Africa(ns) Unite? Kwame Nkurumah to Bob Marley and Muammar Gaddafi

by Nelima

I woke up thinking about Bob Marley, because today is his birthday. I listened to a couple of his songs and stumbled upon ‘Africa Unite’. I’m now thinking about the newly elected chairman of the African Union, Muammar Gaddafi and his quest for a United States of Africa. I’m looking at the worn copy of Kwame Nkurumah’s book ‘Africa Must Unite’, that’s sitting on my bookshelf. I’m thinking … we’ve heard this phrase again and again in its many variants, ‘Africa Must Unite’, ‘Africans Unite’, ‘African Solutions for African Problems’, ‘My African Sister’, ‘My African Brother’ ….. oooooo I beg! I am tired of it all.

I am tired of it all because Africans only remember to unite when tackling a problem, who’s source is seen to be from outside the continent. I am angry for you my African brother when the police have man-handled you, I sympathise with you my African sister when you are among the first one to be laid off at that American company, we are a proud African continent when the ‘Son of Our Soil’ becomes president of America. Let’s cheer on our African people at the Olympics and World Cup.

I forgot that you are my African brother when during the violence after the Kenyan elections I torched your house and stole your valuables, I forgot that you are my African sister when I raped you during the violence in the Congo, I forget that you are my African people whom I am supposed to serve and this is our African continent that I am supposed to develop so I line my pockets with cash and let you languish in poverty. Ah we may be from the same continent, but you cannot marry my daughter because you are not ‘Habesha’. Oh and we may even be from the same country, but you cannot marry my son because you are not ‘Igbo’. A Hutu and Tutsi union? Forget about that! I will rally for the people in Gaza, but don’t have time to organize one for the people of Zimbabwe (another Bob Marley song). Look everyone! My profile was featured in the Star-Tribune (why weren’t you as excited about your first profile, which was in the African Community Newspaper). By the way, most of these are all REAL ‘MinneAfrican’ examples I think by now you get my drift …..

The diversity of our African culture is a beautiful thing and should be fully embraced. Go ahead, love your (insert African country or tribe here)-self everyone knows I love my Kenyan-ness. However our differences shouldn’t be use look down on others, we should in fact learn from each other . Teach me some Shona, Yoruba or Luganda and I’ll teach you Swahili, Luhya and Sheng.  Let’s be African for better or for worse. Let that African-ness be our strength when our problems come from the outside and our conscious when the problems within our boundaries threaten to tear us apart. Why?

Because Africa will NOT unite because Nkurumah said so, Africa will NOT unite because Bob Marley sang so, African will NOT unite because Marcus Garvey said so, African will NOT unite because Nyerere said so and NOT even now after Muammar Gaddafi says so. Africa WILL unite because you and I say and truly believe so.

Here’s Bob Marley’s Africa Unite;


12 thoughts on “Africa(ns) Unite? Kwame Nkurumah to Bob Marley and Muammar Gaddafi

  1. PREACH my sista!!!! I couldn’t have said it better myself!

    One question that always seem to torment me though is this: It seems for the most part Africans outside of African get this. But then again many Africans (especially your line about lining their pocket) taking ill-advantage of the continent and her people spent some time in the Diaspora. So this is my wonder: Do we seem to get it here, and once we go back, we forget the Pan-African spirit we so championed outside of the continent? Or do we go back and find the task of change so daunting we fall in line with the status quo, each man for him/herself?

  2. Well—well– this is surely an issue that I have always been fascinated with, so I am truly happy that you brought it up on this blog.
    To address this issue, one need to ask three simple questions.

    Why must Africa Unite?
    How must Africa Unite?
    When must Africa unite?

    We can answer to the first question by using a cost benefit analysis. On the cost side, Africa’s unification will entail at the minimum, anguish, pain and even loss of life. I say so because as a realist, Africa cannot unite peacefully or willingly. Which of the present African leaders will be willing to succumb part of their power to a federal leader? None! Therefore, I believe that Africa’s unification will entail a revolutionary force which will run down all the 53 countries into succumbing into a federal government. On the benefit side, a unified Africa will generate peace and prosperity. It will lead to proper use of our natural resources and also to distribution of these wealth among all the peoples of the continent. It will lead to easy flow of the continents’ trained manpower between and among countries and I believe will halt on migration of these experts from the continent to the west. It will lead to opening / or developing of infrastructure that will ultimately lead to easy transportation of goods and services across the continent. To conclude on this question, one need to look at the USA to see what unification has done for this nation, imagine if this country was not united, where would it be on the scale of development in the world today? These are the benefits, I am talking of and it is up to you to charge whether the costs, I have alluded to above out way the benefits if Africa was to unite.

    My answer to the second question is this and I have touched on it above. Africa’s unification must be brought about through a revolution or to put it lightly, -through a unification force, such methods have been used before with great success and we shall therefore not be re – inventing the wheel but doing what has been done before. The American civil war, the Polish revolution and recently, the orange revolution in Georgia. Who, I may ask could be the potential leader in this African unification revolutionary force? I once thought that Museveni would be an ideal candidate given his successful guerrilla war fare in Uganda but his recent leadership history of clinging to power, I have removed him from the short list. Colonel Muammar Gadaffi is another candidate that we could consider for the job. Qadhafi has been credited for the “Great September Revolution” in the Jamahiriya of Libya, under the revolutionary leadership of Col. Mu`ammar Qadhafi, Libya has attained the highest standard of living in all of Africa. This is all the more remarkable when we consider that in 1951 Libya was officially the poorest country in the world. According to the World Bank, the per capita income was less than $50 a year – even lower than India. Today all Libyans own their own homes and cars. The Libyan Arab people have something no other people have: the opportunity to participate directly in the decision-making process.To rule themselves by themselves. In the final analysis this is the greatest achievement of the Great Al Fateh Revolution which began the green march on September 1 1969 – THE PEOPLE’S POWER. Could this be what Africa and Africans need? Tell me! Or should we consider the new man on the block in RSA -Jacob Zuma?

