AFRIKA LIBERATION DAY
This Thursday, mother continent celebrates Afrika Day. It was on May 25 in 1963 that 32 Heads of independent Afrikan States met in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa to form the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), the precursor of the African Union (AU).
Among the eminent leaders who attended the launch include Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Sekou Toure of Guinea and his Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie of Ethiopia.
The leaders adopted an OAU founding charter that read in part:
“We, the Heads of African States and Governments assembled in the City of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia,
Convinced that it is the inalienable right of all people to control their own destiny,
Conscious of the fact that freedom, equality, justice and dignity are essential objectives for the achievement of the legitimate aspirations of the African peoples,
Conscious of our responsibility to harness the natural and human resources of our continent for the total advancement of our peoples in all spheres of human endeavor,
Inspired by a common determination to promote understanding among our peoples and cooperation among our States in response to the aspirations of our peoples for brother-hood and solidarity, in a larger unity transcending ethnic and national differences,
Convinced that, in order to translate this determination into a dynamic force in the cause of human progress, conditions for peace and security must be established and maintained,
Determined to safeguard and consolidate the hard-won independence as well as the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our states, and to fight against neo-colonialism in all its forms,
Dedicated to the general progress of Africa,
Persuaded that the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to the Principles of which we reaffirm our adherence, provide a solid foundation for peaceful and positive cooperation among States,
Desirous that all African States should henceforth unite so that the welfare and wellbeing of their peoples can be assured,
Resolved to reinforce the links between our States by establishing and strengthening common institutions.”
The OAU explicitly committed itself to defend the sovereignty, the territorial integrity and independence of African States and to eradicate all forms of colonialism from Afrika.
Sixty years after the adoption of the charter by the founding fathers of the OAU, the questions remain. Is Afrika united? Has Afrika defeated neo-colonialism? Is Afrika at peace with herself?
With regard to continental unity, there was further impetus to the ideal when the OAU was transformed into the African Union in Durban in July of 2002.
Fast forward to today. Do Afrikans have a reason to celebrate? Yes and no. Yes, because as Afrikan people through their gallant struggles have been able to defeat colonialism. No, because while colonialism has been defeated, it has been replaced with neo-colonialism. Yes, because Afrikans are governing their own countries. But No, because while Afrikans are in office, they continue to be puppets of their imperialist forces because virtually all Afrikan countries are not economically free.
Many Afrikans countries still rely on aid from their former colonial masters to feed their population.
Afrikan leaders who dared challenge imperialism such as Colonel Muammar Gaddafi of Libya and Patrice Lumumba of the Congo were violently toppled from power and murdered.
The continent remains a source of supply of raw material to foreign powers both in the West and East. Its people continue to suffer from hunger and disease. With the rising levels of poverty on the continent, millions of Afrikans are forced to flee the continent to seek a better life in Europe and in America. Thousands of Afrikans drown in the Mediterranean Sea every year as they try to smuggle themselves into Europe.
Misrule in many countries such as Zimbabwe, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo has forced millions to seek refuge and better economic prospects in other countries. As economic migrants flock into countries with better economic prospects such as Botswana and South Africa, Afrikans are turning on each other as they fight for limited economic opportunities.
Is there hope for this continent that is the mother of civilization?
Black Consciousness, the potent philosophy for the removal of mental chains, remains the effective tool to change the fortunes of Afrika and its people. At the core of our problems as Afrikan people is the deep psychological feeling of inferiority, self-hate and a belief that whites possess all the solutions to our problems. This is why Afrikans, although they have access to precious minerals, go to Europe and China, cap in hand, to plead for foreign investment. The plea is that those countries should come and exploit our natural resources and all we want is jobs for our people. We may have access to land, but we still import beef from an island country like Britain.
The speech delivered by Haile Selassie to the United Nations General Assembly in October of 1963 remains relevant when he said:
“On the question of racial discrimination, the Addis Ababa Conference taught, to those who will learn, this further lesson:
that until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned;
that until there are no longer first class and second class citizens of any nation;
that until the colour of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes;
that until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race;
that until that day, the dream of lasting peace and world citizenship and the rule of international morality will remain but a fleeting illusion, to be pursued but never attained.
