HOW FAR ARE WE FROM THE UNITED STATES OF AFRICA?

Henry Sylvester Williams, the organiser of the first Pan African Congress
Henry Sylvester Williams, the organiser of the first Pan African Congress

The 50th anniversary of the African Union (AU), the successor to the African Organisation of African Unity (OAU) is upon the African people this 25th May 2013. Both Organisations were formed with the main objective of ultimately bringing about the United States of Africa.

Why was there to be a United States of Africa? Let me remind you of this by quoting three African leaders on this important subject of deep concern to Pan Africanists. Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the first President of Ghana wrote, “If we [Africa’s people], are to remain free, if we are to enjoy the full benefit of Africa’s resources, we must be united to plan for our total defence and the full exploitation of our material and human means in the full interest of all our people. To go it alone will limit our horizons, curtail our expectations and threaten our liberty.”

In the southern tip of Africa, Prof. Mangaliso Robert Sobukwe, that most feared leader by the apartheid colonialist regime in South Africa who was imprisoned on Robben Island without even a mock trial and a special law, called “Sobukwe Clause” made to silence him for his Pan Africanist outlook in politics, until he died, said in April 1959:

“We regard it as the sacred duty of every African state to strive ceaselessly and energetically for the creation of a United States of Africa from Cape to Cairo and Madagascar to Morocco. The days of small independent countries are gone. Today we have, on one hand, great powerful countries of the world. America and Russia covering huge tracts of land territorially and number millions of population. On the other hand [European] the small weak independent countries are beginning to form military and economic federations hence NATO and the European Economic Common Market.”

This Pan Africanist visionary concluded, “For the lasting peace of Africa and the solution of economic, social and political problems of the continent, there must be a democratic principle. This means that foreign domination under whatever disguise must be destroyed.”

How justified are the above statements by Nkrumah and Sobukwe today? In July 2OO8, Pope Benedict XVI spoke the truth that has been hidden in Western countries from the world for centuries. The Pope said, “Our Western way of life has stripped Africa’s people of their riches and continues to strip them.”

Corroborating this fact, a Member of the Scottish Parliament, Mark Ballad, declared, “Our relation with Africa is an exploitative one. The West no longer needs standing armies to strip Africa of its resources, because it can do it more effectively with multi-national companies.”

After his initial doubts about the absolute importance of a United States of Africa, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, first President of Tanzania proclaimed, “There is no time to waste. We must either unite now or perish. Political independence is only a prelude to a new and more involved struggle for the right to conduct our economic and social affairs, to construct our economic and social affairs, unhampered by crushing humiliating control and interference.”

Informed institutions and learned people outside Africa affirm that the economic power of Africa depends on a United States of Africa. According to the 2006 World Bank Data, if Africa was then a single country, it would have had a total gross income of nine hundred and seventy eight American billion dollars.

In his book, AFRICA RISING Prof. Vijay Mahajan, former dean of the Indian School of Business at the University of Texas in America has written that the figure of $978 billion for Africa would have placed Africa ahead of India as a total market. He points out that a United States of Africa would show up as the tenth top economy in the world. Only the economies of America, Japan, Germany, Britain, China, France, Italy, Spain and Canada would top Africa. A United States of Africa economy would top that of India which was $906.5 billion in 2006, that of Brazil which was $892.28 billion, Republic of Korea which was $856.6 billion, Russian Federation which was $822.4 billion and Mexico which was $820.3 billion.

This is not surprising to those who are knowledgeable about the enormous riches of Africa which as Pope Benedict XVI and other justice-loving people have observed, do not benefit Africans at present. Indeed, it was not a joke when Nkrumah told the founders of the OAU a long-while ago that, “We are today the richest of the continents and yet the poorest of continents. But in unity, our continent could begin to smile in a new era of prosperity and power.”

