Towards an Africa without Borders in the 21st Century: The Inspiration of Kwame Nkrumah By: HORACE CAMPBELL
Introduction This paper on the future of an Africa without borders is inspired by the spirit of love and the quest for unity and a better life. Both water and spirit are necessary ingredients for renewal and centralizing the humanization of the universe. Renewal and transformation of current political and economic relations are central components of the project for the restoration of the dignity of African peoples. In the 20th century, humanity was challenged by the eugenic conceptions of lower and higher breed humans that justified the ‘pacification’ of Africa, genocide and industrialized killings. The vibrant Pan-Africanism of the grassroots was one of the responses to the popularity of eugenics in Western Europe and North America. Today, that vibrancy requires a higher level of internationalism in order to focus on the bioethical questions that will face all humans.
Africa was partitioned in 1885 in the period when imperialism was dividing the last remaining independent territories on Earth. Pseudo-scientific racist ideas and religious justifications were later written to legitimize imperialist partitioning. Kwame Nkrumah stressed the fact that breaking down colonial borders was an ‘inescapable desideratum’ for changing the social, economic, and political patterns imposed on the continent by the colonial powers. The kind of continental union that Nkrumah envisaged was one that would, among other things, resolve border conflicts and better the lives of all Africans. The dignity and unification of peoples are interconnected. This unification is also premised on the quest for the preservation of life and the endangered ecosystem of the planet. The exact meaning of life and the future of life forms are now new issues for humans in the era of synthetic life and technological singularity. This is the promised era where humans break off into two species, namely ‘the Haves, who have superior intelligence and can live for hundreds of years, and the Have-Nots, who are hampered by their antiquated, corporeal forms and beliefs’i According to Ray Kurzweil (see footnote 1), we are much closer to the period when rapidly increasing computing power in concert with cyborg humans would reach a point when machine intelligence not only surpassed human intelligence, but took over the process of technological invention, with unpredictable consequences.
In this era of exponential technological change, some biotechnology companies have already deemed life to be an invention. African peoples who carry the memories of enslavement and imperial domination are very alert to the intellectual property rights claims which call for the patenting of life forms. These Africans who have a deep understanding of the ownership and commercialization of life have opposed the World Trade Organization (WTO) in its headlong rush to allow patents for living organisms. President Barack Obama of the United States has requested a full report on the claims by the human genome scientist J. Craig Venter, who claimed that he ‘has taken another step in his quest to create synthetic life, by synthesizing an entire bacterial genome and using it to take over a cell’.i
Scientists called this breakthrough a defining moment in the history of biology and biotechnology. However, the bioethical questions about who will have control over life bring back the debates on post-human scenarios when concerned citizens objected to those scientists who believed that they could play God. African peoples throughout the world have genuine reasons for following these scientific breakthroughs and the future of the 21st century where ‘intelligent robots’ could replace humans. It is in this era of intelligent robots when there is a fuller convergence between computational power, genetic engineering and nanotechnology that bio-political questions will become central to democratic questions. What would be the risks for humans if these powerful advances are guided by eugenic thinking about a hierarchy of humans?
Africans who were treated like robots to produce wealth for capitalists are being challenged to come up with bold alternatives to the project of dehumanization that is implicit in the rush to create synthetic life. African thinkers and scholars were aware that the word ‘robot’ is a derivation from robota in the Czech language which meant servitude, forced labour from rab, or slave. Whether in fiction or forward planning for military engagement in the 21st century, some writers already envisage a time when robots will do most manual work, and robots will be deployed for war to maintain the military superiority of societies such as the USA. These writers envisage that the class and racial structure of the past will remain intact in this period when the US society will be Wired for War.i
Nkrumah challenged this same imperial class and racial structure with the message of African unity, and his ideas on this question are of contemporary relevance. In Africa Must Unite, Kwame Nkrumah retraced the colonial impact of partitioning and made a proposal for the political and economic integration of Africa.i
What does working for unity entail in this new moment? It is the contention that the rights of the African people to move freely, settle and work across the artificial borders are the essential ingredients of unity. These ingredients of freedom of movement in a healthy environment also require a new commitment to the humanization of relations to break down the borders between humans. This paper joins with the statement of Nkrumah that Africans must transcend the numerous borders imposed by colonial divisions and balkanization. From partitioning, colonial plunder, apartheid and occupation, there were many borders instituted in Africa – ethnic, religious, territorial, gendered and sexual borders. One hundred years after partitioning, the same imperial and racist imperatives guide a new scramble for Africa as various foreign powers view Africa as a space in which to exert their competing influence. Imperial domination, military command structures, global warming, health pandemics and brutal exploitation are all interwoven to sharpen the urgency for Africans to unite to meet the multiple challenges of the 21st century.
In the first decade of the 21st century, there are exciting possibilities for the future of human cooperation. New advances in particle physics open up opportunities for harnessing hidden sources of energy so that the form of economic organization that has ushered in Western industrialization can be transcended. Exploration of new sources of energy offers possibilities to liberate humans from the fossil fuels that threaten the future of the planet.i Yet, at the same moment when the hidden world of new energy is being explored with investigations in particle physics and the building of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), i humanity is being held back by the old physics and outmoded ideas of ‘economic development’ based on a linear conception of progress.
The multiple crises dictate that the thrust towards an Africa without borders must also challenge the mechanistic and linear conceptions of life. The cultural aspects of the linear conceptions of lower and higher beings have been packaged in the educational and cultural arenas that reproduce white supremacy on a global scale. The crude materialism of Western ‘modernity’ emanated from an understanding of the world where ‘rational’ man achieved mastery over nature and interpreted the world in mechanical terms. The definition of the essence of the human was determined by the extent to which these humans believed that human worth was based on accumulation of material wealth. Humans who did not internalize this understanding of the accumulation of wealth (a form of accumulation that took perverse form when it matured into the capitalist mode of production) were considered backward and primitive. On the eugenic scale of Western modernity, Africans are still considered to be at the lowest level of human development. Centuries of innovation and transformation that gave birth to modern humans are being diminished by a culture that privileges destruction and obscene consumption habits.
Western European approaches to life were considered ‘scientific’ and hence objective and neutral. Liberalism as the expression of Enlightenment thinking became the legitimating idea for modes of economic organization and engendered a tremendous boost in the production of goods.i This unprecedented production of goods was worshipped to the point where commodity fetishism was like a new religion. Spirituality and commodities were conflated to lay the basis for a robotic society where cloning and bioengineered creatures (cyborgs) were the promise of the future.
There continues to be another vision of the future, and that is a vision of a shared humanity where all the citizens of the planet earth are able to live in peace. This vision is grounded in the moral ethic of social collectivism that is enshrined in the philosophy of Ubuntu. As a revolutionary philosophy that celebrates forgiveness, love and reconciliation, this centenary celebration of the life and work of Kwame Nkrumah is going back to his work in order to draw inspiration for the multiple tasks ahead in the 21st century.
This centenary celebration is one other manifestation that even in the moment of the struggles for independence, there was an awareness that independence could not be guaranteed unless there was unity of the peoples of Africa. When the leaders of Africa assembled in Accra in 1958 for the All-African Peoples’ Conference, they made a firm resolution to work for the unity of the continent and a United States of Africa. The resolutions of the conference were:
• To promote understanding and unity among the peoples of Africa;
• To accelerate the end of imperialism and colonialism;
• To mobilize world opinion of the denial to Africans of political and fundamental human rights;
• To develop feelings of unity to assist the emergence of a United States of Africa.i
The impact of the 1958 conference and the subsequent struggles for decolonization inspire this paper. The liberation leaders at that moment were very clear that the momentum for unity would be carried by the energy and spirit of the people. Nkrumah himself had written that,
When the spirit of the oppressed people revolts against its oppressors, that revolt continues until freedom is achieved. We have not the arms with which to fight as the Americans did against the British, but we have the moral and spiritual forces at our disposal which outnumber all the physical weapons. i
This colloquium is seeking to bring back that energy and spirit in a moment of crisis and a changed world economy. Varying forecasts on who will be the dominant forces in the world economy over the next century envision drastic changes in the realignment of forces, with Africa remaining at the bottom of the international division of labor. One major study repeats the forecasts of international bankers who envisage that capitalism and varying forms of state capitalist economic organization will be dominant for the next 100 years with Brazil, Russia, India and China competing with the current dominant forces from Japan, Western Europe and the United States.i Zbigniew Brzezinski, one of the conservative cold warriors from the foreign policy establishment in the United States, recognized the rise in global power of China and called for a G2 alliance of the US and China. This is while others are calling on US financial experts to wake up to Superfusion: How China and American Became One Economy and Why the World’s Prosperity Depends on It.i Sections of the European Union who fear being sidelined in this emerging world order are calling for a tripartite relationship between the China, the EU and the USA. What has been downplayed in these forecasts has been the role of militarism and warfare in the re-division of the world. In the past, such re-divisions have been violent. From 1885 to the present, the militarization of society accompanied the negative integration of Africa into the international system.
The start of the 21st century is ushering in the end of the post-World War II alignments and as the new realignments take place, Africans will have to be vigilant to ensure that the warfare and competition does not engulf the continent. Forward planning by Western military strategists for a confrontation with China in Africa brings to the fore the preoccupation with peace and reconstruction as one of the central pillars of an Africa without borders. It was Pan-African solidarity across borders in the decolonization period that minimized the dangers of militarism that accompanied apartheid, for example. An Africa without borders is one requirement for peace and reconstruction so that the project of Pan-African unity can be fully re-engaged. Nkrumah was a supporter of peace, and African youth should be reminded that Nkrumah was overthrown while he was on a peace mission to seek an end to the war against the Vietnamese people.