And until the ignoble and unhappy regimes that hold our brothers in Angola, in Mozambique and in South Africa in subhuman bondage have been toppled and destroyed;
until bigotry and prejudice and malicious and inhuman self-interest have been replaced by understanding and tolerance and good-will;
until all Africans stand and speak as free beings, equal in the eyes of all men, as they are in the eyes of Heaven;
until that day, the African continent will not know peace. We Africans will fight, if necessary, and we know that we shall win, as we are confident in the victory of good over evil.”
SOUTH AFRICAN LEARNERS CANNOT READ
A report by Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) has found that 81 percent of learners in South African schools cannot read for meaning after four years of schooling.
A similar study conducted in 2016 had found that 78% of Grade 4 learners could not read for meaning. This means that the situation in the country is getting worse.
While there are many factors contributing to this state of affairs, experts say the main cause of the problem is that South African children are denied the opportunity to learn in their mother tongue in the foundation stage. Children are forced to learn in English before they could master learning their mother tongue and this affects their ability to learn effectively and understand what they are reading.
Parents can argue that the reason they force their children to learn in English is because the schools in the villages and townships are largely dysfunctional. Parents have to spend their last money to transport their children to the former whites-only schools because they know that that is the only place they can get quality education.
And the former Model-C schools Black parents are ready to have their children learn in English because they also believe that English is the language of commerce in the country.
Other factors contributing to poor quality of education is lack of infrastructure in Black schools. Almost 30 years after the dawn of democracy, it is still only Afrikan children who have to learn in mud schools or under trees.
Then there is a problem that many Black teachers simply do not make an effort to teach. Many of these teachers have their children in the former white schools and have come to accept that there is no effective learning and teaching happening in the Black community.
If the findings of the PIRLS report are to be reversed, the entire nation would have to take more keen interest in the education of the Black child. After all, it has been proven that education is the most potent weapon to fight poverty and create a more prosperous society.
SIGN FOR BIKO CAMPAIGN
This weekend AZAPO goes to Thembisa to launch its campaign to collect 100 000 signatures as part of the program to prepare for the national and provincial elections expected to be held next year.
The launch will be led by senior leaders of the Movement including AZAPO President Cde Nelvis Qekema and National Chairperson Cde Simphiwe Hashe.
AZAPO will also use the occasion to encourage people to register for the elections. In the last national elections, the majority of people did not vote, a sign that more people are increasingly getting disillusioned with politics.
It is understandable why many people are losing faith in the electoral political system. The electorate has been misled. The promises of a better life by politicians who are in Parliament remains a mirage. Unemployment has reached record levels with youth unemployment as high as 70 percent.
Many people do not have access to basic services such as water. The nation is subjected to intense load shedding of up to 10 hours without power. In some areas, especially in Black communities, people are expected to live without electricity for weeks.
Public health care system has effectively collapsed in many parts of the country. Only those who have medical aid can survive as they use the private health care system.
The cost of living is rising faster than the rate of pay increase for the majority of the people.
Given all these challenges, it is understandable why people are angry with the system. However, the message that AZAPO leaders will be sharing with people in Thembisa is that precisely because the government is failing, people should register for elections in their numbers to remove the thieves from power. The vote remains a powerful tool for change. Burning tyres and blocking high-ways and regional roads will not change anything but a vote for AZAPO will.
AZAPO has a plan to save this country from the misrule of decades. At the core of the plan is to remind people that they are their own liberators. AZAPO has to remind people that they alone can make a difference wherever they are. This is in line with AZAPO’s strategic program: I AM THE SOLUTION.
The program urges ordinary people to make a positive difference where they are. For instance, if you are a policeman, do your job with honour and integrity. If you are a teacher, teach with all the passion you can master. If you are a nurse, serve the patients with love and care.