Vernon Mwaanga with Alexander Chikwanda meeting the George Bush Senior
Vernon Mwaanga with Alexander Chikwanda meeting the George Bush Senior

By Vernon Johnson Mwaanga

IT IS 56 years since our founding fathers got together in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 25th May, 1963 to form the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), which 38 years later was transformed into the African Union (AU). Prior to the formation of the OAU, two groups informally existed, namely the Casablanca Group and the Monroviai Group, which formally disbanded in May 1963 and became part of the OAU. Africa Day (formerly Africa Liberation Day and Africa Freedom Day) is the commemoration of the founding of the OAU, now known as the AU.

Africa’s freedom did not come easy. It had to be fought for. Brave men, women and youth paid for it with their blood, life and sacrifice.

Africa Day continues to be celebrated both in Africa and around the world. Many African countries which include Zambia, Ghana, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Mali, etc, recognise Africa Day as a public holiday. Other countries across the African continent also have different forms ofo celebrations to mark this historic day. Cities such as London, New York, Dublin, Washington DC, and Melbourne engage in academic gatherings and cultural showcases to mark the day.

The end of World War Two saw a redoubling of efforts from the people of Africa to speed up the process of decolonisation and to end apartheid in South Africa.

Thus, between 1945 and 1965, a significant number of African countries gained independence from European colonial powers, with Ghana becoming the first African country, south of the Sahara to gain independence on 6th March, 1957 under the leadership of Kwame Nkrumah. Ghana’s independence, therefore served as a great inspiration to other African countries fighting against colonial rule and apartheid.

A year after its independence, Ghana convened the first Conference of Independent African States on 15 April, 1958. African countries in attendance included Ethiopia, Libya Sudan, Liberia, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco amongst others, with representatives of liberation movements from Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), South Africa, Tanganyika ((now Tanzania), Kenya, Algeria and Cameroon.

This conference served as a collective platform for Africa’s explicit rejection of colonial and imperialist domination. It also became the first Pan African liberation conference to be held on the African continent.

Five years later on May 25 1963, following the sentiments expressed at the Ghana conference, the Organisation of African Unity was formed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, hosted by the Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie.

Over thirty states attended this meeting, as well as representatives of liberation movements from the former British and Portuguese colonies and apartheid South Africa. Zambia was represented by Dr Kenneth Kaunda, who was then Minister of Local Government in the UNIP-ANC coalition government.

At that conference, a charter was adopted where the organisation reaffirmed its commitment to support the liberation struggle until every inch of the African Continent was liberated from the yoke of colonialism and apartheid.

The African leaders also made a commitment to improve the living standards of the people of Africa and move towards building greater unity among all the people of Africa. At this very conference, Emperor Selassie declared that “May this convention of union last 1,000 years”.

Subsequently, the OAU formed a Liberation Committee which was based in Dar es Salaam at the invitation of president Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, and a sub regional office was set up in Lusaka at the invitation of president Kaunda and based at Chilimbulu Road, which was initially headed by freedom icon Mukuka Nkoloso.

Many freedom movements were based at the liberation centre such ZANU and ZAPU of Zimbabwe; ANC and PAC of South Africa; FRELIMO of Mozambique; SWAPO of Namibia and MPLA of Angola.

This decision to host these liberation movements at the liberation centre in Lusaka came at a high price.

Zambia was constantly being bombed by the apartheid regime in South Africa, the Portuguese colonialists operating from Mozambique and Angola and the illegal regime of Ian Smith in Southern Rhodesia, which resulted in the wanton destruction of infrastructure in many parts of Zambia, death and maiming of many Zambians. It was indeed the high price of principles and I give credit to the gallant people of Zambia, who unwaveringly supported their leaders during this difficult period. It would have been impossible to continue this stance without their support. The people always told the leaders never to give up this struggle until every inch of Africa was was free from colonialism and apartheid.

Africa Day also means a lot more, because of subsequent decisions which have been taken by the African Union to accelerate economic development, integration, gender equality, democratic governance, the holding of free, fair, transparent and democratic elections which would meet international standards and be a true reflection of the will of their people, adoption of Africa’s Agenda 2063, zero tolerance to military coups and undemocratic changes of governments without the express will of their people, disease control and prevention, managing conflicts on the African continent, formation of regional organisations such as SADC, ECOWAS, East African Community, IGAD and the Maghreb, to act as stepping stones towards the creation of one Africa, among many others.

