Gaddafi and the United States of Africa Project
Now that Muammar Gaddafi has assumed the chairmanship of the African Union despite manipulations and whispering campaigns of Western interests [twice, Western interference has thwarted Gaddafi’s access to the AU chair] the usual arguments are being trotted out in the Western press to ridicule and diminish the goals of African unity. He is being excoriated by the usual suspects as ‘erratic’ and ‘impractical’ with unnamed African ‘leaders’ thrown in the mix expressing ‘distrust’ of Gaddafi’s ‘agenda.’
We have been here before, of course, and have heard similar arguments whenever Africans’ best interests are mooted. When Kwame Nkrumah became president of Ghana, one of the first subjects he addressed was Continental Unity. Nkrumah’s credo was that Ghana’s independence was meaningless unless all Africa was free and united. To him, for Africa to have any relevance and power in the modern world, there had to be a single continental government, a single currency, army, judicial and political system. When Nkrumah declared these principles, a relentless campaign of disinformation and outright lies was mounted against him in the British press.
He was branded a ‘communist,’ [a literal death sentence for a Third world leader in the 1950s and 60s]; a ‘megalomaniac,’ and one who kept a dungeon beneath the Presidential Palace, among other accusations. The usual racist arguments were included at a time when racism was more tolerated – even encouraged – in the Western media. Skits were performed on British TV with white actors in blackface ridiculing African independence in pidgin English. Nkrumah effectively became the West’s Antichrist – a position unhappily accorded to Mugabe today.
Those who seek Africa’s full emancipation are doomed to demonization, destabilization and death whenever possible.
Consider the fate of Patrice Lumumba, Amilcar Cabral, Eduardo Mondlane, Samora Machel, Laurent Kabila, Thomas Sankara and countless other foot soldiers for Africa’s full freedom – they were all assassinated by agents and stooges of Western hegemony. It is not as if there have not been serious efforts to create an African union. Nkrumah persuaded Guinea and Mali to join him in the Ghana -Guinea – Mali Union which was subsequently undermined by the intrigues of Western powers, primarily France which sensed a threat to her hegemony in Western Africa, a hegemony she shows no sign of relinquishing 50 years after independence. Burkina Faso and Ghana attempted to integrate their two countries, but this very progressive move was aborted when Thomas Sankara was assassinated with help from the French and Felix Houphouet-Boigny. Lumumba, who envisioned a Pan-African future for the Continent was branded a ‘communist’ and killed by the CIA.
What is it about the concept of a United Africa that provokes such paranoia, hatred and ridicule from the West? First of all a United Africa stands to demolish the stereotypes, propaganda and lies that have been increasing in intensity ever since independence with the subsequent psychological liberation for Africans the world over. Secondly, the almost limitless natural and human resources of the Continent will be harnessed under one polity, projecting immense power. Thirdly, such a large land mass under one government will have to develop the means to defend itself and its people, thereby producing substantial military, diplomatic and political forces. Any of these conditions will create a seismic shift in the global power dynamic and cause a severe restructuring of the social, psychological and politico-military pecking order.
It is natural, therefore that forces inimical to Africa’s interests will unleash a full-scale offensive to thwart Africa’s efforts to secure her future. We must also assume that obstruction will not be limited to just the West, but any and all who have benefited from the exploitation of Africa’s resources and its people.
Thus, when Gaddafi urges [as he has for years] an end to procrastination and doubt and an acceleration of Africa’s integration, he is not voicing his own desires or executing his agenda, but seeking to incarnate the will of Africa’s progressive founding fathers. Gaddafi is merely restating the words and thoughts of Kwame Nkrumah and others, who fifty years ago presciently recognized the dangers of neo-colonialism and external exploiters’ need to keep Africa supine and divided while they bleed her dry of resources. It is inconceivable that there could be any African leader today who is not cognizant of the exploitative nature of relations between Africa and the rest of the world.
Africa’s fishing stocks are brazenly poached from coast to coast by the countries of several nations; toxic waste is dumped off her coastal waters; drug, people and resource smugglers operate with impunity all over the Continent; foreign armies tramp the Continent ostensibly in pursuit of ‘terrorists’ while advancing their own strategic aims. African armies are bought and sold to facilitate the movement of Africa’s riches to the coffers of foreign countries. The recent flare-up of fighting in the chronic security sore of Congo is yet another example of Africa’s lack of control over her destiny.
