The much anticipated and hyped AU summit in Accra was an immense disappointment to many including reporters, political analysts and activists alike.
The fact that the ‘leaders’ missed a golden opportunity to move the continent onto a course of true liberation and emancipation showed their inability and comprehension to realize the grand task that was put before them.
In 1965 ironically in Accra, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah called for African states to unite now or perish. Had those leaders at the time heeded his call, Africa today would be a global SUPER POWER able to compete with the West, China and India and managing its own affairs without European/foreign interference.
Realizing how the union of African states would mean that Europeans would literally go hungry they (the Europeans) put in place wicked and deceptive measures such as carefully and systematically plotting the circumstances (including the sabotage of Ghana’s economy), events and finally the coup that overthrew the architect and proponent of African Unity Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.
His overthrow was a stark warning to other progressive African leaders that if you go against the interests of the West a similar fate awaited you and so the dream of African Unity fizzled out completely until Libya’s Colonel Gaddafi re-invigorated it a few years back.
A brief history lesson will give the readers an appreciation of the concept of African Unity.
The reception given to the Accra Declaration by the assembled leaders differed greatly from the enthusiasm shown by the early independence delegates when the 1945 Resolution was adopted at the 5th Pan African Congress in Manchester in October 1945.
The leadership behind the passage of the 1945 resolution, including Du Bois, Padmore, Kenyatta, Azikiwe, Nyerere, Nkrumah and Blyden foresaw the current crisis now facing Africa and advocated for united Africa. They were far ahead of their time.
At the 1945 Congress, speaker after speaker, Blyden, Padmore, DuBois, Nkrumah, Kenyatta, Azikiwe, Mboya, Hayford and Manley (continental and the Diaspora) all passionately argued in favour of unity. The cries from beyond the grave – Africa Unite.
All the participants at the 1945 Congress were greatly influenced by the fore runner of Pan-Africanism, Honourable Marcus Mosiah Garvey.
Garvey’s influence extended beyond continental Africa and stretched further a field to the Caribbean and North America at the period in question.
Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana who adopted “honourable Marcus Garvey’s Black Star Line” dream project, took the fight to the colonialists on the continent and won the independence argument, stated at the All-Africa Peoples Congress in Accra, 1958, that the only way Africa can realistically compete with the rest of the world’s regions is to form a union government based on the federal model of United States of America.
Nkrumah who emerged as the “anointed and successor to Honourable Marcus Garvey” religiously took the same stance as Marcus did, by advocating for unity now! This is the same position that those in the Instantists camp, including Gaddafi argued for.
Unlike the current proponents of the Instantists, Nkrumah’s group carried the day at the 1945 Manchester Congress. Nkrumah’s charisma, intellect and his passionate argument for unity, aided by gallant and great Pan Africanists such as George Padmore, W.E.B. DuBois, Jomo Kenyatta and Blyden ensured that the whole delegates supported the unity agenda.
Padmore’s keynote address fired young Nkrumah who in turn had a great impact and influence on a certain young African American, Martin Luther King Junior years later.
Whilst Nkrumah was taking on the colonialists on the mainland, young Martin Luther King Junior was waging another war for the emancipation of Africans in North America. It is now acknowledged that Nkrumah’s “African Unity speech” at the old Polo grounds in Accra had a great impact on Dr King that led to his “I have a Dream speech” in Washington, DC in 1963.
Marcus Garvey is credited as the father of Pan-Africanism and the one who set the “Africa for Africans” train in motion. Garvey was the first to realise the enormous challenges that faced African people and started his unity crusade when most continental Africans and Africans in Diaspora were still under economic, social and political slavery.
Marcus Garvey’s Black Star flag (Red, Gold and Green) was unofficially adopted as the flag of “United Africa” at the 1945 Pan-African Congress. Writing in the Global Black News, February 2002, Bakari Akil II states, “Garvey knew in his heart that Black people’s loss of knowledge of their history, their inability to defend themselves, lack of resources and lack of self rule were the main reasons Africans (throughout the Diaspora) were unable to return themselves to a state of glory they once held.
