Considering the struggle and determination of the people of Africa for independence and unity, Real Alternative Party seeks to remember Africa Day which is celebrated every year on May 25th. Although Africa Day is a day for all African countries, it is observed as a public holiday in only twelve African countries, namely; Ghana, Mali, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Angola, Chad, Comoros, Equatorial Guinea, Lesotho, Liberia and Mauritius. Why other countries such as Botswana have chosen to play docile in the commemoration of the Africa Day, could perhaps be explained from the historical background of the establishment of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party as its formation was engineered and started by the British colonial masters to distract the gains of the Botswana Peoples Party which had greater popularity and following in the 1960s.
Looking forward in a political sense always requires looking backward into history with the hope that political leaders learn from the past mistakes. The remembrance of Africa Day gives an opportunity to remember the great historical achievement of the Pan – Africanist and founding fathers of the continental organization.Moreover, it gives a chance to look forward regarding Africa`s development peace and security. The Real Alternative Party remembrance of Africa Day lies in this crude fact.
The character and roots of colonialism will always remain a matter of controversy because colonialism means exploitation by the foreign society and its agents who serve their own interests, not that of the colonized. Colonialism was a totally unwarranted slur on the cultural values and the ability of the colonized people to run their affairs as the interests of the rulers and the ruled remained diametrically opposed. Franz Fanon in one of his writing, wretched of the earth succinctly described it as he stated ‘colonialism tended not only to deprive a society of its freedom and its wealth, but of its very character, leaving its people intellectually and morally disoriented.’ In the historical wave of the movement to liberate Africa from the remnants of colonial domination, Frantz Fanon of Algeria and Amilcar Cabral of Guinea can be considered the intellectual leaders of the Africa liberation. Whereas, Robert Mugabe, Samora Machel, Augostino Neto and leading cadres in the ANC`s military wing were the major exponents of the movement to free Africa through violent rebellion. Most Sub-Saharan African countries did not have to go through a sustained, violent war in order to gain independence and in Ghana, Mali, Nigeria and Tanzania, for example, the most radical nationalist leaders could create a mass base of support through the use of ideology. Exceptions could be found in the cameroons, where a well – organized guerilla movement mounted operations against the colonial power until violently suppressed.
In Kenya, the Mau Mau uprising, although defeated, forced the British to a final political settlement and in Algeria the Front de Liberation Nationale (FLN) led a sustained war against France. The FLN`s most celebrated intellectual, Frantz Fanon, wrote widely on the development of the liberation struggle. His ideas on black consciousness later influenced Steve Biko in South Africa and his great contribution to revolutionary movements in Africa was his recognition of those inhabitants of colonized countries who were not involved in industrial production, particularly peasants living outside the cities. The liberation of the African Continent resonated in the vision for African unity and the ideology for the New Africa, independent and absolutely free from imperialism, organized on a continental scale, founded upon the conception of one and united Africa, drawing its strength from modern science and technology and from the African traditional belief that the free development of each is conditioned by the free development of all.
On independence, Africa was faced with problems of industrial development and the call for the economic liberation of Africa through a socialist ideology was the answer. The leading lights of socialist transformation were Senegal`s Leopold Senghor, Guinea`s Ahmed SekouToure, Ghana`s Kwame Nkrumah, Mali`s Modibo Keita and Tanzania`s Julius Nyerere. Conversely, if we assess the realm of political and economic liberation of Africa, Africa has simply not been able to realize the necessary autonomous domestic economy. Notwithstanding the high ideals of the movement to liberate Africa, African states after independence have become authoritarian, highly personal structures that have territorially extensive but relatively limited penetrative, administrative and coercive capabilities, are still intact. What had started as a socialist experiment with the laudable intentions of freeing Africa not only in a political sense but also in an economic sense has degenerated into yet another class conflict with a new African administrative elite at the helm.
Prolonged and intense conflict with the colonial powers might have forged distinctive and coherent revolutionary politico – military organizations capable of successfully undertaking socialist transformation, but the nature of the independence settlement has been such that there is not a singular success in moving beyond the initial transformation of independence to successful institutions of governance. Africa`s economic history still remains a history of commodity extraction and the western world still see the future of their relations with Africa as a continuing source of strategic minerals and energy. The continent still suffers from a colonial legacy that has left it with a significant constraint on inflows of commodities in the African region and the African political rulers have continued to toe the line to European and U.S. demands. The western world has created through the liberal consensus of IMF and World Bank, tighter and more restrictive economic agreements.
The administrative elites in power have gone no further than establishing and defending the special interest of their own ‘new class’. The resources of the African states are being devoured by a tiny group whose demands distort the budgets and economies of the states they govern. The costs of African presidential and ministerial establishments are higher, in relation to national income. Ruth First, writing in ‘Power in Africa’, argues that in the fourteen former French colonies; perfume and cosmetics absorb half as much as machine tools; and five times as much spent on importing private cars as on importing agricultural equipment. Moreover, African states, with the best will in the world, have never been able to counteract the degeneration into warlordism, terrorism and corruption, which has been the bane in the lives of all Africans since the colonial era. There is little to differentiate between those countries that put a claim to a socialist ideology as opposed to free market concepts. The sorry state of affairs in Zimbabwe under ZANU-PF rule, and that of South Africa under ANC are a clear cut example of the betrayals of the people by the self – proclaimed socialist oriented liberation movements. The slogans of ‘Power to the People’ and economic programs such as the ‘freedom charter’ espoused during the liberation struggle have been thrown away into the dustbins of political history and replaced by the ‘historical political compromises’ in favor of the colonial settlers benefits.
An outcry of race and ethnicity is being propagandized by the ruling elites of the liberation movements to overlay and complicate class and economic interpretations. Marxism is being used by the heroes of the liberation struggle in portraying the evils of a capitalist society through symbols such as the exploitation of the underdeveloped world by the developed world as a mask to enchant and ‘cool-off’ the people`s temper from revolting against the blasphemous misrule of the liberation movements.The core business of African Union which is supposed to be creating an economic base that will overcome the colonial legacy of the past and create a climate that will not pander only to the interests of the ruling elites is yet to suffice. There are still no jobs at reasonable wages. The African Heads of States, through the African Union continue to fail to create a climate opportunity that is conducive to continental market integration and protection. Africa that emphasizes culture and education, science and technology, moral renewal and African values is a mere political diabolic in the corridors of African Union summits. What is even most sickening is that the African Union budget is entirely sponsored by the European Union.
In essence and even though having achieved political liberation victories, Africa still remains economically subservient. Its leaders it is clear, have made calculated assessment of the rewards of colonialism, and thus resolved to assimilate colonialist function for their self-advancement and aggrandizement. Undoubtedly, the African ruling elites have adapted a neo-colonial attitude which has led them not only to toe the line of European and the U.S. dictates, but also to develop the arrogant and aggressive jingoistic nationalism of what J.A. Schumpeter would proclaim as ‘atavistic’ urge for unlimited wealth acquisition. As such, African leaders have failed to support African endeavors at the expense of parochial interests because the colonial legacy still rankles among most of Africa`s new elites. The experiment in the wave of African liberation failed as African governments absorbed the means of production into the public sector. State corporations that have been set-up have made huge losses because state controls have led to bribery and corruption, rampant red-tape and the resultant loss of efficiency.
Brother Gaontebale Mokgosi
Real Alternative Party