African supporters of peace and unity were always clear that peace in Africa is connected to peace in all parts of the world. Hence, leaders such and Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu became outspoken opponents of the war against the peoples of Iraq. It was Mandela who emerged as a spokesperson for an African Renaissance and decried the old idea of non- interference in the internal affairs of states. From the end of apartheid, the momentum towards the unification of the peoples of Africa became concrete in the adoption of the Constitutive Act of the African Union. However, the declarations of the African Union are guided by the Newtonian/Cartesian paradigm and added to the Malthusian concept of scarcity. This same ideation system of plunder carved up the present borders of Africa and despite the formal coming into being of the African Union in 2002, the current leaders of Africa continue to maintain the artificial barriers that were erected at the conference of Berlin in 1885.
This paper links the issues of frontiers with the urgent matter of global warming and the threats to African peoples. At the 2009 United Nations Climate Change conference in Copenhagen, the Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) and other environmental activists made it known to the world that Africa is disproportionately affected by climate change and this situation will only deteriorate without immediate and comprehensive solutions. Archbishop Desmond Tutu articulated the stakes like this: ‘We are facing impending disaster on a monstrous scale.... A global goal of about 2 degrees C is to condemn Africa to incineration and no modern development’.i
Pan-Africanists such as the late Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem have noted that the rights of peoples are more important than borders. The rights that he referred to are not the liberal rights of the capitalist system with racial and gendered layers, but the peoples’ rights that were written in the blood of those who fought for freedom. The fundamental fact is that the unity of Africa is not about the unity of countries but the unity of peoples. Cheikh Anta Diop identified the cultural unity of Africa building from the historical, psychological and linguistic unity of Africa. Albert Einstein reminded us that we should not see unity as an imagined uniformity. Unity instead must be expressed through the multiplicity of diversity. How can we celebrate this rich diversity – cultural, ethnic, racial, linguistic, religious, and sexual – while seeking to elaborate our humanity and, ultimately, the dignity and humanity of all?
This paper seeks to cover some theoretical terrain relating to social transformations and the collateral ideas of peoples’ consciousness and political actions. In this sense, the transformations towards unity are linked to the conscious activities of the producers who believe that another world is not only possible, but necessary. It is the transformation where the working people ‘who have eyes and ears’ will choose to look back in order to look forward. Looking back draws on the memories of transformative moments of African liberation and draws inspiration from these moments. The moment of the independence of Ghana was one such moment when the explosive spread of the culture of independence temporarily silenced those who wanted to colonize Africa for another one hundred years. Nkrumah was the leader of Ghana at that transformative moment.
This analysis will also seek to clarify the differences between the project of unity as conceived within the present political leadership and the thoroughgoing push for freedom from those who crave a new concept of citizenship. We will agree with Nkrumah that Africa needs a new kind of citizen. In this looking back, this paper seeks to underline the qualities of citizenship that Nkrumah celebrated. It is here that we will centralize the importance of memory.
Our task is to draw from the positive memories while outlining the challenges in the present period. In the conclusion of the paper, we will underline the centrality of social and economic transformation along with the spirit of Ubuntu as key components of an Africa without borders in the 21st century.
A 21st Century Conceptual Framework for Unity How do we use our knowledge of the work of Kwame Nkrumah to empower the present generation to move in a new direction of unity beyond the limits imposed by the contemporary political leadership in Africa? As this colloquium is turning to the Pan-African and internationalist heritage of Kwame Nkrumah in order to gain inspiration for contemporary challenges, the corpus of works produced by Nkrumah in his lifetime constitutes one of the anchors on which to connect a new path for Africa. Nkrumah called this path, a Revolutionary Path.i The revolutionary path can only be reached through the road of unity. Nkrumah was on this path before he was ‘killed by the cancer of betrayal’. This was the judgment of Amilcar Cabral who spoke at the funeral of Nkrumah.i
This aspect of the ‘cancer of betrayal’ must be considered as we celebrate the life of Nkrumah insofar as the external intervention to overthrow Nkrumah also involved a campaign of decades to politically assassinate him.i Rahman (2007) rightly draws attention to the major intellectual battles over the legacy of Nkrumah that were waged by the West. These struggles included not only known scholars from the Africanist enterprise but also scholars who were on the academic left who considered the goal of African unity an illusion.i A critique of Nkrumah published by Monthly Review Press guaranteed that for decades, those on the left who were outside the Pan-African intellectual community poured scorn on ideas of African unity and radical Pan-Africanism. It was this convergence of hostility to the ideas of Nkrumah from both the left and the right that prevented a generation of younger Africans from fully accessing and appreciating the dynamic work of Nkrumah in the struggle for liberation, emancipation and unity. This confusion was compounded by the impact of the Sino-Soviet split in Africa.
The existence of the Sino-Soviet split meant that progressive forces in Africa and the liberation movements were torn between the machinations of the West, the Soviet Union and China. In order to escape this gridlock among those fighting for independence, Nkrumah worked hard to develop an independent voice and for Africans to become central to the forces of non-alignment. Nkrumah and those leaders who were struggling for the independence of the peoples of Africa called on Africa to speak with one voice. Nkrumah wrote that, ‘A United States of Africa must strengthen our influence on the international scene, as all Africa will speak with one voice…. We must stand firmly together against the imperialist forces….We need the strength of our combined numbers and resources to protect ourselves from the very positive dangers of returning colonialism in disguised forms’.i
Nkrumah in all his writings communicated an optimism about the future of Africa that was grounded in the political unity of the peoples,
The survival of free Africa, the extending independence of the continent, and the development towards that bright future on which our hopes and endeavours are pinned, depend on political unity. … Under a major political union of Africa there could emerge a United Africa, great and powerful, in which the territorial boundaries which are the relics of colonialism will become obsolete and superfluous, working for the complete and total mobilization of the economic planning organization under a unified political direction. The forces that unite us are far greater than the difficulties that divide us at present, and our goal must be the establishment of Africa’s dignity, progress and prosperity.i
At that historical moment of decolonization more than fifty years ago, ‘virtually all leaders of African independence movements paid at least lip service to the idea that regional freedom was only a step towards the freedom and unity of the entire continent; and the most advanced nationalists were usually the most explicit on the issue of Pan-African solidarity’.i Just as Pan-African solidarity was needed beyond borders yesterday to confront apartheid and colonialism, so today the multiple crises require an informed Pan-African movement beyond borders.
In many ways, during the Cold War the combined legacies of hostility to socialist ides, the Sino-Soviet split as well as the false dichotomy between Pan-Africanism and Communism dictated that the academic left and those oriented to external benefactors were critical of Nkrumah. ‘Marxist’ critiques of Nkrumah increased in Western Europe after the publication of the book, Consciencism.i This criticism of the ideological requirements of the African Revolution fed into the early ideological and intellectual conflicts in the United States and Europe over the ideology of liberation in Africa and the Third World. Nkrumah had been exposed to the militant Pan-African solidarity of the Garvey movement and on numerous occasions, Nkrumah paid tribute to the importance of Garveyism. Nkrumah did not take sides in the disputes between Garveyites and Dubois; he worked closely with both Amy Jacques Garvey and W.E.B. DuBois.
Nkrumah had been a participant in the Fifth Pan-African Congress in Manchester in 1945 where the question of independence and unity was placed on the international agenda. He had been active in the West African Student’s Union and became its Vice-President. During these years Nkrumah was associated with other supporters of Pan-Africanism in London. Among these individuals were Peter Abrahams, Jomo Kenyatta, Ras Makonnen and George Padmore. Recent scholarship on the work of Padmore in building an intellectual infrastructure for unity has been growing with new books and doctoral research.i Nkrumah also drew some ideas of unity from the pool of those scholars and thinkers from the school of nationalistic-ideological philosophy.i Among these scholars was Cheikh Anta Diop who wrote extensively on the historical, linguistic and cultural unity to argue for the unity of post-colonial African states.
Diop’s conception of the cultural unity of Africa provided a profound starting point for the analysis of an Africa without borders and Pan-Africanism in the 21st century. This is for a number of reasons.
First, Diop refused to accept the divisions in Africa that had arisen from centuries of invasions. Hence, for Diop the idea of unity does not accept the divisions between sub-Saharan and North Africa.
Secondly, for Diop, the cultural unity of Africa was based on the importance of the historical, psychological and linguistic unity of the continent.
Thirdly, this cultural unity transcended the artificial construction of states and nations that arose as a result of the imperialist partitioning of Africa.
Hence, the goals of Pan-Africanism were to be based on a federated state that returned to the principles of matriarchy and the centrality of the woman in the public life of Africa. This centrality was to be addressed through a new and novel form of bicameralism in Africa.
For Diop, African unity had to be built on the independence and autonomy of African women and his novel form of bicameralism was articulated in his book, Black Africa: The Economic and Cultural Basis for a Federated State.
Fourthly, and very importantly, Diop did not believe in a Pan-Africanism based on racial pigmentation. In his own domestic life he transcended these divisions between blackness and whiteness. Diop had not only laid out the ideas for continental African Unity, but also the ideas for a planetary civilization. In this way, Diop moved the idea of Pan-Africanism beyond that of black people to the level of planetary unity of all peoples. Diop was also breaking the binary divisions between Europe and Africa in order to place the debate on Pan-Africanism in a wider field.