The West has fed Africa with the myth and poison of “Aid.” African leaders have developed a sickening dependency syndrome on this “Aid.” This “Aid” comes from people who are getting their own riches from Africa. This so-called “Aid” to Africa is in fact, a form of the disease called AIDS. It is indeed, the economic Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome inflicted on Africa under the cover of curing its African people of it. This incurable disease is sinking Africa deeper and deeper into “foreign debts” that compromise African governments and force them to focus on “Aid” from their former colonial masters who under developed Africa through slavery and colonialism in the first instance.

Africans must not present themselves to the West in particular, as if they are bankrupt debtors with nothing to put on the international table. The West could not have produced its nuclear weapons without Africa’s uranium. Their cars would run dry without oil from Africa. All their industries would grind to a halt. It is Africa’s exploited raw materials by them, especially minerals that give these supposed “AID givers” their riches and their Western “first world economy.”

Hear this directly from the horse’s mouth. It is just one example from one of the African countries. Not long ago, an American Senator Jesse Helms reminded his people. “South Africa is the source of over 80% of American mineral supply and 86% of Platinum resources….South Africa has 96% of the world’s chrome reserves. As you know, there is no substitute for chrome in our military and industrial manufacturing. Without South African chrome, no engines for modern jet aircraft, cruise missiles or armaments could be built. The United States would be grounded. Our military would be unarmed. Without South African chrome, surgical equipment and utensils could not be produced. Our hospitals and doctors would be helpless.”

Africa has subsidised the economies of Western Europe and America for centuries through its riches and labour at gunpoint. Even in their war against Adolf Hitler, Africa’s riches were simply seized and used in the interest of Europe. The Colonial Secretary of the Belgian government in exile, Godding boasting about this, said “During the war, the Congo was able to finance all the expenditure of the Belgian government in exile in London, including the diplomatic service as well as the cost of armed forces in Europe and America…the Belgian gold reserve could be left intact.”

It is this kind of criminal exploitation and looting of African resources by imperialists that Pan Africanist leaders such as Nkrumah, Lumumba and Sobukwe wanted destroyed. It is dehumanising Africans. No single African country can stop this vile system of economic exploitation of Africa alone. All African countries must stand up together and destroy it. It affects them all. Africa is a house with 54 rooms in it.

When one room catches fire, other rooms are endangered. The problem of Mali, the problem of Somalia, the problem of DRC, the problem of Central African Republic – the problem of any African country is the problem of Africa. It is the problem of brothers and sisters. It is the problem of the African family. You can’t ignore it without being the next to be injured in imperialist agendas such as “regime change,” withdrawal of Western “Aid” or imposition of economic sanctions.

The truth is that when Africans were enslaved or colonised or discriminated against because of their black colour, the perpetrators of these barbaric acts never cared whether you are Congolese, Nigerian, Ghanaian, Azanian, Malawian, Zimbabwean, Motswana, South African or Swazi; they just inflected their atrocities, whether in Jamaica or America. To not act Pan Africanly is African national suicide.

Why is the African Union failing on the main objective for which it was founded? The United States of Africa cannot be brought about by leaders who are not Pan Africanists. The propeller of the United States of Africa is Pan Africanism. The United States of Africa was a Pan African vision. This vision began many years ago, but was formalised in 1900 in the Diaspora through Pan Africanists such as Henry Sylvester Williams.

It is Pan Africanism that from its 5th Pan African Congress in 1945, intensified Africa’s independence movement that destroyed classical colonialism in Africa. It is this Pan Africanism that must now destroy neo-colonialism, the last stage of imperialism. The essence of neo-colonialism is that the State which is subordinated to a foreign imperialist power has all the outward trappings of international sovereignty. But in reality its economy and foreign policy are controlled by foreign powers. The value of such a State lies in being used to create new economic, social and cultural conditions for its former colonial master. Genuine national independence is more than just flying a country’s flag, having a parliament and a President.

