Africa: forty-six years on, the continent can be optimistic about the future

(Opinion)

Published on allAfrica.com, by Stephen Asiimwe, 24 May 2009.

Kampala — Today, May 25, is the African Liberation Day. I congratulate all Africans on the continent and in the diaspora for celebrating this historical moment.

The day honours the 1963 signing of the charter establishing the Organisation of the African Unity (OAU), now African Union (AU). It pledges solidarity for the liberation of Africa …

… Soon after that, the OAU emerged as the most important trade union of “dictators” backed by their personal armies and militia. Consequently, the organisation was unable to sanction any of its members like the late Idi Amin, chairman of the OAU 1975, and Mobutu Seseko of Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo. This was because oppression of the African people by their governments became internal affairs in which dictatorships had “sovereignty”.  

The international environment of a bitter cold war and the emergence of neo-colonialism also constrained the various groups from achieving total unity. Therefore, what mattered most then was whether regimes were pro-east or pro-west and not their Pan-Africanists credentials. The latter became victims of economic and political conspiracies as evidenced in the fate of Tom Mboya, Patrice Lumumba, Nkrumah, Modibdo Keita, Abdel Nasser, Ben Bella and Sankara.

Today, the African Union, although a lame duck, has managed to contain conflicts on the continent. However, conflicts in Somalia, Darfur and now Madagascar are some of its challenges.

As we celebrate 46 years of OAU, we have reason to look forward to the future with optimism. We pray that the current breed of leaders will continue respecting the African Union constitutive Act – the African Peer Review Mechanism. Our dream for continental unity is on course. I salute all those who strive to make this day a reality. (full text).

(The writer is a Pan Africanist).

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