Samia Nkrumah sets her agenda for continental Africa unity
When it comes to socio-economic issues, not only in her homeland Ghana, but across sub-Saharan Africa, Ms Samia Yaba Christina Nkrumah, the only daughter of Africa’s first Patriot, is known for her compassionate stance.
Samia has staunchly supported issues that many politicians in Africa shy away from, including anti-corruption, killing of street children, youth unemployment, abuse of women and girl child, slum dwellers, rural folks and the urban poor, income inequality, poverty eradication and equal access to education, health and finance.
What many people don’t know however, is that while she was a student at School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, like many migrant children, Yaba was closely following events in her homeland and across continental Africa, especially during the heady days of the late 1980s (Africa’s lost decade) when sub-Saharan Africa was declared bankrupt. This was also the period when many Africans died of hunger and inter-state wars. The 1980s had a profound effect on Samia especially the genocide in Rwanda.
As the daughter of the late President and founder of Ghana, Samia is no stranger to the difficulty and hardship many sub-Saharan African women face daily. After completing her studies in London, Samia relocated to Rome where she got married and had a son, yet she never lost touch with events on the continent.
Samia was all set for a life as a mother and journalist in Rome when she decided to return home in 2007. Recounting what she described as gross inequality and hopelessness among the poor in her homeland, she turned her back on journalism and other lucrative offers from the corporate world and sought public office instead. Out of the four Nkrumah children, the one least expected to follow Nkrumah’s foot steps into politics, emerged as the champion of the poor in sub-Saharan Africa. She has been hailed as the new Mandela of sub-Saharan Africa.
Having ran and won a seat in Ghana’s parliament as the only elected member of her father’s party, Convention Peoples Party, Yaba Christina Nkrumah has turn her attention to fighting poverty, promoting gender/child issues and leading the debate on African unity.
Across the sub continent, Samia Christina Yaba Nkrumah has passionately push poverty eradication and pro-poor policies to the fore. She has now become the official voice of sub-Saharan Africa’s poor and the Pan Africanist Movement. A role Dr Nkrumah would be proud of. Samia’s passion for the upliftment of Africa’s poor is beyond doubt. She sees education and better health care as the key to over come persistent poverty in the sub-continent.
Ms Nkrumah sees economic integration as the only option to unburden the poor across continental Africa. She agrees that while the euphoria for unification among the African elite and political class is evaporating, among the poor majority, unification of the states in Africa is the only option. She said “our unification will be a negotiated settlement, a settlement that would encompass every inch of the African continent”. She states, “The borders that divide territories in Africa are so unreal and ridiculous, that many families end up living at the opposite side to each other, as the atrocities that occurred in Rwanda/Burundi attests to”, and called on the African Union to speed up the unification process. Samia Yaba Christina Nkrumah said apart from continental Africans, there are over 120 million peoples of African descent who want to see the unity of the continent in their life time. Many would like to visit a unity Africa, a continent that seen so much pain and hardship. Yaba said its not only about economic prudence, but cultural and socially, sub-Saharan Africans are one big family divided by artificial borders imposed on them by the colonialists in order to plunder the continent of its resources and said “the plundering still goes on unabated aided by corrupt politicians”.
Samia said, “From the shores of the Nile to the table Mountains of Cape Town, from the former slave castles of Senegal to the Indian ocean metropolis of Mombassa, Africa must and will be reunited regardless of the forces that are fighting against our unity”. She pledged that the genocide and atrocities that were committed in Darfur, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Congo Kinshasa will never be allowed to happen again on African soil.
The ideas and ideals of the independence generation are still relevant today, according to Samia. She said, “Yes we won our political independence, but we are also aware that we still live under economic bondage, with our colonial masters still determining how we ran our economies through the Bretton Woods institutions”. Samia said the descendents of African ancestors in any portion of the earth, wherever dispersed knows united Africa as their homeland.