How many such states are members of the African Union? How did some member states of the African Union vote in the Security Council in 2011 for a Resolution that led to the killing of Muammar Gaddafi? Libya is today the most bombed African country by NATO and America in their bid to access and control of the Libyan oil wealth for their own countries.

Of course, leaders who are rulers of South Africa long denounced Africanism and Pan Africanism as “anti-white” and “racist.” This was in 1955 when white neo-liberals of the pseudo-communist brand imposed on the ANC what they called the “Freedom Charter.” This programme cheated the dispossessed Africans on the return of their land. Today, South Africa is a “two nations” syndrome, one extremely rich and white minority and the other extremely poor and 80 % African majority.

With regard to the African Union, there are many people who now perceive South Africa as “a sub-imperialist” agent serving the interests of former colonial countries than those of Africa. Statements by its President such as a “decisive intervention” and a “Standby Force,” on the Continent does not allay fears that this is not the American “Africom” under cover to protect the continued Western looting of African raw materials, especially minerals. This does great harm to the African Union and will hinder its mission to bring about a United States of Africa. The African Union should not have members that hunt with the hunters, but run with the rabbit and making sure that the rabbit is not caught. There has been too much suffering by Africans for their leaders to be untrustworthy in serving African interests truthfully. In South Africa, there are still colonial and apartheid public holidays. But May 25 – Africa Liberation Day, for which the whole Continent sweated blood, there is no room. It is not a statutory public day here. Time does not allow me to expand this point any further.

Let me close by reminding all Sons and Daughters of Africa, this 50th anniversary of the African Union, the words of that shining star of Pan Africanism, Kwame Nkrumah. A day before the 25th May 1963, he addressed African Heads of State and Government on the formation of the OAU, the predecessor of African Union.

He declared, “No sporadic act or pious resolutions, can resolve our present problems….As a continent we have emerged into independence in a difficult age with imperialism grown stronger, more ruthless and experienced, and more dangerous in its international associations. Our economic advancement demands the end of colonial and neo-colonial domination of Africa.”

By Dr. Motsoko Pheko
The writer is the author of several African liberation books including, The Hidden Side Of South African Politics, Towards Africa’s Authentic Liberation and Land Is Money And Power. He is also a former Member of the South African Parliament as well as former Representative of the victims of apartheid and colonialism at the United Nations in New York and at the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva.

1 thought on “HOW FAR ARE WE FROM THE UNITED STATES OF AFRICA?

  1. “AFRICOM Go Home”
    AFRICOM Out of Germany – NOW! AFRICOM Out of Africa – NOW!
    (available also in Swahili, french, arabic, portuguese, german…

    Declaration in Celebration of the Fiftieth Anniversary of African Liberation Day

    ….
    “We, the Heads of African States and Governments assembled in the City of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Convinced that it is the inalienable right of all people to control their own destiny; Conscious of the fact that freedom, equality, justice and dignity are essential objectives for the achievement of the legitimate aspirations of the African peoples; Conscious of our responsibility to harness the natural and human resources of our continent for the total advancement of our peoples in spheres of human endeavor…”

