Home Opinion Pan Africanism, Africa Day And The Challenges Of Development

Pan Africanism, Africa Day And The Challenges Of Development



By Etim Etim

The deepening economic challenges in Nigeria and many other African countries have sent leaders and policy makers scampering frantically looking for solutions in foreign lands. President Bola Tinubu and Vice President Shettima have made over 20 foreign trips in just 8 months, looking for the elusive foreign investors to help Nigeria. They have appeared at the G20, G8, WEF and other global platforms to position the country as a suitable investment destination. It is the same road travelled by all our previous leaders. But why do Africans always fail to seek for solutions to their problems from within Africa? Can’t Africa help itself? Why are we so eager to run to the very people who contributed to the perils we are in?

These are the core questions that Pan Africanism has sought to answer for over 50 years now; they are the reasons that some university professors from Nigeria, Africa and other parts of the world have come together to establish The Pan African Dialogue Institute (TPADI), a civil society think tank for the study and propagation of Pan-Africanism. Pan-Africanism emerged as a response to the long history of the indignities of colonization, enslavement, and systemic oppression and exploitation faced by African people across the globe. TPADI, according to its President, Associate Prof. Effiong Udo of the University of Uyo, is a network of African academics, professionals and civil leaders within Africa and the diaspora, coming together to contribute to the building of developmental policies and practice in Africa. “As a civil society think tank, we take active interest in analyzing policy and practice frameworks of national governments as well as continental and global institutions with a view to advocating for all that which must genuinely benefit Africa and Africans. So, our work revolves around social, economic, political, religious and cultural issues, as well as scientific, environmental, educational, legal, gender and business domains’’, he told this writer.

The African Union defines Pan-Africanism as: “… an ideology and movement that encouraged the solidarity of Africans worldwide. It is based on the belief that unity is vital to economic, social and political progress and aims to ‘unify and uplift’ people of African descent. The ideology asserts that the fates of all African peoples and countries are intertwined. At its core, Pan-Africanism is “a belief that African peoples both on the continent and in the diaspora, share not merely a common history, but a common destiny.” According to Udo, from the early days of Pan Africanism till today, the advocacy for the unity, solidarity, and empowerment of people of African descent worldwide continues to be a potent force driving discussions on identity, liberation, and socio-political progress of the continent and its people.

The Pan African Dialogue Institute is therefore established to pursue the decolonization of the mind through policy analysis, policy building and advocacy around multi-faceted issues within the threshold of Pan-African principles.
“Our job is to inspire excellence and best practices in Pan Africanism, promote African values of community, hospitality, respect for human and environmental dignity, unity in diversity, love and solidarity with all, as encapsulated in the Ubuntu philosophy’’. We are seeking to reverse the mentality that Africans are not capable of helping themselves and solving their problems. We are seeking to celebrate the unity, resilience and collective identity of people of African descent around the world. And, we want to achieve all that by fostering dialogue and cooperation among individuals, communities, institutions and nations”, said Prof Udo, the Institute’s President.

He laments the seeming lukewarm attitude of African leaders towards Pan Africanism, and wonders why, for example, many African countries, including Nigeria, do not even remember to mark International Africa Day. It is on record that on May 25, 1963, leaders of the then 32 independent African States signed a founding charter in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which brought the Organization of African Unity into existence. In 2002, the OAU established its own successor, the African Union, and adopted May 25 every year as a day to celebrate Africa and highlight the continents continued struggle against neocolonialism, exploitation and adversity.

‘’Surprisingly, ever since the day was declared, only nine African countries (The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Lesotho, Mali, Mauritania, Zambia and Zimbabwe) are known to observe May 25 as public holiday with celebrations. The other 46 countries, including Nigeria are less aware of this very important day’’, laments Prof Udo in a wide-ranging discussion in his office at the University of Uyo. For the 2024 Africa Day, The Pan African Dialogue Institute (TPADI) is taking the lead to mark the day in a grand ceremony. The institute would be formally launched on that day at the sidelines of the first international conference on “Dialogue and Pan Africanism’’ holding between May 23 and 26 at the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. The conference is held in collaboration with Centre for Deep Dialogue and Critical Thinking, Directorate of International Programmes and Faculties of Arts, Law, Social Sciences, and Communication and Media Studies of the University of Uyo.

Already, Professor P.L.O Lumumba has confirmed his participation as the keynote speaker at the conference, while plenary speakers will include Prof. Mutombo Nkulu-N’Sengha (DR Congo/USA), Prof. Mary Nyangweso (Kenya/USA), Prof. Emmanuel Akpabio (Nigeria), Amb. Daniel Guttierez (Rep. of Belize), Prof. Joseph Ushie (Nigeria), Dr. Donatus Ukpong (Nigeria), Prof. Chris Ekong (Nigeria), Prof. Peter Esu (Nigeria), Dr. Jean-Louis Ikambana (USA), Prof. Aniekan Brown (Nigeria), Prof. Mojisola Iseyin (Nigeria), Prof. Gabriel Umoh (Nigeria), Dr. Ubong Essien Umoh (Nigeria), among others.

The conference seeks to provide informed Pan-Africanist perspectives on a wide range of issues affecting Africa and its people everywhere in the world. Presenters are invited to explore the trajectories of development in the continent from the lens of Pan-Africanism. It will be interesting to probe the different approaches, theories, philosophies or ideologies that have been adopted at community, national and continental levels by key players to drive developmental efforts. How much have the indigenous knowledge systems and practices been embraced or discarded in propelling the continent towards genuine freedom and development? The transformation of the lingering social, political and economic impasse in the continent requires the critical evaluation of African scholars and professionals toward the achievement of stability, peace, and freedom as envisioned in the 2063 Agenda of the African Union.

President Effiong Udo is full of gratitude to the Vice Chancellor of University of Uyo, Professor Nyaudoh Ndaeyo and his Management team for embracing the study of Pan-Africanism, and supporting the hosting of the conference.
“We are expecting a host of dignitaries from across Nigeria and the globe, including the former President of Nigeria, His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to serve as Chairman of the Africa Day events, and the Vice President of Colombia, Her Excellency, Francia Marguez, who had since indicated interest in attending. In this regard, we are working with the Federal Government of Nigeria to actualize the coming of Her Excellency, the Colombian Vice President. We are also hopeful that the Akwa Ibom State Government ably led by His Excellency, Pastor Umo Eno will be happy to help facilitate the hosting of this global event in Uyo because of the attendance of so many international dignitaries’’, said Prof Udo. His expectation is that with the launch of the institute and the hosting of the international conference, “Nigeria will not only join to keep alive the intellectual dimension of Pan Africanism, but also become a major player in championing the struggle for unity, human and environmental dignity, self-determination and cultural renaissance that are needed for the lasting peace and prosperity of the African people’’.

Etim is a Journalist and a Political Analyst based in Abuja


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