In Addis Ababa and across Africa, the 50th anniversary of the AU was recently celebrated. While there is cause for reflection, there is little to celebrate.

When African leaders met in Addis Ababa to form the precursor to the OAU in 1963, hopes were high. The expectations of the continent were captured by Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah, when he spoke on 24th May, 1963. Looking to our history, he said, “By far the greatest wrong which the colonialists inflicted, and we now continue to inflict on ourselves in our present state of disunity was to leave us divided into economically unviable states which bear no possibility of real development. What need is there for us to remain hewers of wood and drawers of water for the industrialized world? It is said, that we have no capital, no industrial skill, no communications and no internal markets and that we cannot agree amongst ourselves how best to utilize our resources for our own social needs. Yet global stock exchanges are preoccupied with Africa’s gold, diamonds, uranium, platinum, copper and iron ore.”

How could Kwame Nkrumah understand the present so much better than our current African leaders?

Since then, Africa has been divided even further. Ethiopia has been divided and so has Sudan. The Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic is united only in name. Angola, Liberia, Mozambique, Ivory Coast, Libya, Egypt, Nigeria and so on has had civil wars and others have come close. Africans has been unwilling or unable to stop these wars and not even the establishment of the AU’s Peace and Security Council has made a difference. Several African leaders have and will continue to appear in front of the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

The problem is leadership. Nkrumah and many of those who met in Addis Ababa was Pan Africanist. Sadly some current African leaders are not even nationalists; they are tribalists and often regionalists. Many see themselves as power seekers on behalf of their ethnic groups or regions.

We cannot rejoice as there is little to celebrate and as Africans we need to stop celebrating failure.

Cllr Yagyah Adams

Cape Muslim Congress


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