As some of our leaders play the fool, either out of selfish aims or utter ignorance, the urgency of the times requires of us to demand from our leaders a commitment to the African course- the path to the uplifting of the conditions of African masses. If it was urgent in 1963, that urgency has only grown. As dire as the situation seems, there is still hope, and hope married to genuine effort, yields positive results, makes dreams come true.
As African Liberation Day approaches, a day set aside to celebrate the birth of the Organization of African Unity, a prelude to the African Union, and what better way to celebrate the day than reflect on the concerns of one of the visionary leaders, if not the pioneer of African Liberation – Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. It is not only pertinent that we reflect on his words, but make concerted efforts to rekindle the dream and make moves towards realizing them.
Here are excerpts from his speech at the Conference of African Heads of State in Addis Ababa on May 24, 1963: (Courtesy of http://www.nkrumahinfobank.org)
Our objective is African Union now. There is no time to waste. We must unite now or perish. I am confident that by our concerted effort and determination, we shall lay here the foundations for a continental Union of African States.
A whole continent has imposed a mandate upon us to lay the foundation of our Union at this Conference. It is our responsibility to execute this mandate by creating here and now the formula upon which the requisite superstructure may be erected.
On this continent, it has not taken us long to discover that the struggle against colonialism does not end with the attainment of national independence. Independence is only the prelude to a new and more involved struggle for the right to conduct our own economic and social affairs, to construct our society according to our aspirations, unhampered by crushing and humiliating neo-colonialist controls and interference.
From the start, we have been threatened with frustration, where rapid change is imperative and with instability where sustained effort and ordered rule are indispensable.
No sporadic act or pious resolution can resolve our present problems. Nothing will be of avail, except the united act of a united Africa. We have already reached the stage where we must unite or sink into that condition which has made Latin-America the unwilling and distressed prey of imperialism after one-and-a-half centuries of political independence.
As a continent, we have emerged into independence in a different age, with imperialism grown stronger, more ruthless and experienced, and more dangerous in international associations. Our economic advancements demand the end of colonialist and neo-colonialist domination in Africa.
The unity of our continent, no less than our separate independence, will be delayed, if indeed, we do not lose it, by hobnobbing with colonialism. African Unity is, above all, a political kingdom which can only be gained by political means. The social and economic development of Africa will come only within the political kingdom, not the other way round
Our people supported us in our fight for independence because they believed that African Governments could cure the ills of the past in a way which could never be accomplished under colonial rule. If, therefore, now that we are independent, we allow the same conditions to exist that existed in colonial days, all the resentment which overthrew colonialism will be mobilised against us.
Our continent certainly exceeds all the others in potential hydroelectric power, which some experts assess as 42 per cent of the world’s total. What need is there for us to remain hewers of wood and drawers of water for the industrialised areas of the world?
It is said, of course, that we have no capital, no industrial skill, no communications and no internal markets, and that we cannot even agree among ourselves how best to utilise our resources for our own social needs.
Yet all the stock exchanges in the world are pre-occupied with Africa’s gold, diamonds, uranium, platinum, copper and iron ore. Our capital flows out in streams to irrigate the whole system of Western economy. Fifty-two percent of the gold in Fort Knox at this moment, where the U. S. A. stores its bullion, is believed to have originated from our shores. Africa provides more than 60 percent of the world’s gold. A great deal of the uranium for nuclear power, of copper for electronics, of titanium for supersonic projectiles, of iron and steel for heavy industries, of other minerals and raw materials for lighter industries — the basic economic might of the foreign Powers — come from our continent.
Experts have estimated that the Congo basin alone can produce enough food crops to satisfy the requirements of nearly half the population of the whole world and here we sit talking about regionalism, talking about gradualism, talking about step by step. Are you afraid to tackle the bull by the horn?
The resources are there. It is for us to marshal them in the active service of our people. Unless we do this by our concerted efforts, within the framework of our combined planning, we shall not progress at the tempo demanded by today’s events and the mood of our people. The symptoms of our troubles will grow, and the troubles themselves become chronic. It will then be too late even for Pan African Unity to secure for us stability and tranquillity in our labours for a continent of social justice and material well-being. Unless we establish African Unity now, we who are sitting here today shall tomorrow be the victims and martyrs of neo-colonialism.
There is evidence in every side that the imperialists have not withdrawn from our affairs. There are times, as in the Congo, when their interference is manifest. But generally, it is covered up under the clothing of many agencies, which meddle in our domestic affairs, to torment dissension within our borders and to create an atmosphere of tension and political instability. As long as we do not do away with the root causes of discontent, we lend aid to these neo-colonialist forces, and shall become our own executioners. We cannot ignore the teachings of history.
If we in Africa can achieve the example of a continent knit together in common policy and common purpose, we shall have made the finest possible contribution to that peace for which all men and women thirst today, and which will lift once and forever the deepening shadow of global destruction from mankind.
Ethiopia shall STRETCH forth her hands unto God.
Africa Must Unite!