The Year Of Pan-Africanism And The African Renaissance

African Update – 30/06/13

“We are favoured with the opportunity to reflect on the road traveled by Africans towards securing unity, prosperity and peace.”

AU Commission Chairperson, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma

On May 25, 1963, the founding fathers of African liberation in met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and established the Organization of African Unity (OAU). The principal aim of OAU was to see to the full liberation (decolonisation) of the entire African continent from north to south (an aim that was fulfilled with the fall of apartheid in South Africa). But it was also to safeguard other interests of member states for the good of Africa as stipulated in its Charter’s fundamental principles:

  • The sovereign equality of all member states,
  • Respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of each state,
  • The inalienable right to independent existence of each state,
  • Peaceful settlement of disputes by negotiation, mediation, conciliation and arbitration,
  • Unreserved condemnation of political assassination in all its forms as well as of subversive activities on the part of neighbouring states or any other states,
  • Absolute dedication to the total emancipation of African territories which are still dependent
  • Non-alignment with regard to all power blocks.

May this year marked exactly 50 years since the founding of OAU. And it was an important development on a continent just breaking from the yolks of colonialism. As the African Union (a transformation of OAU) Commission Chairperson puts it:

“The convening of 32 independent nations in the conference of independent African states in May 1963 remains perhaps one of the most important statements undertaken by Africans towards self determination and prosperity.”

New African, one of the best selling Pan-African magazine, starting with this year’s May issue, devotes special attention to events in the course of an year long celebration (kicked off on May 19) outlined by AU to celebrate 50 years of the search for African liberation, identity, cohesion and development. It is a celebration that more than anything else draws all Africans to reflection, reflections that are apt indeed:

“These reflections are opportune because this year…(declared Year of Pan-Africanism and the African Renaissance) has a potential of being a watershed year, since never before in our history has so much been in our favour. Never before has the continent been favoured with such young, vibrant and relatively more educated population.”

The May 2013 issue was a particularly special one, a collectors’ edition, “looking back on the days of OAU, its achievements and failures, and what lies ahead of the continent with the AU in charge.” At the same time, it pooled together opinions, ideas and critique from diverse personalities across Africa as well as beyond. Put together, these contributions reflect the threads of ‘hope that shines through the African continent’ Africa’s ‘desire to reverse the current storyline of despair into the real narrative of opportunity and potential’, and the collective will of Africans even in Diaspora to brighten Africa’s future. They reflect the pride to belong to Africa.

OAU – A failure or success story

For a long time until its transformation into the AU, many described the OAU as a toothless barking dog. However, with the benefit of hindsight, OAU’s objectives were noble and the basic one, decolonizing Africa, was achieved. New African observes that OAU was misunderstood and for this reason “misaligned for not doing what it had no power, or limited power, to do.” A bad start – simply put,  “OAU had the misfortune of having members who invested it with limited powers (reflected in the fundamental principles of the Charter outlined above) that could not achieve much of what its critics accused it of not doing.” It is the bad start for OAU that robbed it of the momentum it needed to take off, and thus throwing away the bright future that Africans had hoped to have for themselves.

Although its powers were limited, “the OAU made an impact as an expression of a common African outlook on several subjects including end of colonial and settler rule.” With the fall of white supremacist regime on South Africa and the coming in of a democratically elected multiracial government in 1994 under Mandela, the unifying campaign for the liberation of the whole continent was complete, the next major challenge was one of economic development.


“…Post-liberation, the OAU blew with the weather of Africa; a victim of cronyism and corruption, humbled and manipulated by external powers. [Now under its successor, the AU] it is Africa’s opportunity to bask and develop in the sunshine of the current surge of optimistic hope and growth, which many are calling Africa’s rebirth.”

Ozwald Boateng

Africa is no longer the so-called hopeless continent, manifesting all the worst characteristics: states devoid of institutions of government, with poverty and diseases in abundance and riches too (that sustain rebels); a continent making less demands on the worlds attention other than ‘the simple one of sympathy for its people’. Africa and its people is learning to “unashamedly admit that despite some of our achievements, Africa continues to be encumbered by a number of problems.”

Africans are rising up, realizing “that none but ourselves can shape the future of our continent and this is what ‘Made in Africa’ is all about.”

The special edition of New African published in May, setting the pace in commemorating the 50th anniversary of African unity, and the Year of Pan-Africanism and the African Renaissance is replete with innovations, visions and dreams of the children of Africa.

Looking 50 years back, they ask how have we fared? And seeking to establish a shared and continental vision of attaining a better life for all Africans, they from different angles grapple with the questions:

“What are the fundamental objectives and goals that we are trying to achieve, both at the continental and country level? What are the key elements of our strategy towards those objectives and goals? What are and what have been the most significant obstacles, and how shall we deal with them? Going forward what successes and failures do we draw from the past 50 years? How do we sustain the important progress of the last 5 decades? What are the biggest strategic needs and opportunities?”

We at Humanitas Afrika commune with Africa and her people, continental and in Diaspora, in their search for the full meaning of African freedom, which as one ardent reader of New African puts it, “will not be realized until [among other things] all Africans enjoy a better life, free from the festering scars of unemployment, poverty, lack of shelter, disease, ignorance, despair, crime, tyranny, and bad governance, xenophobia and racism, the absence of sufficient good role models and parental guidance.”

Reviewed by: Swegenyi Shivairo for Humanitas Afrika

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New titles in our library 12/2016

Our library has aquired a number of new and interesting books. Here is the list of the latest titles.

  • Blood Brothers: The Fatal Friendship Between Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X by Randy Roberts and Johnny Smith
  • Fashion Cities Africa by Hannah Azieb Pool
  • Frantz Fanon: Toward a Revolutionary Humanismby Christopher Lee
  • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty by Robinson, James A., Acemoglu, Daron
  • Shakespeare in Swahililand: Adventures With the Ever-Living Poet by Edward Wilson-Lee
  • A History of Modern Africa: 1800 to the Present by Richard J. Reid
  • Authentically African: Arts and the Transnational Politics of Congolese Culture by Sarah Van Beurden
  • Children in Slavery through the Ages by by Gwyn CampbellSuzanne MiersJoseph C. Miller
  • Global Health in Africa: Historical Perspectives on Disease Control by Tamara Giles-Vernick
  • Rumba on the River: A History of the Popular Music of the Two Congos by Gary  Stewart
  • Women and Slavery, Vol. 1: Africa, the Indian Ocean World, and the Medieval North Atlantic by Gwyn Campbell
  • Women and Slavery, Vol. 2: The Modern Atlantic by Gwyn Campbell
  • Cahier d'un Retour Au Pays Natal by Aimé Cesaire
  • Healing Traditions: African Medicine, Cultural Exchange and Competition in South Africa, 1820-1948 by Karen Elizabeth  Flint
  • Global Education Policy and International Development: New Agendas, Issues and Policies by Antoni Verger
  • Black Skin, White Coats: Nigerian Psychiatrists, Decolonization, and the Globalization of Psychiatry by Matthew M. Heaton

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