Africanism Blossoms

Africa is proving to be the next growth pole of the global economy. Its economy is growing, faster than the global average, and its politics is witnessing a shift towards stability. Its nations are rising to catch up with the global superpowers, sooner, than latter.

Fifty years have elapsed since the charter for the Organisation of the African Unity (OAU) was signed by 32 African countries here in Addis Abeba, the seat of the Union. For many people, 50 years could be just a simple figure marking time.

It is surely a long period of time if compared to the average life span of a person or at least one generation. In terms of bringing countries having different political, historical, cultural and economic background, however, 50 years is too short to be taken as considerable.

When the Golden Jubilee of the OAU was colorfully celebrated here last week, many of the African leaders and the invited speakers recalled the aspirations and dreams of the founding fathers who had foreseen that African unity shall be realised and come to pass before too long. But the visions and aspirations of those torchbearers had come too soon and sudden, perhaps overwhelming them, before some of them were even able to face the challenges from inside and outside.

Although the primary concern of the African leaders was to assist and stand by the side of their brothers and sisters who were still under the burdens of colonialism, the challenges had continued even harder for years after these countries were freed and able to hoist their flags and sing their national anthems. They had learnt to their dismay that colonisation and its social and cultural impacts were far deeper and more difficult to do away with rather than to have an own flag and national anthem.

Unlike other times, this year’s marking of the 50th year anniversary of the founding of the OAU, which has grown to Africa Union (AU), has more convincing substances to celebrate with pride and more tangible hopes to live up to the objectives of the Union. At least, six of the 10 fast economically growing countries in the world are said to be African. There is a growing awareness among many of the African nations that they have to rely on themselves to bring about sustainable development not ignoring the necessity of global co existence and sailing in the same boat.

In their effort to urge that the youth should try to move forward and change the fate of Africa, some of the famous African leaders have recalled that Africans were also partly responsible for facilitating the slave trade during colonial period.  Their intention was to encourage the coming generation to depend on its own capabilities to succeed rather than put away the blame on to others for their failures.

With a population of a little over one billion and incense unexploited natural resources, Africa’s future seems to have a glimmer of hope to sustain its economic development and make the continent a letter place to live. African leaders are expected to aggressively start or consolidate the practical implementation of the development plans they have outlined in the strategic development plans they desire to pursue in the coming years.

The past five decades have revealed that the very concept of affirming the unity of African countries with varying backgrounds has been a more demanding and testing engagement than it was thought during the signing of the charter. Wars between national governments and those wanting to secede had to be fought, costing human life and property.

Leaders wanting to cling to power lawfully for more than they had to stay lawfully had been the cause for triggering civil strives in the course of their standing their grounds. Peace and stability had to be maintained.

The other more obvious problem that had for long hampered the economic integration process between African countries is the lack of infrastructure between them. The 21st Annual Summit, also convened last week, had put emphasis on realising infrastructure projects as soon as possible. Ethiopia’s efforts to implement the trans-boundary road and railway projects between Kenya, Djibouti, South Sudan and Somalia can be cited as one of the practical steps being taken to make the dream of economic integration a reality.

Ayele Taddesse, a 58-year old teacher that I recently spoke to, hopes that; very soon, an East African Comprehensive Trade Fair shall be held in one of these countries to show what these member countries can produce and offer for market. Each country can have the opportunity of knowing what to buy or sell from and to the neighboring countries.

Each country could be encouraged to continue producing goods and services based on the comparative advantages it may have. This would not only avoid duplication of production but also unnecessary cost.

The celebration has also revealed that Africans living in the continent and in the Diaspora are expressing their feeling of belongingness to Africa in its full sense. The display of the remains of Lucy, Australopeticus Afarensis, at the AU Conference Hall together with remains of other species has also added to the glory of Africanism – a justified source of pride.

Countries like South Africa and Nigeria are proving that they are growing economic forces to be reckoned with in the global economic arena. Other countries are not very far away in their status and are expected to catch up sooner than later. Ethiopia and its neighbors are also in the right track in their pursuit of the development of the green economy.

By Girma Feyissa

Published on June 02, 2013 [ Vol 13 ,No 683]



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