Yes there have been challenges and disappointing setbacks. As the founding fathers stepped aside to allow for generational changes, many of what they represented and stood for have either been abandoned or severely compromised. Unbridled corruption among some African leaders has become the order of the day. Many have amassed conspicuous wealth at the expense of their people.

Some of the new leaders are putting self above service to the people who elected them and many African countries have reduced their people to nothingness, with some saying that they were better off when the colonialists were still in charge. Some African countries have become failed states as their citizens vote with their feet and preferring to die on high seas in search of better lives.

Cruelty, inhumanity, shrinking democratic space and press freedom have become the order of the day in some African countries as the lust for personal wealth and power have taken root. It is the duty of the younger African leaders to arrest this perilous drift away from what was left by the founding fathers.

They should rebuild unity and inclusiveness which have served our continent well in the past. They should encourage innovation and creativity in order to rebuild African economies and make them less dependent on debilitating loans and international aid and make fair trade the corner stone of their economic policies and programmes.

There are many Africans who feel betrayed and let down by their new leaders. They should not lose hope, because our continent still has a lot to offer to its people and the world at large. We still have abundant mineral, human and other resources, which can be put to much better use, provided there is enlightened and visionary leadership.

We cannot erase our ugly and sometimes cruel past, but we can learn from it and make our continent a better place for the people of Africa and I mean all the people.

The Author was Zambia’s first diplomat, as Deputy High Commissioner in London and a founding member of the Movement for Multi-Party Democracy and served in various government portfolios.

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29 COMMENTS

  1. George Herbert Walker Bush, grandson of George Herbert Walker (co-founder of the Federal Reserve of the USA). George Herbert Walker Bush, of the Skull & Bones society at Yale, has most likely worked for the CIA since it was founded in 1947. In 1976 he became CIA Director under Vice President Nelson Rockefeller. The Bushes have worked for the Rockefellers since at least 1908, when Samuel Prescott Bush became the President of the Buckeye Steel Castings Company of Columbus, Ohio, after John D. Rockefeller’s brother Franklin ‘Frank’ Rockefeller stepped down. The Rockefellers are also very close to the Rothschild barons, who are very close to the Windsors, Nassaus, Habsburgs – i.e. the former Holy Roman Empire families. It’s the same old empire.

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    • That is nice picture of Chikwanda and VJ, imagine from those guys compare to those in PF now.
      Ba Edgar keep singing ” Mwe Lesa chenjeni abanandi…”

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    • I hope you have written books so that posterity can understand your contribution to this beloved country even in the somewhat wasted years of Man Chilu’s aka Kafupi years.
      People like you VJ need to write books that document your experience in Government and your participation in the electoral systems before the lawd calls you.
      I will be glad to read them.

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    • VJ is probably one of the most patriotic ,and smart Zambians out there.
      What beats me about our past leaders though is that while they focused so much on political independence, they gave little thought about economical emancipation . The white man came with a two pronged agenda political and economical they gave us back the political and kept the economical one. There is no true african freedom without economical freedom.
      Incidentally the word freedom comes from 3 words FREE FROM DOMINIONS.Africa is NOT free because we are still economically dominated.
      I would to hear VJ comment on this . Is Africa free???

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    • “-dom” is not a word, but a suffix meaning condition or state. Additionally, it is not derived from “dominion”. In other words, it is not a clip from “dominion”. It is just like any other suffix such as -ize, -ion, -able, -ly, -ic, -al, -ment, etc. For instance, it is found in words like “boredom”, “wisdom”, etc.

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  2. For those that don’t know me well , I am married to a Swiss woman and we have 4 children together. I need advice from you all . Last night when putting my youngest child to bed, she innocently asked me “dad am I black or white “? And she went further to say she wants to belong to some race. I was speechless. What would u all have said in that situation?

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    • Yatuta thanks for your response. However my daughter is at that age where she is asking so many questions. Her next question will be why I am picking black over white. She knows her mother is not black so she will ask why I haven’t picked mummys side also. I tell u kids bwafya

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    • A genuine question, which we who are in bi-racial marriages have to deal with. I am 25 years married to a white woman, fortunately, I did not wait for my kids to ask me, but was proactively telling them to accept who they were and that what color of skin was not important, what was import was who they were.
      I know it is a tough question.

