Archive for the ‘Africa’ Category

The Changing Realities of African States: Why the Bretton Woods Institutions Need Policy Re-alignment

By Morris Madut Kon, Kyoto, Japan


The true size of Africa


Monday, June 25, 2018 (PW) — In the aftermath of a devastating World War II, nations were left crippled by debts, overspending in acquisition of military hardware and hence barely able to stand on their feet. There was a desperate need for reconstruction and restoration of international trade flows. An urgent meeting dubbed United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference (better known as the Bretton Woods Conference- named after a US town in New Hampshire where talks took place) was convened between July 1st and 22nd, 1944, attended by representatives from 44 countries.

The United States delegation was headed by Henry Morgenthau and Harry White, the British delegation by Lord John Maynard Keynes. These two delegations directed the work of the Conference and their countries maintained a significant influence on the institutions. While most of the proposals initially put forth were ultimately abandoned, one of the them saw the light of the day, id est, the creation of the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and the IBRD (International Bank for Reconstruction and Development), otherwise known as World Bank. (more…)

As long as we live by the begging bowl, we shall be disrespected and insulted as Donald Trump did recently.

By DAVID NDII – Memo to shithole countries

In May 2000, The Economist carried a cover story, The Hopeless Continent. It said: “No one can blame Africans for the weather, but most of the continent’s shortcomings owe less to acts of God than to acts of man. These acts are not exclusively African—brutality, despotism and corruption exist everywhere—but African societies, for reasons buried in their cultures, seem especially susceptible to them.”

To blame Africa’s political woes to unfathomable cultural attributes is to me infinitely more offensive than Donald Trump’s rear end epithet.

The Economist states its mission as that of taking part in “a severe contest between intelligence, which presses forward, and an unworthy, timid ignorance obstructing our progress.” Racist bigotry is to be found even among the pillars of the western liberal establishment.

A decade later, in December 2011, the same journal carried another leader Africa Rising with the subtitle, The Hopeful Continent.  What had changed? The clever people at The Economist had noticed that Africa’s economies were growing fast, leading them to project like many other pundits, that Africa was on the cusp of an East Asia type economic transformation.  


A very rare and honest concession speech by the outgoing President John Mahama of Ghana after he was defeated in a presidential election by the opposition leader, President-elect Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party


The true size of Africa

December 11, 2016 (SSB) — “Good evening, my fellow countrymen and women. A few minutes ago, I made the most difficult phone call I have made, and may ever make, in my life: I called President-elect Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party to congratulate him on his well-fought and well-deserved victory in Wednesday’s election. The win has been emphatic. If anybody has reason to doubt the presidential results, the sheer magnitude of the defeat, which our parliamentary candidates have suffered, is the clearest indication that we have outlived our welcome.

Telling the world that I would graciously accept the outcome of the election was one thing, but confronting the stark reality of an electoral defeat is another harrowing experience altogether. But I had no option. The people of Ghana have said emphatically that they are taking away the power they gave to me four years ago, and I have no power to say no. Besides, I love the country that has given me the opportunity to serve in various capacities for nearly two decades and I will not do anything to undermine our democracy or threaten the peace we enjoy.


Casualties of Western “Neo-Imperialism” and African Weakness

Posted: November 24, 2016 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Africa, Junub Sudan

Please find my missive on the recent political happenings in the West and what lessons Africa should pick.


On the Casualties of Western “Neo-Imperialism” and African Weakness

18th November, 2016



The true size of Africa

November 24, 2016 (SSB) — In recent months, two western ruling groups have suffered defeat in the elections. Although it is not the culture of Africans to talk about other people’s “houses” (internal affairs of other people), I feel compelled to comment on the events in the USA, Britain and Hungary in recent times because they are somehow connected with Africa and the Middle East.

In the month of June, our friend David Cameron suffered a defeat in the UK in a Referendum as to whether to remain in the EU or not. In the month of October, the Government of Hungary called a Referendum against immigration to the chagrin of elements of the elite in Europe where the voters rejected the refugee policy of the EU and, recently, Mr. Trump won the election in the USA against our longtime friend, Hillary Clinton. Although Hillary won the popular vote, Mr. Trump won the Electoral College vote. That is their system which we must respect.


The founder of modern Zionism, the national movement of the Jewish people, was Theodore Herzl, and he said, “After I liberate the Jewish people, I will go to Africa to help liberate the black people.”


Israeli Prime Minister welcomes Comrade Lomayat into his office in Jerusalem

July 6, 2016 (SSB) — “This meeting I think will be a milestone, the meeting of seven leaders from African countries with Israel. I think it underscores the fact that we are in a monumental change in the relations between Israel and Africa, beginning here. It is warranted by the great changes that are taking place in the world. We at once have an enormous boost and jump towards development, towards the possibilities of this new century, with all the promises of technology; but at the same time, we have a savage medievalism that seeks to take all our societies back, to destroy them, destroy our freedoms and destroy our hopes.

So we at once have to do two things: Develop our countries into the future, and fight back the forces that want to take us to a dark past. And we can do this. I believe Israel is the perfect partner for the countries of Africa. I want to thank deeply all the Excellencies, the leaders who came here, again on short notice, to attend this summit. From our conversations, I think we put flesh on this structure. We believe it. It’s not something we say, lip service – we give lip service to. We believe it. We’ve begun to do it among our respective countries. But I believe that we see opportunities in expanding this to Africa as a whole.


By Tito Awen Bol, Eldoret, Kenya


The true size of Africa

April 7, 2016 (SSB)  —  Looking at all ends of Africa from the Horn of Africa to the Maghreb and from the Suez Canal to the Port of Good Hope in the far South; the continent is mired and tarnished by the dirty egos of tribalism, ethnicity, nepotism, cronyism and worse of all by corruption and bad governance from the kleptocrats of cronies and dictators who believe not in meritocracy. Wars are consuming the continent in length at all angles.  Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central Africa Republic, Libya and South Sudan are the living examples of Countries whose people are suffering while the leaders are scrambling for who and how to control resources and wealth.

Corruption is rocking the continent at all corners, from Nairobi to Abuja and from Accra to Johannesburg; there are latest cases that can represent the vice. Selective justice is the rule of the game in African judiciary services; Cairo, Tripoli and Khartoum stand a better chance of representing their political peers. Media and freedom of expression is crippled everyday; Eritrea, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Uganda are the chief examples in this category of political hell. Our ruling elites are always busy modifying the constitutions to suit them; fresh cases at hand are seen in Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and boringly in Uganda and Zimbabwe.


Kenya is a cruel marriage, it’s time we talk divorce

By DAVID NDII, Nairobi, Kenya


Do Not Confuse a Camouflaged Call for Confederation for Call Federalism

March 28, 2016 (SSB)  —-  A decade ago, Prof Bethuel Ogot, one of the country’s towering intellectuals, pronounced the “Kenya project” dead. Kenya has never been a more distant idea than it is now at the beginning of the 21st Century. Nationalism is dead, replaced by sub-nationalism. The tribe has eaten the nation. Few years ago, the country exploded into an orgy of political violence.

There may be some people who will be wondering why Prof Ogot is talking about Kenya in terms of projects and ideas. Is Kenya not a concrete reality, an internationally recognised sovereign state?

Although the notion of a nation as an idea is an old one, it is Benedict Anderson’s 1983 book Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism that offered the most cogent articulation of the concept, and in so doing shaped the contemporary study of nationalism.



The Aurora Prize Selection Committee on Tuesday announced four exceptional humanitarians chosen as finalists for the $1 million Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity aim to support the unsung heroes who reclaim humanity and stand up to such oppression and injustice

In a statement extended to PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers (SSB), Aurora Prize Co-Chairs George Clooney and Elie Wiesel joined the Selection Committee in congratulating finalists for the inaugural award.

March 17, 2016 (SSB)  —-  The four Aurora Prize finalists are Marguerite Barankitse, from Maison Shalom and REMA Hospital in Burundi; Dr. Tom Catena, from Mother of Mercy Hospital in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan; Syeda Ghulam Fatima, the General Secretary of the Bonded Labor Liberation Front in Pakistan; and Father Bernard Kinvi, a Catholic priest in Bossemptele in the Central African Republic.


Marol Ariech Mawien, Juba, South Sudan

The true size of Africa

The true size of Africa

September 7, 2015 (SSB)  —  The question above is difficult to be answer because many people might talk about Mamur Gaddafi being a dictator who doesn’t want to give leadership to others as many people are dying because of leadership, civilian killed, displace because of leadership in Africa as a curse.

Gaddafi, a man we lost, we Africans we will not get a man like him and Libyans are regretting today why they killed him because Libya today is different after Gaddafi his death, it has been divide up to 300 and above militia fighting each other, then if Gaddafi was killed because of democracy, what led to the fighting again after they have kill him?

Libyan citizens are always drown or sank in crossing sea to Europe looking for safe places the service that were provided to them by Mamur Gaddafi nobody has manage to provide since Gaddafi was killed because of democracy but why the democracy that he was killed was not achieve?

Gaddafi was a visionary leader of Africa not for Libya, Gaddafi like Dr John Garang these two great men, we will not, ever found them, because John Garang was having a vision of making Africa a great continent like other continents. The killing of Gaddafi was triggering by the enemies of Africa continent those who don’t want Africans to be independent like them.


July 29, 2015 (SSB)  — THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you so much. Madam Chairwoman, thank you so much for your kind words and your leadership.  To Prime Minister Hailemariam, and the people of Ethiopia — once again, thank you for your wonderful hospitality and for hosting this pan-African institution.  (Applause.)  To members of the African Union, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen — thank you for welcoming me here today.  It is a great honor to be the first President of the United States to address the African Union.  (Applause.) I’m grateful for this opportunity to speak to the representatives of more than one billion people of the great African continent.  (Applause.)  We’re joined today by citizens, by leaders of civil society, by faith communities, and I’m especially pleased to see so many young people who embody the energy and optimism of today’s Africa.  Hello!  Thank you for being here.  (Applause.) I stand before you as a proud American.  I also stand before you as the son of an African.  (Applause.)  Africa and its people helped to shape America and allowed it to become the great nation that it is.  And Africa and its people have helped shape who I am and how I see the world.  In the villages in Kenya where my father was born, I learned of my ancestors, and the life of my grandfather, the dreams of my father, the bonds of family that connect us all as Africans and Americans.


Africa and the ICC

Posted: June 16, 2015 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Africa, Commentary, Contributing Writers

By Natale Ngong

June 16, 2015 (SSB)  —  Bashir has evaded justice again in South Africa! There is no hope left that an African country can execute international arrest warrant because of the propaganda to which the ICC itself has been subjected. It is now clear that African heads of states and governments are pushing to form cartel of criminals who support themselves from range of threats, from domestic dissent to international sanctions.

