On this day, May 25, every year, the continent celebrates Africa Day.
But like many other such days, the point and history of the Africa Day celebration seems lost on many. Its origins can be traced back to April 15, 1958 – when the first Conference of Independent African States brought the fathers of Africa’s liberation movements together. At the time, there were few independent African states, but the few leaders in attendance – from Ghana, Ethiopia, Sudan, Liberia and others – were there as a collective platform to reject colonialism.
That meeting sowed the seeds of what would become the Organization of African Unity (OAU), later in 2001 renamed the African Union (AU), launched on May 25, 1963 by 32 free nations. Every year since, Africa Day has been celebrated on May 25.
As we celebrate Africa Day we should get back to the original message behind this day and figure out what it means today.
African unity is still a relevant and honourable goal, but making it practical means struggling against the things that divide us, weaken us.
If we truly cherish Africa’s freedom and unity, it’s impossible to accept a world order which is the full embodiment of the principles and objectives of a system that for centuries colonised, enslaved, looted our peoples and divided them.
As we celebrate Africa Day, let’s not forget that the AU, our people’s organisation that has put up the strongest fight, provided most support and resolutely defended the interests, the just causes and the struggles for national liberation in Africa has not yet seen the last of itself; it will never do.
If Africa’s freedom has to be meaningful, the United Nations must be reformed and democratised. The Security Council’s dictatorship must cease. The General Assembly’s rights should be acknowledged as it represents every state in the world. The Council should be expanded according to the UN present membership.
Likewise, the International Monetary Fund must be transformed and democratised. It should no longer be a worldwide political destabilising factor and a financial policeman for the interests of the powerful. No one should have the right to veto its decisions. Such principle should also be applied to the World Bank.
The World Trade Organization, should not through division and deceit, be an instrument of the cruel neo-liberal globalisation imposed on the world.
The acclaimed free movement of capital and commodities must also apply to that which must stand above all else: the human being. The persecution of immigrants must cease. Xenophobia must end, not solidarity.
Neo-liberal globalisation is rapidly destroying nature, poisoning the air and the waters, killing the forests, causing soil desertification and erosion, depleting and wasting the natural resources, changing the climate.
Development assistance is constantly reduced. It never reached the projected 0.7 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product and, as an average, it has decreased to 0.25 per cent; 0.2 per cent in the richest country. They want to turn us into an immense free zone with cheap labour force and not even taxes to pay.
No hopes for the children, the elders and the sick. And if the population of Africa perishes of AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, leprosy, coronavirus and tens of old and new diseases that is of no concern to the trans-national corporations and the blind market laws; what counts is the extraction of oil, gold, diamonds, platinum, copper, chrome, uranium and other valuable resources.
The economic blockades against the countries must cease. Depriving millions of people, including women, children and elders of food, medicine and the means to make a living is an extremely cruel act of terrorism, a real genocide.
And on this day, we cannot forget our Palestinian brothers and sisters and their struggles. The abuses and displacement of the downtrodden Palestinian people must cease. Peace should be given a chance.
The double standard and the double moral in international affairs must cease.
Hunger and poverty must be completely eradicated. The lack of teachers and schools, doctors and hospitals must cease.
The endless plundering caused by the foreign debt, which grows more with every payment thus preventing our development, should also cease.
Unequal exchange, as practiced by the conquerors with the natives purchasing gold with mirrors, marbles and European trinkets, must cease.
The debt accumulated by those who exploited us for so many centuries must be paid back.
The policy of luring our peoples to pursue the unsustainable life style of the consumer societies must cease.
The destruction of our national identities and our cultures must cease.
Many things must cease to exist but first disunity amongst ourselves must end as well as the ethnic conflicts between our peoples which should rather struggle for their development and their right to survive and to take the place they deserve in tomorrow’s world.
As Kwame Nkrumah wished and struggled for, one day we will not be separated by our ethnic origins, nor by national chauvinism or borders, rivers or and distances. We shall be, above all else, peoples that will unavoidably live in a globalised world, but a truly just, fraternal and peaceful world. That day will not come on its own, we must earn it by struggling.
Issued by Fred M’membe on behalf of the Politburo of the Socialist Party
Garden Compound, Lusaka