It is an honour for me to speak at this important institution of high learning on AFRICAN HISTORY: PAN AFRICANISM PAST PRESENT AND FUTURE on this 49th anniversary of Africa Liberation Day May 25.I would like to appreciate the presence of so many students in the African Diaspora and other lovers of Africa I see here. I wish all of you success in your acquisition of education which you must use for yourselves and in the service of Africa’s people where ever they are located on this planet. We are living in perilous but exciting times. Let us play our role with determination and distinction.
The African Union has recognized the importance of the African Diaspora in the re-building of Africa’s walls that were broken through the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade, colonialism and European racism. Indeed, a new history is in the making. This is good news for all lovers of Africa and justice- loving people of the world who stood with Africa during her darkest times.
We have a great and unique continent. We must serve it to the best of our ability. Africa is endowed with enormous riches, beauty, culture and a fascinating history that has been swept under the carpet for a long time in order to facilitate Africa’s economic exploitation and domination. Africa is a Continent we should be very proud to serve under all circumstances.
Africa built Memphis, the ancient capital city of ancient Egypt in 31OO B.C. Greeks built Athens in 12OO B.C. The Romans built Rome in 1OOO B.C. Africa invented writing. It was Hieroglyphics in 3OOO B.C. Hieratic writing shortly after this. Demotic writing was developed about 6OO B.C. The Kushite script was used in 3OO B.C. Other scripts were Merotic, Coptic, Amharic, Sabean, Gee’z, Nsibidi of Nigeria, Mende of Mali and writings such as the Twi alphabet of Twi people of Ghana.
In November 1999, some scholars at Yale University such as Prof. John Damell discussed the origin of writing in the world. They found no reason to dispute the fact that the location was Africa.
Edem Kodjo, author of AFRICA TOMORROW, a profound researcher on Africa has written, “It is here in Africa that history began. Far from being a gratuitous assertion, this statement is undeniable scientific fact for which one finds corroboration when one roves the world in search of the remains of ancient civilisations….Africa remains the privileged source of the early intense human activity.”
Ancient historians such as Herodotus, Diodorus and others have established that Africa is the cradle of the first human civilisation. Sir E.A. Wallis Budge was a keeper of Egyptian and Assyrian Antiquities at the British Museum. In his book EGYPT he has written, “The prehistoric native Egyptians both in the old and new age stone were Black, and there is every reason for saying that the earliest inhabitants came from the South.”
These people built the pyramids not only in ancient Egypt, but in other parts of Africa such as Nubia and Ethiopia. An American scholar, Louis P. McCarty has stated that “Before the people of the earth can duplicate the Great Pyramids they will have to rediscover the lost arts of perfectly hardening copper, overcoming gravitation, navigating the air etc Also perfect Mathematics.”
Africa has been a victim of foreign aggression and destruction. Among these can be mentioned the Hykssos, the Vandals and the architects of the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade and colonialism. Scholars such as Prof. Charles H. Hapgood affirm that the Library of Khart-Haddas, later called Carthage by the Romans was burnt down by them. They destroyed half a million books.
The ancient Zimbabwe Buildings demonstrate the advanced technology that was involved in their construction. The Zimbabweans built these magnificent structures with solid granite stones. The walls were five metres thick and ten metres high. The stones were placed on top of one another without mud or cement.
At Mapungubwe in a country called South Africa today, archaeologists have found numerous gold ornaments on the banks of the Limpopo River dating to the 14th century. Niel Parson, a noted researcher on Southern Africa has recorded that Clay pottery in the shape of a human head was found at Mashishini (colonially called Lydenburg) in Eastern Transvaal. It is carbon dated 5th and 6th century A.D.
