Month: Sep 2010

FOUNDER’S DAY: FEEDING ON NKRUMAH’S FLAWS AND STARVING ON HIS VISIONS

September 21st, 2010 marked another day in the commemoration of Founder’s Day. Founder’s Day highlights the achievements of Ghana’s illustrious son and Africa’s man of the millennium, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. The day is observed by all African Union (AU) member countries. There are many controversies surrounding the term “Founder’s Day” as some Ghanaians think it should be renamed “Founders’ Day” to acknowledge the roles played by other figures, such as J.B Danquah, in the emancipation struggle of Ghana.

This article skips that particular controversy to address some misunderstanding of Nkrumah by critics. These misunderstandings are often rooted in petty politicking, and try to downplay his achievements and vision for Ghana, Africa, and black people everywhere. It is imperative to make clear that Ghana/Africa celebrates not Nkrumah per se, but his selfless and timeless vision he left not only for Ghanaians or Africans but also for the entire black African people. Another point worth clarifying is that Nkrumah was not an infallible demigod, and therefore not beyond objective criticisms.

Just like every major leader, Nkrumah had his flaws, but it will amount to gross imprudence on our part, and disservice to posterity to continue to feed on his flaws, leave his strengths to rot on the table, and inter his vision with his corpse. There comes a time when people must challenge themselves by rising beyond their selfish inclinations and begin to gravitate towards a bigger stream of consciousness­—one that is clean of petty party politics, pull-him-down mentality, and personal whims. That time could be now!

THE ANC AND THE STATE

In the first quarter of 2004 I wrote in The Citizen newspaper calling for the depoliticisation of the civil service. Six years down the line I am looking at the faces on television at the ANC’s National General Council and the President, Deputy President, all Cabinet Ministers, MP’s, Premiers, MPL’s and so on are all there. Who was running the country when they were all at the NGC?

The NGC is a party political event. Five working days can’t be squandered on a party political event. Why can’t they convene their NGC over the long weekend? They conflate the party and the state. Where on earth have they seen a governing party giving top public servants five working days leave to attend a party political event?

When political party office bearers or people who are active in their political parties are appointed to government posts, they should relinquish their positions in their political parties. One doesn’t expect a Cabinet Minister or Commissioner of Police to attend an NGC or NEC meeting of his political party.

THE 11TH ANNUAL STEVE BIKO LECTURE – “COMING TO SEE YOU SINCE I WAS 5 YEARS OLD”

I wrote this, this morning… so it’s fresh [laughs and applause]

I have spent most of the early morning from 3 o’ clock thinking what I’ll say to you… there is so much. First of all I want to say that I am in your country and have been drawn to your country, the beautiful South Africa – which for some years in our own struggle we referred to as Azania – because of a deep love for you, of your heroines and heroes, of your long long struggle toward positive humanity for yourselves and all oppressed people on the planet. You have been a great inspiration to all the people on earth who are interested in and devoted to justice, peace, and happiness. I was asked to provide a title for my talk and this is what came to me: “Coming to See You Since I was 5 Years Old: A Poets Connection to the South African Soul.”

The reason I have been coming to you for over sixty years is because when I was five years old, my eldest sister – Mamie-Lee Walker – came home from college, her freshman year, and taught my 11 year old sister and myself your national anthem, “Nkosi sikelel’ iAfrica.” We were the only children of any colour who were taught this song in our tiny, totally segregated town, in the deep south of the United States in Georgia. The somber intense passion and dignity in the melody entered my heart and it has lodged there for the last 60 years. It did not just lodge there; it propelled me into the deepest of curiosities about who Africans might truly be, because in the deeply racist United States of the 40s and 50s (when I was born) Africa was shrouded in the most profound mists of distortion, racially motivated misperceptions, gross exploitation, and lies. Africans were almost cheerfully despised, considered to be savages certainly, and yet for me and my sister Ruth there was our sister Mamie coming home from college – whose fees my materially poor parents sweated to pay – there were the sounds of “Nkosi sikelel’ iAfrica.” “God bless mother Africa” was sung so earnestly by her loving sons and daughters, her horribly abused children that had made an impression on our psyches never to be erased.

CREATING A COMMON AFRICAN BASE TO ENGAGE THE WORLD: A PAN AFRICANIST REFLECTION

Programme Director, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and gentlemen, It is an honour for me to speak to you at this important meeting of the OPEN SOCIETY AND INITIATIVE FOR SOUTHERN AFRICA. I like the name especially, the words Open and Initiative. We need openness and initiative in Africa.

I have been asked to speak on CREATING A COMMON AFRICAN BASE TO ENGAGE THE WORLD: A Pan Africanist Reflection. I shall humbly do so from a Pan Africanist perspective. You are the architects of Africa’s future and shapers of her present.

Now! How Do I Start?

Well, knowledge has been colonized and information manipulated in order to control the minds of African people, and achieve epistemological domination over them so as to undermine their national and continental interests. There is much that must be known, regained and done to restore Africa to her lost power and glory. Africa created the first human civilization on this planet. In adoration and admiration of the Africa he knew, that great Roman Emperor, Julius Caesar exclaimed, “Ex Africa semper aliquid novi!” (Out of Africa comes always something new).

THE MEDIA APPEALS TRIBUNAL vs. FREEDOM OF THE PRESS AND INFORMATION

The struggle is about power and those in power always want to have more power. South Africa will be the first country to have, in place, a media tribunal if the proposed information bill passes as is. Constitutional law expert Archibald Cox, drawing from the experiences of his country, the United States of America, says a free, self-governing people needs full information concerning the activities of its government not only to shape views of policy and vote in elections, but also to compel the government, its agent, to act responsively and account for its doings.

We come from a past in which we were denied the facts and prevented from communicating with each other in ways necessary for self-government and where the racist Apartheid government had the absolute power of censorship. The press was not free; we could not speak, write, and engage in political discourse and activities without fear of reprisal. After sixteen years of relative press freedom, the ruling ANC, SACP and ANCYL want to take us back to those dark days of oppression. Some government officials who have been engaging in malfeasance and corruption are calling for the establishment of a media tribunal to curb leaks that exposes corrupt activities.

AFRICOM’S IMPLICATIONS ON HUMAN SECURITY AND DEVELOPMENT IN AFRICA

The world we live in is history unfolding and unveiling itself everyday of our lives. I find it particularly of great significance and essence for me to be part of this history. Africa, our beloved continent remains a major part of such history and its place of importance cannot be overemphasized.

It is also a humbling task for me to represent the several millions of African students from the 53 states of Africa and the 54th state of the Diaspora to share some thoughts on the topic “AFRICOM in Africa: Implications for Human Security and Development in Africa”.

The All-Africa Students Union (AASU)- Who we Are

Permit me to briefly state what the All-Africa students Union (AASU) stands for. As the name suggests, AASU is the convergent continental student organisation consisting of the entire 53 member, national student unions and associations across Africa with the mandate of securing the welfare of all students of Africa. AASU is an international organisation in operational relations with UNESCO and is a member of the International Union of Students (IUS) and a few other United Nations committees. Our values are clearly articulated in our fight for human rights, especially the right of every African child to education, world peace, good governance; global and social justice.

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