Dear Dr Kwame Nkrumah
It would seem Mother Nature is in harmony with the heavens today, the weather has been rather favourable. Let me not delay getting into the purpose of this week’s letter. As I pondered on what to engage you on this week Kwame, two issues came to mind;
2) African Unity
Even after your repetitive plea for African unity, still African leaders have not considered your counsel. The speech you made on 24 May 1963, as 32 independent African countries met in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, you mentioned that “On this continent it has not taken us long to discover that the struggle against colonialism does not end with the attainment of national independence. Independence is only the prelude to a new and more involved struggle for the right to conduct our own economic and social affairs; to construct our society according to our aspirations, unhampered by crushing and humiliating neo-colonialist controls and interference.” I am often met with outrage when I tell people that the purpose of our liberation was not to participate in the white man’s society but rather to have a platform where we can practice our own. This participation in the white man’s society has led to a more subtle and “multiracial” coated form of oppression.
We should give the message Robert Sobukwe, which he delivered at the launch of the Pan-Africanist Congress, much thought; “multiracialism is in fact a pandering to European bigotry and arrogance. It is a method of safeguarding white interests irrespective of population figures. In the sense it is a complete negation of democracy…” The composition of those who own the means of production in Africa has still not changed since 1957 when Ghana became the first African nation to declared independence from European colonisation.
In the same speech Kwame you posed critical questions that inform the question of why Africans should work together; “Which independent African State will claim that its financial structure and banking institutions are fully harnessed to its national development? Which will claim that its material resources and human energies are available for its own national aspirations? Which will disclaim a substantial measure of disappointment and disillusionment in its agricultural and urban development?….Is it not unity alone that can weld us into an effective force, capable of creating our own progress and making our valuable contribution to world peace?”
Sovereign unity is the key ingredient towards our rightful place in the hierarchy of the human existence. African needs leadership desperately Kwame, as you also pointed out in your speech “The United States of America, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, were the political decisions of revolutionary peoples before they became mighty realities of social power and material wealth.”
3) Africa’s history
Dr Nkosazana-dlamini Zuma delivered the 14th Annual Steve Biko memorial lecture and she argued that “long before the partitioning of Africa in Berlin in 1844, before the cross-Atlantic slave trade and before colonialism, Africa had its own polity and states. These kingdoms, states and civilizations emerged through political and economic unity and consolidation, in order to facilitate trade, wealth-creation and common defence.” Africa is often thought of as a backward continent, but people fail to take into account that we did not write our own history and we cannot guarantee those who took up the task did so faithfully. We therefore need to build institutions that will salvage whatever is left of our history and preserve it for posterity.
Our current distorted image of Africa has created a phenomenal problem, one that former President Thabo Mbeki so beautifully articulated “it is a challenge that confronts all Africans everywhere-on our continent and in the Diaspora-to define ourselves, not in the image of others, or according to the dictates and fancies of people other than ourselves….” We need to re-evaluate our recollection of our history and our self perception as Africans. We need to root out all those detrimental ideologies that we carry as a nation.
As Dr Nkosazana-Dlamini Zuma commenced with her speech she relayed some appeasing news “There is a growing body of historical, archaeological, and anthropological evidence of the great civilizations of Egypt, the Nok and the Ashanti; the Empires of the Shongai, Mali, the Moroccan pashalik and Monomotapa; the Royal Houses of Nubia, d’Oyo, Benin, Kongo, Kanem-Bornu and Dahomey; Abyssinia, and Mapungubwe, to mention but a few. This body of evidence also highlights the contributions of Africa to human knowledge, to metallurgy, medicine and mathematics, to the creative arts and astronomy, to agriculture and architecture, to gender equality and governance and a host of other areas of human endeavour. Thus in 1906, Pixley Seme, motivating for the regeneration of Africa recalled: ‘…the African is not a proletarian in the world of science and art. (S)he has precious creations of her/his own, of ivory, of copper and of gold, fine, plated willow-ware and weapons of superior workmanship.”
Africans needs to learn about this wonderful history of theirs, more so, since most African people were given inferior educational systems. Steve Biko narrates “We are aware of the terrible role played by our education and religion in creating amongst us a false understanding of ourselves. We must therefore work out a scheme not only to correct this, but further to be our own authorities rather than wait to be interpreted by others.” That is why he stressed the “decolonization of the mind”
One needs to understand, as Robert Birt puts it, that “Blacks alone are reduced to being a color…And though they are not the only victims of racism, blacks alone have been set apart, degraded and ostracized exclusively on the basis of race and color. Thus the striving to create and affirm our identity and humanity in defiance of racial essentialization and domination forms the common ground of the black liberation struggle. The struggle for identity entails a struggle for a liberated Black consciousness.”
In closing, it is evident that Africa is far from knowing peace. But let us have heart, for I see opportunity in the mist of this calamity. I for one Kwame, live solely and purely to bring about the prosperity of Africa.
Yours in deep devotion to Africa