They have common problems and interests topped by need to remain in power indefinitely. Their common problem is dissent within which at times involve, rebellion, uprising among others.

Democracy or human rights is almost becoming a taboo to mention as they are believed to be western terminologies which a true African should loath. The leaders on this continent are moving towards something very selfish and the citizens should not give them that opportunity!

The argument which always feature and used by many as a justification for antagonizing ICC is that it is targeting African. Really? Do we want the court to allocate number of culprits equally and proportionally to the rest of the world regardless of who did what?

It is laughable that Africans leaders instead asking why they fall victims of crimes against humanity, have decided to brand ICC as negative institution.

The ICC seems to target Africans in my opinion just because you don’t understand what human rights are and this is the part of the world where human suffering is unimaginable. Your weak, partial judicial system does provide justice to victims and the only remedy is ICC!

By the way, cases are dealt with individually and the question should always be whether you are guilty or not. Not why Bush or Netanyau is not issue a warrant too as if to say you ordered Janjaweed militia to attack Darfur women and children together with them.

The innocent citizens in Africa need ICC to protect them from ruthless regimes that care only for political loyalists. What is happening is not in the best interest of the Africans as people but a decision of those who have formed a cartel to fend themselves off from haunting ICC.

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Cabral at 90: Unity and struggle continue in Africa

By Dr. Ama Biney.*

Source: Pambazuka News.

In this special issue on Amilcar Cabral (photo) we seek to return to the life, writings, legacy, political, social, economic and cultural insights of this revolutionary figure whilst examining what he means to Africans and their struggles of today.

Amilcar Cabral would be 90 years old on 12 September 2014 if his life had not been cruelly cut short by reactionary forces on 20 January 1973. He was 49 years old at the time and therefore 20 January 2014 marks forty one years since his brutal assassination. Cabral risks becoming an obscure figure to new and younger generations not only in Africa but globally who are able to reel off sportsmen and women, musicians and celebrities, rather than revolutionary internationalist figures such as Cabral. Therefore in an attempt to reinsert Cabral into the consciousness of African people and progressive peace loving citizens around the world, Pambazuka News celebrates the short life, thought and contribution of this almost forgotten figure who was not only an agronomist, guerrilla fighter, but a poet and political theoretician committed to the unity of Africa and Africans.

Forty-one years since the assassination of Cabral, much has changed in the world and much has remained the same. Apart from Africa’s last colony of Western Sahara, the rest of Africa has achieved flag independence but remains economically enslaved to Western neoliberal capitalism whilst the majority of Africa’s people continue to live in wretched conditions. In studying Cabral’s life and writings they will give further inspiration to the present generation who face new conditions of a globalised world in which empire has reconfigured itself with African allies of imperialism and as globalised imperialism seeks to depoliticise ordinary people and disconnect them from African history. In returning to the writings and speeches of Cabral, we reconnect ourselves to a struggle devoted to genuine socio-economic and political transformation in Guinea Bissau which ordinary people were empowered to be subjects of history and reconstruct a new society. Revisiting this national liberation struggle should inspire us to do the same today.


In our times Cabral’s praxis, that is, theory combined with practice, remains relevant to progressive Africans, activists in social justice movements in Africa and around the world. His thoughts and practice can teach us something in our own specific struggles and concrete conditions of today. However, to this, Cabral, if he were alive today, is likely to have cautioned that: ‘rice is cooked inside the pot and not outside.’ This political principle and practice that he strongly upheld is beautifully conveyed in this African proverb. As the political theoretician he was, he insisted to militants of his Partido Africano da Independencia da Guiné e Cabo Verde (African Party of Guinea and Cape Verde, otherwise known as the PAIGC) that it was essential ‘to start out from the reality of our land – to be realists.’ To put it differently, he insisted that it was fundamental that the positive and negative, strengths and weaknesses of every reality had to be carefully evaluated on its own merits. He told PAIGC militants: ‘A very important aspect of a national liberation struggle is that those who lead the struggle must never confuse what they have in their head with reality.’ The correct diagnosis of a particular reality was for Cabral fundamental ‘so as to guide the struggle correctly.’ Moreover, he insisted that: ‘reality never exists in isolation,’ for the reality in Guinea and Cape Verde was integral to the reality of West Africa and with the reality of the world, ‘although there might be other realities between these.’


Cabral, like Frantz Fanon, was clear that the characteristic failure of post-independent Africa was the absence of ideology underlying the political programmes, policies and vision of political parties. At the Tricontinental conference, Cabral said:

‘The ideological deficiency within the national liberation movements, not to say the total lack of ideology – reflecting as this does an ignorance of the historical reality which these movements claim to transform – makes for one of the greatest weaknesses in our struggle against imperialism, if not the greatest weakness of all.’

To a group of African American militants in 1972, he said: ‘To have ideology doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to define whether you are communist, socialist, or something like this. To have ideology is to know what you want in your own condition.’

Neither did Cabral have pretensions to be Marxist or Leninist. When asked in 1971 by a European journalist to what extent Marxism and Leninism as an ideology had been relevant to the national liberation struggle of Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde, Cabral responded thus:

‘Moving from the realities of one’s own country towards the creation of an ideology for one’s struggle doesn’t imply that one has pretensions to be a Marx or a Lenin or any other great ideologist, but is simply a necessary part of the struggle. I confess that we didn’t know these great theorists terribly well when we began. We didn’t know them half as well as we do now. We needed to know them, as I’ve said in order to judge in what measure we could borrow from their experience to help our situation – but not necessarily to apply the ideology blindly just because it’s very good. This is where we stand on this.’

In short, we must take from Cabral that today’s progressive individuals and their movements must theorise out of their concretely lived situations of self-understanding within the context of their specific history. Yet, they must learn from the experiences of others, to the extent that the experiences of others are useful to them in finding solutions to socio-economic, political and ecological problems. In this way, for Cabral, theory and ideology were neither static nor dogmatic but both were in ceaseless and uncompromising efforts of open-ended reflection in relation to a particular reality and specific history.

At the first Tricontinental Conference in Havana in 1966, Cabral said: ‘It is useful to recall in this tricontinental gathering, so rich in experience and example, that no matter how close may be the similarity between cases and between the identities of our enemy, national liberation and social revolution are not for export. They are – and every day they become more so – the outcome of a local and national elaboration that is more or less influenced by external factors (favourable or not), but essentially is formed and conditioned by the historical reality of each people, and is carried to success by right solutions to the internal contradictions which arise in this reality.’


Much has been written on Cabral’s position on national liberation and culture and specifically that the national liberation struggle was a struggle to reclaim African culture; and yet how that cultural reality is dictated by economic conditions of underdevelopment. Whilst he acknowledged the strengths of ‘various African cultures,’ we should note Cabral recognised a plurality of African cultures. He also observed that ‘culture develops in an uneven process, at the level of a continent, a ‘race’ or even a society.’ He was a realist and a candid political theoretician in also pointing out the weaknesses of African culture. From 19-24 November 1969 he held a series of seminars for PAIGC cadres at which he said:

‘Our struggle is based on our culture, because culture is the fruit of history and it is a strength. But our culture is filled with weakness in the face of nature. It is essential to know this… Various comrades who are sitting here have an amulet at their waist, in the belief that this will allow them to escape Portuguese bullets. But not one of you can say to me that no one of the comrades who already died in our struggle had an amulet at his waist. They all had them! It is just that in our struggle we have to respect this, we have to respect this because we start out from reality.’

Cabral advanced to point out that such practices are also an ‘obstacle to the struggle’ which is also complex. In many parts of the African continent particular reactionary cultural practices and notions exist that impede socio-economic development. For example, in the wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone during the 1990s many soldiers wore amulets believing that they would protect them from injury and death from opposing militias. Similarly in some African countries albino individuals are murdered believing their body parts hold magical powers to be used in rituals. Today it is only the rapid and widescale advancement of education and science that can eradicate such pernicious ideas and practices.

Moreover, Cabral did not consider African cultures as sealed from other cultural influences. In his own words he said:

‘A people who free themselves from foreign domination will not be culturally free unless, without underestimating the importance of positive contributions from the oppressor’s culture and other cultures, they return to the upward paths of their own culture. The latter is nourished by the living reality of the environment and rejects harmful influences such as any kind of subjection to foreign cultures. We see therefore, that if imperialist domination has the vital need to practise cultural oppression, national liberation is necessarily an act of culture.’

Therefore, one of the many challenges confronting African people in our current globalised world is to critically evaluate aspects of the seemingly hegemonic nature of Western culture that is positive and negative. By internalising the harmful aspects of Western culture we continue to be unconsciously perpetuating our own oppression.

Cabral also identifies the fact that ‘political leaders – even the most famous – may be culturally alienated.’ There are African leaders today who use the slogan of culture to oppress others who are gay or lesbian by upholding heterosexism as the cultural norm and defining what is culturally acceptable and unacceptable for African women to wear, whether that is trousers or mini skirts.


Basil Davidson, the great British historian referred to Cabral as not only the ‘inspirer’ of the PAIGC but ‘its leader, its relentless critic: a man of unforgettable moral resonance and strength of purpose’ whom he met in 1960. Deplorably today Africa’s leadership lacks men and women of the integrity of the generation of the era of Mandela and Cabral. In Cabral’s address entitled, ‘Our Party and the Struggle must be led by the best sons and daughters of our people’ there are a number of ethical and political principles he outlines that remain relevant to political parties and social movements in Africa today. Cabral is outspoken in denouncing party militants who ‘have sought comfort, to flee from responsibilities, an easier life, to begin enjoying themselves, thinking that they already have independence in their grasp.’ He continues with this frankness when he says: ‘And we must throw out those who do not understand, however much it hurts us.’ He urges each individual to be vigilant ‘for the struggle is a selective process; the struggle shows us to everyone, and shows who we are.’ Inevitably struggles for social and political justice soon separate the wheat from the chaff; the politically sincere from the politically insincere, the politically honest from the politically dishonest. That is why he states that: ‘struggle is daily action against ourselves and against the enemy.’ This enemy now manifests in Africa in the form of a petty bourgeoisie who are Eurocentric in their aspirations and support neoliberal economic policies whilst colluding with outside interests in order to fulfil their own narrow class interests and power base. Therefore, at this present juncture in Africa’s history, progressive forces must be aware that this particular class in Africa is as detrimental to the interests of the African poor as are the forces of ‘stealth imperialism’ operating in the form of the IMF, World Bank, AFRICOM and various multi-lateral aid agencies.