The earliest date for copper mining south of the Limpopo River was 7th century A.D. A Portuguese sailor, Vasco da Gama arrived there in 1488. He called Limpopo River “Copper River” because African rulers and their wives in this part of Africa wore copper neck-rings, bracelets and anklets. Time does not allow me to speak of the advanced medical science of the Khoi and San people that colonialists called “Hottentots” and “Bushmen.” The Basotho, the Zulus and Xhosas, to mention them as examples, never killed children, women and old people in war. European missionaries’ lives such as that of the Rev. Francis Owen even under King Dingane of the Zulus were spared. The Zulu King’s order “Kill the wizards” did not include European missionaries who were doing religious work. Africans never had the brutal system of taking other people’s lands and expropriating their riches for themselves.
There are European people and their cousins who say that they went to Africa to “civilise” Africans! How do you “civilise” people through slavery, colonialism and racism? Some of these people called Africa the “Dark Continent.” How come the Dark Continent saved Moses’ life, educated him and gave him Zipporah, an African woman for his wife? How come that the Dark Continent gave refuge to Jesus Christ? How come that the Dark Continent gave protection to Moslems at the beginning of this religion when they were persecuted? How come that the fundamentals of the Christian religion were laid by African theologians such as Tertullian and Augustine? Augustine is reputed to have spoken Latin, the “English” of those days in an African accent!
Those who knew the real Africa have recorded their impressions of pre-colonial Africa. The famous English writer, William Shakespeare said, “I speak of Africa and the golden joys.” For their part, the ancient Arabs had a proverb “He, who has drunk from the waters of Africa, will drink again.” The great Roman Emperor, Julius Caesar, proclaimed to the world, “Ex Africa semper aliquid novi!” (Out of Africa always something new).
The time to treat Africa with respect is long overdue. Africa’s people have been ill-treated and ignorance about them deliberately promoted for the purpose of justifying the looting of Africa’s riches. African riches have not worked for Africans and they do not do so now.
Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, that shining Pan Africanist star, had observed this tragedy when he said, “If Africa’s resources were used in her own development they would place Africa among the most modernized continents of the world. But Africa’s wealth is used for the development of overseas interests.”
In July 2OO8 Pope Benedict XVI spoke the truth that has been hidden by Western countries from the world for centuries. This head of the Catholic Church world-wide wrote, “Our Western way of life has stripped Africa’s people of their riches and continues to strip them.”
Mark Ballad, a member of the Scottish Parliament affirmed the truth spoken by this Pope. He said, “Our relation with Africa is an exploitative one. The West no longer needs standing armies in Africa to strip its resources, because it can do it more effectively with multi-national companies.”
True leaders of Africa have known this for centuries. Jack Woddis the author of THE ROOTS OF REVOLT put this historical fact courageously and clearly. He wrote, “The history of Africa’s relations with the West has been a history of robbery – robbery of African power, its mineral and agricultural resources, and its land…labour, resources and land remain the three dynamic issues over which the struggles for the future of Africa is fought out…the abolition of foreign control of labour, resources and land is the substance for which this political independence is being sought.”
Unfortunately, most African countries are today saddled with “Flag Independence.” Imperialist countries are raping Africa as never before. They claim not to understand why Africans cannot come out of the quagmire of poverty to which colonialism and barbaric European slavery plunged the African Continent.
This compelled Dr. Walter Rodney, in his book HOW EUROPE UNDERDEVELOPED AFRICA to point out that today’s Ghana lost 5OOO to 6OOO of her people to slavery for four hundred years. He asked a pertinent question. “What would have been Britain’s level of development today had her people been put to work as slaves out of their country over a period of one hundred years?”
The late Chief Moshodi Abiola who was a Presidential candidate in Nigeria in the 199O’s also asked an important question. “Who knows what path Africa’s social development would have taken if great centres of African civilisation had not been destroyed in search of human cargo by Europeans? Who knows how our economics would have developed?”
These questions have been raised not to promote a hostile agenda against anybody, but to dispel the superstition of “race superiority” and to contribute to creating a new world of interdependence among the nations of the world. This is also a warning that the magnanimity of African people must not be taken for docility. It is also a challenge to Africans to know their history well and embark vigorously on a revolution for the economic liberation of Africa and get back their land and riches that were stolen from them by colonial barbarians.
