Do not be tricked by addresses against America and her companions on the United Nations arrange, heartless African despots are not Pan-Africanists.
Individuals rush to overlook the wrongdoings of tyrants the minute they (the despots) regurgitate against West and genius African talk. It likewise makes a few examiners and researchers feel discovered that they can contend out the positive impact of known autocrats to Africa in long, tedious articles. The rest of supporters who rally behind African despots have profited from the dictators or have been whipped into line and adapted to not just persevere but rather additionally make the most of their torment under totalitarian governments. That the West does not generally have African interests on a basic level ought not mean any individual who contradicts neo-expansionism is useful for Africa.
The whole truth, however, is that dictators are no friends of Africa just as neo-colonialists are no allies of the continent. Do not be fooled by empty speeches against America and her friends on the United Nations stage, ruthless African dictators are not Pan-Africanists.
In July 2015, Barack Obama visited Africa and made history by addressing the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. His message was just what the youths needed. He said, “Nobody should be president for life and your country is better off if you have new blood and new ideas.” He went on, “I don’t understand why people want to stay so long, especially when they have got a lot of money.”
Naturally, there was a massive backlash from different quarters with some saying “Obama acted like a colonial headman lecturing the natives on how to behave as good subjects” and the best he could do was mind his own business. A simple statement on respecting term limits ended up being attacked using the neo-colonialism argument. Respecting a constitution somehow plays into the hands of the West, according to this flawed reasoning.
A Zimbabwean analyst, Charles Mangongera then rightfully said, “…the message tends to find resonance with the younger generation who are fed up with autocratic leaders. The younger generation will find Obama’s message appealing, while the old league of leaders on the continent will try to evoke Pan-Africanism to say Obama cannot lecture us.”
When one begins to analyse this, there is a realization that African dictators are making democracy and rule of law seem like foreign concepts to Africa. They feed right into Western stereotypes of a continent ruled by strongmen.
Pan-Africanism has been manipulated into an excuse used by dictators to dismiss valid criticism. It is now used as an armour to fend off human rights concerns and democratic petitioning. This cannot be what Kwame Nkrumah and Julius Nyerere among many other figureheads of Pan-Africanism intended it to be. This form of Pan-Africanism that has become a glorified gag order is not what breathed life into African integration and ideas of African self-determination.
A Facebook post titled “Pan-Africanism is dead, dictatorship is born” on Mumia Abu Jamal’s page, says, “Pan-Africanism was not about power greed, the goal was empowerment. It was about creating a new breed of leaders – not locking them up behind bars. Pan-Africanism was about human rights, justice and tolerance not fear and intimidation.”
Western conventional media is known for speaking ill of Africa. Africa is presented to the greater world as democratically inferior to the West and when despots loom large, efforts to counter such claims are even harder. The continent ends up being vilified because one Pierre Nkurunziza decided he was not interested in respecting term limits.
When Yoweri Museveni, Robert Mugabe and Theodore Obiang Nguema Mbasogo then implicitly claim to be champions of Pan-Africanism (evidenced by their high-sounding speeches), that brings the whole philosophy into disrepute. Pan-Africanism was born of a desire to encourage a common identity among people of African descent in order to fight exploitation and encourage unity. The truth however, is that it is flexible and not meant to be perceived as a destination in itself but a journey. This explains why the whole philosophy of Pan-Africanism has changed over the years just as the problems it should address have evolved too.
If not, the end of colonialism and slavery could have been the end of Pan-Africanism. African Arguments says, “Rather than focusing only on identity, the “new” pan-Africanism is also a call for democracy, good governance and economic development.”
This means when dictators attempt to use Pan-Africanism as an excuse, they contradict themselves since their very defense questions their own legitimacy.