Cabral identifies patriarchcal attitudes embedded in the views of some male militants within the party who resist women taking up their responsibilities as a problem. To cite him at some length:

‘A particular instance was the occasional stubborn, silent resistance to the presence of women among the leadership. Some comrades do their utmost to prevent women taking charge, even when there are women who have more ability to lead than they do. Unhappily some of our women comrades have not been able to maintain the respect and the necessary dignity to protect their position as persons in authority. They were not able to escape certain temptations, or at least to shoulder certain responsibilities without complexes. But the men comrades, some, do not want to understand that liberty for our people means that women as well must play a part, and that the strength of our Party is worth more if women join in as well to lead with the men. Many folk say that Cabral has an obsession about giving women leadership positions as well. They say: ‘Let him do it, but we shall sabotage it afterwards.’ That comes from folk who have not yet understood anything. They can sabotage today, sabotage tomorrow, but one day it will catch up with them.’

Cabral also castigates those male PAIGC commissars who prefer a woman to become a mistress instead of him helping her to become a doctor, teacher or soldier using the authority of the party to satisfy not only his own stomach but his lust. Today, despite the progress some African countries have made in the political representation of women in national assemblies such as South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi with women claiming over 30% of parliamentary seats, in many African universities and schools young girls and women continue to be subjected to sexual harassment and sex for grades as the sugar daddy phenomenon exists. Men in positions of power abuse these positions for sexual gratification and the perceived status and ego derived from such sexual exploitation.

Cabral urges opportunists within the Party to be unmasked and emphasises collective leadership in opposition to ‘the tendency of some comrades [is] to monopolise leadership just for themselves.’

Today this destructive monopolisation of leadership continues. Post-colonial Africa has witnessed waves of civil wars e.g. Liberia, Burundi, Rwanda, Somalia, Sierra Leone, the DRC, the CAR and currently in South Sudan, to name a few. These wars were clearly not guided by ethical or ideological principles in the conduct nor goals of the war. Civilians were hacked to death in many of these countries and women raped. Today in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Central African Republic (CAR), and in South Sudan, deaths and atrocities of African people continue with impunity as these conflicts make victims of innocent civilians.

Political leaders such as former Vice President of South Sudan, Riek Machar, who was sacked by President Salva Kiir in July 2013 does not abide by the rules of the political game and has resorted to violence for political ends. The ongoing conflict in South Sudan is a political rivalry of male egos that has been played out in many African countries since independence and has tragically resorted to each side resorting to their phallic guns as a means of resolution of their political ambitions to rule. Machar and war leaders in the CAR and the DRC are bereft of any noble political and ethical ideals that motivated Cabral’s generation. Meanwhile, it is stunning to know that in a country that is just over two years newly born, two and a half billion dollars of oil money has been stolen by South Sudanese officials and ministers. What kind of ethics underlies the behaviour of such individuals who deprive their citizens of life in medicine, functioning roads and a future through education? How is it possible to morally justify the use of children as child soldiers in Africa’s various past and on-going wars?


Clearly the watchwords of many of Africa’s leaders have been antithetical to those Cabral advocated. It could be argued that idealism infused Cabral’s political thought. He was clear that certain principles were essential to political work such as: ‘explain to the population what is happening in the struggle, what the party is endeavouring to do at any given moment, and what the criminal intentions of the enemy may be.’

Cabral was a dialectician in that he was sensitive to the contradictory character of human existence; he strived within himself and encouraged others to become better human beings. Hence he urged:

‘Educate ourselves, educate other people, the population in general, to fight fear and ignorance, to eliminate little by little the subjugation to nature and natural forces which our economy has not yet mastered. Convince little by little, in particular the militants of the Party, that we shall end by conquering the fear of nature, and that man is the strongest force in nature. Demand from responsible Party members that they dedicate themselves seriously to study, that they interest themselves in the things and problems of our daily life and struggle in their fundamental and essential aspect, and not simply in their appearance … Learn from life, learn from our people, learn from books, learn from the experience of others. Never stop learning.’

Many of the general watchwords of Cabral reveal his deep commitment to ethics. For example, he tells PAIGC members: ‘We must constantly be more aware of the errors and mistakes we make so that we can correct our work and constantly do better in the service of our Party. The mistakes we make should not dishearten us, just as the victories we score should not make us forget our mistakes.’

He evokes Gramsci’s ‘pessimism of the intellect and optimism of the will’ when he pronounces the following:

‘So in the light of favourable prospects for our struggle, we must study each problem thoroughly and find the best solution for it. Think in order to act and act in order to be able to think better. We must as always face the present and the future with optimism, but without losing sight of realities and particularly of the special difficulties of our struggle. We must always bear in mind and carry out the watchwords of our Party: hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst.’


Cabral’s watchwords have a pertinence in our times for we must ‘know well our own strength and the enemy strength.’ Most important of all his watchwords and relevance for our times is the need for Africans to foster the principle and practice of criticism and self-criticism with integrity. In his own words:

‘Develop the spirit of criticism between militants and responsible workers. Give everyone at every level the opportunity to criticize, to give his opinion about the work and behaviour of the action of others. Accept criticism, wherever it comes from, as a contribution to improving the work of the Party, as a demonstration of active interest in the internal life of our organisation.’

The failure to destroy the colonially inherited institutions of the state is one of the principal failures of post-independent political parties, [38] but equally disastrous has been the failure to practice and nurture democratic values among multi-ethnic communities in the forging of a new and tolerant Africa. Consequently, during the post-colonial period and currently, this lack of democratic tolerance and inclusivity has given rise to many examples of ethnic cleansing, communal tensions, extremism in the form of Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab, genocide and xenophobia in various parts of Africa.

Cabral’s intimate knowledge of Guinea through his work as an agronomist put him directly in touch with many of the country’s ethnic groups such as the Fulas, Balantes, Manjaco, Mandinga, Baiote, Beafada, Saracole, Mancanha, Bijago, Sosso. He believed that whilst there were economic, social and cultural differences among these diverse groups, they could unite around principles and interests. This belief led him to wage a struggle to unify the islands of Cape Verde with mainland Guinea. His belief in unity of his country was amplified to the rest of the continent in founding the Conference of Nationalist Organisations of Portuguese territories (CONCP) in 1961 which incorporated Angola and Mozambique. This organisation worked for the independence of all the former Portuguese colonial territories. His Pan-Africanist convictions are also revealed in his informal talk with over 120 African Americans in 1972 where he connects the struggles of people of African descent to those in Africa. Cabral’s honesty is evident here in the manner he answers the questions put to him by his audience. He also tells them that as they ‘become conscious of their responsibilities to the struggle in Africa’ it does not mean they all have to leave America and ‘go fight in Africa’. He says to his audience:

‘That is not being realistic in our opinion. History is a very strong chain. We have to accept the limits of history but not the limits imposed by the societies where we are living. There is a difference. We think that all you can do here is to develop your own conditions in the sense of progress, in the sense of history and in the sense of the total realization of your aspirations as human beings is a contribution to us. It is also a contribution for you to never forget that you are Africans.’

His brutal honesty is also seen in his interaction with the African Americans when he is asked about the role of women in the struggle for liberation. Cabral responds by pointing out the differences in Fula society in which a woman is considered to be like a piece of property; in Balante society where women are not owned and other matriarchcal societies. He points out that whilst the PAIGC has made great achievements, there remains much to be done. This is Cabral’s candid view on the question of the oppression of women:

‘We are very far from what we want to do, but this is not a problem that can be solved by Cabral signing a decree. It’s all part of the process of transformation, of change in the material conditions of the existence of our people, but also in the minds of the women, because sometimes the greatest difficulty is not only in the men but in the women too.’

In short, Cabral is correct in identifying that patriarchcal ideology has also been internalised by women who also resist change as many men may do and this gravely complicates overhauling the status quo of gender relations.


Cabral’s Pan-Africanism also had an internationalist dimension for he believed that racism ‘is not eternal in any latitude of the world. It is the result of historical and economic conditions. And we cannot answer racism with racism. It is not possible.’ In his ‘Message to the People of Portugal’ broadcast in 1969, he made clear that a distinction needed to be made between the people of Portugal and Portuguese colonialism. He called for fraternal cooperation with the people of Portugal. He appealed to them to oppose the slaughter of their own sons in a continued war; he thanked the Portuguese people who had recently participated in demonstrations against Portugal’s colonial wars. Cabral’s humanism towards prisoners of war is revealed when he states: ‘We consider that a prisoner-of-war deserves respect, because he is giving his life, whether or not the cause he is fighting for is just.’

In his address to African Americans he acknowledged the support from the countries making up the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) as well as moral, political, and material support from the Soviet Union and China.

In regards to aid, he was blunt in stating that: ‘we let each people give us the aid they can, and we never accept conditions with the aid.’ If Cabral had lived, it would have been interesting to see how he would have navigated the entanglement of conditionalities of donor countries and multi-lateral aid agencies which many African countries have failed to escape from in the last 50 years of so-called independence. In the late 1960s Cabral was uncompromising on aid and volunteers, for he said to Basil Davidson: ‘We want no volunteers… We shall turn them back if they present themselves. Foreign military advisers or commanders, or any other foreign personnel, are the last thing we shall accept. They would rob my people of their one chance of achieving a historical meaning of themselves: of reasserting their own history, of recapturing their own identity.’ Perhaps it is the case that among the army of Western and African development consultants in the various NGO outfits and personnel up and down the African continent, many also rob Africans of the chance of ‘reasserting their own history, of recapturing their own identity’ today?

Since the decade of the 1970s Africa has received billions of dollars of aid which has instead maintained client regimes of one kind or another in Africa with little regard to whether these regimes were providing a decent living for their citizens with the funds allegedly allocate to ‘aid’ these countries.

The issues of identity and dignity that Cabral wrote about are reflected in other struggles around the world apart from the African continent. In Brazil and Columbia, just to give two examples among many, struggles by indigenous people to remain on their land as logging and new highways and dams are built are destroying the livelihood of indigenous people. That land is intimately tied to a people’s identity and dignity was profoundly understood by Cabral. If he were alive today he would certainly identify with the struggle of the indigenous Awa, a group of nomadic hunter gathers who are threatened in Marahao state in Brazil by loggers encroaching on their land and the hundreds of African communities who have been dispossessed of their land through land deals to foreign investors by neo-colonial African governments.