    Third question; When must Africa unite? My answer to this question is Africa should have started steps towards unification in 1994, after South Africa got political independence as the last and remaining colonized country on the continent at the time. It has been 50 years since Nkurumah showed us the way, a long time indeed and as we wait on, our natural resources which will emancipate Africa from poverty are quickly being depleted. Isn’t time we the people of like minds enacted the process to the last and final freedom of the African continent?

  3. Hello, Ladies, greetings,
    I am delighted to find out about your website–big up. Brief, I would like to request your collaboration in efforts to organized African Liberation Day in the Year of Kwame Nkrumah on Sunday, May 24, 2009 from 11am to 5pm at the Boston Common intersection of Beacon Street and Charles Street, Boston, MA. Hope to hear from you.
    Forward Ever, Backward Never,

  4. Osagyefo-4 Afrika, thanks for the information. Please send an email to minneafrica[at]gmail[dot]com with some more information. Watt Smith keep up the great work 🙂

  5. Great points you raised. Africa’s unity is quintessential but the reality on the ground makes me very pessimistic. We have so many failed nations on the continent, and as a continent we have failed to respond sufficiently through the African Union (AU) and other regional coalitions to rescue and minimize the suffering of millions of Africans.

    It all goes back to how we want to approach this dilemma. Should we use the top-down strategy of unifying under the so-called umbrella– United States of Africa (U.S.A) and hope that as one large state we can suddenly reach out to the suffering regions? Or can we build a strong grass-roots structure through the current institutions to establish a strong foundation from which we can then come together as one state? As you stated, we have many power-hungry leaders clinging onto power and thus making it impossible to form a U.S.A. However, we can make the grassroots movement functional–though it would require a complete change in strategy and approach from the present day dysfunctional organs such as the AU.

    Finally, responding to the post by ‘shokolokobangashai’ concerning Libya. Much as I agree that Libya has taken major steps to become one of the elite nations on the continent, I have my reservations about crediting Ghadaffi and in fact I am very disappointing that he was chosen to be head of the AU. As Africans we need to take significant steps in addressing the issue of having strong democtratic institutions. There is a proverb in my tribe that ” even the best dancer has to leave the dance floor at some point” Africa need to address the issue of power greed. We have numerous presidents who have been in power for over 20 years including our current AU president Ghadaffi. No matter how great a president you are, there is no entitlement to being president for life. A presidency should not be a privilege, it has to be earned, respected and passed on. We need to send a strong message to the young generation of leaders that they won’t get away with the notion of power greed. Mugabe came as a young promising leader, but right now his country is suffering. So did Museveni and many others. For Africa to fulfill the cry for UNITY, we need to address our leadership structure starting from out nations and may be in years to come we can even contemplate having one president of a United Africa.

  6. The Unity is possible. A united state of Africa could bring prosperity. Interior trade must be recreated. North-south trade is the key to the success of unity. Each climate zones can produce different items that if they are made in abundance can be traded with other climate zones.
    Together the development of infrastructures will be much easier than individually.
    Checks and balances at the political level must be more developed.

  7. @ Kawuma, Wonderfully stated! Leadership can not be monopolized by one individual, no matter how wise. After while, even the wisiest among us start recycling the same old ideas. Every now and then we must refresh, provide opportunities for new people to bring forth fresh new ideas. In this light Ghadaffi is a bad representation of a new Africa.

  8. I still think that we’re missing the point. What about African unity at a grassroots level. I agree with whomever said forget the leaders and their lofty ideas. What about African unity between you and me. Here in Minnesota? I am frustrated with the African Union and all it stands for. I honestly believe that African progress can ONLY come from outside this organization. For Christ’s sake Gadaffi has been in power for how many years now? Yes Shokolokobangashai we need a revolution, from the real Africans that is civilians at home and in the diaspora. That is you and me. I would like to see more collaboration of Africans in the diaspora. A US association of African Businesses, a US organization of African Student Organizations, a US collaboration of African professionals in health care, a US group of African entertainers so that concerts can be easier planned from state to state, an African lobby group to the US …..

  9. shokolokobangashai,

    You gave good enough analysis, but your drivel about qadhafi and his “Great September Revolution” shows your sucking to this tyrant who has been in power for 40 years. Yes , Libya in 1951 was one of the poorest country in the world, but by 1969 when your Qadhafi too over it had one of the highest per capita GNP thanks in part to oil exports. Now Libya has the most corrupt government on the plant and, and the lowest per capita income in all of Noth Africa . Qadhafi has squandered its wealth fomenting civil wars in Africa and elsewhere as he did in Liberia under Charles Taylor, and Sierra Leone with Foday Sankoh , and now in DRC, Chad and Darfor. If you want Qadhafi to lead you, you can have him, but please you and him leave Libyans alone.

  10. hey guys,
    i stumbled onto this blog by mistake and just read through all your very interesting comments, questions and possible solutions to our African dilemma. it has been said before that knowledge is the mother of all predictive wisdom and that it is this predictive wisdom that is the only sure basis for history making actions. however,not making too blanket a judgment whichever way you stand ideologically,the present day African intelligentsia has no time nor desire to propose and pursue ideas or utopias that may prove to be seminal and lead the mass into history-making actions. That is why ours is such a remarkably unheroic age…

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