FROM THE BORDERLANDS: Nkrumah and continentalism

FROM THE BORDERLANDS: Nkrumah and continentalismextract from The Citizen published 27th May 2008 in Khatoum and JubaOne of the persons who influenced the generation of leaders who lead their countries once self government was obtained, was Nmadi Azikiwe, who later became President of Nigeria. From 1925 to 1934 Azikiwe was a student and teacher at African American colleges and Universities in the USA, during which time he absorbed the anti-racist African American tradition.From 1934-7 Azikiwe was engaged as a journalist in the Gold Coast, being one of the main advocates of the ‘awakening of Africa’. His book containing his articles was published in 1937 and was influential. He referred to all people being born equal. Azikiwe influenced Kwame Nkrumah, who ws a few years younger than him. Nkrumah as the Head of State of the first British colony in Africa, was placed in a unique situation.Nkrumah studied in the USA and had learnt from people such as Azikiwe and the whole tradition of Pan-Africanism. He was to put into practice that thinking and tradition. His early writings in the USA and in Britain made mention of the long history of Pan-Africanism, Egypt etc. His later books written at the hight of his powers, as the political leader of Ghana, deal more with the practicalities of implementing an African and socialist centered foreign policy. Nkrumah’s preoccupation with class, with little or no recognition of the relevance of race, in social analysis, was such that he ignored the issue of the marginalized of South Sudan. His Ministers, Krobo Edusei and Nathaniel Welbeck, plus another Ghanaian official, attended in Khartoum, the talks on the future of South Sudan in 1965-6, Ghana also had an Embassy in Khartoum, yet Nkrumah chose to ignore the problems of the marginalised of Southern Sudan, as a result of Arab hegemony – most probably because of his alliance under socialist principles, with Abdul Nasser and Egypt.Likewise Ghana had an embassy in Nouakchott, Mauritania. Nkrumah counted Mouktar el Dada, the Head of State of Mauritania, as his friend. In both Southern Sudan and Mauritania the issue was the same – a long history of marginalization by the African majority by a small Arabised minority, who in the case of Mautitania were Moors, a light complexioned group originating from Morocco. In Mauritania the situation in Nkrumah’s day was more worrisome than that of South Sudan and remains so to this day. In that country slavery is practiced on a large scale and is heredity, a caste system, from father to son, with whole families belonging to their moor masters, from time immemorial.Whereas Nkrumah’s Ghana was preoccupied by settler colonialism in Southern Africa, offering to send troops to Rhodesia ( now called Zimbabwe ), he turned a blind eye to settler colonialism in Sudan, which had been in existence much longer and which resulted in a liberation struggle lead by Anya Nya . The fact that the Convention People’sParty (CPP) of Ghana made these fundamental errors, in large part explains why today Africa is locked into a geographical union, other wise called continentalism, rather thanwhat Cheik Anta Diop, the Senegalese Egyptologist and nuclear physicist had advised,a cultural unity of Africans, which would exclude north Africa and include Africa south of the Sahara plus the Africans in the eastern ( Arabia, North Africa, the Gulf states and points eastwards ) and Africans in the western ( Americas, Caribbean, Europe etc ) Diasporas.Closer inspection reveals that whereas Nkrumah was the Secretary to the 5th Pan African Congress in Manchester in 1945, the position of the Pan-African movement prior to1945 was for the unity of the African people and people of African descent. By the time the Organization of African Unity (OAU) was created in 1963-4, African unity as promoted by the OAU, had come to embrace exclusively Africa, including north Africa and excluding the Diasporas.It is easy to be wise with hindsight. The Nigerian scholar Chinweizu, who was highly regarded by the late hero Deng Ajak, who perished in the plane crash on the 2nd May outside Rumbek, holds Nkrumah largely responsible for todays stranglehold that Arabia has on the Pan-African state unit, the African Union (AU). His preferred ideological leader for those times is Amical Cabral from Guinea Bissau. Today the unsatisfactory union between Arabia and Africa based on continental unity, is being concretized by Libya, into a United States of Africa, whereby, due to Libya’s funding of the AU, it has been able to bulldoze the African states south of the Sahara into a continental union with north Africa, with the western Diaspora being defined as ‘the Sixth Region of the AU/Africa’, which is meaningless, since the western Diaspora is to have only observer status, to observe some sessions of the AU. Practically, any respectable NGO can also obtain observer status at the AU. What is required is that both the eastern and western Diasporas have full active participatory status in the AU, so that states populated by a majority of Africans, such as Jamaica, Haiti and some of the Pacific islands, have permanent and full membership of the African Union, on equal footing with African state members. This is the key link in the Pan-African project, which Arabia is determined shall never happen, fearing that once Africa joins its Diaspora, Arabia will be jettisoned.Between 1945 and 1963-4 the CPP took Africa in the wrong direction, not due to calculated mischief, but due to mistaken analysis. Most of Nkrumah’s generationwent along with continentalism, most probably due to his persuasion. There was nothing in the history of the movement to indicate that Arabs were Africans, rather, to the contrary, Arabs had been the historic enemy, as witnessed today by the international community in Darfur. Arabs had been pressing southwards from the Mediteranean, pushing Black Africans southwards into the arid desert lands of the Sahara, a process that Southern Sudan was obliged to halt by fighting, failing which it would have been assimilated into Arabia, and Uganda, Kenya and places further south in central Africa would have been overrun and Arabised/Islamised.There are comparative lessons to be learnt from these issues. Nkrumah’s social analysis, which was the convention in socialist circles of his day, is being repeated today by the African National Congress (ANC)/Communist Party of South Africa/COSATU Tripartite Alliance in South Africa, in their dealings with the Sudan issues. The world has changed 180% since the days of Stalin and the Socialist International. Such excuses hold no water and are not a creditable explanation for policies which serve to perpetuate ad nauseam pre-1994 unequal economic relations. Again the reliance on class only analysis leads to mistakes, which will have unforeseen consequences in the borderlands in general, as seen with Nkrumah’s continentalism. Class, race and gender are the correct tools for policy analysis and strategic planning.B.F.BankieJuba, South Sudan
Votes: 0
E-mail me when people leave their comments –

You need to be a member of TheBlackList Pub to add comments!

Join TheBlackList Pub