Politics

Africa: Building an African Identity that transcends tribal and ethical boundaries.

Colonialism is not satisfied merely with holding a people in its grip and emptying the Native’s brain of all form and content; by a kind of perverted logic, it turns to the past of the oppressed people and distorts, disfigures, and destroys it.” ~ Frantz Fanon
 
From the Pan-African ways of thought of Frantz Fanon, he observed the tragedy of a lack of coherent identity in a historically oppressed society. The tragedy in the African context is the bastardization of the African identity, which, in its purest terms, treats man as the most special asset regardless of race, ethnicity, and religion, as opposed to the objectification of man in lines of race, ethics, and religion.
 
The Future of Africa is in the realisation of the need to create a strong African identity that is not satisfied in the confines of the Berlin Conference boundaries that seed imaginary divisions and differences yet to the metropolis identify us as Africans and blacks, not in our small individual states’ name.
 
The primary and most important ingredient in creating an African identity is realising and recognising a universal and common African language that reflects African culture and heritage. During colonialism in East Africa, the people were united by two main components: the desire to live as a free people who governed themselves and owned their soil and subsoil, and the uniting force of the Swahili language. The use of Swahili as a common language helped them create a convergence point towards the realisation of liberation. In contemporary African society, the masses of our people face a common problem of poverty.

Africa is the poorest continent on earth. Africa is the largest recipient of external aid in the world. Half the African population survives on less than a dollar per day. So why can’t Africa unite against this societal scourge? Historically, the liberation struggle and language united East Africa, and in our contemporary society, poverty and language should unite not only East Africa but Africa as a continent. Africans must recognise and appreciate an African language that all Africans can speak as the main and official language, which would create an African identity and a step towards African unity. What is the point of African young people learning Shona, Ndebele, Xhosa, Zulu, and many other African languages and linguistics in schools? Why can’t we have a universal African language taught and spoken in all African schools? And let the families and other social structures enhance and teach these many other small languages.
 
Swahili can be the starting point for mending and establishing an African language. It is the most spoken and easy language on the African continent. Though it is subjectively connected with the slaving of the Africans by the Arabs, because of its historical use for trade and commerce, we should not disregard it. It is a Bantu language that cannot be compared to English, French, or Portuguese, which are languages completely detached from African culture and heritage. When Africans declare Swahili the continent’s language, it should be modelled in a way that does not promote Islamic superiority and undermines other religions.
 
The idea of African identity will prevail with the appreciation of institutional reforms, especially the citadels of African Unity, Development, and the Pan-African Agenda, the African Union (AU). There should be a deliberate attempt to strengthen and enhance the powers that the board possesses. At the heart of these deliberate attempts is the critical issue of funding. Thomas Sankara asserted that “He who feeds you controls you!”. The budget of the AU is largely funded by the EU and UN. That is why at the centre of the objectives of the AU is the creation of a free trade area, not African unity with one currency, one government, and a borderless continent. The AU cannot bite a hand that feeds it. The West and the East are more interested in their multinational companies that are invested in Africa; free trade will benefit them and reduce costs in taxes and other economic constraints; and unity will threaten their interests.
 
 African young people have characterised the AU as a toothless dog, with some starting to argue whether it’s even a dog at all. This comes after its inability to advocate, redress, and address topical issues on the continent, such as the rigging of elections, corruption, genocides, civil wars, and poverty.
 
The decentralisation of powers and responsibilities is fair and progressive, but in the case of the African continent, the abolition of regional blocks can give more attention and power to the AU. All African issues and focus must be at that organ, in a progressive process of later electing, not appointing, a President or Governor with executive powers over all member states. The Pan-African Parliament must start deciding on the continent’s major policies on currency, nullifying elections that are not in line with the dictates of the law. AU has faced a lot of challenges, but the important step was to implement the idea of a continental board. Now it’s time to change rhetoric into action and fight the disconnect between theory and practice. 

African identity first requires a consensus on addressing language barriers, but not with foreign languages like English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish. As Swahili was a language born out of the trade and commerce relationship between East Africa and Arabs, the same should happen for African unity. There should be an agreed-upon African language for the purposes of unity. 
 
The future of Africa is in unity. The compartmentalization of Africa into Anglophone, Francophone, and Lusophone identities hinders the idea of forging unity. It is a bumpy road, full of cynicism and naysaying, but it is not only worthy of a talk but also full implementation with the urgency it deserves. Kwame Nkrumah might be dead as a missionary of the idea, but the mission in the advancement of this idea is still alive and requires African youths to maybe not think outside the box but to destroy, burn the box, and just think.

In a quest to rethink the historical obligation of African young people, writes

MCM

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