The Rise of the Sun People: A New Morning Breaks in Africa
Ghelawdewos Araia, PhD May 24, 2013
For the last two decades I have been telling my students that Africa will one day rise, and it looks the time has arrived for a triumphant and jubilant Africa. The golden jubilee of the founding of the OAU (now AU) thus would not simply be a gathering of African heads of states and governments, a conventional conference with underpinning conventional wisdoms, but a landmark in the history of the continent that signals the preliminary achievements of the Lion Kings. It will also signal that, at long last, the sun people have managed to overcome centuries old of obstacles and a new morning has indeed broken in the African continental landscape.
In the last two to three decades, I have been ruminating with disappointments with respect to Africa�s failures although I was cognizant that internal and external forces induced the causes for Africa�s lethargic performance. I have indeed addressed the sinister gift Africa bequeathed from its former colonizers and I have made exhortations in many of my writings to African leaders so that they can prioritize African development and the welfare of the African peoples.
In my capacity as a scholar and educator, I can only write and attempt to influence public policy and it is in light of this objective that I have produced at least three dozens of articles pertaining to Africa, and one of these essays relevant to the golden jubilee is entitled The Historical and Ideological Foundations of Pan-Africanism. This paper was presented in 2006 at the Annual Conference of Reemergence of Pan-Africanism in Africa in the 21st Century: Implications for Empowerments of Black Educators and Students in the African Diaspora.
One can safely surmise from the conference topic mentioned above that my colleagues and I were anticipating the reemergence of pan-Africanism (now adopted as the main objective of the golden jubilee) and subsequent renaissance in political, economic, and cultural fronts in the African continent.
In the same article, I have cited Lumumba�s prophetic and poetic depiction of Africa fifty years ago, and I found it quite pertinent to my present brief essay. Here is how Patrice Lumumba put it then:
The dawn is here my brother, dawn! Look in our faces
A new morning breaks in Africa,
Ours only will now be land, the water, mighty rivers
Poor Negro was surrendering for thousands of years.
And hard torches of the sun will shine for us again
They will dry the tears in eyes and spittle on your face.
The moment when you break the chains, the heavy fetters,
The evil, cruel times will go never to come again.
Lumumba, of course, was referring to Africa�s liberation and political independence, which is now complete. All African countries are indeed independent, but are they economically independent yet? In regards to economic independence, there is no doubt Africa is still staggering like a toddler. Furthermore, there is no doubt that Oginga Odinga�s book Not Yet Uhuru could still serve as a manual to African leaders, not to mention Uhuru Wa Bandera (flag independence only), an African political wisdom extended to us by the Swahili-speaking African people. However, both Odinga and our Swahili people will be vindicated paradoxically, because a new morning has broken, the African people are on the rise, and most importantly the sun people are now on the verge of determining their destiny, that is to say they have now begun controlling the economic parameters.
I say the sun people are awake because I have witnessed tangible evidences of success on the ground in Africa and here are some examples: South Africa, though bedeviled by crime, has managed to establish a viable and robust constitution with independent judiciary and open political debates. Its economy is very promising and it has recently joined the Brazil, Russia, India, China (BRIC) group and as a result the name of the latter has changed to BRICS, the �S� representing South Africa. Similarly, Ghana has successfully triumphed over its coup-prone stigma and established democratic institutions and a multi-party system while at the same time made significant recovery and progress in the economic sector.
Ethiopia has made a tremendous achievement in development in the last two decades, but more so in the last decade especially in its ability to construct major highways and feeder roads, rural electrification, primary health care and the opening of clinics in the rural areas, and the establishment of more than thirty universities. Ethiopia, once known for its civilization of antiquity and symbol of independence was also known for its recurrent famines. Now, it looks the country is on the right path and there is no doubt that it is going to be one of the Lion Kings especially if it adds �democracy� in its recipe.
Another promising initiative is that of east African countries in the reestablishment of the East African Common Market, with new structures and new member states. The new East African Community with its member-states of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi has made a commitment to further establish exchange of trade with a common customs union, common currency, and eventually a common flag, which is microcosm pan-African agenda.
Out of the 54 African countries, some 15 nations are doing well and others may follow suit and make the triumph of the sun people a reality. During the trial and tribulation of the last half a century, only a handful of countries like Botswana, Mauritius, Seychelles etc were performing well in their economies and political systems. As of recent, however, many other African nations seem to catch up with the success stories in the continent. After all, Africa is the future continent and no other continent is comparable to Africa in terms of natural resources, strategic minerals, and fauna and flora.
The African potential is enormous, but Africans have just begun to control, monitor, dictate, and direct their respective economies. Africa has just recently understood the significance and importance of regional cooperation and the result of the latter, though not great, has indeed scored significant milestones in foundational development.
As stated above, Africa is moving in the right direction and toward a bright future but it has a lot to do and its challenges are multiple and complex: 1) African leaders should seriously consider the ongoing civil wars in Somalia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Nigeria etc. 2) the African Union (AU) should have an upper-hand in African affairs and could not afford to play a secondary role while former colonizers still actively determine the fate of African nations, e.g. the role of France in the civil war of Mali. 3) African nations, especially the countries that are committed to development and transformation, should prioritize the development of agriculture and industry; should diversify their economies; and should prioritize food crop over cash crop. 4) African nations should recall Tom Mboya�s motto, �Africa�s fate should be decided by Africans in the continent and not in London or Paris.�
Once the correct economic policies are in place and implemented by committed and visionary African leaders, the African Lions would be unflinching and inexorable. However, while Africans celebrate their golden jubilee and look forward, they must also look backward (Sankofa) and pay tribute to the great pan-Africanists in the Caribbean and the United States who paved the way for African liberation:
1. Aim� Cesaire and Frantz Fanon from Martinique
2. Marcus Garvey from Jamaica
3. Henry Sylvester Williams, George Padmore, C.L.R. James from Trinidad
4. W.E.B. Du Bois from the United States
And from the African continent,
1. Kwame Nkrumah from Ghana
2. Gamal Abdel Nasser from Egypt
3. Leopold Sedar Senghor from Senegal
4. Jomo Kenyatta fro Kenya
5. Julius K. Nyerere from Tanzania
6. Emperor Haile Selassie from Ethiopia
The above leaders were at the forefront in the struggle for independence and African unity, but there were also many other African leaders, including the signatories of the OAU Charter on May 25, 1963, who also deserve tribute.
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