Fifthly, Diop was conscious of the compendium of energy resources available for African unity, and was aware of the explosive possibilities emanating from the field of quantum physics.i As a physicist, Diop was conscious of the limits of the mechanical thinking of determinism and the distorted concepts of domination over nature. Diop was also very clear on the relationship between energy independence, the mobilization of human resources and the unleashing of economic independence in Africa. Quantum physics had laid the basis for tremendous breakthroughs at the level of the physical sciences but in the social sciences, the leading scholars of the West held on to the Enlightenment ideas of separation and fragmentation embedded in the mechanical notions of Newtonian physics. Einstein, who was an activist for peace and who embraced the possibilities opened by quantum mechanics, had understood the unity of humans and the universe, sought to understand how universality becomes the ‘unitary significance of our diverse diversities’. Einstein had studied the physical qualities of water and the other unknown qualities as it relates to energy and life giving qualities. In the enrichment of the study of thermodynamics and quantum physics, Einstein was able to develop a new understanding of the world by exploring how a scientist could calculate the molecules in the atom. This research of those scientists who were the pioneers of quantum mechanics breached the old conventions of mechanics and opened a wider understanding of the laws of nature. Diop was also a thinker who had grasped the full potential of a quantum leap in Africa if the people of Africa did not separate language and culture, art, music and architecture from the tasks of transformation of Africa.
21st century scientists are breaking old mechanical ideas about domination of nature and rational science, and the importance of nature is now understood to be very central to planetary unity. In the United States there is a new field of research called ‘Noetic sciences’ that is arguing that the understanding of the relations between energy and life cannot be reduced to academic disciplines just as the potentialities of nanotechnology, bioengineering and cognitive science cannot be separated from the inner cosmos of the mind (consciousness, soul and spirit). Yet, long before the appearance of new orientations such as ‘Noetic sciences’, fractal thinking in Africa had ensured that the kind of separation and fragmentation of Euclidian thinking was not prevalent in Africa. The divisions of peoples as well as the races are as artificial as the division of academic disciplines such as biology, chemistry, genetics, natural sciences, physics, social sciences, art, philosophy and religion.
Although Nkrumah was not trained in physics as Diop was, he was very clear that harnessing energy resources was one of the fundamental requirements for the economic transformation of Africa. It was this clarity that bore the numerous compromises required for building the hydroelectric dam at Akosombo through which Ghana committed itself to a pace of development of energy that could transform the country. As a way to ensure that this process was not limited to the actual engineering works associated with the Akosombo Dam, Nkrumah encouraged an educational training programme that could support the transformation that was necessary to break the divisions between African resources and the refinement of those resources to deliver real products such as electricity to society. We now know that the compromise at many levels was compounded by the concepts of ‘economic development’ that emanated from a linear conception of history. In his fraternal appraisal of Nkrumah, C.L.R. James raised the issue of the cultural level of the people and how other revolutionaries such as Lenin confronted corruption and the rise of new classes within a revolutionary movement.i Rooting out bribery and corruption could only be successful in the political mobilization and organization of the working peoples. Nkrumah understood this reality but more so after the military coup when he wrote Class Struggles in Africa.
It is important to note here that DuBois, James, Nkrumah and Padmore had been trained in Western concepts of economic development so that when James referred to the cultural levels of the people, he was referring to the expansion of Western-type schools and tertiary education in Ghana. As intellectuals and students who were trained in the philosophical traditions of the West, both Marxist and non-Marxist, they were torn between the collectivist traditions of their communities and what they were learning about capitalist development or socialist orientation. Undoubtedly, one of the many achievements of the Nkrumah period was the expansion of tertiary education. However, this expansion was based on intensifying the European model of schooling. It was not by accident that those who opposed Nkrumah were the ones who had thoroughly internalized British and Western cultural and political values. As St. Clair Drake observed, even those closest to Nkrumah in his cabinet were anglophiles with Western education and a Western orientation. This was the story of the Ghanaian army which propagated the idea that Nkrumah was squandering the resources of Ghana by supporting African liberation.
The relevant point is that educational expansion was insufficient to engender a revolutionary path. Nkrumah shared many of the ideas of Diop on unity and economic transformation, and like Diop, Nkrumah sought in his domestic life to transcend the divisions between Africans on both sides of the Sahara. Kwame Nkrumah was making a political statement when he took a wife from Egypt. He was ahead of those who did not yet understand that the personal is political. An Africa without borders for Nkrumah would not only bridge the divide between those in the North and the South but also, Africa had to be prepared for external military interventions. The tragic lessons of the role of the UN in the Congo and the subsequent destabilization of the Congo led Nkrumah to call for an African High Command. He argued that,
‘If we in Africa set up… a unified military and defense strategy, it will be necessary for us to adopt a unified foreign policy and diplomacy to give political direction to our joint efforts for the protection of an economic development of our continent.’ i
The unified foreign policy and diplomacy that Nkrumah envisaged was one that would, among other things, resolve border conflicts and better the lives of all Africans.
At the philosophical and personal levels, Nkrumah displayed a level of commitment to pursuing the goal of a unified African foreign policy that angered and enraged external exploiters. The Convention People’s Party (CPP) government sought to use the resources of the Ghanaian state and society to promote liberation, unity and freedom. This concrete effort was clearly expressed in his support for the struggles against apartheid and his support for the Congolese peoples. At a practical level, this vision was manifest in the attempts to bring unity between Ghana, Guinea and Mali. The derailment of the project of unity along with the assassination of Patrice Lumumba was a clear signal that the path to unity would not be smooth or linear, and had to confront not only the intervention of imperialism, but the ideation systems that alienated the educated African from the vast majority of the producers of wealth in Africa. Many of the educated Africans who ascended to leadership in the decolonization turbulence had been socialized in the traditions of the Enlightenment. However, from the period of the All-African Peoples’ Conference, the thrust of unity had such a strong base among the people that some form of compromise had to be reached to settle the differences between people-centered unity and state-centered unity. This compromise took the form of the Organization of African Unity (OAU).
Since the era of Nkrumah, numerous scholars have written on the compromise between the Monrovia and Casablanca groups. However, these writings in the main underestimated the philosophical pitfalls of Western intellectual culture and their drag on the transformation of Africa. After the assassination of Lumumba, the consolidation of colonial borders within the context of the OAU meant that, in principle, most of the leaders of Africa were protecting imperial interests. George Kieh used the term the Berlinist state to draw attention to the borders that were drawn at the conference of Berlin in 1884-1885. Kieh held that the ‘Berlinist state that was fashioned by the colonial powers was bequeathed to the African local ruling classes. Regrettably, the African local ruling classes retained the features of the Berlinist state. Operationally, the Berlinist state retained the albatross of oppression, repression, exploitation, marginalization, divisiveness and underdevelopment’.i
This albatross of oppression was protected by the clause in the OAU Charter by which member states agreed on mutual non-interference in internal affairs. Hence, in the period of continuing struggles for independence, the OAU became a regional organization of African sovereign states that reneged on one of the fundamental aspects of unity, the freedom of movement of peoples across artificial borders. It was not by accident that many of the leaders within the OAU opposed Nkrumah and conspired with Western intelligence agencies to remove him from power. As we seek to re-engage this project of unity, it is also crucial that we engage the kind of worldview that inspired these leaders to support imperial interests. Many of these leaders did not start out as conscious enemies of Africans but their education and worldview of progress and modernity predisposed them to the view that European ‘stages of development’ were necessary for the prosperity of Africa. In short, African leaders, from both the capitalist and non-capitalist sections of the decolonization process, accepted Eurocentric ideas of freedom. Robert Mugabe and the political leadership of Zimbabwe today expose the full tragedy of the Africanization of European economic and social institutions.i This challenge brings us to the concept of emancipatory politics which is rooted in the memory of previous generations of freedom fighters. This culture of liberation drew from the memories of those who had fought for freedom. Walter Rodney underscored the importance of the historical memories of struggle when he quoted from the statement by C.L.R. James, who correctly understood that,
‘A people’s consciousness is heightened by knowledge of the dignity and determination of their foreparents. Indeed, the African worldview regarding ancestors as an integral part of the living community makes it much easier to identify with the struggle of an earlier generation.’i
It is this worldview regarding ancestors that enables us to draw inspiration from the work of Kwame Nkrumah and those freedom fighters who paved the way for the new thrust for unity. Fifty-two years after the All-African Peoples’ Conference, it is important to restate the fact that the right to self-determination is as fundamental a right as the right to breathe and the right to have the basic requirements of a decent standard of life.
This concept of memory is tied to a new paradigm that we call the unified emancipatory approach to revolution. This paradigm, which accords proper respect to memory and clear, deliberate thought and action, should liberate humanity from the competitive and individualistic conception of the European Enlightenment. It is only when we move out of the linear worldview of Europe that it will be possible to accelerate the potentialities for the new revolutionary path. Nkrumah himself was suspended between the concept of ‘progress and development’ on one side and the vast reservoir of the spirit of the people that had provided the militancy for Ghanaian independence. Trained in the Western institutions, Nkrumah came face to face with the materialist paradigms that separated matter and spirit. Sections of the European intellectual elite used the binary concept to reduce humans to material blobs; they used divisions within the Cartesian model to separate spirit and matter, man and woman, black and white, mind and body – in short, this is the kind of separation which breaks the links between human beings and the universe. It was the unified emancipatory approach that inspired the lyrics of another liberation fighter, Bob Marley, who exhorts: ‘Emancipate yourself from mental slavery’. Marley was also inspired by the book, Africa Must Unite, and put the words into song.
This connection to the past through the memory of the ancestors is an important element of recursion. Recursion is the motor of fractals. We will now introduce fractal theoryi, fractal optimism and the importance of the hidden sources of energy for transformation.
