I wish I had been a fly on the wall, when those eighteen gallant and revolutionary African leaders met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 25 May 1963, as they mapped and birthed their dream for a truly free and liberated continent – with the establishment of the Organization of African Unity (OAU).
Tendai Ruben Mbofana
How I wish hearing them expressing their impassioned vision of a united people – mostly having originated from common ancestors, but scattered all over the continent – who were truly free and liberated from all forms of repression and subjugation…no matter who the oppressor was, or their colour or creed.
I would have loved to listen in, when they discussed and formulated strategies on how every man, woman, and child in Africa would live freely and liberated from the shackles of improvement and alienation – on a continent abundantly blessed with most of the world’s most valuable mineral deposits, endless tracts of arable and fertile land, and a most welcoming climate – yet, deprived of this wealth and prosperity by colonial powers.
It would have been wonderful hearing them make the resolution to finally fearlessly and relentlessly take up the struggle to stand up, and fight for their rights, by ensuring that each and every country on the African continent was liberated and that as long as there was still even one country not yet free, then Africa was not free – and, declaring that 25 May would always be commemorated as, “African Liberation Day”.
In the proceeding decades, liberation struggles were launched in several colonized countries – each varying in size and intensity, dependent on their own situation – but, eventually, those dreams for an independent Africa were fulfilled when South Africa declared democracy in April 1994, effectively putting an end to the fight for freedom and liberty (save for the Western Sahara, which has largely been ignored and forgotten by today’s leaders, whilst its people reel under Moroccan subjugation).
In the process, the OAU was conveniently changed to the African Union (AU) in 2002, and “African Liberation Day” renamed, “Africa Day” – and, the continent’s “new” leaders placed the fight for freedom and liberty in the drawers of history.
Nonetheless, if it had been possible for me to see those same eighteen African leaders today – as they have all passed away – I would have loved to hear what they would be saying about what is currently pertaining on the continent, and to the people, whose true freedom and liberation they were so passionate about, and were willing to sacrifice everything for.
What would they say as they watched the vast majority of African men, women, and children still living in abject poverty – potentially even worse off than in 1963 – yet, their fellow African leaders splash wealth like there was no tomorrow, by looting the same valuable resources, and parcelling out the most fertile of the arable land for their own personal enrichment, as the majority remain in desert-like communal areas, and a few ruling party faithfuls are deceived by little plots?
Whilst at the same time, their citizens face unspeakable hunger and starvation on a daily basis, can not afford the most basic medications (with people needlessly dying from preventable diseases, that were last heard of in overseas countries decades ago), their children deprived of the ever-unaffordable quality education, and most still residing in shacks.
Even vibrant industries and commerce that once thrived during the colonial era, have either been looted into non-existence, or mismanaged into the ground – leading to record-breaking joblessness, and non-performing economies.
I would have loved to see these OAU founders’ faces, as they witnessed the insatiable greed for power by their successors – who have managed to make our erstwhile colonizers appear like the angel Gabriel – by their unimaginable heinous barbarity and savagery that they have unleashed against their own people.
What would those gallant pioneering revolutionaries have said of the continent, and the people they loved so much?
Would they have been satisfied with what they would have seen today? Would they have declared their objectives fulfilled?
If I had been a fly on the wall, during the establishment of the OAU in 1963, and had seen those founding fathers today, I would be sure that they would have been terribly heartbroken by the plight of the ordinary African man, woman, and child, and extremely angry with the current leadership, that had all but abandoned the ideals of a truly free and liberated Africa – through their continued (or, worsened) colonial policies, kleptomaniac and tyrannical rule, as well as horrendous brutal repression of their own citizens, whilst selling their countries to the highest bidder (and, in most cases, the new colonial power, China).
What wound they say, witnessing endless wars and coup d’etats – motivated by nothing more than the lust for corrupting power by our leaders?
I have no doubt that, if I could talk to these founders of African liberation, they would urge all people of the continent to resume the struggle for their emancipation and liberation – against a new oppressor, whose only difference from the erstwhile colonizer is the skin colour.
I am sure that, as Africans study their history, they will be shocked to learn that what their forefathers and foremothers were subjected to, and endured, under colonization, is much the same as today, under their “post-independence” leaders – if not worse.
Africa is in no way free or liberated, and the struggle continues until every man, woman, and child attains and realizes true Uhuru – as they fully enjoy the fruits of their super-abundant resources, lush fertile land, and God-given freedoms, dignity, and respectability. Aluta continua!
© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and political commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263733399640, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org