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
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
"We again re-dedicate ourselves in the struggle to emancipate other countries in Africa, 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.
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 Africa 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."
Hence, Africa is still paying illegitimate and immoral debts to international
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.
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 Africa 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
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 Africa'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.