African Continent; Liberation?
â€œWe are building a new Africa,â€? Obasanjo declared this week, while visiting the renowned Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, Americaâ€™s Black. He was in town to address the United Nations General Assembly and he made a remarkable impression with his visit to another important Black landmark, the African Burial Ground in downtown Manhattan.
Is the African continent on the path towards a Renaissance? Havenâ€™t we heard this line before?
Nigeriaâ€™s president, who is also chairman of the African Union, the successor continental organization to the Organization of African Unity, insists that indeed this time itâ€™s for real as does his South African counterpart Thabo Mbeki.
Over the last few years, these two leaders have been instrumental in pushing for the end of civil conflicts in Liberia, Ivory Coast, Rwanda, Burundi, Congo, and now the Sudan. They have also encouraged a rapport between Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe and the Western-backed opposition party under Morgan Tsvangirai â€“ hopefully they will eventually acknowledge the victims in northern Uganda where terrorist insurgents have battled an equally terroristic government army for 17 years.
These two presidents have also been selling the New Partnership for Africaâ€™s Development (Nepad) to the international community, whereby African countries that adopt economic and political policies to promote growth and stability, are rewarded with outside financial backing. Nepadâ€™s website www.nepad.org boasts strategies such as wiring most of Africaâ€™s secondary schools to the internet so that information flow can be accelerated the next generation of leaders.
â€œWe are building a new Africa,â€? Obasanjo declared this week, while visiting the renowned Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, Americaâ€™s Black. He was in town to address the United Nations General Assembly and he made a remarkable impression with his visit to another important Black landmark, the African Burial Ground in downtown Manhattan. There, he laid a wreath atop a marble plaque he donated to commemorate the horrific history and legacy of slavery and declared the area â€œsacred.â€? Hundreds â€“perhaps thousandsâ€”of Blacks buried in the grounds where skyscrapers now stand were denied burial in white cemeteries.
While Obasanjo paid homage to those who perished during slavery, he also insisted later in his remarks at the Schomburg that the best way to honor them was for African peoples everywhere to forge on and build their own destiny. He said while Africans are still suffering the legacies of slavery and colonial rule, blaming Europeans would not solve our present day problems.
Despite Western mediaâ€™s focus on crises points in Africa, the continent had made impressive achievements and was charting a new path, he said. Obasanjo commended the OAU for having completed the liberation of Africa from colonial rule and defeated apartheid in all of Southern Africa. It was now up to the AU to end regional conflicts and combine the continent into powerful economic and political entities, he said.
It was refreshing to hear such statements from the president of Africaâ€™s sleeping giant. Nigeria is a country which has yet to realize its potential, domestically and continentally. Acknowledging that African development has often collapsed because of a lack of political structures that survive after individual leadersâ€™ reigns, Obasanjo declared that Nigeria had embarked on a path of â€œcomprehensive reformsâ€? that would ensure and sustain long term development.
He also urged Diaspora Blacks to form a â€œsixth regionâ€? by organizing formally, and emulating the annual meetings of African countries, so that they might present common positions to African leaders and contribute towards the development of the continentâ€”
There are currently five major economic and political regions in Africa.
Leaders such as Obasanjo and South Africaâ€™s Mbeki have clearly demonstrated a tough willingness to use their countries global influence to intervene in regional conflicts and also plead for Africaâ€™s case to the international community while denouncing shortcomings at home. Theyâ€™re insisting that while Western media cover conflicts in Africa, they must also report on the new political and economic initiatives that are being undertaken.
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