    What is the real legacy of the charter that Modibo Keita and Sylvanos Olympio drafted on May 25th 1963 and reinforced with the power of 33 newly minted/ independent countries backing it? Arguably, in the end that particular document, which ushered in the Organization of African Unity (OAU) did not succeed in creating African unity. Some fifty years later, although the African Union has replaced the Organization of African Unity, Africa is still struggling to realize her full potential and exercise her right to self-determination. Meanwhile, the continent remains mired in disadvantage perpetuated by an international labor sector held captive within an imperialistic system resolutely opposed to Pan-Africanism. Indeed, a recent French Defense report calls Pan-Africanism a threat to Western interests.
    Today, as we commemorate the past fifty years we are determined, as citizens, either of Germany or Africa, or internationalists to turn the page on colonization once and for all. Beginning in the nineteenth century and well into the twentieth unbridled colonialism was pervasive throughout the continent. In 1885, it made common criminal cause with capitalism against the Congolese people when the Berlin Conference designated the Congo the world’s first “Free Trade Zone” and unleashed a process of colonial intervention that would eventually carve up the entire continent.
    In 2013, from its base in Stuttgart, AFRICOM, the U.S. Africa Command, is plotting to stretch out its tentacles across Africa, taking advantage of an extraordinary conjuncture of geopolitical, economic, and geostrategic disputes that are undermining the continent. Even in Germany, which has known so much war, many people who call Germany home are opposed to violence and stand in solidarity with our anti-militaristic initiatives. The German Constitution prescribes at Article 26 that all preparation for war or aggression carried out on its soil risks disturbing the peace between people. With Article 25, international law becomes German law and has primacy over all other laws. Since 2002, Germany has had a Code which makes the crimes of international public law part of German law. The nature of these crimes thus gives German jurisdictions / German courts universal jurisdiction to hear cases involving allegations of crimes of international public law regardless of the nationality of the authors or the place of the crime.
    As women and men we all hope for peace, sovereignty and solidarity.
    In line with its aggressive and expansionist policy towards Africa, AFRICOM, launched by the George W. Bush administration, claims to be protecting the national security of the United States by boosting the capacity of African states to defend themselves against transnational threats. They claim that doing so will also create an environment that encourages harmonious development.[3] AFRICOM is also actively seeking to establish a base on the African continent and move from Stuttgart, Germany, where it has been garrisoned since 2008. The U.S. Marine Forces Africa (MARFORAF), which coordinated military strikes and maneuvers across the African continent, was also housed there.
    So far, for most African countries, an AFRICOM based in Africa does not appear to be particularly enticing. However, a very select few seem to have yielded to temptation. Dressed up as a “fait accompli” to deny Africans any semblance of choice, AFRICOM’s strategy includes indoctrination, managing dissent and gradually spreading its influence across the continent by exploiting tensions wherever they exist. By keeping abreast of other NATO initiatives as well as those unilateral interventions undertaken by certain of its member countries such as France, AFRICOM continues to serve the exclusive interests of dominant countries and their local comprador elites. A base on the African continent is a guarantee of long-term access to Africa’s raw materials and locations of strategic importance. In addition, AFRICOM will not only circumvent the voracious appetites of the emergent BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) powers but also block Africa’s own progress towards unity.
    No NATO country really needs to establish such a huge military base anywhere in Africa. Not only do these countries have other bases and facilities at their disposal, but they also benefit from bilateral or equivalent arrangements, which allow them to move freely around the continent. In addition, the armies of most African countries have become so compromised through their association with military contractors from the imperialist states or the private military and security companies that work in tandem with them, acting as their surrogates. Intentionally or not, such factors generally fuel terrorism, which sprouts predictably wherever underdevelopment has created a climate where it can thrive. Besides, the imperialists have worked tirelessly to stifle democratic developments/movements in North African either by undermining certain countries or encouraging their Middle Eastern partners to throw their weight behind backward regimes.
    The African continent has been thoroughly decimated by over three decades of structural adjustment, which has downsized the state and resulted in technocrats running our governments. It has also created a fictitious sense of democracy, which has depoliticized our populations and left our countries victims of a particularly vicious virus of dependency. In military terms, Africa remains fragmented and vulnerable in the face of fundamental challenges, such as the foreign occupation of the Congo, the Ivory Coast, Libya and Mali. At the same time, the possibility of playing the instability card looms menacingly over the Sudan, Egypt, Nigeria, Tunisia and the Central African Republic as well as Algeria…
    Here the UN is instrumentalized, paving the way for the intervention of NATO forces. The apparent unity of militarized African countries in these peacekeeping missions is a reflection of imperialism. For example, thirty-six countries on the continent sent their “next generation of leaders in the security sector” (ACSS) to receive training in Washington DC. Those high-ranking officers who did so were included under the umbrella of operational and military capacity building within AFRICOM’s Theater Security Cooperation Programs (TSCP). The Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance (ACOTA) program rounds out these infantry training projects and has made inroads into the delivery of multilateral training to UN peacekeepers. Over the last decade, a growing number of African armies have participated in the annual FLINTLOCK antiterrorist maneuvers held in North and West Africa. Then there is the AFRICA ENDEAVOR, which bills itself as an opportunity to develop skills in the area of intelligence communication. CUTLASS EXPRESS refers to a series of maritime strategies designed to control the flow of all traffic around East Africa and the Indian Ocean.
    Indeed, there must exist an unusual insecurity on the continent to pardon such aggressive impulses and maneuvers. There are also growing networks of terrorists and politicized outlaws who march to their own drum and threaten “world order” just as much as they do the African countries they attack. However, these are merely the ‘tip of the iceberg’. More often than not, the origins of such conflicts, which the powers that be make a show of stamping out, lie in poverty and underdevelopment. They are the fallout of failed policies or of the crime and illegal trafficking produced by persistent disputes as well as the impact of chaotic events associated with so-called “Juniors”. Some of these “Juniors” are in fact small multinational firms that jump into bed with rebels or terrorists in order to get their hands on raw materials. Where prior commitments have been made to external forces, they tend to emerge as the situation evolves to liberate contested zones and become integrated into an overall strategy of “total security”, which rationalizes militarization. Many of the regimes ruling African countries either collude in this type of thievery or are subdued by the smoke-screen liberalization, economic conditionalities and extractive resources syndrome.