The vast majority of African people continue to struggle on the continent despite the myth of an ‘Africa is rising’ narrative. African people continue to fight against GMOs, land deals, unfair mining practices and oil extraction that leaves ecological pillage and plunder in communities; against unfair working conditions; and for human rights. As Cabral poignantly pointed out in one of his oft repeated quotes:

‘Always remember that the people do not struggle for ideas, for things in the heads of individuals. The people struggle and accept the sacrifices demanded by the struggle, but in order to gain material advantages, to be able to live a better life in peace, to see their lives progress and to ensure their children’s future.’

The revolt in Guinea Bissau that turned into a revolution led by the PAIGC in 1956 was inextricably tied to the creation of new socio-economic structures. “Build the revolution as you fight” was both the slogan and concrete practice of the PAIGC. Consequently the mobilised masses of people of Guinea Bissau together with the PAIGC built alternative schools, clinics and engaged in economic programmes throughout the liberated areas as the beginnings of the new type of society they wished to live in.

In this Pambazuka special issue on Cabral, we have a number of articles that examine the impact of Cabral’s legacy on the Black Liberation Movement; revisit his ‘weapon of theory’; evaluate Cabral’s position on imperialism, neo-colonialism, Pan-Africanism, socialist revolution and cultural politics. They are by no means an exhaustive evaluation of Cabral’s political and social thought. However, they are a small contribution to the much needed celebration and reflection on his critical relevance for Africans today.

*Ama Biney (Dr) is a scholar-activist and Acting Editor-in-Chief of Pambazuka News.


Africa: a continent drenched in the blood of revolutionary heroes

Between 1961 and 1973, six African independence leaders were assassinated by their ex-colonial rulers, including Patrice Lumumba of Congo, who was killed 50 years ago today

Patrice Lumumba, prime minister of newly independent Congo, was the second of five leaders of independence movements in African countries to be assassinated in the 1960s by their former colonial masters, or their agents.

A sixth, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, was ousted in a western-backed coup in 1966, and a seventh, Amilcar Cabral, leader of the west African liberation movement against Portugal of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde, (Partido Africano da Independência da Guiné e Cabo Verde or PAIGC) in Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde, was assassinated in 1973.

Lumumba’s death in 1961 followed on from that of the opposition leader of Cameroon, Felix Moumie, poisoned in 1960. Sylvanus Olympio, leader of Togo was killed in 1963. Mehdi Ben Barka, leader of the Moroccan opposition movement was kidnapped in France in 1965 and his body never found. Eduardo Mondlane, leader of Mozambique’s Frelimo, fighting for independence from the Portuguese, died from a parcel bomb in 1969.

The loss 50 years ago of this group of leaders, who all knew each other, and had a common political project based on national dignity, crippled each of their countries, and the African continent. The effects are still evident today.

Ben Barka and Cabral were revolutionary theoreticians – as significant as Frantz Fanon and Che Guevara. Their influence reverberated far beyond their own continent. At the 1966 Tricontinental Conference in Havana, organised by Ben Barka before his death, Cuban leader Fidel Castro’s closing speech referred to “one of the most lucid and brilliant leaders in Africa, Comrade Amílcar Cabral, who instilled in us tremendous confidence in the future and the success of his struggle for liberation.”

The Third World Movement, challenging the economic and political world dominance of the colonial powers, the US, and the neocolonial leaders favoured by the west, would have two short decades of ambition and optimism despite the long shadow of its great leaders’ deaths.

Today, it is impossible to touch down at the (far from modernised) airport of Lubumbashi in the south of the Democratic Republic of Congo – in 1961 known as Elizabethville, in Congo (then renamed Zaire) – without a shiver of recollection of the haunting photograph taken of Lumumba there shortly before his assassination, and after beatings, torture and a long, long flight in custody across the vast country which had so loved him. This particular failure of the United Nations to protect one man and his two colleagues was every bit as significant as that in Srebrenica in 1995, when 8,000 men and boys were killed.

Lumumba’s own words, written to his wife just four months after the exhilaration of independence day in the capital Kinshasa are a reminder of who he was and why he meant so much to so many people then, and still does today.

“Dead, living, free, or in prison on the orders of the colonialists, it is not I who counts. It is the Congo, it is our people for whom independence has been transformed into a cage where we are regarded from the outside… History will one day have its say, but it will not be the history that Brussels, Paris, Washington, or the United Nations will teach, but that which they will teach in the countries emancipated from colonialism and its puppets… a history of glory and dignity.”

Lumumba would not have been surprised that his successor, Joseph Mobuto was the US strategic ally in Africa for 30 years. Congo was too rich, too big, and too important for the west to lose control as they would have had Lumumba lived.

How ironic that Mobuto was succeeded by Laurent Desire Kabila, whose 10th anniversary of assassination, by his own guards, falls just one day before Lumumba’s? (There are conflicting reports as to the exact date of Kabila’s death, a good overview can be found here).

Kabila came to power in 1997 as the useful figurehead of the armies of Rwanda, Uganda, and Angola. He trailed some historical legitimacy from his involvement in one of the rebellions against Mobuto, inspired by Lumumba’s death. Che Guevara was then, in 1965, deep in his second-last catastrophic attempt to change the world, working then from his concept of Lumumba’s Congo.

When Kabila sprang from obscurity in 1997 as leader of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Che’s African diaries from eastern Congo had not yet been published, with the acid comment, “I know Kabila well enough not to have any illusions about him.”

In Kabila’s first chaotic weeks in power in 1997, the great Tanzanian leader, Julius Nyerere visited Kinshasa and addressed the new and unformed leadership. “There are no uncles any more for Congo, do not wait for them to come and help you – the country is yours and you must take the responsibility for it and for your people,” he said.

As one of those present told me: “They did not like Nyerere’s speech, they could not wait to use their new power to make allies with foreign businessmen and get rich themselves – just like the others.” But Lumumba’s ideas are still alive, and he himself had no illusions that the road to dignity for his people would be extremely long.

By Apioth Mayom Apioth, USA

Darfur: Genocide in the 21st century

Darfur: Genocide in the 21st century

March 1, 2015 (SSB) — The latest episode of the Darfur Problem is the erection of concentration camp-like “model villages,” funded by the lush stash of Qatar. The Sudanese government’s forces have set up military bases on the outskirts, where they bulldoze through these makeshift residential homes to torture men and rape women and girls with impunity.

“The sexual violence has no military objective; rather, it is a tactic of social control, ethnic domination and demographic change. Acting with impunity, government forces victimize the entire community. Racial subordination is also an underlying message, as non-Arab groups are singled out for abuse,” said George Clooney, John Prendergast and Akshaya Kumar on a recent New York Times article titled, “George Clooney on Sudan’s Rape of Darfur.”

The Sudanese Arabs have their origins in the present day Saudi Arabia – Yemen area. They first came to the Sudan as salt traders. Entrepreneurship gave them the leverage to organize, and with this powerful weapon, the power vacuum easily fell into their hands after the Anglo- Egyptian colonial rule came to an end in the Sudan. Knowing who they were, they went on rampaging campaigns to make sure that all non-Arab ethnic groups were left out of the wealth sharing and developmental agendas.

And so the struggles for the many diverse black ethnic groups began. South Sudan, which was formerly known as Southern Sudan, began its campaigning for its share of the pie in the 1940s; a long struggle that culminated in the secession of that region from Sudan in 2011. On the flip side of the coin, Darfur began it rebelling campaigns against the Sudanese government in the early 2000s, citing lack of development and governmental neglect as to why they took up arms. Ever since their first assertion of their rights as equal citizens of Sudan through armed-struggle, the Darfur rebels seemed to be gaining ground against the government forces; the major setback has been time.

The longer the time dragged on, the more the rebel group splinter into smaller less powerful ones. In addition, many Darfuri work in the very same government which is ill-intent to push them off their ancestral lands. Why can all Darfuri people pull their resources together first before thinking of living a settled life? The Darfur people lack someone who can unite all struggling forces and create a united front.

And the one person who could have put an end to all the ethnicity problem in the Sudan was the late Dr. John Garang of Southern Sudan. He was the chief architect who led the Southern Sudanese rebels principally known as the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/SPLA) for twenty two years; whose fruits garnered the secession of South Sudan from Sudan in 2011. He knew that the Sudanese problem had little to with religion but rather much to with ethnicity.

The Sudan had always housed a large population of Muslims; and yet the ruling Sudanese Arab minority had always held back to share the wealth and political power of the country. Many parts comprising of Eastern Sudan, Darfur, the Nuba Mountains, the Blue Nile and even Southern Sudan had its own small percentage of Muslim population; the government made sure to never pass any resource allocation to the black ethnic groups of Sudan.

Apioth Mayom Apioth

Apioth Mayom Apioth

Dr. John Garang thought that for Sudan to be totally free from the ethnic politics of the Sudanese Arab; a total removal of their political power through armed struggle was the best alternate route. After his initial installment as the First Vice President of Sudan, he garnered a big following in tens of millions all over Sudan, and just as he was about to realize the dream of a land, totally free from ethnic bigots; he mysteriously disappeared in a helicopter crash on July 30th, 2005. His dream was never kept alive after his demise.

A little over a decade ago, the world’s attention shifted to Darfur when the Sudanese military, along with its affiliated Arab-Janjaweed militias were found to have committed acts of genocidal ethnic cleansing against the Darfur people. Now after the Sudanese government has sensed the world has its hands full with conflicts with ISIS’s terrorism and political strife in Ukraine; it has gotten back to uprooting the Darfur people as well as the rebelling Nuba Mountains and the Blue Nile.

After the secession of South Sudan, the Sudanese were left with no oil reserves; two years ago there was a discovery of gold reserves in Darfur; now the Sudanese government wants the big belly’s share of that find. The Sudanese’s army forces go about razing down one village after another; once the villagers of these homes disperse, it solicits to house them in its military-controlled “model villages,” and while the military lie on the outskirts of these villages, it systemically goes about torturing men and unleashing sexual violence on women and girls.

The Sudanese government has also succeeded to thwart off journalists’ access to Darfur; and both the UN and AU peacekeeping missions’ offices have been shut down in Khartoum. By giving themselves free reign, they can easily commit the gravest atrocities with no one to hold them accountable.

The Sudanese government is systemically disrupting the social fabric of the Darfur people. By forcing them to live fragmentary and depressed lifestyles; these acts will eventually affect their ability to live meaningful lives, even leading to substantial infertility problems on both men and women. The men’s bodies are constantly in harm’s way and the women’s reproductive parts are time and time again being forcefully hammered to the worst extent possible.

