Lately I am beginning to sense a spirit among Ghanaians that encourages me and gives me hope for the future. Ghanaians are finding their voices and expressing their love for their country through all forms of media. In this respect I will like to express my heartfelt appreciation to this medium provided by Ghanaweb and many others and I pray that they continue in their patriotic duty. In that same spirit I applaud all those who respond to the articles and their agreement and disagreement with what is written. This is an exercise we have to go through in order for us to find the answers we need to move our country forward, so let me encourage all of us to get involve with the process.
In today’s article I wish to broach a concept though simple in its understanding distant to Ghanaians. When ever we hear about the term Pan-Africanism most people are immediately dismissive of it. What immediately comes to their minds is wearing African clothes, wearing your hair in a natural way etc. In fact, these are all aspects of cultural Pan-Africanism, but the concept is more dynamic than that, Pan-Africanism is a lifestyle, an ideology. It has been advanced in some circles as an African Ideology and I will concur with that.
The concept of Pan-Africanism developed within a historical context. It evolved during a period where Africans and people of African descent saw them selves as under the same yoke of oppression and wanted to unite to break that yoke. There are two issues that drew them together, the fact that people of African descent and people in Africa all come from Africa, meaning they were the same people and the fact that they were all living under oppression. Therefore the Manchester Pan-African Congress in 1945 is significant as the lunching pad for the fight for independence which begun earnestly the following year. It is no coincidence that almost all the participants of the Congress went on to play crucial role in the liberation struggle, to mention a few: Nkrumah, Kenyatta of Kenya, Nyerere of Tanzania, and Azikiwe of Nigeria. It also no coincidence that all these people struggled to create what became the OAU, a compromise to political unity. By independence Pan-Africanism had accomplished its liberation objective and it had a semblance of political unity in the OAU.
Pan-Africanism as a concept as I have already indicated, is more dynamic than that. It is formulated on the premises to which I alluded earlier; 1. We as a people all come from one place Africa, 2. We as a people are oppressed as a people. 3. Our continent was the Cradle of civilization, proud and progressive, on that premise we must work together to restore the Africans’ place in the world. The restoration program included restoring the dignity of our people by encouraging them to appreciate their culture and their African Personality. It also included liberation, physically, politically and economically. In analyzing these objectives it become clear that Pan-Africanism does not end with independence. For many who understand the economic situation that Africa finds herself in, Pan-Africanism becomes a necessity.
I attended a lecture recently on ‘African Democracy’ by Professor Bouake of Senegal in which he made the analogy of Africa’s economic relationship with the Western world to a soccer match. In his assessment it was like two soccer teams going to play an important match, before the match one team discovers that on the previous night, the referee for the match was seen drinking beer and hanging out with the other team. If it was a football match the team would have refused to play convinced that the referee had been bought but in our economic situation our survival is at stake and we have no choice, we have to play regardless of our suspicions. Well, it is easy to fit in Western governments, the IMF, World Bank and other international actors in this analogy.
The issue is simple, as individual countries we can not compete economically with a world that is increasingly being regionalized economically and subsequently politically. The United States is a big country and a big market. Europe is now technically one country with the European Union, the South Americans are organizing with the help of the US of course, to regionalize. China is big enough for its size, over a billion people, India; the Asians, one can see the picture forming. In Ghana over twenty million people is not big enough to make any impact in the world. In the world that we live there are two things that guarantee a voice, economics and military, the United States has both. For those of us who do not have any we become the victims of exploitation under a capitalists system. In a response to my article last week a reader supported capitalism as our way forward. Capitalism for me is exploitative and leaves to many people in the society out of the distribution of resources. Even if we want capitalism it has to be drastically refined to meet the needs of all our people.
That being the case Pan-Africanism can be adopted as the basis of our self preservation though the idea of the economic unity of all Africans. It is only through that process that we can have the market and the economic acumen to compete significantly in this world. Certainly this aspiration is fraught with problems which are overwhelming but it is a challenged we must meet, it is not a preference it is a necessity. A lot of people look at what is going on in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia and the poor economies of many Africans countries and fail to see a future. But I say again it is no more an option we must integrate our economies for survival otherwise we would not make it on our own. Capitalists are not philanthropic, they give and they take back a hundred fold.
On the Ghana Government website I am elated to see that part of the policy objective of both the Foreign and Regional Cooperation ministries is greater African unity and intra-African cooperation to accelerate the continent’s development. It is comforting that the Ghana government recognizes institutions like ECOWAS and the AU as vital to the restoration of the African people to their deserved place in the world. I accept that our steps have to be cautious but not tentative. This is Pan-Africanism at work and as Ghanaians we must embrace and encourage it.
As a lifestyle Pan-Africanism requires that we live our lives with the unity and brotherhood of the continent in mind, we must champion our own identity, cherish the good things and condemn the bad. We must see corruption as destructive to our collective development as a people and setting a bad example for the future generation. In living as Africans we would love our Africaness and by loving our Africaness only then will we act to ensure mother Africa’s survival.