    The subordination and control of our national armies, or what remains of them, and the prospect of seeing the AFRICOM base move to Africa, like the recent deployment of French military forces or other interventions, act as a barrier to achieving true African integration. Africa is increasingly obliged to seek shelter beneath NATO’s umbrella. Indeed AFRICOM and NATO are so intertwined that it is hard to see where one ends and the other begins. For example, at the beginning of May, NATO’s Secretary General, Rasmussen, received the Atlantic Council’s “Distinguished Leadership Award” in Washington. Both NATO and AFRICOM have had a hand in carving up the continent, as they fine-tuned their policies, which spring from deep roots.

    Some of the key elements of this fifty-year history include strategies that the imperialists used to checkmate Independence; coups that were mounted against progressive regimes; the failure of forces that tried to derail the struggle against apartheid; the vagaries of American foreign policy visited upon Somalia and the Sudan; negotiations with Al-Qaeda; the jihadist attacks that preceded the ones on September 11th and the so-called anti-terrorist policies that they provoked. In 2002, a pan-Sahelian anti-terrorist initiative was crafted in collaboration with four Sahelian countries/ Three years later, the Trans-Sahara Counter-Terrorist Initiative (TSCTI) was expanded to cover five more countries.
    Later on EACTI (East Africa Counter-Terrorist Initiative) was extended into East Africa, bringing six more countries under its wing. In the same year (2005), NATO answered the African Union’s call for help in Darfur. Two years later, it fashioned the study that would become the matrix of the brigades of the African Standby Force (ASF) whose goal is allegedly to maintain continental peace. ASF is slated to become operational in 2015.

    In continental terms, all those events add up to a violation of our right to self-determination. When they are ready to swing into action, NATO and AFRICOM need consult no higher authority than their current senior military liaison officer (SMLO) who is their point man in all affairs involving the African Union. We PanAfricanists have a duty to build an internationalism that will wake up our elites as well as the masses of our people and make them aware that militarizing Africa will lead us down a path to nowhere. It will ignite, fuels, and attracts conflict. Arguably, Africa’s very sovereignty depends on dismantling all foreign bases. We should only put our faith in an all-African army, whose sole purpose should be to defend the territorial integrity of the continent and help us to maintain peace under the umbrella of an Africa Pax.