Africans do not need to live in poverty, economic humiliation, social degradation and servitude of false gods that are heartless and inhuman. Slavery, colonialism and European racism created the poverty of Africans and the under-development of Africa. Poverty in Africa was European made and continues to be.
Africans must never forget that at the Berlin Conference that was held between December 1884 and February 1885, Belgian’s King Leopold stated the purpose of that conference as being “How we (European colonisers) should divide among ourselves this magnificent African cake.”
Through the Berlin Treaty of 26 February1885, Europe divided Africa into “Portuguese Africa”, “British Africa”, “German Africa,” “French Africa,” “Spanish Africa,” “Italian Africa,” and “Belgian Africa.” There was no Africa left for Africans except Ethiopia surrounded by paupers of land dispossessed people who were now the reservoir of cheap native labour for their colonial robbers. For centuries the riches of Africa and labour have been used to fuel the economies of the beneficiaries of the 1885 Berlin Conference at the expense of Africa’s people and the African Diaspora.
It is imperative for me to pay tribute to the fathers of Pan Africanism. They realized that Africa’s people, despite fearful odds against them had to take their destiny into their own hands through the Pan African approach toward Africa’s problems. I am happy that the African Union has embraced and made the African Diaspora its Sixth Region. The contribution of our people in the Diaspora to Pan Africanism and to Africa’s liberation struggle is written with gold.
Among these Pan Africanist visionaries and pioneers are Henry Sylvester Williams, Marcus Garvey, W.E.B. Du Bois, George Padmore, Frantz Fenon, John Hendrik Clarke, Edward Wilmot Blyden, C.L.R. James,Yosef Makonnen, Malcom X and Benito Sylvania of Haiti. At home on the African soil, the example of shining pioneers of Pan Africanism are Kwame Nkrumah, Ntsu Mokhehle, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Akintolla, Muziwakhe Lembede, A P Mda, Mangaliso Robert Sobukwe, Zephania Mothopeng Ahmed Sekou Toure, Modibo Keita, Abdel Nasser, Julius Nyerere, Jomo Kenyatta, Patrice Lumumba and Emperor Haile Selassie. Without this Ethiopian Emperor, there would never have been the Organisation of African Unity and the African Union. He accepted Nkrumah’s request that Africa must unite. He resisted imperialist schemes to divide Africa. He brought together the Monrovia Group and the Casablanca Group to form the Organisation of African Unity.
The relevance of Pan Africanism as a solution to Africa’s economic development and technological advancement is indisputable. The effectiveness of Pan Africanism was demonstrated through the 5th Pan African Congress that was held in Manchester in 1945. That Conference led to the decolonization of the Continent politically. The challenge now is economic liberation of Africa and technological advancement of the Continent. Africa must acquire high technology to have the capacity to process her raw materials and export them as finished products and raise the living standard of her people. Africa’s riches belong to Africans. They are there for the benefit of the African people.
The most skeptical of people who once denounced Pan Africanism as “racism” or “pipe dream” are today convinced that the pioneers of Pan Africanism got it right. A united Africa working together would be among the first TEN economic giants of the world. This has come from among others, the research of Prof. Vijay Mahajan. He is a former dean of the Indian School of Business and Chairman of School of Business at the University of Texas in America. He is also the author of RISING AFRICA.
Prof. Mahajan points out that according to the 2OO6 World Bank Data, if Africa was then economically integrated, she would have had a total gross national income of nine hundred and seventy eight BILLION American dollars. This would make Africa’s economy larger than that of India which was $9O6 billion in 2OO6; larger economy than that of Brazil which was $892billion, larger than that of South Korea which was $856.6 billion, larger than that of the Russian Federation which was $822.44 billion and larger than that of Mexico which was 82O.3 billion American dollars. Africa would be ahead of many countries as a total market.
In this circumstance, only the economies of USA, Japan, Germany, Britain, China, France, Italy, Spain and Canada would top Africa’s economy for a while.
This analysis and prognosis make sense. Africa is 11.3 MILLION square miles. Africa is about four times larger than the United States of America and has more potential riches, especially, raw materials such as gold, diamonds, platinum, bauxite, gas, chrome, cobalt, uranium, tantalum and oil. There is hardly an agricultural product that cannot be grown in Africa. Africa’s arable land for food security is reported to be the largest in the world.
