It is paradoxical and somewhat ironic that one of the richest continents in the world as far as resources are concerned today parades the poorest sets of people anyone can find on the planet. Africa has for many years remained at the very centre of global economic interests and attention, with major powers still scrambling and failing over its highly lucrative resources. Though stereotypically perceived as the conventional recipient of humanitarian aid, the truth remains that Africa still is, for the most part, being deprived of (its own) wealth rather than benefiting from charitable, outside help as it appears.
The Western brand of capitalism which was sold to Africa has been a negative force, which has not been of any benefit to any African on the streets of Africa, rather it has only succeeded in integrating the continent into a position of subservience in the global economy. This must end if Africa desires to truly experience organic growth.
There is no gain in saying the fact that historically, the introduction of capitalism into Africa, and the integration of the continent into global capitalism has remained all about the extraction of value and exploitation of African nations. Indeed, the impacts of capitalist imperialism have been corrosive leaving deep scars on the national fabric of the highly endowed continent.
Today, under the guise of expanding its markets, stabilsing its democracies, and providing aid, Africa is attracting big international interests as a growth frontier of capitalism and this does not in any way represent the best for the continent. This trend must be halted in Africa’s best interest.
Africans must fully come to terms with the fact that benevolence or perceived philanthropic charity of (post) colonial powers will never be a solution to the array of challenges they are facing. The development of the continent will only be holistically possible when Africans decide to radically break the international capitalist system which does the continent no good. To develop Africa to where it ought to be, the ultimate responsibility for the emancipatory struggle will only see success when it is undertaken by Africans and not some newfound lovers in the West.
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One secret Africans are yet to discover is that development is something that shouldn’t be viewed merely as an economic phenomenon but rather as an overall social process that is anchored on the way societies are ideologically structured. For Africa to assume its rightful position, it has to shape its mindset around pan-Africanist ideals and ideologies.
They must embrace an Africanism that will place Africa and its people at the very centre of economic growth and development in the region. In sharp contrast with the global capitalism the West is known for, African nations must prioritise the common good of their fellow Africans over pure profit motives in all their dealings. The purpose of this is to benefit the wider community of struggling Africans and drive home more cohesion on a regional basis and, this will require effective coordination between governments, businesses, and civil society, meeting market demands and collective human needs, rather than driving only self-interest. This is what Africanism should be all about.
Africanism will allow pan-Africanist ideals to thrive and offer the people who belong to the continent of Africa, who are identified by the colour of their skin, who have suffered immeasurable trauma, oppression, exploitation, and murder at the hands of the Western world, and opportunity to express themselves without any fear of sanctions or some sort of policing from the West.
The idea of Africanism is one that strongly believes that the African identity should be consolidated away from the lends of Western civilisation from which it is presently being viewed. What this implies is that Africans must now break away mentally meaning from things that offer the West a chance to characterise them wrongly as objects for cheap and exploitable labour.
Africanism is that umbrella that will provide Africans with a shade to rejuvenate the African identity which hitherto so many colonialists made bold attempts to craft as one of darkness that was devoid of history, heritage, development, or anything that had a semblance of contribution to the progress of humanity in any form. Africans must make bold moves to rescue their norms, cultures, and ideals, from being ridiculed, doctored, and vilified. The Western capitalist ideals will only continue to ensure that these narratives fester and gain new ground and they must be shown the way out.
In the face of centuries of continued infantilising of the economies and governance systems and deliberate underdevelopment of the continent, it has become overdue for Africans to imbibe Africanism which will give them the needed courage to say to the imperial world that they owe them no colonial debt! They must as a matter of urgent importance make well-calculated efforts to maximise the minerals of Africa for African people to send a clear message to the West they are no longer a colony to be micromanaged or order around.
The templates for this brand of Africanism are everywhere and African nations will only need to copy fellow African countries to adopt their own templates.
In Ghana for example, Nkrumah led the country as the lighthouse for independence, developing a 7-year plan that was based on industrialisation, investment in health, agricultural development, education, and road infrastructure. At that time, Nkrumah went on to become a leader and rallying point among his peers in advocating for independence and self-reliance and going on to demolish the economic system where that was in place at that time where Africa was nothing but a site of extraction of wealth for the West and then going on to import finished goods at higher prices than the sale of valuable raw materials which was extracted from its earth crust.
African countries will do well to look back at the pathways that were followed by Nkrumah because he undoubtedly laid the foundation for the ideals of Africanism which has become a guide to governance in today’s independent Africa.
Something similar happened in Tanzania under Julius Nyerere who made great efforts to build an independent Tanzania on the basis of self-reliance and social responsibility in his efforts to achieve true independence and political development and economic development for his people which is what Africanism is all about.
For Nyerere, he strongly made a strong case for increasing literacy and abolishing tribal and ethnic division not only in Tanzania but the continent as well as the collectivising of agricultural production to feed his people. There are several lessons that present-day African leaders can learn from him because he was devoted to the idea of an African government and economy because he fully believed that the disunity of the continent only served its oppressors.
Despite the false narratives that were said about him, Muammar Gaddafi of Lybia is another worthy example of what Africanism should represent because he led the transition from a regressive monarchy to a socialist and political state that was founded on the prosperity of the ordinary masses. Today, many Africans do not know that under his leadership, Lybians were provided with free education and healthcare by the government, a move that saw literacy rise from 25% to 87% under his regime. It was in Libya, where the land was controlled by the state, a citizen would be allocated a farm, seed product, and home should they apply. Africanism is simply about putting the African first!
In Burkina Faso, it is the same story. Thomas Sankara only needed to nationalise land and mineral wealth for wheat production to astronomically rise in three years from 1, 700kg a hectare to 3, 800kg a hectare, making the country food self-sufficient and its banks independent from loan schemes from the West.
Sankara was popularly known back then as the Upright Man, championing initiatives of ensuring public servants use the same amenities and social welfare institutions as the public, under the Sankara Oath. Sankara was assassinated by a French-led coup, which used his closest ally, Blaise Compaoré, to reverse the gains of the revolution and subject Burkina Faso to structural adjustment programmes imposed by loans from the Bretton Woods institutions that Sankara despised.
The stories are enormous but the common lesson Africans must learn from here is that imperialists will always make moves to destroy any attempt which is aimed at ensuring that Africans become truly free and independent.
Africans must resist capitalism because it is a system that has embedded itself as the only legitimate system of organising modern society, by presenting self-interest and wealth accumulation as human nature, as opposed to a sentiment of collective goodwill for societal growth and progress which Africanism is expected to embody.
In conclusion, Africans must understand that the war against imperialism which is aimed towards achieving a pan-African unity actually starts in the mind and, as things stand, a lot of work is needed to be done if Africa will ever succeed in stifling the capitalist sentiment of individualism and self-interest which the West is known for. African nations must then make good efforts to build on the gains of their former nationalists with a view to ensuring that generations of Africans know there is a legacy of resistance to her dependence on the West and that Africa is not the poor wretched country the West wants her to remain.