Africa Day, commemorated every year on 25 May, marks the formation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in Addis Ababa in 1963, which later transformed into African Union (AU) in 2002.
This year, it was commemorated under the theme: ‘Arts, culture and heritage: Levers for building the Africa we want’. Nevertheless, as we celebrate the day, we need to ask ourselves, as Africans, questions pertaining to African post-independence development.
Today, all African nations, except Western Sahara, have achieved political independence but that is not enough to claim total independence. Although they have removed their armies’ flags, economic independence is still
illusive. The continent is still suffering from the dependence syndrome. Some African countries are still failing to promote brethrens and sisterhood.
Most African countries are finding it difficult to trade amongst one another but let’s hope the introduction of the continental free trade area will make easy. Conflict in some part of the continent is worrying.
Some parts of western Africa countries and Sahel region are finding it difficult to resolve conflict, which is worrisome to the continent because peace and stability in the continent is being disturbed. Also, the recent violence in Mozambique is worrisome because people have been displaced and many have sought refuge in neighbouring countries.
President Kwame Nkrumah, one of the greatest sons and founder of OAU, in a speech, delivered on the OAU summit Conference in Cairo in 1964, said: “We must unite for economic viability, first for all, and then to recover our mineral wealth in Southern Africa, so that our vast resources and capacity for development will bring prosperity for us and additional benefits for the rest of the world.”
Our continent is endowed with vast human and natural resources. Despite having been blessed with resources, most Africans are poor and one wonders for how long the continent will continue to sink into poverty.
The continuation of youth uprisings in many African countries is also an ongoing concern and requires immediate intervention because they are stuck in “waithood”.
According to the African Development Bank, more than 200 million of the continent’s 1.2 billion people are aged between 15-24 years old and that number is set to rise to 321 million by 2030. Young people are the most affected demographic group in any country in terms of socio-economic and political development.
Young people are not represented well; they are frustrated by unpopular socio-economic policies and lack of transparency in public and private sectors. They are marginalised and excluded from development in many African countries.
When will Africa utilise its resources so that it can empower and improve the social
welfare of its population? It is time for the current leadership of the continent to devise better mechanisms, aimed at alleviating/lifting its population from poverty; one such mechanism is to manufacture goods.
I should state it clear that, amongst many other African countries that has achieved full economic independence so far is Zimbabwe under late Robert Gabriel Mugabe.
Zimbabwe successfully liberated itself from the white man’s dominance of the land.
The indigenisation policy, which was introduced and is meant to increase local participation in the economy through partnering international investors, is a clear testimony on how the people of Zimbabwe liberated themselves. Despite the economic hardship they faced, today they can proud say they are totally independent because they have land.
African should believe in herself. We need to promote Africa as a focal point and a continent for peace and development.
Our African brothers and sisters across the universe, including Africans living in diaspora, need to dream and contribute to the development of the continent from Cape to Cairo, so that we build a true Africa with a better understanding of history and a way forward.