Columnist/Opinion

Pan-Africanism is dead!

by Tendai Ruben Mbofana

Twice, in as many weeks, I have heard Zimbabwe President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa speak on the need to preserve Pan-Africanism.

Yesterday was the latest, as he attended a memorial service held in honour of the late Namibian President Hage Geingob in Windhoek.

The other time was when Mnangagwa participated at the 37th Ordinary Session of the AU (African Union) Assembly last week, in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa – where he boldly declared that Pan-Africanism was still alive.

I found myself wondering: What Pan-Africanism?

In fact, what would Mnangagwa know about Pan-Africanism?

Over the past few years, I have never ceased being perplexed as to whatever happened to true Pan-Africanism.

How did we move from a concept that was so beautiful – to something that is now being abused by ruthless African dictators to justify oppressing their own citizens?

If ever I had encountered any paradox in my life, then this is the most outstanding of them all.

I have a life-long passion for history.

One of the most fascinating to study was the ideals of Pan-Africanism.

These were espoused and propagated by such luminaries as Marcus Garvey, William Edward Burghardt (WED) Du Bois, and so many others.

Their desire was for all peoples of African descent from across the globe to stand together as one united people.

This was more important in the face of slavery and colonialism – as Africans needed to free themselves in order to finally enjoy the dignity and prosperity they deserved.

Such a spirit is what inspired many Africans into fighting for our independence.

Who would not admire and want that?

However, as we attained our independence from colonial rule, the concept of Pan-Africanism took on a more disturbing terrifying face.

It became clear that our post-independence leaders were never genuinely Pan-African but were only after serving their own selfish interests.

In typical Animal Farm fashion, suddenly ‘all Africans were equal, but some Africans were more equal than others’.

Our former liberators had swiftly morphed into our new oppressors.

In all this, they still hid behind the facade of Pan-Africanism.

They gave the impression that their tyrannical ways were all for the good of the citizens, who needed to be protected from neo-imperialists who sought to undo the gains of independence.

As such, anyone who dared oppose or criticize or stand up against the post-independence ruling elite was brutally clamped down upon – under the guise of  Pan-Africanism and fighting neo-imperialists.

Those in power could then freely loot national resources and carry out corruption with impunity, knowing fully well that any resistance from the citizenry would be crushed.

Does this not remind us of the pigs in Animal Farm?

Surely, what was so Pan-Africanist about the late Zimbabwe dictator Robert Gabriel Mugabe?

As a matter of fact, what is Pan-African about his successor Mnangagwa?

What gives him the audacity to even mention that Pan-Africanism was still alive?

Alive where?

What is Pan-Africanist about Mugabe savagely massacring tens of thousands of innocent unarmed fellow Africans?

To make matters worse, this was barely two years into independence and the horrendous atrocities based purely on the victims’ language and tribe.

In the early 2000s, he further massacred hundreds more Africans simply for supporting the opposition?

Was that being a Pan-Africanist?

Yet, this is the same man SADC (Southern African Development Community) decided to honour as a hero and Pan-Africanist in 2022.

What utter nonsense and huge insult on the likes on Garvey and du Bois.

Surely, this is not what they had in mind when they came up with this concept.

Mnangagwa is not any better.

Besides having been an integral and central component of the heinous murderous Mugabe regime, his own track record as president is nothing to be proud of.

The brutal oppression of fellow Africans in Zimbabwe has continued.

Barely nine months after assuming power through a coup d’état, scores of unarmed civilians – protesting unexplained delays in announcing presidential election results – were gunned down on the streets of the capital Harare on 1st August 2018.

This hideous act was repeated a few months later, on 15th January 2019, as at least eight people were massacred whilst they demonstrated against fuel increases.

Voices of dissent have systematically been incarcerated on spurious charges.

Opposition activist Job Sikhala spent two years behind bars in pre-trial detention, whilst repeatedly denied his constitutional right to bail.

Jacob Ngarivhume languished in prison for eight months, as part of a four year jail sentence, on a conviction that lacked prima facie evidence.

Numerous more have been attacked, beaten up, abducted, and killed on the basis of their political allegiances.

Just last year, two opposition supporters (Tinashe Chitsunge and Bishop Tapfumanei Masaya) were ruthlessly killed in Harare.

Then, the most cold-hearted cruelty against fellow Africans is the unimaginable suffering and poverty authored by the ruling elite.

What justice and Pan-Africanism is there when nearly half the population of Zimbabwe lives in extreme poverty?

Is that Pan-Africanism when an estimated 3.5 million ordinary citizens are facing hunger?

Yet, in all this, those in power – who want to be regarded as Pan-Africanists – are looting national resources with reckless abandon, as they live in obscene opulence in a sea of poverty.

In spite of the abundance we have is our God-given mineral wealth – the fruits are only enjoyed by a handful of the powerful and those aligned to them.

As a matter of fact, those communities living in areas where minerals have been discovered are ruthlessly removed without any meaningful compensation, neither are they benefiting from their own wealth.

Where are the people of Chiadzwa today?

Under what conditions are they living?

Rural areas are still largely stuck in the state they were in during the colonial era – if not worse, since the infrastructure constructed in that period now lies in ruin.

Why are we still walking over 20 kilometres to the nearest health care facility nearly 44 years after independence?

Would the US$3 billion our country is losing annually through mineral smuggling, illicit financial transactions, and other corrupt activities not have gone a long way in solving these challenges?

Surely, would we not be having state-of-the-art cancer machines (at every public hospital), essential medications, and functional ambulances?

Yet, the ruling elite would rather purchase a US$54 million presidential jet!

How many cancer machines could we have bought?

How many lives would have been saved had that US$54 million been used for the benefit of the citizens?

Why are Zimbabweans still dying from ancient diseases as cholera – in a country lacking the most basic potable water supply mechanisms?

Is that what Mnangagwa describes as ‘Pan-Africanism still alive’?

Where is he seeing Pan-Africanism in this horrible cruelty against Zimbabweans?

In fact, where on the entire African continent is Pan-Africanism still alive?

Genuine Pan-Africanism is about putting the interests of fellow Africans ahead of personal ambitions and pleasures.

Pan-Africanism is about selflessness in the pursuit of a better life for the majority.

As far as I am concerned, Pan-Africanism died a long time ago!

● Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate and writer. Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or email: mbofana.tendairuben73@gmail.com, or visit website: https://mbofanatendairuben.news.blog/

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