Fractal Optimism and Making a Break with Binary Concepts of Humans
A fractal analysis seeks to break with the binary categories that perpetuate division and the politics of exclusion. Earlier in this paper, I drew attention to the new field of study called ‘Noetic sciences’ that seek to dissolve boundaries between the social and physical sciences and between religion and material relations. In his latest novel, Dan Brown brought to the fore a character whose scientific research points to the fact that science is only now providing evidence of what ancient traditions have espoused: that thought has a tangible power, enabling human beings to be creators of their own world.i This ancient tradition is to be found in African fractals.
This fractal conceptual framework presupposes democratic relations between human beings and a spirit of the capabilities of human beings beyond the hierarchies based on borders of superiority and inferiority. Nkrumah believed in the capability of Africans to unite beyond borders and his belief was grounded in a brand of African optimism. This optimism is inspired by the history of freedom fighters and is premised on the optimism of the will and the healing of the human spirit. Cheikh Anta Diop has written on the existence of a vibrant African optimism and the ideas of peace and justice along with the emancipation of women in domestic life. Diop was articulating a revolutionary conception of optimism beyond the current propaganda war on ‘failed states’ in Africa. According to one of the scholars who have distinguished between this optimism and the doom and gloom of the opinion makers,
‘Optimism, by contrast, especially optimism which is neither foolish nor silent, can be revolutionary. Where no one believes in a better future, despair is a logical choice, and people in despair almost never change anything. Where no one believes a better solution is possible, those benefiting from the continuation of a problem are safe. Where no one believes in the possibility of action, apathy becomes an insurmountable obstacle to reform. But introduce intelligent reasons for believing that action is possible, that better solutions are available, and that a better future can be built, and you unleash the power of people to act out of their highest principles. Shared belief in a better future is the strongest glue there is: it creates the opportunity for us to love one another, and love is an explosive force in politics.i
Che Guevara drew attention to the revolutionary implications of love. Together, love, a fractal outlook and Ubuntu based on a shared humanity, provide a new basis for revolutionary thought and action. It is this shared belief in a better future that inspired those who struggled against the colonial borders yesterday and continue to struggle for an Africa without borders today.
A fractal analysis seeks to break with the binary categories that perpetuate division and the politics of exclusion. In essence, the fractal mind would challenge the theory of the superiority of the cognitive skills of Europeans, just as it would challenge the idea of white supremacy or the supremacy of man over woman. The fractal conceptual framework being used in this paper is that theoretical framework which comes out of an appreciation of humans in the universe and the relationship between human and nature. A fractal is a geometric term which describes a design model in which patterns are reproduced to retain their original image in varying sizes or scales. This design pattern exists in nature, such as in leaves whose veins in turn form branched leaves different in size from the parent leaf but reflect the original image.i A big stem of broccoli also illustrates fractal design in nature. When a big branch is broken off a stem of Broccoli, the big branch mirrors the image of the stem; and a smaller branch broken off the big branch in turn mirrors the previous branch as well as the stem. This mirroring of the reference image (the big stem) continues, thus reproducing the original image at different scales or sizes. Ron Eglash (see footnote 33) underscored the point that in the most basic sense, fractals are defined as small parts that represent the whole while displaying the same level of complexity at any scale.
Fractals spring from the geometry of nature, a conceptual outlook that celebrates the natural world in its diversity, beauty and complexity. The deeper that one explores this natural world and the vast expanses of the universe, the more one becomes humbled by the infinity of nature and the world of atoms and particles. In this infinite world of atom and particles a new branch of physics emerged in the 20th century to understand this natural world. This is the branch of physics called quantum mechanics.i
Scientists are now exploring the centrality of fractal geometry in quantum physics. Fractal geometry and quantum physics are dealing with the infinite and the uncertain world of nature and the universe. Broadly speaking, quantum mechanics incorporates a number of interconnected phenomena for which classical physics cannot account, such as the quantization (and discretization) of certain physical quantities, wave–particle duality, the uncertainty principle and quantum entanglement. In the social sciences, those who are attempting to grasp the interconnectedness of humans and the universe have been theorizing the concept of quantum societies and quantum politics. These theoreticians of quantum societies are seeking to draw on the spiritual energies of human beings in order to unleash new capabilities for free human beings, that is, human beings who are being freed from the complexes of racial, gendered and sexual hierarchies. Malidoma Somé has already begun to rethink how human beings can unleash their spiritual energies or what particle physicists call the ‘hidden world.’i Humans are being called upon to think beyond the world we see and touch.
Writing on this hidden world and summing up contemporary debates in the community of particle physicists, the journalist Ian Sample noted that this ‘hidden world’ meant that ‘there may be more particles and forces at work in the world – and the cosmos at large – than those we see when we look around. They are so aloof, so hidden from our daily experience, that they go completely unnoticed.
‘Our knowledge of the cosmos tells us that the stuff around us, from plants and people to stars and planets, is made from just a handful of elementary particles. On top of these, there are a small number of forces that make nature run smoothly, doing things like keeping planets in their orbits and ensuring everyday objects don’t suddenly collapse into a pile of atoms. But how do we know, asks Wells, that there isn’t much more going on than this? Our knowledge of nature and how it works is based on observations. What if we can’t see everything? What might we be missing out on? There could be a “hidden world” out there, Wells says, where particles and forces are busily at work, all around us, but beyond the realm of our senses.’i
Sample went on to examine the present pace of scientific research associated with particle physics and the aspects of the hidden world that may be revealed by the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). James Wells had written a paper on ‘How to Find a Hidden World at the Large Hadron Collider’ in 2008 before the major experiment in Switzerland in 2010 that brought the idea of the LHC closer to reality. Wells argued that the work on the LHC could be ‘the first instrument in history that could shed light on whether a hidden world exists’.
Africans have been aware of the forces around us beyond the realm of our senses. This hidden world of energy which taps into the potentialities of human beings has in the past been called spiritual forces at work. In the era of mechanical thinking, this hidden world would be dismissed but the geometry of nature that operated within the African worldview always took into consideration this hidden world.
New research into cell biology and into the self-replication of DNA deploys fractal understanding of the world in order to understand the recursive processes that are at work with the self-replication of cells. In dissecting the Biology of Belief, Bruce Lipton, argued that nature is built on self-similar patterns which are built on top of each other.i This is based on the concept that humans are ‘programmed after the cell’, in the sense that the functions performed by the human body are similar to or patterned after those of the cells, 50 trillion of which live together harmoniously in every human body. An understanding of the iteration of harmonious coexistence among 50 trillion cells which form tissues, organs and systems that make the human body function is useful in figuring out ways to build a harmonious society with a nested loop of peaceful coexistence among humans and between humans and our environment. This then is the challenge: if 50 trillion cells can live in the body, why can we not as humans live and save the planet Earth? It is this quest for harmony and shared relations that come out of fractal optimism and fractal wisdom.
How do we achieve that quantum leap in our consciousness so that the mind and intelligence of the African that propelled the self-determined politics and self-determined activity of the anti-colonial struggles becomes the reference point for the people and for the new phase of the push for unity?
It is memory or self-referencing to which we must appeal, and this memory is linked to the concept of recursion which is at the heart of a fractal ontology. We want to pursue the line of reasoning that the vibrant optimism of Diop and Nkrumah can be strengthened by fractal wisdom.
Fractal optimism offers a possibility for new reflections on possible paths of human transformations, far from what is known as progress and development. Presently, the language of progress and development paralyzes Africans to the point where the societies seem helpless in the face of violent masculinity and the view that profits come before human beings. The extent to which a certain branch of Marxism as a doctrine bought into the determinism and predictability of what is called dialectical materialism – which goes into the stages of development of human beings and draws a caste line from a lower to a higher stage of development – contributes to this progressive societal and spiritual decay. These stage theories buy into the linearity and homogeneity of Enlightenment theories. This mode of thinking about stages has prevented us from moving into a self-liberating consciousness.
Self-Liberating Consciousness and the Lessons from the African Liberation Process The struggle for unity beyond borders in the 21st century seeks to harness democratic traditions and democratic relations between human beings. It is in this sense that fractal outlook seeks to transcend ideologies that are hierarchal, exclusivist and ‘vanguardist’. In other words, in some revolutions, there were revolutionaries who were quick to exclude others based on their beliefs or backgrounds. In the context of revolutionary processes in Latin America, there are new debates among revolutionaries on how to avoid the mistakes of the revolutionaries of the 20th century.
While there has been a call for a renovation of left-wing thought and for organized groups to move beyond neo-liberal thought and practice, the academic left in Africa and the Pan-African world have been seduced by the social capital of state power. This was certainly the case in South Africa where there has been a high tolerance for xenophobic language by leaders who were themselves exiles for decades. From Algeria in the north to the liberation struggles in the south, the exclusivist ideas of ‘vanguardism’ took deformed routes to the point where Algeria was wracked by religious divisions and fabricated terrorist uprisings that justified militarism.i The region of Southern Africa mirrors many of the strengths and weaknesses of the liberation process as described by Frantz Fanon in The Wretched of the Earth. We would like to use the experiences of this region since the end of apartheid to highlight the ways in which the old mechanical thinking has held back the possibility of clarifying the social project of the alternative to capitalism, along with the attendant push for unity. The region of Southern Africa is important for another reason: it was the region where the concentrated energies of the Pan-African movement to end colonialism and apartheid inspired real cooperation, not only in Africa but throughout the world. The political leaders who came to power in the region were freedom fighters who had placed the question of unity high on the agenda, yet from Angola to South Africa and from Namibia to Zimbabwe, the leaders have undermined the goals of African liberation. Nowhere is this betrayal of the African liberation process more evident than in South Africa where the struggles against apartheid had been underwritten by a Freedom Charter.