Garvey became incensed by the enslavement, institutional racism, colonialism, brutality and forced ignorance that were responsible for degrading roles African people were forced to accept. It became his mission to change the status Africans had to adopt in order to survive.
He felt the only way for African people to regain their legal status was through massive organisation of the African Diaspora and reclaiming Africa for Africans. By accomplishing this very goal, Garvey maintained that Africa would be able to use the resources the rest of the world coveted like oil, diamonds, gold, salt, lush agricultural land, etc., to regain respect and status that other nations and races enjoyed.
He also stated that these resources could be used to increase the level of education, health, political and social standing of Africans and would create a position of strength that would bring about self-determination”.
Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) established in 1914 had a great impact on many Black leaders that emerged years later. Marcus set the wheels in motion for Pan Africanism and the need for Africans to unite under one government and/or one economic regime. DuBois who was a disciple of Marcus later became the father figure of the independence Movement.
Garvey also stated that “a people that depends on another for its economic survival sooner or later dies” recognizing the need for African nations to unite in order to attain total economic liberation and power.
Marcus prophetically predicted his successor (Kwame Nkrumah) and stated that the baton would be handed over to a young continental African, who unlike him, would see the promise land but uniting his compatriots would skip him by generations.
The 1945 Pan African congress in Manchester, England, brought the unity agenda to the fore. Nkrumah and Padmore’s speech electrified the Congress and became a focal point of the African unity crusade. Nkrumah said years later that, “I think that of all the literature that I studied, the book that did more than any other to fire my enthusiasm was the Philosophy of Marcus Garvey published by his wife”.
The 1945 Pan-African Congress RESOLUTION was a historic piece of document that would be cherished by Africans for years to come.
The historic 5th Pan African congress held in Manchester, England, in October 1945 was the defining moment and the start of the unity agenda spearheaded by Nkrumah.
The meeting brought to the fore the young leaders who had been influenced by Garvey. Among the delegates were DuBois, Jomo Kenyatta (Mzee), Nnamdi Azikiwe, Julius Nyerere, Tom Mboya, Appiah, Padmore, Herbert McCauley, Caseley Hayford, J.Africanus Horton, Edward W. Blyden and many illustrious African/Black intellectuals.
So the above was the framework that was put in place with which Dr. Kwame Nkrumah used as his template for the formation of the Organisation for African Unity in May 1963 and where armed with a plethora of information at his disposal called for a Federation of African States immediately.
Nkrumah was well aware with his god given ability to think and plan years ahead that Africa, in order to be a competitive entity and compete with others had to unite because he recognized that African states operating as single units were not powerful to operate alone and could be easily picked off by larger nations.
He knew that a single Africa with its immense mineral wealth and human labour was well placed to meet the challenges of the 21st century and to transform the economic structures of individual African states from poverty to that of wealth, from inequality to the satisfaction of the needs of the African people.
Nkrumah also realized that the balkanization of the continent, as a result of the racist imperialist congress of Berlin in 1884/1885 where FACIST ANTI-AFRIKAN White imperialists decided to carve up the African continent for their own economic and geo-political needs, was not in the best interests of African peoples culturally, spiritually and economically making his cry for African unity now more potent.
This brings us on to the current reality of ‘independent’ African states. African states today are NOT independent because of the mere fact that their economies are legacies of imperialism that are controlled by proxy by these same WHITE RACIST imperialists who carved Africa in 1884/1885.
An example is that 65% of Ghana’s economic output is made up from ‘donor’ countries and that contrary to popular misconception, the economic, fiscal and monetary policies of the government of Ghana are determined by the WHITE OWNED, RUN & CONTROLLED World Bank and the IMF who in essence run Ghana’s economy.
This hardly constitutes the definition of a country that is supposed to be proud and independent and free form foreign dictates.
By their inept failure to seize this historic opportunity afforded to them at this summit African leaders failed not only this current generation of African people both at home and abroad (who in particular are crying out for a united and strong Africa), they have also failed future generations of African people and history will judge them harshly indeed.
Dr Kwame Osei