    Our Pan-Africanism presumes a self-reliant continental integration whose goal is social progress. Our intentions are in direct opposition to the prevailing tendency of being co-opted again and having our armies transformed into auxiliary forces under foreign command. As proxy forces, some of these coopted forces have generally been charged with extinguishing conflicts within the society that, more often than not, have also been engineered by the same “world order” to facilitate access to Africa’s natural resources.

    In defending the interests of our people we must depend on our own sense of unity and stop waiting for NATO or AFRICOM to do our job for us. That is the only we can be assured of charting our own path and bringing about the integrated development of the African continent.

    Together, let us support the civic and pan-African repoliticization of our youth.

    AFRICOM go home, Africa for Africans at home and abroad.

    No to foreign bases – US out of Germany! US out of Africa!

    No to terrorist militarization and foreign bases on African soil! – Get out NOW! Out of Chagos! Out of Diego Garcia! Out of Libreville! Out of Sao-Tomé! Out of Ceuta! Out of Ndjamena! Out of Djibouti! Out of Tripoli!…

    No to multinationals and their scramble for Africa’s natural resources and farmland!
    No to Rulers who sell out Africa to Imperialists!
    Yes to democracy and the popular reform of the African Union!
    Decolonize and unite – Africa is One!
    Sisters and brothers, internationalist allies around the world, stand with us. Let us defend Africa!

    We endorse the Declaration Go Home AFRICOM;
    Group for Research and Initiative for the Liberation of Africa

    Third World Forum (Samir Amin ; Bernard Founou)
    Fondation Frantz Fanon (Mireille Fanon- Mendes-France)
    HANKILI SO AFRICA (Koulsy Lamko) ;
    AfricAvenir International
    Black Agenda Report (Glen Ford) ;
    Arbeitskreis Panafrikanismus München (Dipama Hamado)
    Revival of Panafricanism Forum (RPF) (Gnaka Lagoke) ;
    INSTITUT TUNISIEN DES RELATIONS INTERNATIONALES (ITRI) (Ahmad Manai) ;
    Yash Tandon, Former Executive Director of the South Center ;
    Diasporic Music on Uhuru Radio ;
    Network for Pan Afrikan Solidarity – Ajamu Nangwaya, University of Toronto ;
    Emira Woods – IPS ;
    Forum Africain des Alternatives
    (ARCADE) Africaine de Recherche et de Coopération pour l’Appui au Développement Endogène , (Demba Dembélé)
    Afrika Kulturprojekte e.V.
    Dr Horace Campbell – Syracuse University
    Dr Saer Maty Ba,
    Dr Sanou Mbaye,
    Dr. Boniface Mabanza (Kirchliche Arbeitsstelle Südliches Afrika KASA)
    Dr Werner Ruf (AG Friedensforschung)
    Berlin Postkolonial e.V. (Mnyaka Sururu Mboro und Christian Kopp)
    Dipl.Afrikanistin (Ginga Eichler)
    Dr. Lutz Holzinger, (Journalist and Writer in Vienna)
    Ababacar Fall, Dakar Senegal
    Dr Henning Melber, The Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation, Uppsala/Sweden
    Komitee für Grundrechte und Demokratie: Wolf-Dieter Narr:
    Joanès Louis (Université Populaire Kwame Nkrumah)
    Werner Kersting, Vorsitzender
    NKEN NDJENG Philippe, EHESS, Paris
    Carina Ray, Assistant Professor, History Department, Fordham University
    African Challenge
    Hans-Peter Laubentha
    Dr. Bärbel Schindler-Saefkow, Deutscher Friedensrat e.V
    Elikia M’Bokolo, Directeur d’Etudes, EHESS
    Siegfried Wittig, Berlin
    Afrika Netzwerk Bremen
    Wikopuli, Andreas Schlüter
    Marita Blessing, strategisch-weiß
    Niema Movasat, Member of German Parliament, DIE LINKE

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