Africa: Xenophobia is a curse to African Unity and Prosperity
In our piece of contribution on the occasion of Heritage Day 2018 in South Africa, we broadly reflected on the essence of African unity for her prosperity. The recent xenophobic attacks however necessitated that this demon should be put yet again on the pedestal to total eradication and to be removed completely from the South African society. It is equally imperative that all authorities on the continent should be encouraged to develop a tangible continental mechanism that seeks to discourage Africans from viewing each other as aliens. The Berlin Conference of 1884-6 that shredded Africa into countries of Western and European preferences continues to blight the future of the continent. The ramifications of this scheme is at the centre of African disunity and conflicts. Countries across the continent are still trapped in the colonial way of managing national resources and the taste of power makes certain African leaders to undermine democratic transitions. The national borders on the continent are so artificial that underdevelopment and poverty push Africans to render them useless.
The unshackling of the apartheid chains by South Africa in 1994 presented Africa with an amble opportunity to rise from the ashes. Decades of tyranny and human degradation were buried under a heap of hope and serenity of freedom. Unfortunately the celebrations faded into the distance as the country relegated history to naught. That the freedom attained was a product of protracted struggles of the people with support from the international community and African countries in particular required a concerted African program for the consolidation of the political gains. These were obviously expected to serve as a launching foundation for African unity and for her prosperity to take root and flourish.
The unravelling xenophobic outbursts in South Africa is a product of historical epochs that defined Africa as a haven for plundering and pillaging with Africans treated as sub-human species deserving of nothing else but perpetual deprivation. These historical injustices are so deep that retrieving Africa from the after-effects require a consolidated African program of action which will focus on the unity of Africans first and the building of an economy with African characteristics. The reflection on the historical facts do not in any way seek to exonerate South Africans from their unfortunate resort to hideous violence and the killings of their fellow African brothers and sisters. It is however aimed at pointing to the root causes of the xenophobia that we are unfortunately witnessing in South Africa.
South Africans should be encouraged to revisit their history and its relationship with other African countries in order to make them appreciate the essence of African unity. African governments should seize the opportunity to translate their talk with practical efforts to harness the unity of the continent. The Pan African Parliament should play a significant role in the design and implementation of a program to nurture and consolidate the unity of the continent. Civil society should be encouraged to develop programs seeking to effect awareness at a higher scale. Local authorities should also be encouraged to play a central role in spreading the message of the essence of African unity for her prosperity.
The independence of Ghana in 1957, with Kwame Nkrumah at the helm illuminated a path towards African Unity. The formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 1963 carried with it a hope that at last Africa shall be permanently free. Successive sessions of this august body worked tirelessly towards this goal but fifty five years later Africa is still trapped in poverty and disunity. The reality in Africa is that most of the governments are managed by the old guard with no prospects of ushering in the energy of the youth in order to inject the much needed transformation of the continent. The African Union (AU) continues to be a capital city body with little impact on the ground and this needs to change if Africa is to be transformed into a vibrant and equal continent amongst continents.
Marcus Garvey taught us correctly when he said “The Black skin is not a badge of shame, but rather a glorious symbol of national greatness”. South Africans should know justly that they too belong to Africa and that embracing their brothers and sisters from other countries of the continent is a national service they should embrace unashamedly. Inasmuch as they admire their own being they should extend that generosity of self-love to all Africans. Africa will continue to limp unless Africans start to see each other as the extension of the other. South Africa holds key to the unity and prosperity of Africa and the country’s historical ties with the rest of the continent should serve as a compass to true brotherhood.
To the extent that we can recall the wise words of Kwame Nkrumah when he said “Africa is one continent, one people and one nation” – it is because we are proud to be Africans. He went further to say “I am not African because I was born in Africa but because Africa was born in me”. The first democratic government of South Africa led by Nelson Mandela embraced this clarion call by engaging on peace building missions on the continent. It is however discomforting that it is now in the same country that some of its citizens are reversing the gains by hating and killing fellow Africans. Xenophobia is a curse to African unity and prosperity and must be abhorred with the necessary contempt it deserves.
Perhaps the questions is: Why is the world so transfixed on Africa? First, Africa is so rich that other countries of the world envy her for the natural resources and that keeping her divided will ensure perpetual pillaging. Secondly, that Africans are by nature very resourceful, talented and generous and as such can be deployed for their own destruction. African leaders and governments should therefore consider abolishing the boundaries that keep the continent divided and underdeveloped. It is now time for Africa to take a plunge in the direction of removing all obstacles that scupper any effort on unity and prosperity.
South Africa is central to the unity and prosperity of Africa. The signing of a memorandum by the embassies of the US, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland offers a groundbreaking testimony to ulterior motives that the former colonialist have against Africa. This memorandum sought to instruct President Cyril Ramaphosa to act against perpetrators of corruption. This unprecedented action by our former colonizers points to a deep seated agenda to derail any attempt by Africa to rise from the ashes. In the absence of an uproar, Africans should know that the unity of the continent is a threat to the superpowers of this world. South Africans should thus take all necessary steps to assist the continent in her bid to rise from the ashes.
In his address to the New York University on the 9th April 1998, former President Mbeki said the following about the relevance of the African Renaissance program, “As South Africa, we owe our emancipation from apartheid in no small measure to the support and solidarity extended to us by all the peoples of Africa. In that sense our victory over the system of White minority domination is an African victory. This, I believe imposes an obligation on us to use this gift of freedom, which is itself an important contribution to African Renaissance, to advance the cause of the peoples of our continent……. Many African peoples throughout Southern Africa sacrificed their lives to help us secure our freedom. Other further afield ignored the fact of their own poverty to contribute resources to guarantee our emancipation. I am convinced that this immense contribution was made not only so that we end the apartheid crime against humanity, but also so that we would build a society of which all Africa would be proud because it would address also the wrong and negative view of an Africa that is historically destined to fail”.
We have quoted this important statement at length to illustrate the point that South Africans are generally good people. And that we only need to cleanse ourselves as society of those that carry xenophobic tendencies which have culminated in the brutal killing of our fellow Africans.
This, we must condemn with all the wisdom and might at our disposal and open a path towards the total emancipation of our beautiful continent. The late Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe, leader of the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) summed it eloquently when he said “Let me plead with you, lovers of my Africa, to carry with you into the world the vision of a new Africa”. His statement attested to the fact that those Africans with knowledge and exposure should illuminate the continent with a light of unity, freedom, love, peace, solidarity, sisterhood and an unending development for an everlasting prosperity.
The women of South Africa, led by the indomitable leader and revolutionary, Lillian Ngoyi, cemented the ties that bind Africa when they converged at the seat of government at the Union Buildings on the 9th August 1956 and declared that they were determined to dismantle all unjust laws for the benefit of every African. South Africans should therefore continue to hold the African banner higher and higher so that the continent can be united and prosper for the good of every African.
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