect, and truthfully reflect on one’s achievements and failures and to search one’s soul. It is not a time for pomp and ceremony. It is not a time to blow one’s own horn nor is it a time for self-delusion.

This month marks the 55th anniversary of Africa Liberation Day, a day the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was formed on the 25 May 1963. This year’s month of May also coincides with the 93rd anniversary of the birth of one of the greatest leaders the African people gave to the world, Malcolm X, born 19 May 1925 who worked closely with the brains behind the OAU, Kwame Nkrumah, and the first President of independent Ghana. Last month, South Africa celebrated 24 years of its “freedom”.

If Nkrumah were to be resurrected, would he be happy that South Africa, Nigeria and Gabon voted in favour of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 declaring a no-fly zone over Libya which led to the toppling and eventual public lynching and assassination of its head of state Colonel Muammar Gaddafi? Didn’t these African countries know that in International Law a no-fly zone is a declaration of war? Didn’t they learn from what happened to Iraq in 1991?

And what were the reasons for declaring a no—fly zone over Libya? At the height of the so-called Arab Spring, a western NGO led by a Geneva based Somali born Doctor concocted a lie that Libya bombed civilians. The Russian government contradicted this monstrous fabrication through satellite pictures which showed there was no such bombing of civilians. However, they were ignored because western powers wanted to destroy Libya because it was a bulwark against western imperialism. Those three African countries didn’t positively verify the facts but acted on the basis of rumours. They conducted their foreign policies on the strength of rumours and western propaganda. South Africa, which claims to have a democratic government, didn’t even seek approval from its parliament and the people of South Africa. The ANC government went against the tenets of African unity by presiding over the destruction of another African country that prevented other vulnerable African countries from taking loans with strings attached from western financial institutions thus turning them into debt slaves since Gaddafi financed them and eradicated their dependence on western countries.

Many South Africans are not aware that in the early 1960’s many African leaders and governments, including Kenneth Kaunda, identified with Robert Sobukwe and the PAC because of their Pan Africanist philosophy. They didn’t identify with the ANC because of its precarious ideology. During his tour of Africa and Britain in 1962, Nelson Mandela visited various African countries including Ghana. Kwame Nkrumah completely refused to meet Nelson Mandela and said they should tell Mandela that he would not meet him because Ghana identified with Sobukwe and the PAC. Many other African leaders who met Mandela including Kaunda told him to wait until Sobukwe came out of prison. These African leaders were clear 56 years ago that the ANC wasn’t an organisation to be relied upon something that began with their adoption of the Freedom Charter in 1955. African leaders regarded the Freedom Charter as a repudiation of the African people’s anti colonialist stance of Africa for Africans.

What has Africa achieved in the last 55 years?  Since independence Africa has stagnated if not regressed. The economic development models adopted by African countries since independence have caused suffering. They dictated by western countries. Not only do they dictate economic development models but they also choose leaders for us. Those whose policies they don’t like and can stand their ground are toppled and/or assassinated. Examples abound. Congo’s Patrice Lumumba on 17 January 1961, Burundi’s Pierre Ngendandumwe was assassinated on 15 January 1965, Ben Bella’s government in Algeria was overthrown on 13 June 1965, Kwame Nkrumah and Achmad Sukarno of Indonesia in February 1966, Gaddafi in 2011. In Korea in June 1949 they assassinated Kim Koo, in Iran they toppled Mohammed Mossadeq in 1953, Arbenz Guzman of Guatemala in 1954, Salvatore Allende of Chile in 1973 and many others.

I mentioned Malcolm X in the opening paragraphs because Ngendandumwe, Ben Bella, Nkrumah, Sukarno and others were assassinated and toppled because they supported Malcolm X’s 1964 petition to the United Nations charging the US government of the crime of genocide against African Americans. The atrocities Malcolm X mentioned in that petition are still being carried out today. Police killings are continuing unabated; there are many young African Americans in US jails than there are in universities and colleges. Not a single African leader is prepared to speak out against this genocide of African Americans in the US.

Is it naive and absurd to blame African underdevelopment and its psychological, political, economic and social consequences on the colonial control and exploitation alone? Almost all African, states except one, are now independent, albeit only politically (and even that is doubtful); however, independence has not resolved the numerous inherited problems.

Professor Marimba Ani says what compelled her to write her book Yurugu: An African Centred Critique of European Cultural Thought and Behaviour is the conviction that beneath this deadly onslaught (political domination, cultural and psychological rape) lies a stultifying intellectual mystification that prevents Europe’s political victims from thinking in a manner that would lead to authentic self-determination. Intellectual decolonisation is a prerequisite for the creation of successful political decolonisation and cultural reconstruction strategies.

She continues to say that Europe’s political imperialistic success can be accredited not so much to superior military might, as to the weapon of culture. The former ensures more immediate control but requires continual physical force for the maintenance of power, while the latter succeeds in long-lasting dominance that enlists the cooperation of its victims (i.e. pacification of the will). The secret Europeans discovered early in their history is that culture carries rules for thinking, and if you could impose your culture on your victims you could limit the creativity of their vision, destroying their ability to act with will and intent and in their own interest. The truth is that we are all “intellectuals,” all potential visionaries.

Agrippa T. Mugomba writes in Independence without Freedom that one of the most glaring contradictions of the postcolonial era in Africa is the existence of nominal political independence alongside economic dependency. Those who control the economic empire are also in a position to frustrate the political aspirations of the managers of the political kingdom. Further still, they are able to introduce new forms of dependency, which blunts economic nationalism and consequently renders militant ideology impotent.

There is a relationship between political decolonisation and economic dependence in Africa. The World Bank, IMF, and World Trade Organisation are the keystone international economic organisations (KIEO’s) of the contemporary international political economy. They are the principal multilateral institutions which dictate coherence and stability to the international monetary, financial, and commercial systems. They are the pillars of the neoliberal international economic order.

Cheryl Payer holds that the World Bank is perhaps the most important instrument of the developed capitalist countries for prying state control of its Third World member countries out of the hands of nationalists and socialists who would regulate international capital’s inroads, and turning that power to the service of international capital.

The World Bank, IMF and the World Trade Organisation are instruments for bringing developing countries into the capitalist order and ensure that they pursue policies appropriate to this order. The US and other developed capitalist countries dictate the policies of the KIEOs. These three institutions’ policies and programmes result in blocking possibilities for indigenous economic growth within developing countries and preventing social transformation. Compliance with KIEOs’ policies puts unfair and disproportionate burdens on the poor and disadvantaged within developing countries

In the 1970’s and 1980’s, African countries found themselves trapped in World Bank and IMF loans that put African countries in a debt trap from which it was difficult to extricate themselves because of the interest that had to be paid on those loans. The loans were extended with conditions.

Finally, there is a desperate need to dismantle colonial institutions and structures in order to foster genuine political, economic, and social changes.

The writer is an independent researcher.

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