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    • At general kanene thank you for your reply.i hope your family is fine and doing well. It is a very tough question. I will take your advice. I think my fear is that she might be or will find it hard to have a sense of belonging especially at school.we have decided to teach her about her zambian roots as we know schools here don’t bother teaching about Africa. We also try to take her to zambia when we can. I think that question caught me off guard. Thanks from me and my wife elisa

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    • @ no. 3 a dimwit trying mushota hehehe

      The guy is just here in batoka suffering. When you are abroad which I have, you really have no time for the nosence in Zambian politics.

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    • @ its political, your name says it all mate. those that have been on this site from the beginning will inform you that I was blogging here years before mushota joined. I went under the name walai and mushotas existence on here was due to her trying to stir confusion to offset the the huge following I had. Please am not here to discuss non entities like mushota. I asked a genuine question from fellow bloggers. If You have nothing to contribute please just keep your thoughts to yourself. Nothing special about being abroad. I have many businesses in Zambia and spend more than half my time in Zambia. You seem to have inferiority complex. Shame

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    • You are an illusionist livinng is an imaginary fiery tale crystal castle.

      How can an accomplished professional have time for your level of contributions.

      The country is at cross roads and and we need serious contributions, yet you busy posting bed time stories of a swiss woman and swiss kids , sounds like a 17th century folklore or Shakespeare kind of stuff

      Grow up

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    • the benefits of decentralization, delegation and advancement in information technology means that you can own assets such as houses etc the other side of the world but still ensure that they are managed effectively. It seems you have a “guide” on how every accomplished person should live their lives. I bet you also have a view of how they should dress and how they shoot pass wind (fart). The only one that is behaving like an infant here is the one who seems to have a problem with my posts and yet still finds it hard to desist or ignore my posts. No one has held a gun to your head and forced you to read my posts or comment on them. Shame

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    • Your children are both white and black. White people have a tendency to call children born of black and white parents as black. The question is why they do so. Sometimes it may be lack of acceptance even in this day and age of children from mixed marriages. Some whites who are against mixed marriages even go to the extent of showing intolerance to fellow whites who marry blacks by saying that they contaminate the white race. What matters is that your children belong to the human race to which belong both white and black people.

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  3. Wherever your kid goes she will be considered black, so might aswell inculcate that in her right from the beginning so she is comfortable with it. I think the bigger picture is instilling enough confidence in her that she came on earth with EVERYTHING she needs to be successful, and that her skin will have zero contribution to her success,all she needs is her Mind.

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    • Yatuta is right… I experienced it the time I lived in the West. I went as ‘Coloured’ and came back as ‘Black’. Yatuta’s ‘programming’ would have saved me from hours of endless thoughts on feeling unaccepted.

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  4. A genuine question, which we who are in bi-racial marriages have to deal with. I am 25 years married to a white woman, fortunately, I did not wait for my kids to ask me, but was proactively telling them to accept who they were and that what color of skin was not important, what was import was who they were.
    I know it is a tough question.

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    • At general kanene thank you for your reply.i hope your family is fine and doing well. It is a very tough question. I will take your advice. I think my fear is that she might be or will find it hard to have a sense of belonging especially at school.we have decided to teach her about her zambian roots as we know schools here don’t bother teaching about Africa. We also try to take her to zambia when we can. I think that question caught me off guard. Thanks from me and my wife elisa. Thanks

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  5. The failed State of Somalia is a blight on Africa. It’s good you have touched on unbridled corruption because I have been expecting those that worked with LPM to comment on the KCM issue but none of you have volunteered to defend the transaction. We still don’t know what happened to the millions of dollars that were spent on the winter maize deal with his former clients. It’s easy to say Chiluba is a thief

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  6. ……Yes there have been challenges and disappointing setbacks. As the founding fathers stepped aside to allow for generational changes, many of what they represented and stood for have either been abandoned or severely compromised…..

    The ‘founding fathers’ wanted to stay in power forever and therefore conveniently neglected to mentor anyone to take over. The same curse will befall Rwanda; Kagame is not mentoring anyone to take over. Look at Zim as well, not mentioning Libya. The great KK, also.

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  7. How to we reconcile Africa Freedom Day with the continued existence of a Colonial relic of the Public Order Act (POA) which continues to restrict Freedom of Assembly and Freedom of Association?
    Should we continue celebrating while still in chains? Do we have freedom when we need police permits to have public assembly?

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  8. Dr VJ Mwaanga, that is a sign of true leadership and pan Africanism. Contrast that with that ka boi Trib.al Hacks, completely empty, no identity except trib.al

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