She said throughout history, continental and Diaspora Africans have been aware of the efforts by leaders such as Blyden, Du Bois, Casley Hayford, Faduma, Garvey, Azikiwe, Kenyatta, Nyerere, Akintola, Wallace Johnson, Raph Armattoe and Nkrumah to unite the continent. They all devoted their life time work to the unification of continental Africa. Samia said from the first Pan African Congress convened in London in 1900 to the sixth Pan African Congress in Manchester, England in 1945, at each moment when that dream was in jeopardy, other Africans, from Garvey to Du Bois among others, found the courage and God given strength to keep hope of millions of their fellow blacks, both continental and Diaspora Africans alive. Samia said that hope that defines our existence as one race can never be extinguished! The dream of Garvey and others is still alive.
Samia stated that, “The challenges that face our continent are many, at a time when our continent is ravage by internal civil strive, our economies in turmoil, our children are dieing before their fifth birthday, our mothers are dieing at child birth, our daughters are denied education due to family poverty, young graduates roaming our metropolis with no hope, our professionals leaving the continent in droves due to lack of resources, our people dieing from opportunist diseases due to wrong priorities by policy makers, these are priorities that we must address as one country, as we forge ahead to unite our continent and give hope to millions of our people”.
Samia said today, more Africans have become the poorest of the poor and more go to bed hungry, not knowing what tomorrow will bring and said this cannot be allowed to go on forever. She said Africa face only one choice – a choice that is not negotiable – either we unite or forever live at the mercy of those who want to keep the black race in perpetual poverty. Like Garvey, Du Bois and Nkrumah, Samia’s Pan Africa unity is not only aimed at continental Africans, but to reunite all Africans, including Diaspora Africans who have a legitimate claim to the continent. Samia emphasised this point when she made that famous speech at Morehouse College, Atlanta Georgia. Samia’s Morehouse speech was not only aimed at Diaspora Africans but continental Africans as well.
Samia Yaba Christina Nkrumah has taken over the mantle from the old Pan Africans. She was born to be the embodiment of Continental African unity between the Arab North and sub-Saharan Africans (often referred to as Black Africans). How ironic, that those who thought the African unification agenda is just an illusion, suddenly sees Nkrumah’s daughter emerge as the most serious proponent of the Pan –African unity. Samia Nkrumah, whose father was instrumental in the creation of Organisation of African Unity (OAU), which has been transformed into African Union, gives credence to the saying among Pan African activists that “Kwame Nkrumah Never Dies”! Just as Nkrumah dominated the 5th Pan African Congress in Manchester, England, in 1945, today her daughter Samia is at the forefront of continental unity. Dr Nkrumah, although died many years ago, still dominated the African Union summit in Accra (2007) when the main issue for discussion was called – Setting up of Pan-African government. Affectionately called the “African Show Boy” by his peers during his Pan African days in United States and United Kingdom, Kwame Nkrumah will forever dominate the politics of sub-Saharan Africa.
Reporting for the BBC World Service (June 2007, Accra), Will Ross doubted whether Africa can ever unite at all. He wrote that, “Since the idea of African political unity was first pushed – by Kwame Nkrumah, who led Ghana to independence in 1957- there has been little progress”. Many western commentators and analysts still doubt whether that idea can ever see the day of light. However with the surprise emergence of no other person than Kwame Nkrumah’s only daughter to take up the cause for negotiated unification of continental Africa, we appear to have come full circle. There is rumours doing round in western capitals of “we heard-it-all-before” syndrome – especially since the main proponent, again, Nkrumah – the daughter, that is, is taking the fight to those who want to keep sub-Saharan Africa in perpetual bondage. Now the west are taking note, fearing that Ms Nkrumah will derail their plundering of sub-Saharan Africa, just like her father did to their total domination of the continent. Like Nkrumah, sub-Saharan Africans have found a new voice in the daughter of the man they voted as the best African leader, ahead of such greats as Mandela and Kofi Annan. Dr Kwame Nkrumah’s daughter, Ms Samia Yaba Christina Nkrumah is now the hope of millions of Africans across the globe, those cherish to see the unity of Africa in their life time.
The man once vilified as a “dangerous communist” by the west, emerged at the end of the 20th century as African of the millennium and sub-Saharan Africa’s first Patriot. In the autumn of 1978 the United Nations recognised Dr Kwame Nkrumah’s special role in sub-Saharan Africa’s history and politics and awarded him a posthumous gold medal.
