Monday, January 18, 2010


Time for the United States of Africa!

Ishmael Mzwandile Soqaga is very passionate about issues of Pan-Africanism. Here, he talks to Jerry about the prospects of Africans uniting for a common course…

JERRY: What is the background to this firm beliefs, credo, of yours?

ISHMAEL MZWANDILE SOQAGA: Post independence Africa has introduced a new era of hope for the African continent, it brings about significant change for the survival of the continent and Africans today are enthusiastically cheerful to the cause of African continent. Actually I believe African governments are seriously determined to usher in the unity and sustainable development of our continent. I am aware that Africa boasted enormous civilization in the past and I am ferociously conscious that in the past neither Africa was a Dark Continent nor was forgotten.

Primarily before the arrival of the white man, Africa was a continent unique in its own the indigenous people were largely enjoying the life as it was and they never complained or wished to embark in so-called revolution. They were having their own civilization of which was the best and appropriate to their context. Nevertheless, the impact of the white man in this continent caused a thorn and burden to the hearts and lives of the Africans and the African continent. The white man was conscious that Africa is utterly different from Europe. Therefore, they sought ways and means to divide Africa and the Africans.

These methods included cheating our ancestral kings to sign agreements that allow them to possess land and to teach Africans the “new and the good” religion, which is Christianity. Christianity was used as the way to convert the Africans to the more advanced (technologically at least) culture of the Europeans. Eventually Europeans established themselves as colonial masters and they unfairly mistreated indigenous people of Africa. In fact, the scramble for Africa ensued after the Berlin international conference in Germany in 1885-86 the conference was all about to reinforce and to formalize colonial policy. This policy was very destructive to the Africans, it never considered the welfare of the Africans, but rather its concern was to use Africans as laborers and slaves in the land of their own birth

But white presence in Africa dates back to centuries ago, doesn’t it?

Actually, before the aforementioned conference Europeans’ presence in Africa was very strong. In South Africa in 1652, the Dutch and East Indian Company under the leadership of Jan Van Reebeck settled in Cape peninsula. Most of the European countries were occupying most of African lands, in Namibia and Togo Germany was in control. Britain, France, Portugal, Spain embarked on the brutal, heinous, barbaric Atlantic Slave Trade where thousands of Africans were exported to the new world. It was very terrible for the life of the black African man and women in the hands of the white man. The purpose of colonizing Africa and other parts of the world was motivated by the sentiment of greed and material gains of which white man sought most. The colonizers looted and exploited Africa’s minerals to the larger extent they never showed sympathy and remorse for the development of indigenous people of Africa.

Africa was not passive then. There were pockets of resistance?

The Europeans encountered fierce opposition from Africans and they never practised their despicable and obnoxious acts so comfortably. For many centuries, Africans fought so hard for the liberation of the African continent. The fight against inimical colonial rule was both physical and intellectual. The Africans engaged in physical attacks and diplomatic tactics against the intruders. In addition, Europeans never conquered Africa completely; they were unsuccessful to take over Ethiopia and Liberia. In Ethiopia alone, Emperor Menelik inflicted an even greater defeat on the Italians, at Adowa on March 1, 1896, forcing them to capitulate. Subsequently a treaty was signed at Addis Ababa recognizing the absolute sovereign independence of Ethiopia. In South Africa, King Cethswayo of the Zulus humiliated the British in the battle of Isandlwane in 1879. All the wars of resistance that were fought against colonial rule throughout African continent served to promote common vision among the Africans. These wars are part of our history and they inspire Africans to work together for the common vision of African unity among the Africans.

You are a great admirer of Kwame Nkrumah, aren’t you?

In 1957 something colossal took place in Africa Ghana triumphed over British colonial rule. The independence of Ghana as the first country in Africa to gain independence says a lot about the future of the African continent. It sent the message of hope and ever-anticipating dream for the liberation of
African continent from colonial rule. Kwame Nkrumah “Osagyefo” – which means “redeemer” in the Twi language, led Ghana’s independence. Nkrumah was an intellectual and an inspiring lecturer in political science.

Professor Nkrumah when he assumed the role of president never ignored the fact that Ghana “was not free until the rest of the continent became free”. Nkrumah was also perhaps best known politically for his strong commitment to and promotion of Pan- Africanism. Having been inspired by the writings and his relationships with black intellectuals like Marcus Garvey, WEB DuBois and George Padmore, Nkrumah went on to himself inspire and encourage Pan-Africanist positions amongst a number of other African independence leaders such as Edward Okadjian, and activists from the Eli Nrwoku’s African diaspora.