These barbaric meticulous calculations are bound to greatly reduce the population of Darfur people in years to come. Black women have always faced the harshest wretched circumstances in history. During the slavery days in the Deep South, they were the play-vassals for the white men to flex their scourge of White Power. Flash forward to the 21st century, they are still under slavery in the West African country of Mauritania, where the Arab Berbers rape them at their whims.

Up north from South Sudan, in Darfur, the Sudanese army’s forces are once again wreaking violence on them: This time they are using the black women to replace the Negro race with their own kind. In the foreseeable future, when equality finally reaches its climax apex, what are the black women going to ask themselves? That their own brothers didn’t do enough to stop this monstrositic treatment? No matter how powerless we are against the moneyed petroleum of the Middle East: We don’t need to waste any moment at all, we should at least stand our ground until our own economic might reaches somewhere.

Darfur, the Nuba Mountains, the Blue Nile and the West African country of Mauritania, where up to 140, 000 blacks are still under the chains of slavery from the Arab Berbers, are few of the remaining places on earth where black people haven’t still gotten their full practicalities of civil liberties, and be able to think through what they can do with their lives and live according to their own terms. The injustice being faced by a black person, whether he/she lives in Mauritania or Darfur is an injustice to every black person that walks the earth.

The black person whose live is being dehumanized on any part of the world is no different from a black person who owns a cement company in Nigeria, or a black person who happily conducts wedding ceremonies in Malawi; all originated from one family tree: The black race. There is no black person who in his/her right mind would feel at ease at an injustice being committed at his/her fellow member, who was molded from the same family tree.

Among all the places where blacks are still under the chains of discriminating persecution; Darfur is one place among the rest, where our very own Darfuri are still struggling tremendously to be a force of deterrence. The only hope we are wishing to come sooner rather than later is the economic development which is sweeping through sub-Saharan Africa at a promising rate, although not fast enough to bring major changes to our ills and mistreatments. If we had a greater economic might, these sorts of mistreatments would automatically free themselves.

The petrodollars of Middle East are also fueling political instabilities in places such as Darfur, Northern Nigeria, where Boko Haram reigns supreme and, of course Kenya, where Al Shabab crosses over from Somalia to create hell out of a nation with lofty ambitions. In recent decades, China and Russia have had shady trade deals with rogue states such as the Sudan; but that doesn’t compare with lush funds which the Middle East freely hand to Sudan.

The Middle East has been supporting all the successive regimes in Sudan since the days when Southern Sudanese were exerting their armed struggle. Our magical wish would be to see an end to the rapid drying up of the oil wells in the Middle East.

Countries comprising of Ethiopia and Somalia had a history of enslavement and trade in human flesh. They imprisoned black Africans to the institution of slavery based on the differences they saw at the time: We had full lips; flat noses; short Afro hair; and muscular bodies. They had the long Asian hair and lanky skinnier bodies. Contemporary Somali and Ethiopians are spread out all over sub-Saharan Africa, roughing noses with the very same people they used to push to harm’s way.

When other black Africans ask them about their origins, they scream out aloud, “We are blacks! There is nothing more to add to that.” The wind of change is underway. We are in the last days of having our people being push from one thorny enclave to another phantasmagoric inferno. Every single day that comes to past, a brand new chapter is written into the history books; after everything is done with, history will be our undeniable witness. We don’t have to pressure the Arab-led governments of Sudan and Mauritania to do what is right; there will come a time when they will come knocking at our doorsteps asking for help.

It is better for these ethnocentric governments to stop their further marginalization of the blacks right now rather than later, because failing to do so will further entrench greater belligerent animosities between the two racial groups, which could further jeopardize reconciliatory missions to repair communal relations.

The Sudanese army’s forces are an experienced seasoned bunch; they came out of a 22-year civil war with South Sudan, which ended in 2005. Any opponent of theirs, need not make a lot of mistakes, because they will hit them hard at any sluggish sloppiness. Meanwhile despite how disorganized the Darfuri rebels are, they should keep standing their ground until the world’s attention shift back to their way. The South Sudanese garnered their independence through sustained and disciplined relentless organized fighting force.

Darfur, however, is a region of less economic important. There is not much that can interest many rent-seeking investors. Even if the whole world forgets about Darfur, the blacks should be the last people to do so. The Darfuri yearns for whatever help they can get: personnel, rations, provisions of logistics; and military intelligence.


Clooney, George. Prendergast, John. Kumar, Akshaya. (2015, February 25). George Clooney on Sudan’s Rape of Darfur. Retrieved from

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Africa’s Worst Tragedy: Economic Disorientation – A Case of South Sudan!

Posted: February 26, 2015 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Africa

This is a speech by Patrick Loch Otieno Lumumba, commonly referred to as Prof. PLO Lumumba, a Kenyan national and a former Director of Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission from September 2010 to August 2011. He is currently the Director of The Kenya School of Law. Extracted by Deng Lueth Yuang for general information purpose ONLY.

Africa’s Worst Tragedy: Economic Disorientation – A Case of South Sudan! When I look at Africa,

Many times, I ask myself, “What would happen if Mwalimu were to rise up and see what is happening?”

Many times, I would ask myself, “What would happen if Kwame Nkruma and Patrice Lomumba were to rise up and see what is happening?”

Because what they would be confronted with is an Africa where the Democratic Republic of Congo is unsettled. There is a war going on there. But is not on the front pages of our newspapers, because we don’t even control our newspapers and the media. As I speak to you, the Central African Republic is at war. But we talk of it only mutedly. As I speak to you now, in South Sudan, the youngest nation in Africa, the Nuers have risen against the Dinka. As I speak to you now, Eritrea is unsettled. As I speak to you now, there is unease in Egypt and there is unease in Libya, in Niger it is no better, in Senegal in the Casamance. In Somalia, is no better. Africa is at war with herself. This is what they would be confronted with.

They would be confronted with an Africa which statisticians and romantic economists said it is growing but which in truth is stagnated. That is the Africa they would be confronted with.

They would be confronted with an Africa, which Prof Mulama intimated in her presentation here is an Africa, which is suffering from Schizophrenia. It does not know herself. They would be confronted with an Africa whose young men and women have no interest and no love for their continent.

They would be confronted with an Africa where a young man and young woman are constantly humiliated at the embassies of European countries and at the United States of America as they seek the almighty green card.

They would be confronted with an Africa where young men and women from Niger, Nigeria Senegal, Mali and Mauritania drown in the Mediterranean as they seek to be enslaved in Europe. This time around, Africans are not wailing and kicking as they are being taken away to be enslaved. They are being seen wailing and kicking as they seek to be enslaved in Europe and America.

This is the tragedy of Africa. They would be confronted with an Africa where people have lost their self-pride. An Africa where Africans are not proud of their things.

An Africa where in the hotels of Dar es Salaam or Nairobi, even food has foreign names. When we fry potatoes, we call them French fries even when they are fried in Dar es Salaam. That is the Africa that they would be confronted with. They would be confronted with another Africa , an Africa that does not tell her histories. An Africa whose story is told by Europe and America – the CNN, Radio deutsche welle, radio France. That is the Africa they would be confronted with.

They would be confronted with young men and women who have no pride in Africa. When they want to enjoy themselves, they sing the praises of football teams from Europe and America – it is Manchester United; it is Arsenal; it is Real Madrid and Barcelona!

Not Yanga, not Mvulira Wanderers, not GorMaiah, not FC Leopards. Nooo. That is an Africa they would be confronted with.
They would be confronted with an Africa which does not enjoy its theatres and dramas. An Africa that celebrates Leorando DiCaprio

It Celebrates AnelinaJoli and Brad Pitt. An Africa that does not celebrate Genevieve Naiji of Nigeria, or Isa Dominic or Olou Jacobs of Nigeria.

It does not celebrate Bongowood, or Nollywood, or Riverwood. It celebrates Hollywood. That is the Africa with which they would be confronted. They would be confronted with African women whose greatest source of joy is cheap great been Mexican bean soap opera – la Fatrona, la merdamivena, the de rich de la cray.

Why must we remind ourselves of these realities? Because throughout out the ages, the battle has been always the battle of the mind. And if your mind is conquered, then you are going nowhere. And that is why in the ages of enlightenment, the great Rene Descartes said “Kijitohigo sum’ – I think therefore I am;

And therefore if Africans are to begin to make a contribution in their affairs, Africans must begin to think. But the question is: are we thinking?

We have universities in their numbers. Tanzania has universities including Dar es Salamm. Nairobi has universities as indeed Kampala as indeed South Africa, Johannesburg.

We have all these universities.

We have engineers. But our roads are not being made by Tanzanian civil engineers. It is the Chinese who are present in this assembly who are making our roads. So we have engineers who cannot even make roads. We have doctors whom we have trained. But when we are sick, particularly if we are of the political class, depending on who colonized you – if you are colonized by the United Kingdom, you rush to London. If the French colonizes you, you rush to Paris, if you are colonized by the Portuguese, you rush to Lisbon and if you are colonized by Spaniard, you rush to Madrid, Spain.

And recently because the Asians are beginning to get their act together, we run to India. And very lately because the Arabs are also beginning to get their act together, we run to Dubai; not withstanding that we have the Kenyattas hospitals of this country, the Mwimbilis of Tanzania, the Kiris-Honeys-Baragwonats of South Africa, and the Mama Yemos of Kinshasa in Zaire or Democratic Republic of the Congo. But we have no faith in our doctors. In the area of education, we also don’t have faith.
Our political class introduced something that they call free education.

But it is free indeed, free of knowledge.

Because they are so suspicious of those institutions, the typical African politician would not dare take their children to those schools.

Their children will be educated in the British System, in the America system so that when they graduate they go to the united kingdom, to the united states; not that there is anything wrong with those institutions but their agenda is wrong because our leaders long lost the script and often describe for whom they are, our misleaders.

But we are co-authors of our own misfortunes.

Whenever we are given an opportunity to elect our leaders, we are given a blank cheque. And if you permit me a little latitude, and if you give me a blanket cheque and you allow me to analogise and you say that I am given the blanket cheque to buy a Mercedes Benz, what we do is that when we are called upon having been so empowered, we buy what one calls a ‘tutktuk’ from India and expect it to behave like a Mercedes Benz!

How does that happen? Because what we do is to elect thieves; we elect hyenas to take care of goats; and when the goats are consumed, we wonder “why?”

Cautious Optimism: A Realistic Approach to African Development

Yale Journal of International Affairs: You are here at Yale to deliver the Coca-Cola World Fund Lecture entitled “Afro-Optimism, Has the Pendulum Swung Too Far?” Could you describe for us what you mean by the pendulum swinging too far, and is it necessarily a negative thing to be optimistic about Africa?