Sub-Saharan Africans born years after Nkrumah has left the stage still regard him as a “messiah”. Almost 53 years after his death, Kwame Nkrumah, Africa’s “Show Boy” and best loved African leader that ever lived still dominates the politics of almost every country south of the Sahara. Politicians across the continent invoke his ideals and ideas to win elections. Like a prophecy, every prediction that he made has come to pass. Today the black race is pegged at the bottom of every socio-economic indicator due to lack of unity among our people. Yet Nkrumah saw this coming and together with other Pan-Africans’ like Marcus Garvey and Blyden, warned that “United we stand, divided we fall”. On 6th March 1957, Dr Kwame Nkrumah declared at the old Polo grounds in Accra, Ghana, “OUR INDEPENDENCE IS MEANINGLESS UNLESS IT IS LINKED UP WITH THE TOTAL LIBERATION OF AFRICA”. Dr Nkrumah galvanised the other states in Africa to liberate their territories from colonial rule. The anointed successor of Marcus Garvey gave continental Africa political independence but sadly the economic independence and continental unity eluded him.
Samia Yaba Christina Nkrumah is pushing for continental unity to ensure the future of those yet unborn is secured. Samia want every African child to be educated instead of being drafted as “child soldiers” to fight for gangsters parading the corridors of power as democrats, instead of roaming aimlessly as “street children” and being at the mercy of the elements; instead of going to bed hungry, because an unscrupulous and corrupt politician has diverted money meant for a village school into his private account in the West. Ms Nkrumah wants unity NOW so that continental Africans determine their own destiny, instead of their budgets being determine in Washington, London, Paris and Berlin. Samia Nkrumah wants Africans to map their own future.
On 25th May 2010, The African Union celebrated the life of Dr Kwame Nkrumah. African Union now recognised that continental unity is the only way Africa can compete with the rest. This proposition was advocated by Kwame Nkrumah some fifty three years ago. In his drive to forge one continental unity, Dr Kwame Nkrumah gave the indication that every one of African ancestry .i.e Diaspora Africans in the Americas and the Caribbean has got a claim to this unity. Kwame Nkrumah, having studied in United States and United Kingdom collaborated with Africans from the Americas and the Caribbean to push for Union of African States. All of them were greatly influenced by the Honourable Marcus Garvey, father of Pan Africanism and the man who started back to Africa crusade.
In 1964, Dr Kwame Nkrumah made a speech that still hunts Africa today. He said, “By far the greatest wrong which the departing colonialists inflicted on us, and which we continue to inflict on ourselves in our present state of disunity, was to leave us divided into economically unviable states which bear no possibility of real development”
The pertinent question being asked by Diaspora and continental Africans is, “Can Samia Christina Yaba Nkrumah achieves the continental unity that eluded Marcus Garvey, Du Bois, Blyden and Kwame Nkrumah?” Mwalimu Julius Nyerere observed, “Africans (Black Africans) all over the continent, without a word being spoken either from one individual to another, or from one country to another, looked at the European, looked at one another, and knew that in relation to the European they were one”.
From the 1980 Lagos Plan of Action to the 2007 Accra Declaration, the search for continental unity still continues to elude sub-Saharan Africans. The African Union, established in July 2002 to replace the toothless Organisation of African Unity, today recognises eight, yes eight Regional Economic Communities, while in Europe, countries as diverse and some far poorer than many countries in Africa, such as Hungary and Romania have been admitted into the European Union as full members!! Still the rhetoric of political and economic union in Africa remains. Since the heated Accra debate in 2007, all mention of a timetable has disappeared. No African Union summits since have taken any firm decisions on the Union plan, each deferring the issue, for final debate to the next meeting.
Towards the end of this interview, Ms Samia Yaba Christina Nkrumah said, “At the turn of the 20th century continental Africans, more conscious of their collective identity, sent a powerful message to the ruling elite when they voted for the man who did more than most to try and unite the continent, as the greatest African Statesman, the late President, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah”. Samia said “as the pressures of globalisation continue to make economies of small states redundant, a continental economy and, eventually, government is inevitable – with or without those who are holding our unity hostage”.