At both the intellectual level as well as at the level of everyday politics, the peoples of Southern Africa sought freedom of movement and in the heat of the struggles against apartheid in 1991, workers signed the Social Charter of the Fundamental Rights of Workers in Southern Africa. These workers called for respect for the rights of migrant workers so that there was freedom of movement, residence and employment throughout the region. These representatives of national trade union centres of Southern Africa did not respect the colonial borders.
Anthony Asiwaju, one of the foremost writers on the question of borders in Africa, has drawn attention to the need to reconsider the present frontiers, especially since these frontiers were demarcated in the context of the notorious scramble for Africa. Asiwaju drew from the standard legal scholarship to point out the urgency for the OAU to develop real cooperation, instead of trying to police the artificial borders. He pointed out that for many in the field of borders, ‘all borders other than those made up of natural features such as oceans, seas, lakes, rivers, swamps, forests, deserts and mountains are artificial’.i Asiwaju quoted from one of the more important imperial statespersons, Lord Salisbury, who had admitted that,
‘…we have been engaged in drawing lines upon maps where no white man’s foot ever trod. We have been giving away mountains and rivers and lakes to each other, only hindered by the small impediments that we never knew exactly where the mountains and rivers and lakes were’.
This quotation from Lord Salisbury (the person after whom the capital of Rhodesia was named) underscored the arbitrariness of those who carved out Rhodesia from Mozambique and Bechuanaland from South Africa. From the point of view of the unity of Africa and the rights of its peoples, it is important to emphasise the fact that it will require intentional actions by the emancipated peoples of Africa to reverse the traditions of arbitrariness and decisions that do not respect Africans as humans. Aspiring politicians exploit the insecurities generated by structural adjustment to create the scare of millions of illegal immigrants moving across borders. Even while making declarations in favour of the African Union and energetically supporting the neo-liberal New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), politicians in many parts of Africa (especially South Africa) whip up xenophobia and hinder the free movement of persons by creating restrictive immigration policies and procedures which violate the basic human rights of those Africans who believe that Africa is for the Africans. It is for this reason that it has been argued that, ‘by reproducing, with minor changes, the colonial partitioning of Africa, the OAU is a continuation of the Berlin Conference’.41 The perception that the struggle for a new Africa will involve new frontiers is even clearer in the context of the African Union.
Thus far, the African Union has been dominated by those leaders who are uncomfortable with the dismantling of the colonial borders. In 2007, there was the Grand Debate at the AU summit in Accra on the future of a Union Government and a union of the peoples, but the leaders retreated behind regional economic structures, the same regionalism that Nkrumah warned would be a hindrance to full African unity. Nkrumah warned against the kind of regionalism proposed by the leaders of the African Union at the Grand Debate in 2007. Nkrumah was explicit on the limitations of regionalism, stating that:
‘In order to improve effectively and quickly the serious damage done to Africa as a result of imperialism and colonialism, the emergent African states need strong, unitary states capable of exercising central authority for the mobilization of the national effort and the co-ordination of reconstruction and progress. For this reason, I consider that even the idea of regional federations in Africa is fraught with many dangers. There is the danger of the development of regional loyalties, fighting against each other. In effect, regional federations are a form of balkanization on a grand scale. They may give rise to the dangerous interplay not only of power politics among African states and the regions, but can create conditions which will enable the imperialists and neo-colonialists to fish in troubled waters. Indeed such federations may even find objections to the notion of African unity’.
At the cultural level, the peoples of Africa have demonstrated that they share the passion for a culture of peace as manifest in the cooperation around soccer and the African Cup of Nations tournament. Yet, leaders in countries such as Morocco want to be in Africa at the cultural level (playing in the Africa Cup of Nations tournament) but believe that they should be aligned with Europe at the economic and political levels. Since 1984, Morocco has been outside the African unity project while applying for membership in the European Union and working with France to create a Union for the Mediterranean that undermines the project of African Unity. At least the Moroccan political leadership is explicit in its orientation and does not disguise the love-hate relations with Africa. There are numerous leaders in Africa who believe that their relationship with France is more important than their relationship with Africa. These leaders regularly attend Franco-African summits. The opposition of the Moroccan leadership to the independence of the peoples of the Western Sahara has reminded many younger Africans of the need for unity to complete the self-determination project. The allies of Morocco in the African Union would like meetings on African unity to be silent on the question of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR). It is in this north Africa region that many of the dangers that Nkrumah outlined are very clear, even with the posturing of Muammar Gaddafi on the question of the unity of Africa. Gaddafi wants Africans to believe that he is in support of African Unity at the continental level while supporting groups dedicated to breaking up societies and calling for the division of Nigeria into two states along the fault lines of religion.
When the needs of working peoples dictated cooperation among peoples, the ranks of the liberation movements clearly stated that the health and welfare of workers should take precedence over the needs of capitalists. Yet, once in power, these same freedom fighters defended capital and foreign interests while stirring insecurity and fear among the poor. While the euphoria of the anti-apartheid spirit was still strong, the leaders of South Africa were able to host the World Conference against Racism to highlight the links between racism and imperialism. This conference brought out another aspect of the thrust for unity, the linkages between peace, unity and reparative justice.
Global warming, disease pandemics, hunger and violence are the obvious signs of the need for restorative justice and policies that will centralize the humanity of the African. The cooperation of the capitalist class yesterday and today has been to ensure that Africans are treated like robots for mining capital. Investigations of the mining industry show that in the past one hundred years, over one million miners have been injured in the process of extracting minerals in South Africa. Research findings alert us to the foundations of the health crisis in Southern Africa manifest in the fact that the HIV-AIDS pandemic is most explosive in this region. Health pandemics know no borders.i One diplomat wrote that Africa was in a Race against Time i to cooperate in dealing with the HIV-AIDS pandemic. And under the glare of international headlines, the African Union urged African governments to spend at least 15 percent of their annual budgets on health care. Nine years later, only six African governments have come close to putting the health and safety of the people first. Under the structural adjustment policies of the World Bank, many countries have cut the health and education budgets while increasing incentives for mining and petroleum companies.
There has been cooperation between the mining companies and the regulatory authorities to ensure that the quality of life of the African remains very poor. The recruiters brought miners from as far as East and Central Africa and mortality rates among these migrant workers have been very high. The sacrifices made by millions in the mining industry have been documented in the study, Black Gold. It is this documentation which, in the spirit of Ubuntu and repair, could lay the basis for a new approach to peoples and their right to health and life. Expanding the debate on the African Union to include issues of restorative justice should dictate that the wealth of Africa belongs equally to communities in the Southern African region as it does to South Africa, and indeed all of Africa. The language of poverty alleviation and Millennium Development Goals (MDG) would then be discarded to envision wealth creation in the wake of opening up the vast potentialities of the peoples and resources of the region.
In the future of an emancipated Africa, democratic representatives of the working people who drew up the Charter of the Fundamental Rights of Workers will be able to examine the records of organizations such as the Witwatersrand Native Labour Association (WENELA). In the post-apartheid era, the cooperation for capital is promoted vigorously through NEPAD. The same energy unleashed to support South African insurance companies, banking, communications and transport interests is not deployed to ensure water and sanitation for all. The same transport infrastructure which was built to move tanks can be restructured so that African people can give credence to the dictum that Africa is for the Africans. Restrictive immigration policies and agitation against ‘illegal aliens’ in some societies seek to entrench the military traditions of intervention to control the movement of workers and itinerant traders. The idea of illegal aliens is also invoked to limit the concept of citizenship to a male-centred one. The same politicians who create images of illegal aliens also manipulate ethnic consciousness to mobilise women as accomplices in ethnic boundaries. There are many lessons from this liberation period for the peoples of an Africa without borders for the 21st century.
More than forty years ago, Fanon summed up these limits in his discussion on ‘The Pitfalls of National Consciousness’. We want to highlight three. First, liberated societies cannot continue to reproduce the social and economic conditions of the former societies. Secondly, liberation is about peoples and not simply about occupying positions of power. In short, the old state machinery and criminal structures of domination will have to be dismantled. Thirdly, liberation is not about males and the male-centred concept of citizenship and liberation. All peoples in Africa want water, health and a better quality of life, but it is poor African women who are at the forefront of the struggle for all to have access to water and sanitation. African women are constructed as bearers of the ethnic boundaries of the society. These are the same women from the oppressed classes who have to provide care, food and social security. The provision of clean water is one of the fundamental aspects of good health and the drawing of water has been in the hands of women.
Water and Rivers Know no Borders In pre-colonial era, where Africans treated water, plant and animal life as common resources that involve a combination of rights and responsibility among its users, and a long history of utilization and conservation, modern prospectors seek to place patents on a variety of life forms under the banner of intellectual property rights. The ideas of common property that underlined the availability of diverse natural life forms for human activity is now threatened by a new enclosure movement that seeks to privatize all aspects of life. This privatization of natural resources is clearest in the approach of the World Bank to water resources in Africa. It is this approach to the privatization of water resources that constitutes another great threat to the unity of the peoples of Africa.
For the past fifty years the World Bank has been supporting giant water projects that served to dispossess the weak. This international financial institution has been at the forefront of the struggles over the idea of whether water should remain a public good, shared by humans everywhere, or a commodity to be bought and sold on the market.