Raila Odinga: This is an interesting subject. African experts are divided between those who call themselves Afro-pessimist and Afro-optimists. There was a time when there was a lot of pessimism about Africa—it was a “hopeless case”, a “basket case”. There was really no need to waste time on Africa; people were just going there to sympathize. On the other hand, the optimists are those who believe in the ability of Africa to develop—Africans can develop Africa. There has been a divide between these two views. Optimists now believe they are right, that this really is Africa’s time. The 21st century is going to be “Africa’s Century.” Even those who were pessimistic yesterday, are being convinced that here is something happening. So the question is, how far has Africa gone? Are we celebrating too early? That is the reason why we are asking, “has the pendulum swung to far?”

YJIA: In the 50s and 60s, many people were talking about “Africa emerging.” Today they are talking about “Africa rising”, but the language and rhetoric seems to be the same. So what is different this time, and are we simply going to be saying the same things in 30 or 40 years time?

RO: Looking at Africa’s history, first we have the independence years—when Africa divided from colonial rule. There were a lot of expectations from the moment the colonial flags went down and were replaced by the new independent flags of each country. There was an aura of celebration. It was short-lived however, and there followed a period of stagnation. A period of military coups and single-party dictatorships, these characterized politics in most of the 70s, 80s, and 90s—you could say up to the fall of the Berlin Wall. When the Berlin Wall fell, and the “winds of change” started to blow in Eastern Europe, this wind also began to blow on the African continent. So that is when the new changes came. First, the military regimes where removed or overthrown by popular uprising, and the same thing happened to the single party dictatorships. As we say, multiparty rule became in vogue during most of the 90s and into the year 2000. The change during this period was seen in term of development. Most economies—which had been more or less dependent on aid and had registered negative growth—began to register substantial growth. In the past decade, the African continent has become the fastest growing part of the world. You can see now that: out of the ten fastest growing economies in the world, seven are African. And a number of those countries are registering double digits in growth. Africa is the “last frontier” of human development. That is the difference. If you look at the independence period, there was a lot of optimism but this led to a period of stagnation and dictatorship. So we can say now that this the second liberation.

YJIA: Regarding development, it would be interesting to hear your thoughts on what is now a very fashionable question—that of China’s involvement on the continent. Do you think that African governments are doing enough to ensure that this relationship is not one of exploitation? After the Chinese leave, will Africa be able to maintain the infrastructure that has been left?

RO: Whenever China is mentioned, I always say China is the elephant in the room. It evokes different feelings in different people’s minds. Sometimes fear, trepidation of course—over-excitement. I would say that China is in Africa not just to help Africa, but primarily for China’s own strategic interests. This is logical; every country acts for its own strategic, national interests. So China is coming as a friend, but I know that China, of course, is interested in Africa’s raw materials. Now the question has always been: what is Africa getting in return? Is Africa getting value for its goods and products to China? I say that every nation must strike a bargain in dealing with China, especially knowing that China is acting in its own interests. Therefore each and every project must be negotiated to present the most viable commercial terms for Africa. China cannot just come to fill a vacuum—a vacuum that was left there by the West, the traditional partners of Africa for many years. The West pulled away from some of the strategic areas like infrastructure development. China however is helping Africa to construct roads, railways, airports, and so on. In exchange, it is getting Africa’s raw materials which it needs for its own industries. It’s getting the iron ore, copper, bauxite, oil, gas, and so on and so forth. So I would say that first there has to be value addition, and second there has to be technological transfer. This is so that when the Chinese leave ultimately, they don’t just leave this rotting infrastructure on the ground. It must be a sustainable development, so that people are not only able to sustain what has been developed but they can continue that process of development.

YJIA: Let us turn the conversation to Kenya and politics in Kenya in general. You are the leader of the opposition at the moment. What do you see your role is as leader of the opposition in a country like Kenya?

RO: As you know, the opposition is a coalition, CORD—“Coalition for Reform and Democracy”—consisting of 3 political parties. We had a pre-election pact to vie for the presidency as a coalition, which we did not win. We then made a post-election pact to create a strong opposition, both in parliament and out of it. In parliament, we have members in both the National Assembly and in the Senate and we have minority leadership in both. We have also got the whip. We ensure that our team in parliament keeps the government on its toes by making contributions to bills and motions and by presenting some legislation ourselves. Outside [parliament], I lead the coalition, and here of course, I ensure that the parties themselves are strong and organized. We ensure that they keep in contact with the membership on the ground and that the policies are being implemented correctly. As you know, we now have a devolved system on the ground. We have 47 counties and 24 of these are governed by the coalition, so we must ensure that these county governments are actually working and implementing the policies of our coalition, and that people are getting the services that were promised to them in our manifesto.

YJIA: With regard to devolution, you are now pushing for a referendum [to change certain aspects of the constitution] in Kenya. How much of this push for the referendum ties in to your role as leader of the opposition?

RO: Our main role is to make sure that the coalition is relevant. Secondly, we need to ensure that the government is actually delivering to the people the promises they made during the electoral campaigns. In the process of this a number of weaknesses and challenges have arisen and become apparent with the devolved system of government. One is in terms of constitutional implementation with regard to devolution. In the constitution there was a provision that a system called provincial administration would be restructured to fit into the devolved system of government, because it was part of the unitary system of the past. However, this government has actually refused to restructure it. They have simply renamed it—so for example, at the county level, you have the governor, on the one hand, as well as the county commissioner…so now there is a duplication of each position at each level of administration—it is a recipe for confusion.

The other issue is that of the allocation of resources. The constitution says that a minimum of 15 percent of national revenue shall go to the devolved units. The government, however, is using accounts from five years ago to allocate resources. This means that our governors have actually discovered that they do not have sufficient funds to execute their mandate. For example health care has been widely devolved but there is no money to pay the doctors and nurses, so they are going on strike. A different issue applies for transport, agriculture, water, and rural electrification at the county level. They have devolved and can only just pay the salaries but they cannot do anything else, so they are paying salaries to people who are doing nothing. We need to be more specific and increase allocation of funds for the county government so that it is not left to the generosity of the executive. Education should also be partially devolved and school infrastructure becomes the problem of the county government, and the national government should only deal with paying salaries. So these are some of the changes we intend to introduce.

The other issue is the management of land as a resource. The national government is trying to interfere with this. We want the land commission to be fully empowered in order for them to administer authority over land in the country.

Finally we want the electoral commission to be restructured so that it cannot be manipulated by the national government. We want it reduced in size from nine to five people who are not employed full time. We want to have them appointed by the political parties, and once they are appointed, they themselves will elect the chairman. This will actually assure a fairer electoral commission.

YJIA: Staying with the idea of the referendum, your political party, the Orange Democratic Party, was based on a former referendum in 2005 [the “yes or no” campaign for the constitution]. What would you say to critics who claim that your current push for a referendum is simply a political move?

RO: As you know there has been a lot of water

An Open Letter to African Intellectuals

Posted: October 14, 2014 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Africa, Books, Philosophy

By Bwesigye bwa Mwesigire, Uganda

The tag, ‘intellectual’ in reference to Africa refers to a certain type: western educated and visible in western media, maybe published in the West and maybe teaching at a western university. Bwesigye bwa Mwesigire writes to this type of African Intellectual.

Kenyan writer and intellectual Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s ideas were (and still are) relevant to Kenya and Kenyans, so the post-colonial Kenyan establishment had to shut him up. Pro-African intellectualism not welcome here. Photo: EPA

Kenyan writer and intellectual Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s ideas were (and still are) relevant to Kenya and Kenyans, so the post-colonial Kenyan establishment had to shut him up. Pro-African intellectualism not welcome here. Photo: EPA

Dear contemporary African Intellectuals,

We find your names on lists published in western media, among the top African Public Intellectuals, sometimes among the lists of Global Thinkers. And we celebrate. ‘Our’ thinkers are shaping the world, we say. You appear in TIME’s lists of Influential People. You have theorised about important things. About the end of capitalist hegemony. About the failure of the African state. About the representations of Africanness. About the rise of Afro-capitalism. About many things your Western audiences find very captivating. And this is why they rank you highly alongside their own intellectuals. You are indeed one of their intellectuals as well.

What if Africa needs or desires a different intellectual from what the West needs? How do you become an intellectual for both societies without losing relevance in the other? These are questions I want you to think about. I am writing because I seek knowledge. I want to understand if, on the streets of Burkina Faso, The Gambia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria and other African countries, you are still the intellectual you are in the West. Let us exclude the prophet is not appreciated in their own home alibi, because we know for sure that Africa, or Asia, or South America does not identify intellectuals for Europe or North America. It can’t be that this prophetisation of intellectuals applies only to Africa!

I will refer to Africa’s immediate post-colonial period to show what I mean by relevance of an intellectual to the African condition. Ngugi wa Thiong’o. Haunted out of Kenya because his theorising was ‘radicalising’ the Kenyan rural masses and pockets of the urban elite, where he was taking his plays that hit hard on the neo-colonial nature of post-colonial Kenya, he has since found refuge in the West. You see, Ngugi’s intellectualism was in the language the majority of his people understand. Gikuyu. And so he became so influential in his own homeland and too dangerous to Euro-American interests in Kenya, and thus had to be eliminated. The story of his imprisonment over his writing is known to you. The story of the novel he wrote on toilet paper in his prison cell is also known. The story of his liberation of the Literature Department at University of Nairobi from the hegemony of English Literature to the fresh shores of African Literature is also known to you. No one will deny that Ngugi was therefore a Kenyan intellectual in his prime. His ideas were not only relevant to Kenya and Kenyans but also influential. We know this because were they not influential enough, the post-colonial Kenyan establishment would not have shut him up by all means.

Cross the border into Uganda, where Ngugi studied, at Makerere University. His contemporary Okot P’Bitek also exemplifies the image of a relevant intellectual to their society. P’Bitek believed that theory does not only belong to the hollowed walls of universities and addled pages of newspapers and books. He was head of the extra-mural department of Makerere University, based in his home-town of Gulu, not the ivory tower at Makerere. Ideas live with people. While he was director of the Uganda National Theatre (the first African director of the institution), he took theatre out of the elitist urban Kampala to the people, through festivals in the countryside and the work of a travelling theatre troupe. He was also active in Kenya with travelling theatre companies, after running away from Idi Amin’s regime. As he wrote in his posthumously published collection of essays, Artist, the Ruler, “In an African society, art is life. It is not a performance. It is not necessarily a profession. It is life.” I would like to extend the argument to intellectualism. Ideas are life. They must be relevant. Lived. Or they are dead and non-existent.

