Pan-Africanism: Bridging the Gap Between Rhetoric and Reality

Student thesis: Master Thesis and HD Thesis

  • Goddy Alunge Nzonji
“We all want a United Africa, United not only in our concept of what unity connotes, but united in our common desire to move forward together in dealing with all the problems that can best be solved only on a continental basis.” This evolutionary vision of Kwame Nkrumah was the outcome of the establishment of the OAU in 1963 which was disbanded thirty nine years after and replaced by the AU to fulfil the promises of a continent rich in resources but divided by history.
However, forty nine years since the establishment of the OAU, twenty two years since the fall of apartheid and ten years since the creation of the AU, Africa still falls short of evidence that it has more than wars, diseases, debts and poverty to show to the world. Instead of unity, more countries have sprung as pan-Africanism remains a dream despite the presence of the ubuntu spirit that overflows in the veins of the African man. New institutions like NEPAD or the Pan-African Parliament have been created. Much has been written and said but the bridge linking these steps with reality lingers in illusion.
A major outcome of the 21st century is observed to locate in globalization which is marked by the breaking of boundaries around the world. Despite being the oldest continent and originator of the human species, Africa has not been able to rise up to this challenge which involves the dismantling of boundaries; most of which were erected in the Berlin conference of 1884.
While recognizing some degree of unity when dealing with issues that are internally motivated, the continent has failed to walk on common grounds when it comes to foreign aggressions like in Libya. This has often resulted to a quick condemnation of foreign powers instead of an outright pan-African block to weaken or avert unwelcomed foreign presence. The recent emergence of new countries like Southern Sudan and the risk of a divided Libya are signals that the strength to realize a dream lies more on action than in talking..
Therefore, Could it be that Africa is incapable to unite, solve its own problems and relieve the rest of the world? Or could it be that there are invisible hands torpedoing Africa’s efforts to preserve three very vulnerable things: the African man, the African land and the African minerals? Or could it be that the continent is still putting Nkrumah warning to test when he says that "So many blessings flow from our unity, so many disasters must follow our continued disunity”? These questions and more make it plausible to investigate pan-Africanism with a focus on why the dream has not been concretized despite relentless talking and how this can be bridged.
Publication date31 May 2012
Number of pages61


ID: 63454221