The machinations of the West to make Africa a new battleground for water and energy are not without local allies. For centuries, the River Nile was a space for cooperation as well as a library of the history of shared relations in Africa. Since the Berlin Conference, the artificial borders have shifted centuries of cooperation and sharing to conflict. Specialists who write on water wars and conflicts then seek to dominate the intellectual spaces in order to write on hydropolitics and geopolitics.i Less than two weeks before this historic colloquium on Kwame Nkrumah, the issues of water and cooperation across the false borders were brought into sharper focus. This was after the conclusion of an international conference on the sharing of the waters of the River Nile. Four East African states (Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Rwanda) signed an agreement to seek more water from the River Nile, while a week later, a fifth, Kenya, signed on to this agreement. Both Egypt and Sudan opposed this new agreement that replaces the colonial Nile Waters agreement. Under colonial era accords, the two countries get 90 percent of the river’s water. Both Egypt and the Sudan objected to sharing equitably the waters of the Nile, saying the 1929 and 1959 agreements were still legally binding on all parties. Egypt and Sudan say they will not sign a new deal unless they are first guaranteed an exact share of the water.
The water resources, the electricity grid, the movement of migrant labour along with the transportation routes have been organized to facilitate the export of capital from Africa. Nowhere is this more explicit than in the plans for the development of hydroelectric power from the Inga Dam on the Congo River. Whether it is the Lesotho High Dam Project or Kariba dam, the harnessing of water and energy has been organized to dispossess poor people. The generation of electricity has not been organized for unity and for uplifting the quality of life of all. For this reason it is possible to argue that unity and the electrification of all communities in Africa are inseparable.
The transportation routes were not maintained to take Africans from the towns to the villages but to take raw materials out of the soil and across the seas to Europe. Colonial transport routes and the designation of 14 states as land-locked countries render these societies hostage to the arbitrary boundaries referred to by Asiwaju. It is for this reason that the building of new transport routes, the efforts to improve railway infrastructure and the maintenance of ports and access routes has received such high priority in this period of struggling for an Africa free of borders. Whether in Angola or South Africa, those ruling elites who feel emboldened by their connections to international capitalists ensure that the divisions and borders assist the external exploiters. While ordinary Mozambicans are hunted down and hounded out of South Africa as illegal aliens, the building of the Maputo Corridor linking the port of Maputo to the Gauteng area in South Africa demonstrates that financiers and planners still think in ways which support economic planning for a small minority. The national security establishments in all the five regions of Africa have consistently recognized the military importance of the roads and communications infrastructure. Those who have written on strategic highways in Africa have recorded for history the fact that in Rhodesia, Angola, Namibia and South Africa, the roads were built according to military specifications.
Military mobility was essential from the outset because the forms of labour organization which were set in motion required force and coercion on a daily basis and led to the centrality of the military in society. It was this centrality of extra economic coercion which meant that formal democratic structures such as elections have been unable to break the stranglehold of the ruling classes. Basic demands for the freedom of movement, freedom of assembly, freedom of speech and for political freedoms continue to be seen as subversive so that in order to achieve full democratic relations in Africa, the people have to consider democracy and democratic relations beyond formal occasions such as elections.
In so far as the rich mineral, fisheries, water and agricultural resources of Africa were considered strategic to the West, the military factions of the dominant forces attempted to integrate Africa into the Western Cold War military alliance. From the initial period of post-war planning on the security of Western Europe in Africa (at conferences in Nairobi and Dakar) to the articulation of the idea of ‘constructive engagement’ by the USA up to the launch of the US Africa Command, the defense treaties between the African political careerists and Western capital were meant to extend the lease of life of the forms of exploitation established at the conference of Berlin in 1885. With the new competition between the West and China, Nkrumah’s call for an African Military High Command is now more urgent.
One of the litmus tests of the new cooperation across borders in the region will have to be in the area of planning for democratic use of the shared water resources in Africa. The basic point is that a discussion on water and sustainable development cannot be held outside the context of the present global struggle to make access to water a basic human right for all. This struggle in Africa to declare water a fundamental human right is part of the global struggle in the South to oppose the privatization of water and genetic resources. It is this same philosophy of sharing that will elicit a new framework for the reorganization of water resources in Africa.
Africa, which is the home to some of the world’s most endemic species of flora and fauna and two of the world’s mega-diversity sites, is now the platform for major bio-prospecting expeditions. The major pharmaceutical companies simply understand life in Africa (all plant and animal life) as raw materials to be studied, extracted, and transformed into commodities for the benefit of investors and speculators in the advanced capitalist countries. Just as Africa has an abundance of flora and fauna, it also has abundant water resources (though this resource is spatially and temporally maldistributed). A major study for the United Nations (UN) depicted water resources in this way:
‘Water is one of the most widely distributed substances on the planet Earth. In different forms and amounts, it is available everywhere, interacting with the atmosphere, biosphere and lithosphere. Water and water resources occupy a special place among natural resources due to their great diversity and vital role in supporting human life and in powering many of the natural processes shaping the earth’. i
The question of the availability of clean water will be one of the crucial issues for all peoples in the 21st century, but especially for African peoples who face the questions of global warming and all the collateral manifestations of drought, famine and receding lakes and rivers. It is the question of environmental justice that is linked to peace, repair and reconstruction that drives the question of unity and cooperation not only in the Nile Valley but in all parts of Africa. Cooperation to end drought, generate reforestation and reverse receding lakes are all issues that are beyond the capabilities of any single government or state in Africa. The environmental issues of drought, famine and water shortages demand more robust planning and cooperation beyond the deployment of troops and peacekeepers in conflict resolution. Even the Secretary-General of the United Nations added his voice to the fact that water shortages can exacerbate conflicts in Africa, and that the slaughter in Darfur was triggered by global climate change, and that more such conflicts may be on the horizon.
Global Warming and the Urgency of African Unity In his book, Saviors and Survivors: Darfur, Politics, and the War on Terrori, Mahmood Mamdani drew attention to the environmental issues that underlie massive loss of life in the Darfur region of Sudan. This ecological dimension of the Darfur crisis has also been documented by Alex de Waal in Famine Crimes: Politics and the Disaster Relief Industry in Africai. Despite the vociferous campaign of some groups that are bent on fighting a war on terror in Africa, it is now more widely known that there is a very strong link between land degradation, desertification and conflict in Darfur. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that, it is no accident that the violence in Darfur erupted during the drought. Until then, nomadic herders had lived amicably with settled farmers. The UN Secretary-General then went on to describe how,
‘black farmers would welcome herders as they crisscrossed the land, grazing their camels and sharing wells. But once the rains stopped, farmers fenced their land for fear it would be ruined by the passing herds. For the first time in memory, there was no longer enough food and water for all. Fighting broke out. By 2003, it evolved into the full-fledged tragedy we witness today’.i
It is not only the Darfur region that is facing a crisis resulting from global warming, According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), up to 30 million people are facing ‘a humanitarian disaster’ as Lake Chad shrinks. Bold plans are needed to replenish this shrinkage of one of Africa’s biggest lakes so that water can be conveyed across borders by pipeline and by new schemes. Libya has already undertaken one of the biggest water transfer schemes in the recent history of Africa, and collective engineering and planning will have to be unleashed to reverse the current and looming dangers of global warming. Environmental repair and reparative economic calculations are now needed beyond the World Bank’s preoccupation with the commoditization of water.
Just as water knows no borders, the same applies the devastating effects of global warming with the raging forest fires, erosion of coast lines, drought, famine and so on that could arise from failures to plan cooperatively for present and future dangers. These concerns underline the need for unity. In addition to well publicized changes in the natural environment of Africa such as Mount Kilimanjaro’s shrinking glaciers, the drying up of Lake Chad, and falling water levels in Lake Victoria, an atlas of environmental processes induced by climate change in Africa listed numerous examples of the devastating changes that are occurring in Africa as a result of global warming. The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) presented satellite images of new or lesser known environmental changes and challenges.i These satellite images have sharpened our grasp of the full impact of forest fires across borders along with other evidence such as coastal erosion and marine environment destruction of the Atlantic Coast of Africa. It is this reality of monitoring Forest fires across borders and coastal erosion that inspired Adigun Ade Abiodun to create the African Space Foundation. In his paper on ‘Africa in Space: When, Why, and How’, he argued that Africa had to develop its capabilities in space in order to defend life on earth. Professor Abiodun warned that despite their preservation of artificial borders, African states do not have the capacity for sovereignty in the 21st century space satellite technology configuration if they are going to continue to rely on Europe for all satellite communications, ability to monitor weather, and for all the benefits of space science. Pooling resources and cooperation will help Africa break its reliance on foreigners for these crucial indicators of sovereignty in the 21st century.
The Western media have preferred to use the term climate change to conceal the urgency of the changes on the planet but verbal reorganization cannot disguise the clear scientific evidence about global temperature changes.i Climate change is driven primarily by emissions of carbon dioxide (through energy produced by burning fossil fuels) and exacerbated by deforestation because forests play a key role in absorbing carbon dioxide. Western Europe and North America have been burning fossil fuels for the past 150 years and have been the main polluters of the planet but it is the peoples of the poor countries of the world and Africa who are suffering the worst effects of global warming.
At the end of the World People’s Conference on Climate Change in Bolivia in 2010, the declaration stated that:
‘If global warming increases by more than 2 degrees Celsius, a situation that the “Copenhagen Accord” could lead to, there is a 50% probability that the damages caused to our Mother Earth will be completely irreversible. Between 20% and 30% of species would be in danger of disappearing. Large extensions of forest would be affected, droughts and floods would affect different regions of the planet, deserts would expand, and the melting of the polar ice caps and the glaciers in the Andes and Himalayas would worsen. Many island states would disappear, and Africa would suffer an increase in temperature of more than 3 degrees Celsius. Likewise, the production of food would diminish in the world, causing catastrophic impact on the survival of inhabitants from vast regions in the planet, and the number of people in the world suffering from hunger would increase dramatically, a figure that already exceeds 1.02 billion people. The corporations and governments of the so-called “developed” countries, in complicity with a segment of the scientific community, have led us to discuss climate change as a problem limited to the rise in temperature without questioning the cause, which is the capitalist system’.