I return to you, our esteemed contemporary African intellectuals. Where are your ideas in our life, us Africans living in Africa today? I understand that your theorising makes sense to those who praise you and list you among the most influential thinkers of our time. But do they make sense to us? Do they benefit us? Do we live by them? When you leave your busy lives in Western universities, your non-stop lecture schedules in all the world’s (read ‘developed’ world) capitals and retreat to Africa, where majority of the population still lives in rural areas and obviously does not consume Western media, do you feel that your intellectualism is relevant to the lives we lead? Do you feel that the Socrates, Adam Smith, Hegel, Marx, Kant, Keynes etc. that you are always citing is relevant to our lives?

Of course you know for sure that every society is based on certain philosophies, ideas and systems. Or else it would not be a society. Who or how do you think the ideas, philosophies and systems that inform our lives came to exist? Or are you still purveying the fiction that these philosophies are dead-dying? They are not, I can tell you. They are evolving and what they are becoming is not necessarily a replica of Euro-American life. There is such a thing as African contemporaneity that is not mimicry of European culture nor is it a re-imagination of an African past. If you refuse, come and I take you to Nyanja, the village of my birth and upbringing. Or do you think the okadas in Lagos or boda bodas in Kampala are mimicry of the West? Did our ancestors ride them? There is your hint. But you are the same advising African city managers to ban these things because in your Euro-American vision, they do not exist!

I will share something I learnt from a renowned African journalist, Charles Onyango Obbo. In Kampala, there is a big sewerage problem. Whenever it rains, or even when it does not, you find sewage freely flowing on the city streets. According to Charles Onyango Obbo, much of Kampala under colonial times was inhabited by Europeans and Asians, and so the infrastructure was to serve their needs. He says that these Europeans and Asians did not eat heavy organic food and so their waste was lighter. Africans on the other hand eat heavy organic food. The sewage pipes made for Kampala in colonial times were therefore light as the waste would not be heavy. Africans took over most of these houses that used to be inhabited by the Asians and Europeans on independence. The size of sewage pipes has not changed. Even new pipes bought are as small as they were then. Africans have not urbanised culturally. They still eat their heavy organic food. And the pipes are always bursting. Kampala is stuck with its sewerage flowing on the streets? Why? Because the post-colonial intellectuals have not decolonised their thinking. They think for Euro-America shadows. But Africa has not necessarily become a shadow of Europe. This is probably why in the West, Africa has intellectuals that speak to a reality the West knows. In Africa, these same intellectuals are leading to solutions that cause more problems. Like the flowing sewerage.

Most of you have been insistent on the need to ‘develop’ Africa. Some of you speak about this development in the economic sense, while some of you talk of social development. You are partly responsible for the cliché that Africa is bedevilled with ignorance, poverty and disease. Our esteemed African intellectuals, have you asked yourselves if this development you preach is necessary or even desirable for African populations? Have you re-thought what development actually means? You now talk of Globalisation! Dear fellow Africans, is Africa the centre of the globe in your globalisation vision? If Euro-America is the centre in this globalisation vision, is this then, not Westernisation? Isn’t this why Euro-America calls you African intellectuals? Is this not your utility to them? You centre the future on them and yet you are African by descent. You intellectualise for them. You are their intellectual but also African.

As I conclude, I would like to quote one of you, Andrew Mujuni Mwenda, Foreign Policy Top 100 Thinker, TED speaker etc., to whom I wrote in January 2014 about his obsession with Socrates and search for an irrelevant intellectual space in the Ugandan media (see my letter to him here). After a visit to Dubai, he literally swallowed much of his preaching about neo-liberalism and confessed:

” … what makes nations successful is the ability to find public policies and political institutions that their people understand. Part of the problem of Uganda (and Africa) is that we spend so much time reciting foreign ideologies chapter and verse but always fail to relate them to our realities. Thus while our problems are local and the demands to solve them are locally generated, the tendency is that when it comes to designing solutions, we retreated to theories drawn from textbooks.

These theories evolved in North America and Europe to explain a specific historical experience – how changing technology drove structural change and all this led to political struggles. These struggles were nourished by existing norms, values, traditions, and shared cultural understandings and therefore produced a specific institutional set-up. It is unlikely that one can cut and paste it on a society with different social dynamics and they work. Therefore, a major source of failure in Africa may be this mismatch between demands and solutions.” Read the whole column here.

President Museveni’s FULL speech to the UN this afternoon

Posted: September 25, 2014 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Africa, Speeches

President Museveni’s FULL speech to the UN this afternoon.

President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya; Prime Minister HailMariam of Ethiopia; President Kiir of South Sudan President of Somalia/Djibouti, and President Museveni of Uganda

President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya; Prime Minister HailMariam of Ethiopia; President Salva Kiir of South Sudan President of Somalia/Djibouti, and President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda

H.E. President of the General Assembly,
H.E. the Secretary-General,
Your Excellencies Heads of State and Government,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen.

I, first of all, thank the UN General Assembly for electing H.E. Sam Kutesa, our foreign Minister, as the President of the UN General Assembly for the year 2014/15. As you all know, the UN system needs reform to reflect the new needs and realities in the World today. Uganda will use this time to make a small contribution towards the reform of the UN and its organs in terms of pushing for the African agenda on this issue. Those reforms, as will be agreed by all of us, will strengthen the UN, not otherwise.

Africa, Uganda included, is, at long last, emerging from the long night of decline the African continent has been through in the last 500 years, eversince 1472 when the Portuguese started encroaching on the African Coastline. These 500 years witnessed great traumas inflicted on the African continent: slave trade, colonialism, neo-colonialism, plunder, human heamorrhage and even genocide in some cases.

These traumas resulted in haemorrhage of the population and the depopulation of the African continent to the extent that by 1900, the population of the whole of Africa was only 133 million people while that of China, which is only one quarter of the land area of Africa, was 489,000 million people; in other-words, four times greater than the population of Africa at that time.

These traumas on Africa were possible on account of both internal weaknesses and also external factors. That foreign aggression caused serious distortions in African societies. There was, for instance, the very well organized kingdom of Kongo on the Atlantic coast by the time the first Portuguese, Diego Cao, got there in about 1483.
This kingdom covered parts of Northern Angola, Cabinda, parts of the Republic of Congo and Western parts of the DRC. As a consequence of the actions of colonialism, that polity declined and disintegrated. It is only now that the modern countries of that area are regenerating that portion of Africa.

It is these distortions and the original endogenous weaknesses of Africa that the present generation of Africa leaders have been addressing. In many African countries, positive results are beginning to manifest themselves. The middle class in Africa is now of the magnitude of 313 million people which has boosted the purchasing power of Africa to US$ 2.5 trillion. This purchasing power is growing at the rate of 3.2% per annum.

This growth and expansion of African GDP and purchasing power is in spite of inadequate roads, inadequate railways, inadequate electricity, etc. When these strategic bottlenecks are addressed, the sky will be the limit as far as Africa’s potentialities are concerned.
One bottleneck that has bedeviled Africa has been the espousing of the pseudo-ideology of sectarianism of religion or tribe as well as chauvinism vis avis the women. It is this pseudo-ideology that has fuelled most of the conflicts in Africa. We are also witnessing the same pseudo-ideology causing havoc in the Middle East and North Africa. When uninformed outsiders link-up with these pseudo-ideologists, the permutation is most tragic. The sectarian ideology is pseudo and bankrupt because it is at variance with the people’s real interests of symbiosis, exchange of goods and services as well as integration for mutual benefit. Only parasites revel in such schemes. This pseudo-ideology should be banished and treated with the contempt it deserves.

On the side of socio-economic transformation, Uganda is busy building hard surface roads, electricity systems, the railways, ICT networks, a universal education system and a pan-Ugandan health system. Together with our neighbours, we have integrated our markets in the EAC and COMESA. We also partner in common security solutions. Therefore, Africa as well as the individual African countries are becoming more credible partners with any serious actors beyond our shores. Uganda needs and welcomes investments, trade access, tourists and, in some cases, security partnerships that are approved by the African Union from our partners in the World, many of whom are members of the United Nations.

I thank you.

By Apioth Mayom Apioth, USA

africa colonies map

There has never been a better time than now to return to our African linguistic roots. The 1884’s Scramble for Africa (also called Partition of Africa) brought us unforeseen divisions and rivalries whereby we are explicitly known as Francophone, Lusophone, Anglophone, and Italophone, respectively. At any given moment, whether it is a conflicting issue that needs resolution, African states leaning toward the axis of Anglophone orientation gang up against the Francophone, or it could be Afrolusophone versus Afroitalophone, muddling it up over matters of economic interests.

It is not a question of whether we are enriching the European languages with our ingenuity, rather it is a call to put our authenticity in perspective that we will never discover our true genius by continuing to use other people’s languages. We could still enrich foreign languages by way of translation; a true literary work of genius could get noticed at any instance the word is out. Literary works, such as Camara Laye’s The Dark Child, Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, Wole Soyinka’s Death and the King’s horseman, and Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s Weep Not, Child, are exceptionally rare works of intelligence.

Indeed, those are true gems of literature, but could they have done more, or how come they stopped from there? To put it another way: Was their ingenuity complete, or was it in fragments? What if there are still some undiscovered geniuses lingering in the hades of the unfamiliarity with these foreign languages?

When Europe was mired in a debacle of the dark ages, they didn’t have the enlightening period called the Renaissance, until they discarded Latin. For an African Renaissance to take off, going back to our native languages is the first step towards launching a dawn of a new era. Our native languages are rich with a burgeoning tradition of progress; for no matter how tempest the foreign languages they maybe, we do not have a deep understanding of their sly ways. We have an exuberant attachment to our native languages, almost spiritual.

That connection makes it easy for us to wade through impossibilities, and, in the midst of this scuffle, our languages and us, have fused into one thing, becoming inseparable over time. It is not just our genius that we are trying to unearth from our native languages, myths, fables, and even, knowledge of ecosystems and species of both plants and animals, and their interactions with our domiciling environments, could all be lost if we do not come up with a swift answer to this nagging hurdle. Every once in a while, a scientist would appear and state, I have discovered this species of plant, and I have discovered that species. What these scientists always avoid to take into account before rushing to publications of their discoveries, is failing to ask the indigenous communities if they knew anything about the species in question.

It turns out that most of the time, the names of the species of plants and animals, they are belatedly discovering were already commonplace in the local languages of the said communities. Not only that, many of today indigenous communities have the ability to derive certain medicines and medicinal herbs from the varied wild species of plants and animals, they have been interacting with for centuries in their ecosystem milieu.

