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Pan-Africanism must be the goal
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Guest Editorial
Pan-Africanism must be the goal
K. Leba Ola-Niyi
Wednesday, May 23rd 2007

K. Leba Ola-Niyi


On Friday, many Africans at home and abroad will observe African Liberation Day. The theme is "Africa must be self-reliant: Forward to a United States of Africa."

In addition, we should celebrate the 50th anniversary of
Ghana's independence. We should understand, pursue and achieve Dr. Kwame Nkrumah's vision for a united Africa

After the national flag of red, green and gold with a black star rose at
, Nkrumah declared:

"We again re-dedicate ourselves in the struggle to emancipate other countries in
, for our independence is meaningless unless it is linked up with the total liberation of the African continent."

In "sub-Saharan"
Africa, Ghana
was the first African/black nation. That victory was a thrill and inspiration for all colonial peoples who were fighting for freedom.

As a result of the Pan-African meetings and national liberation movements,
Africa today has 53 countries. However, most so-called independent states fell into the bottomless pit of neocolonialism. The establishment of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in Ethiopia fell short of attaining a powerful, prosperous and united Africa

has an odious debt to international lenders and Western governments. For example, Africa Action stated: "The continent currently shoulders a $2000 billion debt burden, which drains $14
billion per year out of the national economies of
and into the pockets of wealthy bilateral and multilateral creditors.

The effects of this debt burden are devastating, undermining government spending on health and education and fueling poverty."

These Western lenders impose free-market economic conditions that keep
Africa in a perpetual debt trap. Africa Action added: "Between 1970 and 2003, it is estimated that Africa
received $540 billion in loans. African countries repaid $580 billion in principal and interest over those years, but as a result of accrued interest at the end of that time period, the continent still owe over $300 billion on the original loans."

is still paying illegitimate and immoral debts to international finance capital.

The World Bank and IMF imposed Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) on cash-strapped regimes that borrow high-interest loans to solve economic and financial crisis or to achieve economic growth and development. These harsh economic measures are as follows: producing,
extracting, and exporting cash crops and/or raw mineral resources, respectively; ending food and agricultural subsidies; cutting social programs such as education, health care, and housing; having mass layoffs in the public sector; devaluating national currency to make imports expensive and exports cheaper; opening your economy and public sector for foreign trade and investment; and privatizing government-owned enterprises or authorities.

The wealth produced by labor and capital never trickles down to the workers, producers and the poor.

As a result of these neoliberal policies, we are seeing a small oasis of the rich surrounded by the vast desert of the poor.

Free markets economics and trade exacerbate inequality between
Africa and the West. Unfettered free market policy has widen the gap between the rich and poor between and within countries. In 1998, the GNP per capita of the rich world was $25,000, while the per capita in Africa
was a little over $600. Under free trade agreements, multinational corporations based in the West dominate the market share, sales and proportion for world production.

Unfair trade terms and plunging commodity export prices result in lower income for most African countries.

A united
is possible. We must build a worldwide Pan-African movement that organizes and educates African everywhere. We must know and defeat the enemies of African freedom and justice.

We need another wind of change that will end neocolonialism and economic imperialism in

We must achieve the century-old goal of Pan-Africanism or African unity. Nkrumah wrote:

"The optimum zone of development for the African people is the entire continent of
Africa. Until there is an All-African Union Government pursuing socialist policies, and planning the economic development of Africa
as a whole, the standard of living of the African masses will remain low, and they will continue to suffer from neocolonialist exploitation and the oppression of the indigenous bourgeoisie."

We urge the African Union to achieve African unity as defined by Kwame Nkrumah, Seku Ture, Patrice Lumumba and other great Pan-Africanists.

We must demand that Western governments and global lenders acknowledge the unjust nature of
's debt and to cancel all illegitimate debts without neoliberal economic conditions.

When we have achieved Pan-Africanism, this objective will fulfill "the aspirations of the Africans and people of African descent everywhere."

K. Leba Ola-Niyi, a member of the Pan-African Support Group, lives on
St. Thomas