To those Africans who say that we cannot do for ourselves, let me cite but two examples: at the end of the Nigerian Civil War [1967-1970] close to a million people died and over two million were made refugees and displaced. The nation was swarming with refugees. Immediately following the cessation of hostilities, Western aid agencies jumped in, jostling each other to offer aid and money, weeping over the ‘humanitarian’ tragedy. The ruler at the time, Yakubu Gowon, told the agencies to ‘keep their blood money’ [the West had armed both sides] and told Nigerians that there were neither victors nor vanquished and that the entire nation must pull together to heal itself. He called on Nigerians to feed, clothe and house the refugees while the government commandeered all its resources to end the crisis. The nation rallied and within less than a year, Nigeria had reintegrated peacefully – without the help of foreign aid agencies. Contrast that to the years-long bleeding sores of UN and aid agency – run camps in Darfur, Congo and elsewhere. Western celebrities pose for pictures, mouth platitudes, adopt babies, beg for money on television but nothing changes. Is there something we are missing here?
The second example which seems to be forgotten are the almost Herculean achievements of the Liberation Committee: armies were trained to fight against the Portuguese, the ‘Rhodesians’ and the apartheid South Africans, intelligence gathered, supplies transported to the fronts, the wounded treated and evacuated and militias positioned to resist counter-insurgency efforts. The Committee was funded by the nations close to the conflict which also served as rear bases for the guerilla armies. Despite the ‘impossibility’ of fighting white professional armies armed with NATO weapons and intelligence, and blocked in the UN by America’s anti-communist machinations, siding with Portugal and South Africa, the Liberation Movement prevailed. There were no advisers from Russia or China. The Liberation Committee trained its own people, organized its own logistics and protected its rear bases. In the southern region, it was all for the Liberation struggle. This was Africa working for Africa – successfully.
The West, foreign aid, aid agencies, the IMF, World Bank, the UN – all have failed Africa. Multi-party ‘democracy,’ Western solutions to African problems, have all failed. There are some who are loath to criticize the idea of multi-party democracy as if it were a sacred, inviolable, infallible concept, but it has done nothing but exacerbate ethnic divisions. In a continent as tribally diverse as Africa, the worst that can be done is to give each tribal group its own political party. It is but a short step to a tribal militia, especially in regions of abundant mineral resources as in the DRC, for example. But the West has pushed this myth as if multi-party democracy is both panacea and placebo, but as heretical as it may seem, it might be time for Africa to seriously rethink multi-party democracy. If we think that democracy as touted by the West will solve our problems, consider Palestine: Hamas won the people’s vote, yet was deemed illegitimate by the West. It seems that multi party democracy only works when the West approves it.
Africa is not the USA or Europe and their templates will never fit our problems. Africa is constantly chastised and lectured to as the most ‘corrupt’ region on earth, yet is it not the corruption and venality of Western bankers and speculators which has brought the world to the financial crisis it faces today? The Masters of the Universe who lectured us on how corrupt we are have turned out to be the biggest crooks in the world and the world is paying for it. Where do we turn to now? There will be less bribery money to disburse to unpatriotic African leaders to sell their people’s resources for a pittance or a villa in the south of France, or to pay African armies to kill other Africans in the name of power while leaders hide behind armoured Mercedes-Benzes and bodyguards armed to the teeth.
How will we make that connection to our people that will truly make us a nation-family? How will we defend our coastlines from the foreign pirates who poach our fishing stocks and dump their toxic waste in our waters, polluting the future life of our children? When will we exploit what binds us together as a people, instead of dancing to the rhetoric of forces that have ever sought to keep us divided while they steal from us?
Gaddafi is not being unrealistic or ‘erratic’ when he calls on Africans to move decisively on the creation of the United States of Africa. He is merely restating the logical case for continental unity as envisioned by the founding fathers of African independence like Nkrumah and Marcus Garvey before him. There is no sinister hidden agenda behind his call as the propagandists of the Western media would have us believe. In terms of economic development, power projection, political survival and regional prestige, a United States of Africa, while not instantly solving Africa’s problems, will set us on the path to redemption.
For this, we do not need the assistance and interference of foreign aid agencies, the World Bank, IMF or ‘advisers’ from the West who have all the answers that do not work. As a matter of survival we should exclude them from our councils and planning since they have ‘helped’ us so disastrously in the past. Africans and Africans alone, both on the Continent and in the so-called Diaspora, working together, sharing ideas and experiences, can and must build the United States of Africa. Too much blood has been shed, too much resources have been stolen, for the dream to be deferred another generation.
This 21st century is the century of possibilities and One Africa is possible and achievable. Muammar Gaddafi is merely the messenger of those who constructed a vision of Africa’s future long ago, and if the ‘leaders’ of today’s Africa lack the will or the perspicacity to lead us to the fulfillment of that dream, then the people themselves must lead themselves, challenging the loyalty and commitment of their leaders. The African people are not as docile and tractable as they seem. There is still time to move in the right direction and avoid a conflagration.
By Amengeo Amengeo
Specialist in Spanish, Latin American, Caribbean as well as African History. He has also been a journalist, civil servant and graphic artist