In the foreseeable future, it is predicted that global cultures and languages that encompass national borders are going to take center stage. As times goes on, more and more languages, are going to bow to pressures of the most influential languages. Many more languages are going to disappear altogether from the face of the earth. Language as a medium to carry one culture from one pocket of the globe to another cultural hub, is going to be more prominent than ever. And since we have no idea of where the next hegemonic, all conquering languages, are going to hail from, shouldn’t we put our house in order right now, before the sun calls it a day?

This is where our return to our native languages comes shouting hard on our necks. Our native languages were taken only for a ride by the imperial capitalist West. They were only taken for a nightmarish ride up to the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, but they were eventually returned to us, changed, and needing a new system of mothering. The reservoirs of our native languages are still wet, they haven’t entirely been laid to waste by the poisonous fangs of the European languages. All they yearn for is the constant nourishment by the beloved sons and daughters of the continent.

Our world is increasingly becoming smaller, and all we have to do is to return to something so familiar, something we have all known along, but have neglected for far too long, our mother tongues; be it a Dinka of South Sudan, Shona of Zimbabwe, or Yoruba of Nigeria; We call for something that has our authenticity written all over it; something that will carry our unique experience to the world stage. It is time to wake up our hibernating and graying native languages from the chambers of our granaries, where the termites have been eating their way into their hearts for quite some time now.

Once the world finally succumbs to the common phrase called the “global village,” it would not be our interest to gloat over how much we have achieved as a race, rather, our humble preoccupation would be to contribute our unique experience to the global plate; where it would be intended to improve the futuristic aspirations of mankind. Our world is always ever-changing, and we are always in need of ingenuity to rescue us from moments of frustration, even experiences of life and death. It is time to invest more of our effort and resources into our native languages, entities that hold sacred followings, in a sense, analogous to the spiritual attachment of the land of Africa itself.

In case, we fail to pay heed to this urgent call, we won’t have much to contribute to the betterment of mankind since we will only be playing on unfamiliar grounds of the European languages, which are bound to produce second-rated ingenuity, if there is a boon at all.

I didn’t know, but the chaps who frame these issues, have apparently been talking about how the “Beijing Consensus” on development, i.e., whether Africa should follow China’s way, or as President Uhuru Kenyatta would put it, “look East,” or there is an even better model closer home, the “Kigali Consensus” and, less so but gaining popularity, the “Addis Ababa Consensus.” In short, development and security first, and democracy later or not at all.



This week, we have been at a conference on Africa on the banks of Lake Como, outside Milan, the Italian fashion capital. Lots of clever people who research on, and have written about, Africa were in the house.

It is interesting that 75 per cent of the conversation, in the end, was not about the broad Africa as such but six countries: South Africa; Ghana, a shining star whose lights are dimming; Rwanda; Ethiopia; Kenya; and Nigeria, a giant that refuses to die and defy all laws of nature, economics and history, and is being throttled by Boko Haram terrorists.

During coffee breaks, when the microphones weren’t near, a few chaps whispered to me that it cannot be an accident that the most important economies on the West African coast (Nigeria) and on the eastern side (Kenya) are hobbled by terrorism.

They think there is a grand conspiracy by an evil hand somewhere, designed to bring down Mother Africa.

I never even for a second entertained such a thought, so I was caught so off guard by the claim I couldn’t say anything. The only thing is that they didn’t say who the main conspirator was, but it is truly an intriguing idea.

But the two African countries that were mentioned almost every 10 or so minutes were Rwanda and Ethiopia.


I didn’t know, but the chaps who frame these issues, have apparently been talking about how the “Beijing Consensus” on development, i.e., whether Africa should follow China’s way, or as President Uhuru Kenyatta would put it, “look East,” or there is an even better model closer home, the “Kigali Consensus” and, less so but gaining popularity, the “Addis Ababa Consensus.” In short, development and security first, and democracy later or not at all.

The house was divided down the middle, with several people arguing the “Kigali Consensus” is an authoritarian model destined to fail in the end, while others making the case it was the way that was best suited to the peculiarities of Africa.

I was surprised that this “Kigali Consensus” thing is big out there, and so a good conference neighbour from Chatham House in London offered to send me a paper that was written about it — and he did.

Apparently it gained currency after Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf said: “The one country that I had wanted to follow was Rwanda… We had the advantage of natural resources. But we did not have the advantages they had of capacity, work ethic and discipline. We also departed from Rwanda in terms of the implementation of democracy.”

But for today, we will focus a little more on the Kenyan case. The Western types, generally, were enamoured of Kenya and described it as a country “with a weak state and strong private sector” as opposed to Ethiopia that is a “strong state with no private sector.”

However, because Kenyans are able to make decisions about their leaders and how the country is governed more than Ethiopians, Kenyans are considered to be “citizens” and a few fellows referred to Ethiopians as “subjects.”


Academics are an interesting lot, and it is good to hang out with them a little — not too much, though. They can derail you.

Kenya had fellows batting for it, and someone acknowledged that yes, unlike Ethiopia, with its empire and the entrenched (and deeply conservative) Coptic church, Kenya has no history of a strong state. But what is seen as a “weak” state and institutions is not how it fails. It is how it succeeds.

A “weak” state has limits on how much power it has to prey on the private sector (compare that with Ethiopia, where the State, ruling party and military corporations dominate the economy).

Secondly, Kenya’s “weak” state means that it is easier to negotiate claims against it and to extract concessions too. Because it is not inflexible and you can get something from it, the country has had relative stability “without any sustained long-time violent conflict” and avoided the mass appeal of radical politics. So the present problems of terrorism, by this logic, are an anomaly.

One might agree or disagree, but for a few days, it was refreshing to listen to people grappling with Kenyan problems in a highly intellectual manner, without hurling tribal spears. It was worth every minute of it.

President Kagame: Why has African Fallen so short to rise?

Posted: June 7, 2014 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Africa

Asian Interviewer: “Can you address their concerns Mr.Chang?”

MR. CHANG: “The concerns of Black people? Yes I can. The fact is, that we all live under a system of White Supremacy. We Asian people look back at our long history of conflict with the European. We observe their strategies and develop our own, in response and in kind. There is no need for loud mass movements on our part, because we intend to overtake them in time, through action and personal sacrifice”.

Asian INTERVIEWER: “And the Black man?”

MR. CHANG: “He does not count into our situation. He is simply here. We do not hate the Black man. We just love the Asian man most. Real love–not cliche. We want to see Asian man happy, so we employ him. We eat together. We spend time with each other. We want his kids to be educated, so we invest in our own schools that offer our children the technical abilities to change the world’s power structure in our favor. We want to see the Asian man safe, so we purchase and organize our own communities. We want him to remain Asian, so we reduce the outside influence of others ideologies and cultures. While he fought to sniff behind the White man, the Black man has had the opportunity and every right in the world to do the same, but he chooses to indict people like me for not hiring him over my own brothers. For me to do this would be foolish and that would not be Asian love. In contrast, the Black man will fight for the right to be up under everyone else other than other Black people who he should feel the most love for. If our indifference to their situation make us racist, then what would you call the Black man’s indifference to his own situation?”


Africa has always had the attributes to rise, so why has it fallen short?

By Paul Kagame


Further progress depends on Africa’s ability to work together and with other partners on meaningful mechanisms to resolve conflicts.

Without a doubt, Africa has made progress over the past half century.

For most of our countries, the road has been uneven so that we have sometimes stumbled or stalled. But we have forged ahead.

Across the continent, there is a renewed sense of optimism that gives meaning to the now familiar Africa Rising phrase.

Evidence points to sustained economic growth for the coming decades. This upward curve is the result of deliberate action by African countries.

Throughout the continent, we are starting to see the positive effects of improved governance and better integration into the global economy thanks to different technologies, among them ICT. We also have opportunities in a growing middle class and a youth bulge.

Africa is one of the few places in the world that has a lot of room to grow — more businesses are taking notice globally.

But Africa has always had the attributes necessary to rise. So why have we fallen short?

Long spells of instability in parts of Africa, high energy and transport costs, fragmented and non-integrated economies, and a high dependency on primary commodities are just some of the well-known obstacles.

Over the past two decades, many African countries have worked to resolve major problems and begun to lay the foundations for future prosperity.

Take the example of instability. A number of difficult situations around the continent today remind us that progress can always be reversed. We also have to be reminded that together we rise and together we may fall.

We are responsible for ourselves. But we are also, to some extent, responsible for each other.

Instability in any part of Africa affects us all. That is why we have seen increased engagement by African leaders, the African Union, and regional organisations in peace and security matters on the continent.

Further progress depends on Africa’s ability to work together and with other partners on meaningful mechanisms to resolve conflicts.

It also calls for continued strengthening of our respective internal systems to prevent conflicts in the first place.

We cannot afford to sit back and take the future of our continent for granted. Yes, Africa is rising. But it is not enough to exceed the low expectations that others have of us, and which we, at times, even came to have about ourselves.

To give citizens, especially young Africans, the lives they dream of, we have a lot farther to climb.

We know what needs to be done.

Our countries have smart policies that we have seen work elsewhere in the world. But the kind of rapid progress we all want will only be achieved by sound implementation.

In particular, taking Africa’s development to the next level will require a much bigger role for the private sector, which generates jobs and wealth.

As governments, it is crucial to consistently invest in and strengthen our efforts to create environments that nurture and promote innovation and entrepreneurship.

The first to take advantage of an improved business environment should be African companies. Since 2007, intra-African investment has grown at a rate of 32 per cent, more than double that of non-African emerging markets, and almost four times faster than FDI from developed markets.

There is still a lot of potential to be realised, meaning we can do more to encourage this trend.

Today’s most important challenges cannot be tackled by any country on its own. This is true of infrastructure, trade facilitation, policy harmonisation, and even marketing.

For the East African region, the Northern Corridor Projects Integration initiative between Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda for rail and energy infrastructure development, streamlined Customs procedures, as well as easing free movement of our citizens and tourists to our countries is a recent example.

Deeper regional and continental integration is not only good for Africa, it is good for investors and trading partners. It makes it easier and cheaper and less risky to do business in Africa.

For the first time, the world seems to be going our way. But Africa’s demographics are favourable.

Standards of governance are improving. We have opportunities for large-scale infrastructure investment found nowhere else in the world.

By deepening regional and continental integration, the bright future reflected in the “Africa Rising” narrative has a better chance of becoming a reality within our lifetimes.

Focusing on implementing our respective transformational national agendas, based on the aspirations of our citizens, will ensure that we have healthy partners working together for more productive partnerships in Africa.

Paul Kagame is the President of Rwanda.

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