Continental organization remains disregarded in international affairs
A major annual summit of the African Union (AU) will be held this week in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. A number of key issues will be discussed by the continental organization composed of heads-of-state.
This summit will be followed later by one convened at the White House on August 5-6 that will bring together African leaders with President Barack Obama. The U.S. is late in following numerous other conferences over the last several years involving African presidents along with the leaders of China, South American states, Iran and Japan.
In light of the growing Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Pentagon involvement in key African states such a meeting with the Obama administration could not be held from a position of strength by the regional leaders. Such meetings only re-emphasize the dependent and subordinate role of the continent, its leaders and people to the whims and caprices of the western imperialist countries.
The primary focus of U.S. imperialism in Africa is military subordination, economic exploitation and the containment of China and other rival geo-political regions. Yet what Africa really needs is cooperation and capacity-building that can only grow out of mutual cooperation and genuine political and economic partnerships which Washington is incapable of providing.
This AU summit is being held under the theme of “Transforming Africa’s agriculture for shared prosperity and improved livelihoods; harnessing opportunities for inclusive growth and sustainable development.” The gathering began on June 20 and will extend until Friday the 27th.
The AU is the successor to the Organization of African Unity (OAU) which was formed in 1963 at a summit held in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa. At the time of its founding, African people throughout the continent and the world were fighting militantly in various revolutionary struggles aimed at national liberation and socialism.
Real Growth in Imperialist Militarism
Today when Africa is being deemed as a rapidly growing continent economically, the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the European Union Forces (EUFOR), the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and the French Armed Forces are increasing their interventionist policies throughout the region. In various conflicts taking place in South Sudan, Mali, the Central African Republic, Nigeria and Egypt, the AU’s role is closely tied with a more prominent and decisive mandate by AFRICOM, France and NATO.
The role of these imperialist forces is by no means bringing about peace and stability. In fact just the opposite is taking place in all of these geo-political regions.
In the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Africa’s most populous state and now registered as the largest economy on the continent, the abduction in April of nearly 300 school girls and the ongoing attacks by Boko Haram in the northeast, has provided an opening for further western militarist interventions. Apparently there is no significant positive correlation between economic growth and security capacity-building.
Even President Goodluck Jonathan has expressed concerns about the existence of supporters of Boko Haram within the national officialdom inside this oil-rich state. The military forces within Nigeria on the other hand have complained about the lack of commitment and efficiency on the part of the federal government in providing the armed forces with the necessary resources needed to combat Boko Haram.
The situation in Nigeria is replicated in various states throughout Africa where the escalating of instability is prompting imperialist invasions through their intelligence and military apparatuses. In Mali the French entered the country in January 2013 and remain there ostensibly due to the fact that the government in Bamako cannot defeat or reach a political settlement with various rebel and separatist movements in the North.
South Sudan, a close ally of Washington, is on the verge of political and social collapse resulting from a major split within the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A). Since Dec. 15, 2013, fighting between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and ousted Vice-President Riek Machar has resulted in the deaths of thousands and the displacements of at least hundreds of thousands more.
Instability and conflict in Somalia has brought the internal and external displacement of several million people. Hunger and famine has occurred repeatedly since the U.S. sponsored the intervention of Ethiopian forces in December 2006 designed to weaken the influence of the Union of Islamic Courts (ICU) which had taken a position independent of Washington’s foreign policy influence.
With respect to the North African state of Egypt, a military coup in July 2013 prompted the AU to suspend Cairo’s membership. Yet all it took was the massacre of thousands of Egyptians, the harsh and indefinite detention of thousands of others and the changing of uniforms by General Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi from military garb to civilian clothes to qualify this U.S.-backed regime for readmission to the continental body. Reports in the Egyptian media indicated that the newly-elected President Al-Sisi will address the AU Summit in Malabo.
50th Anniversary of the 1964 Summit in Cairo: From Nasser to Malcolm X
In July 1964 the second summit of the OAU was held in Egypt. During this time period anti-imperialist movements for national liberation and socialism were in evidence around the world including Africa.
President Gamal Abdel Nasser was ruling Egypt at the time and the country was a base for organizations seeking to overthrow colonialism and neocolonialism on the continent, in the Middle East and throughout the world. Egypt had fought a war with Britain, France and Israel in 1956 to regain control of the Suez Canal.
That same year (1964) Malcolm X traveled to Egypt to present an eight-page memorandum to the OAU requesting the assistance of the newly-independent African states and independence movements in the fight against national oppression and racial exploitation in the U.S. Malcolm X, representing the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU), patterned in many ways on the framework concept of the-then OAU, asserted that Africa could not be truly free without the elimination of second-class citizenship and discrimination against their brothers and sister in the U.S.
In the memorandum Malcolm X said on behalf of the OAAU that “Our problem is your problem. It is not a Negro problem, nor an American problem. This is a world problem, a problem for humanity. It is not a problem of civil rights, it is a problem of human rights.”
He went on to poignantly note that “We pray that our African brothers have not freed themselves of European colonialism only to be overcome and held in check now by American dollarism. Don’t let American racism be ‘legalized’ by American dollarism.”
Some five decades later despite claims of phenomenal growth there is still a tremendous lack of development which manifests itself in the growing security crises in Africa. Without continental unity, political and economic integration Africa will remain subject to western imperialist interventions and destabilization led by the U.S.
During the 1964 OAU Summit, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the-then President of the Republic of Ghana and the leading strategist and tactician of the African Revolution, told the gathering that the formation of a united continent was central in achieving genuine development, independence and sovereignty. The cornerstone of Ghanaian foreign policy under Nkrumah and his Convention People’s Party (CPP) was the realization of a United States of Africa.
Nkrumah said “How much more effective would our efforts have been if we had spoken with the one voice of Africa’s millions. With all our minerals and waterpower and fertile lands, is it not a cause for shame that we remain poor and content to plead for aid from the very people who have robbed us of our riches in the past?”
The Pan-Africanist leader then asked “How can Egypt, strategically situated as is it, combat imperialism and neocolonialism and solve the pressing and urgent problems of the Middle East unless it has the backing of a Union Government of Africa? Only a Union Government can assist in the solution of the problems of the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.”
These words from both Malcolm X and Kwame Nkrumah ring loud today in relationship to the conditions of African people on the continent and those abroad. A renewed Pan-African movement is necessary to continue the struggle for sustainable unity, peace and security.
Mr. Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor, Pan-African News Wire, is one of the frequent contributors for The 4th Media.