CAN THE AFRICAN UNION HEAL THIS
FESTERING SORE OF UNITY
By Hon. Prince S. B. Jide Ademosu -Amperiola
It is with great delight that I extend to you my humble debate on the
on-going debate on the imminent Africa Union, the echoes of which continue
to sound throughout the entire length and breadth of our dear continent.
Apart from the fact that it signifies the mutual and cordial relations
existing between Nigeria and members state of Organization of African
unity. It also underscores the concern and interests which both the OAU and
the UNITED NATIONS have in the economic outlook of Africa. Such interests
and mutual relation are essential-towards understanding as well as seeking
joint solution to those problems.
I should stress the point that even before the adoption of priority
programmes for economic recovery, a redefinition to problems and priority
had been taking place in an increasing number of African countries,
accompanied by concrete steps towards economic reforms. This acted as a
stimulus to enlarge and sustain efforts and lay greater emphasis on the
For over four hundred and fifty years Africans were caught, manacled and
shipped across the Atlantic to create wealth for their captors in the sugar
cane, tobacco and cotton plantations in the Americas. Great were the
privations to which they were subjected; those who did not die during the
raid or during
the middle passage were sentenced to lives of servitude. The people so
forcibly transported were estimated to be between 20 to 50 million while
the captives were the young and virile Africans - the veritable agents of
economic, social and political development.
The attendant chaos to slave trade retarded African march towards
development, progress and the advancement in science and technology - what a
period of irrational retrogression. Apparently Africa and
Europe were almost at par in terms of development up to the 15th Century.
That was the period when
great empires such as Ghana-Mali, Songhai, Kanemi-Borno, Benin, Ife, Oyo
Great Zimbabwe flourished, and the slave trade destroyed all what was left
of the African achievement and Civilization of which Ancient Egypt, Merae
and Axum were historic manifestations.
The European onslaught on Africa softened the continent's resistance to
imperialism and the eventual European partition of Africa and its colonial
administration finally concluded the African experience of subjugation.
Colonial imposition, however, did not go unchallenged.
Africa resistance leaders such as Samori Toure of the Mandinkas sultan
Ahahiral of the sokoto caliphate, Jaja of Opobo, Chaka the Zulu, Lobengula
of the Ndebeles and the great Menelik of Ethiopia fought gallant battles
against superior fire-power. With the exception of Meneliks's Ethiopia most
of the African States succumbed to imperialism after the loss of millions of
Millions of Africans who lost their lives resisting the seizure of their
countries to the colonial powers who felt that natives' lives were
expendables. In fact the doctrine prevailing then was massive infliction of
injury and casualties on the helpless victims because it was erroneously
conjectured that African did not value "their lives. This strange doctrine
led almost to the disappearance of the Hererors in the former German south
West African (now Namibia) while Angola was reduced to a wilderness by the
Portuguese as a result of four centuries of slave raids and colonial
exploitation. Struggle for independence in many parts of Africa particularly
in places like Cameroon, Algeria, Ethiopia and the entire Southern African
region was characterized by extreme violence with consequent loss of many
millions of African lives.
Former President Leopold Sedar Senghor of Senegal, the great African
statesman and poet once
said Africans, Jaws, and Arabs constitute a trilogy of suffering peoples
but the fact is that of these entire three groups the suffering inflicted on
Africans has never really been seriously addressed.
Granting of independence to African states is nothing more than tactical
political concession, while the economic exploitation and externally
triggered civil wars continue. Since 1945 the world has witnessed attempts
to redress the grievances of at least the Jews if not those of the Arabs but
in spite of our support for the Allies during the charter on freedom, we
Africans both at home and in the Diaspora had to fight against great odds
to secure the right which had been solemnly promised to every body.
That was not all. Our kith and Kin in the Diaspora have not fared better
either; the African-Americans in both South and North America have largely
been kept at the periphery of social and economic happenings in the New
World, economic and therefore political power by and large eluded them.
Those of us in
the home continent have had our energies sapped by struggle against racism
and battle for decolonization.
Our political burden has been replaced by economic yoke of a crippling debt
which continues to increase by compound interest no matter our efforts at
amortization .We have come to a situation where development has generally
grounded to where most Africans countries exist and live for debt repayment.
In spite of our grinding poverty, our continent has witnessed massive
capital transfer to the rich nations of the North in the past decade while
our people are reduced to economic serfs in their own countries.
For how long will our people continue this way without bringing down this
evil edifice of an unjust economic system imposed on the whole world to
benefit a fraction of mankind.
We Africans whether at home or in the Diaspora have suffered too much
largely because we are divided through the force and brutality of former
slave drivers and owners. A yawning chasm separated Africans at home from
their kith and kin abroad in the past.
The political struggle has largely been fought and won, the next thing now
is economic freedom and debt forgiveness. We demand an African Marshall plan
as the African Union (A.U.) to compensate for centuries of abuse and
neglect. We demand full equality peaceful and corporate co-existence for
Africans at home and abroad. We call on Europe and America to compensate us
for the untold hardship and exploitation to which we have been subjected to
in the past.
We make these demands because the exploitation of Africa during the colonial
rule further impoverished us and enhanced the development of the west. We
make this demand because it is in the interest of mankind because when
humanity suffers a little somewhere, all humanity suffers a little
everywhere and the
world must not continue like this with the vast majority under pain while a
few luxuriate in affluence.
Now is the time to make a fresh start; Europe and America must redress the
imbalance in their relation with Africa and Africans. It is time for
descendants of the oppressors and the oppressed to open a new chapter based
on mutually rewarded and beneficial relationships.
There is sufficient political realism to reinforce the momentum and justness
of our cause. We should summon and take that political decision to realize
the desired goal of full equality of the human family. We
can do it now and now is the time.
I am confident that the dynamism and dedication which propelled you to
achieve independence for your individual countries will continue to sustain
you in your efforts to build a united, strong and prosperous regional
geographical expression and guide our movement during our struggle for the
To be continued.