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Zuma on pan-Africanism

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South African president Jacob Zuma / AFP PHOTO / JEKESAI NJIKIZANA

Pan Africanism is a term evolved in the early 20th century by blacks and African-Americans to fight for equal rights for black people all over the world, particularly against racism in Europe and America. Black leaders like W Dubois, Marcus Garvey, among others led the movement fighting for the dignity of black man worldwide. It was a movement founded to arouse African consciousness in a polarised world where Africans were regarded as hewers of woods and drawers of water for the colonial masters. It should be recalled that Pan Africanist leaders and Pan Africanism influenced the nationalist movement in the 1940s in Africa.

In my university days, we students of history relished topics like pan Africanism, imperialism, neocolonialism, nationalism etc, this is because these topics are eye openers on the denigration of blacks by the whites and the need for the blacks to put their acts together economically, educationally, politically and technologically if we are to save the generation unborn from servitude. Scholars of development like Walter Rodney, Samir Amin, Franz Fanon amongst others are held in high esteem by students in our days.

However, the era of globalisation has killed anything like human dignity or black consciousness among blacks especially in Nigeria. Gone are the days when there are national borders that can be closed to certain foreign products all in order to protect local industries. Today, Nigeria especially is the home of used clothing materials, cars, electronic gadgets etc. In the good old days when black man cherished his dignity imported used cloth popularly known as “Bosikoro” in Yoruba and “Okirika” in Igbo was used as farm cloths and those who sold it did that at hidden places and those patronising them move to an hidden place to assess it. But what are we seeing today? Markets have been created for all sorts of used products even in places like Lagos and Abuja where learned and educated men and women shop for Okirika. This is not to talk of rural areas, where it ubiquitous. Then how can the local manufacturers of cloth, bags, shoes etc grow in view of the prime position given used products in our clime?

As a matter of fact, I was all along thinking that Pan Africanism is dead until the visit of the South African president, Jacob Zuma to Owerri at the instance of the philanthropic governor Rochas Okorocha. There is no doubt that Zuma’s visit to Imo State was in the spirit of Pan Africanism. This is because it was to strengthen partnership between Education foundations in Africa. I had the opportunity to watch the reception held for Zuma on the NTA and wondered the humility of Zuma in leaving South Africa because of an individual and the audacity of Okorocha to evolve the philanthropic idea in the first instance and for putting together such classical event in view of the unrest in that part of Nigeria due to IPOB agitation and military crack down on them.

The speech of Zuma after he was honoured with Imo merit award and after signing MOU between his education foundation and Okorocha’s shows that South Africans are blessed with right leadership, despite the nation building problems facing that country and the excesses of her leaders. What I mean is that Zuma understands the basis of backwardness, not only of his country, but Africa as a whole. I believe once the cause of an affliction is known, solution is not too far.

Zuma spoke about xenophobia in his country as regards Nigerians in South Africa where he asked for a halt the killing of Nigerians. He equally spoke about stronger economic ties between Nigeria and South Africa, the two strongest economies in Africa, as a recipe for economic emancipation of Africa. He also urged unity among African states and peoples as against individualism which will continue to deepen our backwardness.

Aside, Zuma emphasized the prime position of education in our quest for development as a continent. The irony is that Nigerian leaders are paying lips service to education by canceling free education, privatizing education, owing teachers back log of salary and emoluments and devoted peanuts to education in annual budgets, then, how are we going to get out of the wood in that situation? Illiteracy according to Zuma is the root of African socio-political economic problems which he laid at the door steps of colonialists! I am of the opinion that Yoruba adage that when translated means “you have not suffered yet, you say you are writer, who is your teacher is applicable to Zuma here.

Zuma was a freedom fighter against the apartheid regime in South Africa until 1990s when the crime against humanity collapsed in that country. According to Zuma, “the gap between Africa and the west was created by the colonialists, who plundered the region’s resources.” My question is that do our leaders in Nigeria know this as well? I doubt it because if they know, they will not be looking up to the same plunderers of our resources for solution to our problems as they do at the moment by seeking for aids and grants from neocolonialists lenders, which further added to our misery.


In this article:
Jacob ZumaRochas Okorocha

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