By Dr Nevers Sekwila Mumba
Former Vice President of Zambia and President of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy( MMD)
Africa Freedom Day Statement
Before we became bond men on our soil, we were free. We were widely regarded as the richest continent on earth. It was, in fact, for our wealth that we were colonized. It was for our wealth that we were divided and weakened. Today should remind us that Africa is the original cradle of human civilization. As we commemorate this year’s Africa Freedon Day, it should remind us that we signify what the beginning of life looked like. It is therefore impossible to keep a people like us under bondage. This day must remind us that we have our own heroes and liberators. We must publicly honor them and write our own books. Our history must be deliberately retold on this day.
LESSONS FROM HISTORY
Known as Africa Freedom Day, Africa Liberation Day or Africa Day. Today carries significant worth for every African. It reminds us of our prowess as a people to free ourselves from the shackles of colonialism and creates hope that united, we can defeat any enemy that may rise against us now or in the future. With our bare hands, we defeated well oiled colonial armies.
All it took was a decision to never again, be slaves on our own soil. The resolve was accompanied by fearless and principled leaders who at the price of their own blood unshackled the continent from slavery. It’s for this reason, every african must celebrate this day.
Today, Africa stands as one of the most enlightened continents. It has produced great scholars. Historians, Scientists, Doctors and many in other fields. It has produced the likes of Ali Mazrui, Chinua Achebe, Patrice Lumumba and others who have ably diagnosed the core problem of our continent. From Poor governance to high levels of poverty created by our own ignorance as to who we are as a people.
THE POST COVID-19
We are living at a pivotal time in World history. The world is about to change after COVID-19 from what it was before COVID-19. We are the generation chosen to shape tomorrow’s world. We are the transition.
My message to every african in the post COVID era is to insist that we frame our own future. We must not wait for the West to prescribe a future for us. If they do, they will place us exactly where they want us to be and that’s at the tail end of the new civilization as they did before. In 1884 at the Berlin Conference where Africa was apportioned to European Countries, no African was invited to the table. In Second World War Africans were mobilized to go and fight alongside our colonial masters. Countless number of Africans lost their lives, but when it came to share the benefits of victory, Britain, France, the United States and others, excluded Africa. The only thing we got was a new name of the “Third World.”
History is back again, except this time it has found us grown, matured and more enlightened. Accepting the back bench again would be an act of recklessness on our part.
Some of the areas we must immediately start to interrogate are how to protect and manage our wealth (natural resources). We must search for a new system by which we can govern ourselves which meets our aspirations as a people. We must be bold enough to embrace our cultural values above those we import through television and the internet. We must promote our natural foods which kept us healthy all of our history. We must promote our own music. We must promote our own clothes. We must be proud of our own languages.
If we don’t do our own thing, we shall always be at the back of the line imitating those ahead of us. This is a battle we can never win. We can’t beat an american at being american. Neither can an american beat an african at being african. It’s easier to be a carbon copy than an original. We must not choose the easy way forward. The Coronavirus pandemic provides a very unusual opportunity to reclaim our inheritance and our God given values. If we miss this turning point we may have to wait another hundred years before we can reshape our own destiny.
The larger part of this transformation shall depend on the type of leadership Africa shall select beyond COVID-19. If it will be business as usual with rigged elections, Africa’s plight shall be worse than in the last century. We shall rig our own future to our destruction.
Beyond COVID-19, african nations must re align their multilateral relations with the rest of the world. We must revisit all relations with China, USA, European Union, India and other G7 nations. Our relations MUST be based on mutual respect. To achieve this, we must leverage future bilateral or multilateral relations on our indisputable natural resources. Further, we must avoid the temptation of engaging the world’s bigger economies as individual countries. We must leverage our 1.3 billion population as a continent when dealing with China for instance. Gabon with a population of 2.2 million and a GDP of 16.8 billion cannot negotiate with China with a population of 1.3 billion and a GDP of 13.6 trillion.
Today, we fully understand our problems as a continent. We can no longer continue to outline our mess to the world. It’s time to change our story. To do this, we need new thinking and new leadership on the continent.
We need to set up special think tanks which constitute the best brains and hearts that Africa has, to deal with a new approach to governance and management of our resources.
Africa is now ready to lead.
I thank you.