The Democratic Republic of Congo alone is nine hundred and five thousand three hundred and fifty five (9O5355) square miles. This African country is the size of the following European countries combined: Britain, France, Ireland, Netherlands, Denmark, Portugal, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, Italy, Armenia and Albania. The untapped wealth of Congo alone is estimated at twenty four trillion American dollars. This is equivalent to the Gross Domestic Product of Europe and America put together.
Africans need rapid high technology to process her raw materials. Africa must exchange her raw materials such as uranium, platinum, gold, diamonds oil, chrome, bauxite for high technology NOT for CASH or FOREIGN GOODS. It is suicidal for Africans to lack capacity to process her raw materials and export them as finished goods.
The world needs Africa and Africa needs the world. There must be a new way of interacting with Africa economically and technologically. Africa needs a new breed of foreign investors who see Africa not just as a place to make quick riches, but as an important partner for the Continent’s economic development and true liberation of the African people. Investors must reap their fair profits. But the exploitative relation between investors and Africa must go. It must be buried. Africa has been a looting ground by foreigners for far too long to the detriment of Africa’s development. Investors who come to Africa as mere looters of her riches must not be welcome.
Equally, Africa must have stringent laws against corruption from whatever quarter it comes – corporate sector, politics, government officials or civil society. There must be a minimum prison sentence of fifteen years for corruption without the option of a fine. Corruption is a national killer. Corruption is a murderer of nations. It must be killed. This includes bribery.
Investors who share the concerns of Africa to advance and eradicate poverty must invest especially, in the infrastructure of the Continent where there is a huge need, but also huge returns for investors who meet this need. This includes a continental communication system and good roads crisscrossing this great continent. There is a need for a railway line running from Cape Town to Cairo and from Madagascar to Morocco. This would increase continental and international trade for the benefit of Africa and the world.
Of course, massive education for Africa’s people is imperative. Africa’s institutions of learning must provide an education that is tailored and relevant to the needs of Africa. African education must be highly diversified and qualitative to meet these needs and produce a nation of skilled people for the development of the Continent. The issue is not whether we can afford to provide education, but whether we can afford not to. Knowledge is power. Knowledge is a weapon. There is no nation that can be developed without its own skilled and professional people.
By Dr. Motsoko Pheko
(Presented at Ohio State University, America, on the 23rd May 2O11 on the occasion of the 49th Anniversary of Africa Liberation Day)
***Dr. Motsoko Pheko is author of the following books:
- AFRICAN RENAISSANCE SAVED CHRISTIANITY
- WHO ARE THE AFRICANS?
- THE HIDDEN SIDE OF SOUTH AFRICAN POLITICS
- THE POLITICAL LEGACY OF MANGALISO SOBUKWE
- LAND IS MONEY AND POWER
- THE HISTORY OF ROBBEN ISLAND MUST BE PRESERVED
- THE TRUE HISTORY OF SHARPEVILLE MUST BE TOLD
- SOWETO UPRISING AS TOLD IN COURT – THE TRIAL OF ZEPH MOTHOPENG
- SOUTH AFRICA: BETRAYALOF A COLONISED PEOPLE
- MARCH 21 DAY OF DESTINY SOAKED IN BLOOD
- THE EARLY CHURCH IN AFRICA (1 TO 7 CENTURY) AND TODAY
- HOW AFRICANS CAN REGAIN THEIR LOST POWER
- A DREAM THAT WAS TRUE
- APARTHEID: THE STORY OF A DISPOSSESSED PEOPLE
- Lest We Forget: June 16 1976 and the Bethal Trial (mayihlome.wordpress.com)
- Nas and Damian Marley Talk Pan-Africanism (repeatingislands.com)
- The Africa Centre must not simply be swept away (guardian.co.uk)
- A Critical Perspective on Pan-africanism for a New Generation (nelsonoppong.wordpress.com)