On May 25 this week, Africa celebrates the 44th
anniversary of the founding of the Organization of African Unity, now the African Union.
leaders will also meet in Accra, Ghana for the AU summit in the
coming week or so to discuss and share ideas on the challenges facing the continent.
is Africa making any meaningful headway
when it comes to African unity? How far have we gone towards integrating our economies and scrapping visas that prohibit the
free movement of our people?
I will tell how disappointing it is that I myself as a Zimbabwean
still need to get a visa to travel across the Limpopo River to South Africa and to our neighbor in the east, Mozambique, despite the common historical struggles that
our countries share.
Many Zimbabwean women who cross the border to trade their wares in
sleep on a line at the South African embassy in Harare to get visas. In addition to this, they have to meet stringent visa requirements
which are very costly and cumbersome. They have to struggle for their families and sell wares in the giant South African economy.
Only recently, comrades in the African National Congress and freedom fighters from the
Zimbabwe African National Union and the Zimbabwe African People's Union (Patriotic Fronts) fought together in the trenches
It ‘s now more than 27 years that Zimbabwe has been independent
while South Africa celebrated 13 years of majority rule. It is very disappointing that there is no free movement between people
in South Africa
and Zimbabwe despite the pledge to the
ideals of African unity and economic integration.
This plays out across the continent. Most
African countries have diplomatic posts in Europe
and America but yet back here in their homeland, they have none in some African
countries. For one to travel from Ghana to Cameroon, one needs a visa. Isn't
it puzzling that Europeans and white Americans can freely move from one African country to the other much more than Africans
As Africans we are still suspicious of each other, we are still more connected to the
Metropoles -London, Paris, New York, Berlin, Lisbon than we are connected to Kigali, Bujumbura, Ouagadougou, Harare, Kampala
In 2005, Wole Soyinka, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature was detained
at Johannesburg airport,
now the Oliver Tambo International Airport, for arriving without a visa. Lamented Cameron Duodu, a veteran
London-based African journalist: "In Africa, then, we preach unity without doing anything concrete about it.
It's like marrying a woman and not being willing to touch her. I have a strong desire to greet the African leaders who come
to Accra with a one-man demonstration
them to stop uttering empty words about African unity and to, instead, abolish the need for visas when moving between their
have not de-colonized their minds enough. We are still trapped in the colonial condition. We are still refusing to cut the
colonial umbilical cord. We despise everything African. Can you believe that Africans still import water from Paris, London and New York?
the unity we always talk about? What are we doing to build common ground on many pressing issues in Africa? What are we as Africans
doing to harmonize trade policies and remove trade barriers between African countries? Are we speaking with one voice as the
"Emancipate yourself from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our
minds," Bob Marley, the music legend implored. If he could only see us now.
Until we as
Africans fully decolonize our minds, we will never be able to remove barriers to movement, trade and culture.
is The Black Star News™ Southern Africa
correspondent based in Harare
AFRICA MUST UNITE AND AFRICANS MUST UNITE!