Condemning Africa to Incineration and no Modern Development As far back as 2000, a report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) noted that the rate of climate change expected over the next 100 years is unprecedented in human history. Throughout geologic time, the average global temperature has usually varied by 5°C over intervals of millions of years. Now scientists believe that the temperature of the Earth’s surface – which has already risen by 0.6°C since the late 1800s – is likely to rise by another 1.4 to 5.8°C during the course of the 21st century. An increase of 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius would mean about 3 degrees Celsius for Africa.
It is this increase of 3 degrees Celsius in Africa which focused the attention of Africans at the Copenhagen Summit on Climate Change in December 2009. At this international meeting, the voice of Africa came out loud and clear, through the African representative of the Group of 77, Lumumba Stanislus Di Aping. The African representatives along with numerous delegates from the global South rejected the 2 degrees C warming maximum that most rich countries currently consider acceptable as the basis for an agreement on climate change. Referring continuously to science that has been clear from the IPCC report, African peoples are now clear that 2 degrees C globally meant 3.5 degrees C for much of Africa. It was this realization that led Archbishop Desmond Tutu to write a letter to world leaders saying that,
‘We are facing impending disaster on a monstrous scale. To keep temperature increase in Africa to below 1.5 degrees C requires a global goal of less than 1 degree C; keeping it below 2 degrees in Africa would require a global goal of less than 1.3 degrees C. That is the crux of the matter. A global goal of about 2 degrees C is to condemn Africa to incineration and no modern development. And of course there is the matter of funding mitigation and adaptation’.
The fact that global warming of 2 degrees C will bring ‘certain death for Africa was stated over and over again, and Lumumba Di Aping stated that the approach of the North to global warming constituted a type of ‘climate fascism’ imposed on Africa by high carbon emitters. He said Africa was being asked to sign an agreement that would allow this warming in exchange for $10 billion, and that Africa was also being asked to ‘celebrate’ this deal.
Lumumba Di Aping’s position was supposed to reflect a collective position of the African Union that was hammered out in a series of meetings, especially the 12th Ordinary Session of the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government in February 2009 in Addis Ababa. After that meeting, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission Jean Ping said,
‘Scientific projections unequivocally indicate that Africa will be hit hardest by the impacts of climate change as compared to other continents. Among other impacts, climate change will fundamentally affect agricultural productivity, increase the prevalence of diseases and poverty, increase water stress and trigger off conflicts and war. Africa’s development aspirations are at stake unless urgent steps are taken to address the problem of climate change. It goes without saying that although Africa is least responsible for global warming, it is however suffering from the impacts of climate change. Therefore, Africa suffers most from the problem that it has not created’.
Despite this common position of the AU, by the time of the Copenhagen summit, the leader of the African delegation had made side deals with the European Union to undermine the demands of the peoples of the South for the proper resources for mitigation and adaptation. In the face of this betrayal, by the time of the breakdown of the Copenhagen summit, Africans had joined the rest of the developing countries in calling for system change, not climate change. From Copenhagen came the call that humanity should leave the oil in the ground if the planet was to be saved from the destructive effects of global warming.
A new formation, The Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) emerged in the past few years to focus the attention of African unity around issues of global warming. The Declaration of the PACJA on the fact that the Earth should belong to all, reinforced the position of the indigenous peoples of Latin America, especially Bolivia, who convened the Cochabamba Summit in April 2010 and issued the Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth. These rights include:
• The right to live and to exist;
• The right to be respected;
• The right to regenerate its bio-capacity and to continue its vital cycles and processes free of human alteration;
• The right to maintain their identity and integrity as differentiated beings, self-regulated and interrelated;
• The right to water as the source of life;
• The right to clean air;
• The right to comprehensive health;
• The right to be free of contamination and pollution, free of toxic and radioactive waste;
• The right to be free of alterations or modifications of its genetic structure in a manner that threatens its integrity or vital and healthy functioning;
• The right to prompt and full restoration for violations to the rights acknowledged in this Declaration caused by human activities.
What emerges from these demands for the rights of Mother Earth is that these rights also involve a new concept of Earth Citizens. These realities dictate that the struggles for the unity of an Africa without borders not only require system change but a change in the consciousness of humans. This is because the artificial frontiers of the states conceal even more profound borders, including the social, gendered, ethnic, religious and intellectual borders.
Citizenship and Barriers to Unity Citizenship and popular democratic participation are key pillars of a new self-replicating process to dismantle physical and mental borders in Africa. It is only when all the African peoples attain the fullest measure of citizenship that many of the present obstacles to unity will be slowly transcended. We are reminded in the book Africa Must Unite that Africa needs a new type of citizenship. Kwame Nkrumah wrote,
‘Africa needs a new type of citizen, a dedicated, modest and informed man. A man who submerges self in service to the nation and mankind. A man who abhors greed and detests vanity. A new type of man whose humility and whose integrity is his greatness’.
It is necessary to penetrate the limits of this conception of citizenship that was male centred. Feminist scholarship, especially that of radical African feminists, has sharpened our understanding of how women were implicated in the construction of ethnic and ‘tribal’ identities. While Africans were considered subjects under colonialism, even those leaders who fought to affirm their citizenship rights now continue to deny African women their full rights of citizenship in Africa.i This limited conception of humanity is now compounded by the varying borders between citizens based on race, nationality, regionalism, ethnicity, gender and sexuality. One of the central tasks of the Africa without borders of the 21st century will be to affirm the right of all humans. This affirmation will ensure that citizens will have full rights to think, to breathe and move and function in participatory government.
What are some of the barriers to full citizenship in a unified Africa? One of the primary and most virulent obstacles has been the politicization of ethnicity, importing a Western democratic form that is primarily concerned with elections and representative forms of governance. A Western majoritarian system does not consider the most basic democratic rights – the right to food, water, clothing and shelter. It is based on voting every four or five years, often characterized by the pitching of one ethnic group against another. Those who are for unity in Africa must fight against this politicization of ethnicity. The struggle for democratic rights and African unity will require the elaboration of the politics of inclusion and the management of diversity.
The second major barrier to citizenship is based on the concept of race which reached the highest level of deformity in the era of eugenics. In the era of robots and synthetic life, Africans have a historic sense of who we are and we must find ways to transcend the racialization of humans in the 21st century. To be African in the 21st century must involve emancipation from the racial hierarchies that have separated humans into racial categories for exploitation.
The third element of citizenship in Africa is the element that all citizens have the right to their own religious views, their own spiritual beliefs without impinging on others. Religious fundamentalism has grown in Africa in the period of conservatism to unleash a level of intolerance that was not pervasive in pre-colonial Africa. The African poor are caught in the midst of religious competition, especially the activities of Christian and Muslim fundamentalists.
Spirituality is at the core of the identity of all peoples. How this spirituality was expressed to maintain social solidarity and social collectivism is an area of research which has been opened up by scholars of African religion and philosophy. A fractal outlook has sought to break the dichotomy between science and religion just as the feminist movement has been exposing masculinity as a creation of a gendered society. African women were at the forefront of the attempt to retain those spiritual values which provided a base for sexual and economic autonomy.
Fundamentalist intolerance, whether represented as Christian or Islam, is aimed at controlling the bodies and minds of women. Religious fundamentalism has been a tool by which men entrench male supremacy. Importantly, the new religious basis for citizenship excludes the pre-colonial attributes of citizenship that placed ancestors, the spiritual world and totems at the centre of community belonging.
It is this religious problem which so urgently sharpens the call by progressive Pan-Africanists to support leaders in Africa who understand the meaning of peace, justice and rights, and expose some religious leaders who preach hatred, homophobia and sexism.
One of the most controversial elements of contemporary debates about citizenship in Africa relates to the right of every human being to have their own sexual orientation. That denial of sexual orientation is used to deny citizenship for those with a different sexual orientation in parts of Africa. So we have leaders from Kenya, Uganda, and Zimbabwe who are trying to outdo themselves to say how much they are homophobic. How can we meet on African Liberation Day and be silent when a society such as Uganda considers the question of putting gay people to death? Under considerable pressure, Uganda is now reconsidering legislation that would make homosexuality punishable by extradition and in some cases, execution. Despite the fact that the law to execute homosexuals was not passed, the sentiment of putting to death persons of the same sexual orientation gained wide popularity in parts of Africa.
The question of citizenship continues to be a barrier to cooperation and unity and represents one other border that will have to be dismantled before Africa can move to an era of liberation and emancipation where all humans are accepted as equals. It is this struggle for citizenship that will assist the struggle to shatter some of the existing boundaries between social classes. In all African societies the boundary between the working peoples and the ruling classes is manifest in all areas of social life, whether in the access to electricity, work, education or health.
Conclusion Throughout this paper, I have pointed to the aspirations to unity emanating from the ranks of Africans and highlighted the ways in which the current political leadership maintains the ‘Berlinist states’. Drawing attention to the hidden sources of power among the people who have maintained a fractal optimism rooted in their memory of the past and their understanding of the universe, this paper acknowledges that the intellectual orientation of many of the elite prevent them from grasping dynamic changes in human knowledge and the transition away from the limits imposed by European Enlightenment paradigms, which are predominantly racist, sexist, domineering, and care less about the earth. Some of these leaders, even those who emerged in the liberation process, propose regional solutions to halt the rapid integration of peoples. While the people move and come up with creative means of cooperation, the leaders do not want to facilitate a union of the people that breaks down artificial borders and promotes integration. These leaders benefit politically from xenophobia and accentuate religious and ethnic differences for political gain while oppressing women and youths. Many of these same leaders prefer to ally with imperial France or militarists in the USA while paying lip service to African unity. Yet, as the paper pointed out, the urgency of global warming, shrinking lakes, forest fires and desertification is sharpening the awareness of the oppressed.
The paper started out by making reference to Nkrumah’s understanding of the importance of the energy and spirit of the people. It is important here to reassert in a changed world situation the observation by Nkrumah that when the people react with energy and force, the current crop of leaders will be swept aside and the vision of African unity will be realized when the people fully grasp the urgent need for it. As stated by a famous dictum, ‘no army in the world can stop an idea whose time has come’.
This paper has argued that unity across borders is an idea whose time has come. We then reinforced the argument by introducing the challenges of synthetic life and transhumans. This is the promised era where humans break off into two species: the Haves, who have superior intelligence and can live for hundreds of years, and the Have-Nots, who will be the servants of the Haves. Access to health care today is already exposing this dramatic divide as Africans grasp the ‘molecular bias’ that is central to the life sciences industry and genetic engineering. Harriet Washington has written on ‘genetic perdition’ to link the old forms of eugenics to the new sophisticated forms of eugenics disguised as value-free science. Global corporations (especially Western pharmaceuticals), research institutions, and governments are working hard to hold patents on almost 100,000 genes that make up the blueprint of the human race. While tapping into the rich, genetic resources of Africa, the same corporations dominate governments and international financial institutions that believe that water and health should be privatized. The struggle for health care for all to combat the HIV-AIDS pandemic cannot be left to governments in particular states alone but requires international cooperation.
In the last century, the idea of a hierarchy of humans and the exploitation of Africans went hand in glove. Balkanization and eugenics reinforced each other. This partitioning and balkanization of Africa weakened the peoples while energizing a new spirit of Pan-African consciousness. Julius Nyerere captured this contradictory moment of Pan-African solidarity when he said,
‘The humiliation of Africans became the glorification of others. So we felt our Africanness. We knew that we were one people and that we had one destiny regardless of the artificial boundaries which the colonialists had invented. Since we were humiliated as Africans, we had to be liberated as Africans’.
Nyerere then went on to outline the pivotal role that Nkrumah and the Ghanaian people played in the long struggle for unity and liberation. He noted that,
‘Nkrumah was opposed to balkanisation as much as he was opposed to colonialism in Africa. To him and to a number of us, the two – balkanisation and colonialism – were twins. Genuine liberation of Africa had to attack both twins. A struggle against colonialism must go hand in hand with a struggle against the balkanisation of Africa. Kwame Nkrumah was the great crusader of African unity’. i
Nyerere was making reference to the period when the peoples of Africa were in the forefront of transforming colonial relations. Within five years of the independence of Ghana in 1957, the majority of African states achieved independence. Nkrumah understood that a total transformation of Africa beyond colonialism required revolution and a change from the forms of plunder and oppression visited on Africa from the time of the Berlin conference. The urgency of global warming has brought the most progressive sections of humanity to understand that Africa is not suffering from failed states but from a failed system. It is this awareness of the tipping point of the planet that has led to the call for ‘system change not climate change.’ This call for system change has undermined the views on ‘mitigation and adaptation’ that beg for Western ‘donor’ funds to offset the consequences of global warming. It is this awareness of the urgency of system change to halt and reverse global warming that inspires those who are campaigning for an Africa without borders in the 21st century.
Cabral was one revolutionary struggling for liberation and unity who grasped the cancer of betrayal that removed Nkrumah from power. Cabral called for the humanization of the planet as humans sought to liberate themselves and create new human relations. Cabral was also assassinated to ensure that he could not continue the project of the humanization of relations between all on the planet. This project of humanization would involve an investment in the promotion of a Pan-African agenda for science that is backed up by the knowledge of African fractals and the healing wisdom of Africa. Such a project of the humanization of the planet would not only help bring to the fore the fact that ideas that are now considered as part of the hidden sources of knowledge outside what we see and feel (particle physics, etc,) were always part of the African knowledge system and the ontology of Africans . We sought to draw from the fractal optimism of Nkrumah and Diop to suggest ways in which this Pan-African agenda of scientific research could build on the hidden sources of knowledge now called ‘Noetics’. Genetic manipulation and cloning will allow scientists to both customize and mass produce animals, and transform inanimate matter and energy into material goods in this century. Africans will have to organize for unity if they are not to be relegated as cyborgs or robots making profits for the rich and powerful.
Nkrumah was overthrown in Ghana because he was organizing and campaigning for a change of the capitalist system as one ingredient for the full unleashing of this hidden power. Nkrumah had called on the spiritual energies of the people to be harnessed for unity. Euro-American imperial interests were opposed to the work that was being done to harness this power and continues to carry out intellectual work to discredit Nkrumah. They were opposed then as they are opposed now to the full transformation of Africa.
From the moment of independence in 1957, Ghana had become a beacon of light on the road of independence. Speaking to freedom fighters from all across Africa in 1962, Nkrumah stressed the importance of unity beyond borders, stating that,
’We need unity in the ranks of independent states, unity within the ranks of freedom fighters still struggling to achieve independence, and unity between the already independent states and the freedom fighters’.i
The fact that he was removed without resistance from the working peoples of Ghana and the rest of Africa was one manifestation of the weakness of the African liberation process at that time. The ideological deficiencies of that period can now be repaired by a critical understanding of the forms of leadership and organization and the ideas that guided the African liberation process. In this paper I drew from the strength and weaknesses of the liberation struggles in Africa and identified the philosophy of Ubuntu as one idea that emerged from these struggles. I have sought to spell out how the ideas of shared humanity can help Africans tap into the hidden sources of power. Forty years after the independence of Ghana, Nyerere called upon the present generation of leaders to be better prepared to resist external interventions and to work for unity.
‘So this is my plea to the new generation of African leaders and African peoples: work for unity with the firm conviction that without unity, there is no future for Africa. That is, of course, assuming that we still want to have a place under the sun’.
In this paper we drew from Nkrumah’s work to argue that Africa’s place under the sun has many possibilities. One possibility lies in harnessing new energy resources to break with the fossil fuel form of industrialization that has brought the world beyond a tipping point where global warming threatens the entire biosphere and human ecosystems. Investment in new methods of harnessing solar energy will require a new kind of approach to economics and society. I drew from the new Pan-African formations such as the Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance to reinforce the argument that Africans could be incinerated if global temperatures continue to rise by an average of 2 degrees Celsius. The scientific evidence is clear that a global average of 2 degrees Celsius would mean 3-3.5 degrees in Africa and this would be tantamount to ‘climate fascism’. This reality of changing environmental conditions and the changed international situation demand a total transformation of relations and of social organization in Africa. Such a transformation could find a base in the fractal optimism of the African ideation system and the humanist principles of Ubuntu. The possibility of a quantum leap in Africa was presented as an antidote to the pessimistic ideas about Millennium Development Goals that envisage a ‘progress and development’ that mimics the modes of economic organization of Western capitalism or even the forms of socialist development (as in China) that are also contributing to global warming.
We want to conclude with the insights of both Kwame Nkrumah and Cheikh Anta Diop on the necessary steps to unity. For both of these thinkers, the fundamental step to unity beyond borders required a restoration of the consciousness of historical unity. The process of this restoration is linked to a memory of African freedom struggles and the culture of peace and prosperity that will be possible when Africans intentionally plan to repair the continent by reversing the destruction wrought by so-called ‘modernization.’ The reparations question in Africa can be seen not only in relation to the historical issues of enslavement, colonialism and apartheid but also in relation to the destruction of the natural environment by the extraction of resources.
Cheikh Anta Diop called on Africans to restore the consciousness of historical unity. We have argued in this paper that this consciousness will not come from governments but from a clear programme among the people. In its declaration of the mission and the vision of the African Union, the AU Commission declared that, ‘The Vision of the African Union is that of an Africa integrated, prosperous and peaceful, an Africa driven by its own citizens, a dynamic force in the global arena’.
We have argued in this paper that this vision of a united Africa driven by its own citizens must also be grounded in a new mindset that celebrates the multiplicity of diversity. This vision will be grounded in the pursuit of social justice and a revolution of values. Anticipating the challenges of the era of technological singularity and eugenics, Martin Luther King, Jr., said,
‘When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered. A true revolution of values will soon cause us to the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies’.
King concluded his plea for revolutionary values by stating that, ’A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programmes of social uplift is approaching spiritual death’.
Although Martin Luther King, Jr. was addressing his remarks to the militaristic leaders of the USA, these statements on the need for a revolution of values are as important in Africa today as when they were uttered in 1967. King was trained in the Western philosophical traditions but he matured to understand that peace and social justice could not be built on the values of greed, profit and competition but must be based on the spiritual health of humans. The urgency of an Africa without borders arises from the reality that Africans are not only faced with spiritual death but also the actual death of millions if the present international system is not radically changed.
King was assassinated, Nkrumah was removed by the cancer of betrayal and many freedom fighters were eliminated by imperialism. However, there are strong traditions and ideas of freedom that cannot be liquidated or eliminated. These ideas have been nourished by new struggles, especially from the insights of those in the feminist, anti-racist, reparations, peace and environmental justice movements.
In this paper we have advanced the ideas of a shared humanity beyond borders, whether physical, intellectual, religious or sexual. The ideas of a shared humanity, which is the foundation of Ubuntu, is central in popularizing the discussion of the unity of Africa so that those committed to peace and social justice and the strengthening of the human spirit can intervene. The iterations of healing, truth and restorative justice can take the struggle for African unity from one level of politics to the next. This is the essence of the revolutionary path that must now be girded with revolutionary values. These values will nourish the unified, emancipatory theories that were broached in Nkrumah’s Africa Must Unite.